SciTech Briefs

New technique may save lives at UPMC

Surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) will test out a new lifesaving technique on 10 patients with gunshot and knife wounds by suspending them between life and death. The process, known as emergency preservation and resuscitation, involves replacing a patient’s blood with a cool saline solution and significantly lowering the patient’s body temperature. The surgeons will then perform operations, and the saline will be replaced again with blood. The idea is to keep the bodies of individuals with severe trauma in a “preserved” state that will keep them from dying.

Cells in this arrested state don’t require oxygen to stay alive because there are no metabolic activities occurring, making the patient clinically dead. With the technique in place, UPMC surgeons are waiting on-call for their first eligible patient.

Source: New Scientist

CDC says autism prevalence 1 in 68

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 30 percent increase from 2008, which stated an autism prevalence of one in 88. Professionals in the field are unsure if the increase is due to increased sensitivity in surveillance, an increase in cases, or a combination of both.

Many agree that the data needs to undergo further analysis. Rates between states varied dramatically, for instance; New Jersey had a prevalence of one in 45 while Alabama had one in 175.

Source: ScienceInsider

Studies show crows are able to reason

A recent study with New Caledonian crows have shown the birds to have some level of understanding of water displacement. In the study, researchers put Aesop’s fable to a real-world test: Can a crow place objects in a pool in order to make the water level rise and reach a treat?

The results show they could in certain situations. The crows were given six tasks, and were able to complete four of them. They chose to drop stones into water-filled tubes rather than sand; dropped sinking objects rather than floating; dropped dense objects as opposed to hollow ones; and dropped objects into tubes with high water levels rather than lower water levels.

Although the crows failed two more complicated tasks, the researchers assess their causal reasoning abilities on par with a 5–7 year old human child.

Source: Science Daily

Artificial yeast chromosome made

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have recently created an artificial chromosome for baker’s yeast, the first time that a synthetic chromosome has been created for a eukaryotic organism. The team, which included multiple undergraduate students, was able to create chromosome No. 3 of the yeast. They created sequences of DNA, stitched them together, and then put the sequence into a yeast cell, which used proteins to coil and package the sequence into a chromosome. The researchers left out segments of DNA from the original yeast that they didn’t feel necessary.

Source: NPR

Pollutants make male fish feminine

Male fish off the coast of Basque Country, Spain have been found to be undergoing feminization due to pollutants.

The pollutants, which act as estrogen, have caused the male fish to develop ovocytes. Researchers analyzed thick-lipped gray mullet found in different estuaries around Spain. The pollutants that may be the cause of the feminization are part of a class of chemicals known as endocrine-disrupters.

Although endocrine-disrupters have only been noted recently, they are found in many common products, such as contraceptives, fragrances, detergent, and pesticides.

In addition to the ovocytes, some male fish tested positive for molecular markers and proteins that are typically only found in female fish. The scientists believe a source of the pollutants may be from a local water treatment plant.

Source: Science Daily

Researchers filter light in new ways

For the first time, light may be able to be filtered depending on what angle or direction it is coming from, adding to the current ability to filter light by color or polarization. The new technique, developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, allows light of any color to pass through a system only if it comes from a certain angle; all other light is reflected.
This breakthrough could be used for detectors in microscopes, telescopes, and privacy screens for computers.

Source: ScienceDaily