Results tagged “medical” from Sunday Mercury - Weird Science


A natural "detox" enzyme made in the body may in future be used to counter terrorist nerve gas attacks.

Scientists have found a way to amplify the protective effect of the liver protein paraoxonase 1 (PON1).

They made the enzyme, or biological catalyst, up to 3,400 times more capable of breaking down the most deadly nerve agent chemicals.

The hope is that enhanced PON1 variants will neutralise the kind of chemical weapon used in the 1995 Tokyo subway attack.


A team of scientists has taken inspiration from Doctor Who and created their own "sonic screwdriver" that could be used in complex surgeries.

Physicists at the University of Dundee used equipment designed for MRI-guided ultrasound surgery and created a tool that can lift and spin a 10cm rubber disk with an ultrasound beam.

The team said the beam carries momentum that can push an object in its path and can cause the object to rotate when shaped like a helix or vortex.

Gene clue to flu reaction

By Daniel Smith on Mar 27, 12 12:00 PM

Thumbnail image for Megavirus-chilensis.jpg

Some people may be at risk of a severe reaction to flu because they are not protected by a key gene, scientists have found.

Researchers have for the first time identified a human gene responsible for susceptibility and response to flu and other viruses.

The gene - IFITM3 - produces a protein that protects cells against infections and is thought to be critical in the immune system's response against viruses such as swine flu.

3D avatar helps doctors

By Daniel Smith on Mar 13, 12 11:43 PM
Game consoles such as the Wii, Playstation 3, ...

Image via Wikipedia

A "Google Earth" style map of the human body could revolutionise the way patients are treated, scientists claim.

A digital replica of a patient would be created using their medical data to give an overall picture of their health.

The 3D computer avatar which would then allow doctors to test how different treatments would work on that person's body.

Professor Alejandro Frangi of Sheffield University said: "There is a lot of data about us in the healthcare system, but it is fragmented.

"I think the modelling framework gives us a mechanism - I like to see it as Google Earth, putting all of these different layers of information together."


An Olympic hopeful is using technology developed to help keep Soviet cosmonauts in shape in space in a bid to save her hopes of competing in this year's games.

Theodora Spathis is hoping to compete in the heptathlon at the London Olympics, but an Achilles tendon injury last May threatened to dash her chances.

Now living in Sheffield, the Australian-born athlete hopes to represent her country if she can qualify for a place in the team.

After trying various kinds of treatment for her injury, she is undergoing Scenar therapy - developed during the Soviet era to treat cosmonauts who were not allowed to use pharmaceutical drugs while on space missions.

A battery-powered, hand-held device, the Scenar is brushed over an area of inflammation or pain, releasing gentle electrical impulses similar to those produced by the nervous system.

These are sent to the brain, stimulating the release of powerful natural healing compounds which can bring an immediate and long-lasting reduction in pain.


Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith - a long time ago, in a galaxy far away just north of Watford, Daniel fancied himself as a scientist but turned out to be the worst scientist since that bloke who mapped out all those canals on Mars that turned out to be scratches on his telescope's lens. Luckily, he is now not working on the Large Hadron Collider inadvertently creating a black hole that would swallow the world but is safely behind a desk writing this blog, bringing you the fantastical underbelly of nature... weird science.

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