Category: Fresh off the lab

HPV vaccines for people older than 26 years

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Human Pappilomavirus (HPV)  is responsible for over 90% of cervical cancer, genital warts and other cancers of the vulva, throat, anus, penis and vagina. HPV vaccines first came into the scene in 2006 and are currently available as Gardasil, Gardasil 9 and Cervarix. Continue reading “HPV vaccines for people older than 26 years”

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7 facts about the recently discovered super gonorrhoea

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Antibiotic resistance is not a new phrase but it becomes alarming when all antibiotics become ineffective against a previously treatable STD (sexually transmitted disease).

 WHO estimates that each year, about 78 million people worldwide are infected with gonorrhea with most patients being under the age of 25. There are no published statistics for Kenya, but in 2014 the country was nominated as a regional surveillance hub for drug resistant gonorrhoea.

 

  1. Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected person and also through sharing of sex toys.

Continue reading “7 facts about the recently discovered super gonorrhoea”

License acquired to modify human embryo genes

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On the 1st of February, scientists at the London-based Francis Crick Institute were given permission by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to genetically alter human embryos.

Before you draw out the placards… there are regulations. Continue reading “License acquired to modify human embryo genes”

The fertility biological clock: 21st century myth?

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‘Biological clock’: a term widely used by society to refer to the diminishing ovarian reserve in women since the 1950’s. It has been well known that the human ovary has a finite number of eggs and no new eggs are formed during the course of a woman’s life.

Some time back in 2012, stem cells were discovered in human ovaries following an observation of the same in mice ovaries. The division of these stem cells suggested that new eggs could be formed – making it biologically sensible as sperm is continuously replenished. Continue reading “The fertility biological clock: 21st century myth?”

10 revolutionary technologies of 2016

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Last post of the year and it would not be any fun if I didn’t do a roundup of mind blowing discoveries of 2016. These are things that provided solutions to big problems or opened doors for future research. In no particular order but with a bit of bias…

  1. Precise gene editing – If you haven’t picked up anything on science past few years then let it be CRISPR (pronounced crisper). CRISPR involves targeted gene modification at very specific points of chromosomes by crafted molecules.         Besides medical interventions, it could be used to increase food security by increasing crop yield and disease resistance. It also does not fall under GMO regulation as foreign DNA is not detectable in products.

Continue reading “10 revolutionary technologies of 2016”

They will know you’re lying

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Men lie, women lie…and whatever the rest of that phrase says. But what if during your next interview, the panel could tell whether you were anxious or worse, lying just by using a conventional video camera similar to what is on most smartphones.

Our emotional system, which prepares us on how to deal with different external stimulations such as fear, stress or excitement does so by altering the activations of the Autonomic Nervous System. The nervous system in turn affects blood flow. So, blood flow detection can be used as a fool proof marker for one’s true emotion since it’s almost always beyond conscious control. Continue reading “They will know you’re lying”

Could it be the end of malaria?

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According to WHO, a child dies every minute in Africa due to malaria, that is roughly half a million lives. It is clearly a problem that needs addressing.

Malaria is spread by the Anopheles mosquito when it’s infected by the Plasmodium parasite. Research has shown that disruption of some genes would render the female Anopheles sterile or affect its ability to carry the parasite. But Mendelian laws (remember high school biology Mendel?) restrict the ability of this resistance gene to be inherited to only about half of the mosquito offspring. Gene drive circumvents this and ensures that almost all the offspring and future generations inherit a trait.  This is made possible with the discovery of the century, a technique called CRISPR/ Cas9 that I hope to cover here soon. Continue reading “Could it be the end of malaria?”

Pack a printer on your next trip

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3D printed hand prototype, by Richard van As, South Africa, 2013.

If you do not identify with minimalist packing like yours truly, then airport luggage checks sit at the very top of your nightmare list. With a few hundred dollars, you can acquire your own 3-D printer and print your own clothes as fashion designer Danit Peleg does. If you have an extra nerdy friend, you may gift them a 3-D tie from 3dtie.com.

At its most basic, 3D printing is exactly as stated – creating a 3-dimensional object from a digital file. Unlike your usual ink jet that produces a single paper, these printers create objects by successively laying down several layers. A virtual model is first created using the modelling programs available or a 3D scanner if you are copying an existing object. Therefore, the possibility of using your smart phone as a 3D scanner in the future can’t be nullified. The modelling software ‘wedges’ the model into horizontal layers that the 3D printer reads and uses to seamlessly create the final object. So instead of ink, we have any of the other possible materials being dispersed from the nozzles onto a platform. There are several methods used to fuse the material together. Continue reading “Pack a printer on your next trip”