New Water Resistant Fabric

Scientists at UC Davis have developed a fabric that wicks water away from skin in the same way skin condenses sweat into droplets that individually dry off.  This fabric is different from cotton in that, although cotton wicks moisture away, it can still get soaked and heavy.  Check out the science daily article about it:



More About the V-Chip


Since a lot of you all seemed pretty interested in the technology I talked about in my group’s presentation, I thought I’d share a little more information about it.  Here’s the link to the original paper, and an article with a neat video about how it works.  This stuff is still pretty new, as the paper describing its development came out in November, but the future of this technology is really exciting!
(feel free to do some googling on this too, but be sure you search “multiplexed volumetric bar-chart chip” instead of “V-chip”, because that’s also a parental control TV monitoring device..)

One Less Shot for HPV Prevention


Gardasil, the vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV), is generally given to pre-adolescent girls in three doses over a period of six months.  Researchers have recently found that 2 doses, not 3, might actually be sufficient for HPV prevention.  I received this vaccine shortly after it came out when I was in high school, and let me tell you, this shot HURT.  Needles don’t generally bother me that much, but this vaccine affected my arm muscles somehow where I was in pain and hardly able to move my upper arm for several hours after each dose, and I know many of my friends who received the vaccine also had the same reaction.  So, I would have been pretty glad to have only had two of these shots as opposed to three.  However, the implications of this research extend far beyond the first world problem of wanting the full use of my arm, pain-free.  These vaccines are relatively expensive, and this prevents many girls, especially globally, from receiving this protection from HPV.  Lowering the required doses from 3 to 2 could make this vaccine more accessible and therefore protect more people.

Accelerated Vaccine Production

Influenza virus is highly variable and changes quickly from year to year, thus the need for a new flu vaccine to be created with each flu season.  These vaccines are generally not able to be manufactured until the flu outbreak has affected many people.  Scientists have come up with a way to produce vaccines much more quickly and earlier through directly synthesizing the genes for hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N), glycoproteins on the surface of influenza that trigger host immune response, and incorporating them into vaccines.  This can be done as soon as the sequence data for the season’s version of H and N is available.  Although most strains of the flu are only deadly in the young, elderly, or immune-compromised, getting vaccines to these people earlier could be a great help.

Unfortunately I don’t have access to the full paper (annoying), but here is an small article about the research and the abstract that I thought was worth sharing!


More New Clinical Tech: Second Skin Heart Monitor!


It’s probably clear from my group’s presentation today that I’m pretty interested in technologies that could benefit clinical medicine. Engineers at Standford have created an advanced pulse monitor that is small and flexible enough to be worn regularly to monitor regular heart rates of patients with cardiovascular diseases.  The device can also detect stiff arteries and other risk factors for heart attack.  In the future, researchers hope that this device will be readily implemented in hospitals and doctor’s offices to help detect serious heart problems before they become deadly.


Gut Microbes May Help Fight Obesity

Akkermansia muciniphila is a bacteria commonly found in the intestines of mammals.  It has been found that people within a healthy weight range tend to have a higher population of akkermansia muciniphila in their guts than overweight or obese people.  This led some researchers to ask the question if adding akkermansia muciniphila as a probiotic into the diets of obese people could reduce their body fat.  Researchers at Wageningen University tested this in mice, and found that obese mice treated with akkermansia muciniphila had a decrease in body fat without changing their diets.  This research could be very helpful clinically with people who are obese and at risk for many related disease but have trouble losing weight! 

Lessons From Dr. Bob

I really enjoyed Dr. Bob’s lecture yesterday.  It was neat to hear about scientists that I hadn’t heard of, and be refreshed on experiments I was familiar with.  The critical mass experiments with the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project definitely blew me away.  However, I think the best part of the class might’ve been some funny quotes and facial expressions…

Dr. Bob (trying to get us to say “use microscopes”): What do biologists do that chemists never do?
Kayarash: Have fun?

Dr. Bob’s moral of the day after talking about unintended discoveries in science:  “So it’s like someone saying oh my gosh, the pen fell off the table, I wonder if there’s a little genie causing the pen to fall off the table, so I’m going to spend the next 10 years looking for the genie”

Bob Class