The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top stories include a breakthrough in artificial limb development, 3D printed corneas and finally some evidence that us fast walking Londoners are in the right! 

By Willow Hight-Warburton

You make me feel (miiiighty real)

Researchers from Stanford and Seoul National University made an artificial sensory nerve system that can activate the twitch reflex in a cockroach and identify letters in the Braille alphabet.

robot bee

They achieved this by bringing together two previous pieces of technology from the group – an incredibly sensitive touch sensor which they connected to a flexible electronic neuron – and then integrated the circuit with an artificial synaptic transistor modelled on human synapses. They then attached the artificial afferent nerve on back of cockroach to show that it could also coordinate stimuli to bring about reflex in leg.

 

Whilst this technology is still very much in development, it offers an exciting glimpse into the future of prosthetic limbs – Limbs that not only look the part, but can also respond to physical stimuli like pressure and heat!

Whey-EYE man!

Corneal transplants can be life changing – The quick and relatively painless operation can return sight to a patient for around 10 years. However the UK’s national shortage of corneas means patients are subjected to waiting until a suitable donor is found.

Now an alternative approach to this medical shortfall has been presented – Introducing the world’s first 3D printed cornea!

eye scientist
(L-R) Dr. Steve Swioklo with Prof. Che Connon with their 3D printer.

Researchers at Newcastle University have provided a good proof-of-concept for how personalised medicine could help ease the strain on the transplant list. Using a “bio-ink “of materials to form the structure of the cornea (collagen and alginate) and cells, the team used a printer to create a new eye lens.

Unfortunately, this technology has still not been licensed for use in the UK yet. If you would like to find out more about organ donation, please click here, and see how you can help patients in need whilst this technology is still developing.

Time to pick up the pace?

Turns out ambling could be lethal ….

A retrospective study of data from 11 surveys found walking fast (enough to put you out of puff when walking for a long period of time) decreased the risk of all causes of death by 20% and heart disease by 24%. Interestingly, the study of over 50,000 people found that the results were irrespective of gender or BMI.

The team from Australia, Ireland and the UK state that whilst the cause for this is unknown, they believe that the evidence is such that increasing walking pace should be actively encouraged and incorporated into health guidelines. Speaking to the University of Sydney’s press office, Professor Stamatakis said that the findings provide  “a simple message for public health campaigns to promote”; walking faster can help you to live longer.

chaplin