A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Limb-regenerating fire-god salamander central to wound repair quest

Credit: Getty images

Regenerating lost body parts is impossible for humans, but cracking the cellular code of salamanders could help to treat serious wounds.

Salamanders are remarkable creatures. If one of these amphibians loses a finger, it grows back. Furthermore, if you chop away a piece of heart or spinal cord, it will regenerate. Perhaps most impressively, they can even regrow a leg bitten off by a hungry predator.

One of the most famous salamander species is the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), which is found in lakes near Mexico City.

The axolotl is a veritable Peter Pan of salamanders. Even the 30-centimetre-long reproductive adult retains features of its youthful phase throughout its lifecycle.

The prominent gills protruding from the back of its head are retained from the axolotl's larval phase. The fact that it never leaves the water throughout its life is unusual for an amphibian.

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Cellular spring cleaning may keep us youthful and healthy for longer

The worm C. elegans has a nervous system remarkably similar to that of humans. Researchers are studying it to better understand the link between autophagy and age-related degeneration of the nervous system. © Nektarios Tavernarakis, 2022

Have we found the fountain of youth?

The in-built process of maintaining the health of our cells by recycling dead or toxic material plays a key role in our health overall. Known as autophagy, researchers are now keen to know if boosting the natural process may hold off the debilitating diseases of old age.

By intervening in the processes that make our bodies and brains malfunction as we get older, can we delay the onset of age-related disorders, or even stop them developing entirely?

The mythical fountain of youth has been a popular legend for thousands of years. The question of whether we can drink from its waters has been nagging modern researchers working in the field of biological ageing (known as senescence) since 1889, when French doctor Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard injected himself with extracts from animal testicles. Following this, he claimed his mental and physical condition improved.

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Nanorobots could target cancers and clear blood clots

Photo credit: unsplash.com by John Jackson

The future of internal medicine

Tiny nano-sized robots and vehicles that can navigate through blood vessels to reach the site of a disease could be used to deliver drugs to tumours that are otherwise difficult to treat.

Once injected or swallowed, most drugs rely upon the movement of body fluids to find their way around the body. It means that some types of disease can be difficult to treat effectively in this way.

One aggressive type of brain tumour known as glioblastoma, for example, kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. But because it produces finger-like projections into a patient's brain tissue that damage the blood vessels around them, it is hard for drugs to reach the tumour site.

'If you inject particles into the body, they will follow the blood,' said Professor Daniel Ahmed, who is currently leading the Acoustic Robotics Systems Lab at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Instead, scientists are turning to nanodevices – tiny robots and vehicles – to deliver drugs around the body in a controllable way. But first, they have to figure out how to drive them.

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