Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stephen Hawkins Warns: Wheelchair Users at Greater Risk from Aliens

After years of sarcastically telling us that ET isn't going to come down and shoot us with his ray gun Mr Hawking has done an about face.

For years Hawking has told us how the Universe worked and in his spare time has watched science fiction movies. After a series of real life discoveries of super tough microbes Hawking would come into work stressed out that the science fiction writers knew more about the stars than he did!

After last weeks discovery of an Anaerobic Metazoan at the bottom of the Mediteranian Hawking has finally hit the panic button. There must be millions of species up there and its easy to see how cunning and greedy they could become when you take a look at Al Gore.

"They're especially after me, rants Hawking. With me in my wheelchair they can wheel me away, eat me for dinner and melt down my wheelchair for raw materials. They just can't get enough of my body," emphasised the learned Professor.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rise Up From Your Chairs

Cialis boosts sex after spinal cord injuries

The impotence pill Cialis appears to work even in men with spinal cord injuries, French researchers said on Monday.

Impotence often follows spinal cord injuries. Only about 25 percent of men with such injuries are capable of having sex, Dr. Francois Giuliano and colleagues at the Raymond Poincare Hospital in Garches, France said.

They found that Cialis tripled the number of times the men could have sex.

Their study, funded by Eli Lilly and Co, maker of tadalafil or Cialis, involved 197 men with an average age of 38 in France, Germany, Italy and Spain with spinal cord injuries.

After a one-month waiting period, in which no one got treatment, a questionnaire to assess sexual function found both groups had moderate erectile dysfunction, Giuliano's team reported in the Archives of Neurology.

Then 142 men were assigned to the Cialis group and 44 got a placebo for a 12-week period, taking no more than one pill daily as needed before sexual activity.

After 4 months, men taking Cialis were successful nearly half the time they attempted intercourse, while men in the placebo group succeeded only 16.8 percent of the time.

Cialis and similar drugs work by increasing blood flow to the genitals.

The researchers said the Cialis study achieved success similar to that found in studies of Pfizer Inc.'s Viagra or sildenafil and Glaxosmithkline Plc's Levitra or vardenafil, all of which improved erections in men with impotence after spinal cord injury.

Trampolines, 2nd Only to Guns

It's peak season for trampoline injuries, most of which are minor bumps and bruises. But some people have been paralyzed and even killed on these backyard entertainment devices.

"Early Show" Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen reported there's a right way and a wrong way to jump on a trampoline. She said you should always jump in the middle, and only one person at a time.

Trampoline injuries led to 98,000 trips to the emergency room last year alone. Children are the most frequent victims, but adults are also getting hurt, sometimes with devastating consequences.

Yet Another Trampoline Accident - Watch more Funny Videos
Koeppen shared the cautionary tale of Ryne Cleary, who was just 5 years old when he got his backyard trampoline. It was one of the many outdoor activities he enjoyed with his dad, Kevin. Now all Kevin Cleary can do is watch his son play ball, all because of a wrong move on the family's trampoline.

Koeppen asked Ryne, "You blame yourself for what happened?"

Ryne replied, "Yes."

Koppen offered, "Because you asked him to do a back flip?"

Ryne answered, "He asked, I said, 'yes.'"

Kevin landed the back flip once, but on the second try, he says he came up short.

He told Koeppen, "I'm not too sure how, but I landed basically on my forehead."

Kevin suffered a severe spinal cord injury, and is now paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Kevin told Koppen he instantly knew something was wrong.

"I can to this day hear the crack."


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Salamanders, Lobsters, Now Silk Worms

Silk brain implant could aid spinal injuries, epilepsy

A brain implant made partly of silk can melt onto the surface of the brain, providing an "intimate" connection for recording signals, researchers reported on Sunday.

Tests of their device showed the thin, flexible electrodes recorded signals from a cat's brain more accurately than thicker, stiff devices.

Such devices might help people with epilepsy, spinal cord injuries and even help operate artificial arms and legs, the researchers report in the journal Nature Materials.

John Rogers of the University of Illinois, Urbana and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and Tufts University in Boston made the electrode arrays using protein from silk and thin metal electrodes.

The silk is biocompatible and water-soluble, dissolving into the brain and leaving the electrodes draped over its contours, the researchers reported.

They tested them on cats who were anesthetized but whose eyes were functioning. The electrodes recorded the signals from the eyes of the cats as they were shown visual images.

"These implants have the potential to maximize the contact between electrodes and brain tissue, while minimizing damage to the brain," said Dr. Walter Koroshetz of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, which helped pay for the study.

"They could provide a platform for a range of devices with applications in epilepsy, spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders."


Lobsters Hold the Key to SCI Cure

A new treatment based on the shells of sea creatures like lobsters may offer fresh hope to paralyzed and brain-damaged patients.

US researchers have found that a simple sugar found in crustacean shells appears to be able to cure damaged spinal chords, reports The Daily Express .

Professor Richard Borgens, director of the Centre for Paralysis Research in Indiana, which is pioneering the new treatment, said: “This is the most exciting development for spinal cord and brain injury since Second World War.

I am very excited. Using chemicals to repair the damaged nervous system
is a completely new way to treat people with these terrible injuries. It’s amazing one of these special chemicals would turn out to be a sugar.”

In the treatment, the sugar, mixed with sterile water, is injected into the bloodstream and then migrates to the spinal cord injury where it plugs holes in the coating of the nerve cells.

Borgens added: “Science has moved in a new direction. Previously we have been looking at drugs which would potentially reduce damage. Now we are looking at complete repair.”

The treatment, successfully used in guinea pigs, will also work in human trials, says the expert.

“The spinal cord of a guinea pig is very similar to that of a human – it is just smaller,” he said.

“This is not like a drug which may work in some species and not in others. This is a mechanical effect. The sugar molecules migrate to the nerve injury target and repair the injured area, not the undamaged area.”


Friday, April 16, 2010

Chitosan Offers Hope For Spinal Injury Patients

Richard Borgens and his colleagues from the Center for Paralysis Research at the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine have a strong record of inventing therapies for treating nerve damage. From Ampyra, which improves walking in multiple sclerosis patients to a spinal cord simulator for spinal injury victims, Borgens has had a hand in developing therapies that directly impact patients and their quality of life. Another therapy that is currently undergoing testing is the use of polyethylene glycol (PEG) to seal and repair damaged spinal cord nerve cells. By repairing the damaged membranes of nerve cells, Borgens and his team can restore the spinal cord's ability to transmit signals to the brain. However, there is one possible clinical drawback: PEG's breakdown products are potentially toxic. Is there a biodegradable non-toxic compound that is equally effective at targeting and repairing damaged nerve membranes? Borgens teamed up with physiologist Riyi Shi and chemist Youngnam Cho, who pointed out that some sugars are capable of targeting damaged membranes. Could they find a sugar that restored spinal cord activity as effectively as PEG? Borgens and his team publish their discovery that chitosan can repair damaged nerve cell membranes in The Journal of Experimental Biology on April 16, 2010.

Having initially tested mannose and found that it did not repair spinal cord nerve membranes, Cho decided to test a modified form of chitin, one of the most common sugars that is found in crustacean shells. Converting chitin into chitosan, Cho isolated a segment of guinea pig spinal cord, compressed a section, applied the modified chitin and then added a fluorescent dye that could only enter the cells through damaged membranes. If the chitosan repaired the crushed membranes then the spinal cord tissue would be unstained, but if the chitosan had failed, the spinal cord neurons would be flooded with the fluorescent dye. Viewing a section of the spinal cord under the microscope, Cho was amazed to see that the spinal cord was completely dark. None of the dye had entered the nerve cells. Chitosan had repaired the damaged cell membranes.

Next Cho tested whether a dose of chitosan could prevent large molecules from leaking from damaged spinal cord cells. Testing for the presence of the colossal enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), Borgens admits he was amazed to see that levels of LDH leakage from chitosan treated spinal cord were lower than from undamaged spinal cords. Not only had the sugar repaired membranes at the compression site but also at other sites where the cell membranes were broken due to handling. And when the duo tested for the presence of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS), released when ATP generating mitochondria are damaged, they found that ROS levels also fell after applying chitosan to the damaged tissue: chitosan probably repairs mitochondrial membranes as well as the nerve cell membranes.

But could chitosan restore the spinal cord's ability to transmit electrical signals to the brain through a damaged region? Measuring the brain's response to nerve signals generated in a guinea pig's hind leg, the duo saw that the signals were unable to reach the brain through a damaged spinal cord. However, 30•min after injecting chitosan into the rodents, the signals miraculously returned to the animals' brains. Chitosan was able to repair the damaged spinal cord so that it could carry signals from the animal's body to its brain.

Borgens is extremely excited by this discovery that chitosan is able to locate and repair damaged spinal cord tissue and is even more enthusiastic by the prospect that nanoparticles of chitosan could also target delivery of neuroprotective drugs directly to the site of injury 'giving us a dual bang for our buck,' says Borgens.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wheelchair Dude Tries to Blow Up Texas

A wheelchair-bound suspect was being quizzed Wednesday over a chilling campaign to plant homemade bombs across East Texas, the Tyler Paper reported.

More than 30 pipe bombs and Molotov cocktail-style explosives have been left outside post offices and businesses in the past two months.

Wednesday's arrest came after another incendiary device was located beside the busy Tanglewood Shopping Centre in Tyler shortly after 11am.

A bomb-disposal robot was dispatched to safely retrieve the explosive, which had been stuffed into a mailbox.

Around 45 minutes later bomb squad crews moved in to investigate a suspicious van parked nearby.

Federal officials told the Tyler Paper that as many as five home-made bombs were found stashed inside it.

The suspect is understood to be disabled and uses a wheelchair, but no information was released on either his identity or his motive.

His arrest comes after officials raised the reward for leads on the bomber to $25,000.

More information is due to be released at a press conference on Thursday.

Federal agencies including the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Postal Service inspectors have all been working on the case.


Life on a Sofa - Wheelchair Stolen

Police in Sykesville say they have some strong leads in the theft of a wheelchair taken from a paralyzed man.

Police in Sykesville say they have some strong leads in the theft of a wheelchair.

The owner, who is paralyzed from the chest down, tells Suzanne Collins he's had a very hard time managing since the theft.

Jimmy Sawyer kisses his daughter from the couch. He's been stuck there a lot since his specially fitted Ultralight wheelchair was stolen late Saturday night.

It's a $3,600 chair. He'd left it in his driveway when he picked his wife up from work that night.

"The wheelchair I had I could do anything. I could help my wife do dishes, laundry, take care of my 4-year-old daughter," Sawyer said.

"We look around and like 'Where's the wheelchair? Is somebody playing a joke on us?'" said Amber Sawyer, Jimmy's wife.

Sykesville police are on the case, and they've made progress.

"We have received two very sold leads. One member of the community came forth and said they believe they saw two young people, one riding in the wheelchair down the street," said Sykesville police chief John Williams.

Still, police say it's likely the custom wheelchair is trashed, and that scares Jimmy Sawyers, who's had to use a cheaper rental chair that's painful to sit in. He's gotten bedsores and worries he may be hospitalized. He says he wishes the thieves could know what it's like to live like he does.

"My punishment for them would be put them in a wheelchair and have them do the things, live their life for a day in a wheelchair," Sawyer said.