Category Archives: Healthcare

New discovery in living cell signaling

By Lynn Yarris – The cellular signaling networks of living cells start with receptor proteins residing on a cell’s surface that detect and interact with the environment. Signals from these receptors are transmitted to chemical networks within the cell that process the incoming information, make decisions, and direct subsequent cellular activities.

“Although cellular signaling networks perform logical operations like a computer microprocessor, they do not operate in the same way,” Jay Groves, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley’s Chemistry Department, says. “The individual computational steps in a standard computer are deterministic; the outcome is determined by the inputs. For the chemical reactions that compose a cellular signaling network, however, the molecular level outcomes are defined by probabilities only. This means that the same input can lead to different outcomes.” more>

How to fix a broken market in antibiotics

By Ben Hirschler and Kate Kelland – The drugs don’t work – and neither does the market, when it comes to antibiotics.

When sophisticated bugs that medicines used to kill within days start to fight back and win, all of healthcare, and the people it keeps alive, is in trouble.

“This is…not a science issue. This is an issue of markets and economics,” said Britain’s chief medical officer Sally Davies. “A scientist would just get bogged down and not get it.”

The key challenge is how to reward companies for finding drugs like Sirturo that must be used as sparingly as possible to avoid resistance developing – in effect, breaking the traditional link between payment and prescription volume. more>

Updates from GE

Universal Calorie Counter Within Reach?

GE – The analysis allowed Matt Webster and his team to write an equation that estimates calories in food with just three simple measurements: weight, fat content and water content.

“The equation takes the fat, water content numbers and assumes values for the rest.”

The rest is a combination of sugars, carbs, proteins and other ingredients. “You actually don’t need to know the details,” he says. “We just have to account for it. That’s the secret sauce.” more>

How Our Minds Actually Affect Our Bodies


Nothing: Surprising Insights Everywhere from Zero to Oblivion, Author: Jeremy Webb.

By Maria Popova – What the researchers found was startling in its implications for medicine, philosophy, and spirituality — despite being aware they were taking placebos, the participants rated their symptoms as “moderately improved” on average. In other words, they knew what they were taking wasn’t a drug — it was a medical “nothing” — but the very consciousness of taking something made them experience fewer symptoms.

“Realism can be bad for your health. Optimists recover better from medical procedures such as coronary bypass surgery, have healthier immune systems and live longer, both in general and when suffering from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and kidney failure.

“Optimism seems to reduce stress-induced inflammation and levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. It may also reduce susceptibility to disease by dampening sympathetic nervous system activity and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter governs what’s called the “rest-and-digest” response — the opposite of fight-or-flight.” more>

The Science of Our Optimism Bias and the Life-Cycle of Happiness


The Science of Optimism: Why We’re Hard-Wired for Hope, Author: Tali Sharot.

By Maria Popova – “Although the belief in a better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress, and improves physical health. This is probably the most surprising benefit of optimism. All else being equal, optimists are healthier and live longer.

“It is not just that healthy people are more optimistic, but optimism can enhance health. Expecting our future to be good reduces stress and anxiety, which is good for our health.” more>