Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Look At What We Can Do With Science"

There are some incredible inventions happening in this day and age. It really makes you wonder if anything is impossible. The first article I happened across in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required, but contact me if you want me to email you a copy of the full article)yesterday:

Five soldiers at a military base in Texas are about to participate in a remarkable test to see if they can regrow portions of fingers they lost in the war in Iraq.
Doctors plan to treat them with a fine powder called extracellular matrix, harvested from pig bladders. The material, found in all animals, is the scaffolding that cells latch onto as they divide and grow into tissue and body parts. In the human body, it was long thought to be inert. But scientists have discovered that it appears to activate latent biological processes that spur healing and regenerate tissue.
Medical researchers have been making intriguing progress in the field of regenerative medicine. The pilot test in Texas shows how doctors are trying to apply their recent discoveries to a pressing challenge: helping thousands of Americans returning from Iraq to recover from wounds that would have killed soldiers a generation ago...

...In 2005, Dr. Spievack's brother, Lee, who runs a hobby shop in Cincinnati, accidentally lopped about three-eighths of an inch off the top of his middle finger on the propeller of a model airplane. He decided against the skin graft recommended by a hand surgeon and consulted his brother. Dr. Spievack sent him a vial of matrix powder.
Lee Spievack applied it every other day for 10 days, until he ran out. By that time, he recalls, "I could already see the finger was starting to regenerate itself." In four weeks, the wound was healed. In four months, he says, except for a tiny scar, "it was like the finger I always had." Winter, he says, has revealed one difference: "The finger is only about 2 years old, whereas the rest of me is 68. In the cold weather, all my finger tips have cracked except this one."

In addition to actually creating new digits and hopefully soon limbs for people (not to mention things like aorta, bladders, and whatnot), scientists have found ways to turn carrots into carbon fiber:
FROM dangling to angling. The humble carrot is set to be used in ways never imagined before, thanks to a discovery by two Scottish scientists who have found a way to convert the vegetable into an advanced material to make products from fishing rods to warships.
The development is the brain-child of Dr David Hepworth and Dr Eric Whale, who have created the material, named Curran, at their company CelluComp in Burntisland, Fife. Their first product - a rod for fly fishing - goes on sale next month.
But they are not stopping there. The pair now plan to move on to make snowboards and car parts and say the material could also be used to make engineering components and even battleships.
It sounds like the USS Carrot Top could become a reality after all.

No comments: