Science Scene

Full liver transplants not necessary for children

A child who needs a liver transplant may not lose their entire liver as a result of a new procedure.

Doctors are trying a new technique, in which children who need liver transplants only have some of their liver removed and also have a transplant liver implanted. This gives time for the child’s own liver to grow back and become fully functional again, while the transplanted liver fades away.

In most cases of transplants, patients are given antirejection drugs for the rest of their life so the patient’s body accepts the donor liver. However, since a child’s liver has the ability to regenerate, doctors can take the children off these drugs, killing the transplanted liver and allowing the natural liver to work.

Antirejection drugs suppress the body’s immune system and increase the chance of infection, making it troublesome for patients. This new technique will bypass this risk and allow the child to live a normal life.

Source: nytimes.com

Momentary touches may communicate more emotion, study says

A wink or a nonchalant smile may not communicate as much as a touch of an arm a new study says.

Physical contact, such as high fives or a hand on your shoulder, has been shown to communicate a wider range of emotions and do so quicker than even gestures or words.

In a series of experiments led by Matthew Hertenstein, a psychologist at DePauw University in Indiana, participants were told to communicate emotions by touch to a blindfolded stranger. The volunteers had a 70 percent success rate.

Researchers attempted to correlate physical contact as a way to better athletic performance in professional basketball, but fell short of a significant correlation.

Source: nytimes.com

New melanoma drug shows promise for cancer patients

For many melanoma patients, the drug known as PLX4032 was their last attempt to live longer than the few months they were told they would live.

After a few weeks on the drug, the tumors that threatened their life started to disappear.

Leading the drug’s clinical trial, University of Pennsylvania oncologist Dr. Keith Flaherty focused on a particular genetic mutation that seemed to cause the disease. It took nearly six years until PLX4032 could be introduced to patients.

This clinical trial is one of the first that tailors directly to a genetic profile of cancer.

Source: nytimes.com

Eating slower cuts calories, study says

If you want to lose weight, you might want to stop eating so quickly.

In a study done last month, researchers found that people who ate slower felt more full then when others ate quicker.

Two groups of participants were given identical servings of ice cream, with one group finishing in five minutes while the other took 30.

The group who ate the ice cream in 30 minutes not only said they felt fuller, but blood samples taken from these volunteers showed an increase of two hormones -glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY- that tell the body it is full.

This led to another study that showed people who eat quickly were three times more likely to be overweight compared to slower eaters.

Source: nytimes.com

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