Saturday, 20 April 2013

Plaster me in!

That moment, when you slice your finger with the knife you were using to cut the carrots, or the day when you fell over in primary school and badly grazed your knee. Either way the First Aid kit is the first thing to reach for, and a plaster would be the first thing to hand.

Plasters not only protect the cut from any invading pathogens in the air, but it also helps to keep the wound moist for better healing. However, the DREADED moment always  occurs when washing your hands or going in the shower....The plaster always tumbles off and falls into a heap leaving a very fragile piece of skin exposed. Which, frankly hurts so much, when water splashes onto the wound.

Well, if this has happened to you, fear no more!

American scientists have designed a new form of plaster based upon the action of the parasitic worm Pomphorhynus laevis. The plaster is expected to be used (at the moment) specifically for burns patients. The 4 x 4 cm patch has essentially a bed of fine needles, which when applied to the body can attach to the skin, up to 3 times stronger than the regular plaster, which uses a sticky adhesive. Not only is this beneficial  but the scientists also think they could use the spikes for therapeutic purposes to administer medication subcutaneously.

Additionally, once the new spiked plaster is removed it inflicts less trauma on the tissues than the regular adhesive counterparts. Making it a very practical advance in pharmacological treatments.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Father of IVF has sadly died

The great trailblazer in the world of In vitro fertilisation (IVF), Sir Robert Edwards has sadly passed away, on 10th April 2013.

Edwards, has helped to bring joy to many families across the world, by developing the technique of IVF which has helped to create over 4 million "test-tube" babies. Edwards along with Patrick Steptoe devised the technique of fertilising an egg with a sperm outside of the body.

The process itself involves monitoring a woman's (the mother's) ovulation patterns and then removing multiple eggs from her ovaries. Sperm is then collected from the father, and both the sperm and egg are placed into a fluid in the laboratory. This then allows the sperm to fertilise the egg (or eggs). The woman's menstrual cycle is then monitored and the fertilised egg is inserted into the woman's uterus where it will later hopefully develop into a successful pregnancy.

8 years after the development of the technique, Louise Brown was born in 1978, becoming the world's first test tube baby.

Edwards was awarded the Noble Prize in 2010 for his work in the development in IVF and then the following year he was awarded a knighthood for his services to human reproductive biology.