July 8, 2015

Polls show that somewhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of the U.S. population has some kind of a tattoo.

But does having a tattoo prevent you from donating blood? Probably not.

The most important factor is where you had the tattoo done. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which sets national guidelines for blood centers, you can get a tattoo and then donate blood if the tattoo parlor was licensed by the state, used sterile needles and did not re-use ink.

The tattoo needs to be fully healed by the day of your donation, and it cannot cover the inside of the forearm, where the donation is collected.

But even if your tattoo was done at a non-licensed parlor, or in a state that does not license tattoo parlors, you are eligible after 12 months. (In the United States, there is no licensing in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah or Wyoming.)

July 6, 2015

It looks like a refugee from the airport gift shop.

But for people in Cambodia, the palm-sized iron fish is no curiosity. It’s a lifesaver.

The Lucky Iron Fish is the invention of a Canadian medical student, Christopher Charles. During a trip to Southeast Asia in 2008, he learned that much of Cambodia’s population suffered from iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia.

Anemia is a global concern that can lead to further health problems from miscarriages to general weakness and headaches. The World Heath Organization attributes between 2.4 million and 3.4 million deaths a year to iron deficiency anemia.

Cambodians are particularly susceptible because their diet of mainly rice and fish is naturally low in iron.

Iron supplements are expensive and have unpleasant side effects, and Charles found that getting Cambodians to switch to iron cookware – which would provide enough iron in their diets – was not feasible.

June 29, 2015

More than half of people with type 2 diabetes suffer from a related condition called diabetic neuropathy that causes numbness, weakness pain and muscle spasms.

There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, which is the result of nerve damage related to uncontrolled blood sugar. Current treatments for diabetic neuropathy focus on reducing pain and slowing its development by controlling blood sugar.

But a global team of researchers, using stem cell therapy, may be on track to finding an effective treatment for DN.

The scientists from Emory University and the Korea Basic Science Institute injected what are known as mesenchymal stem cells, collected from bone marrow, in rats with diabetes.

June 22, 2015

When you hear “robot,” what do you think of? Star Wars or Star Trek? Giant arms welding car parts together? Rosie cleaning house on The Jetsons?

How about swimming robots that can navigate your bloodstream to find and kill cancer cells?

Probably not, right?

But an international team of researchers is working on ways to get nanorobots – robots about as long as a fiber of silk is wide – to deliver a knockout punch directly to disease-causing cells.

One of the first problems scientists have to overcome is getting through what would be a fluid as thick as molasses to such a tiny device.

Student records emotional decision to commit to becoming a donor
May 19, 2015

Note: Jon Hudson, Community Engagement Lead for GenCure, recently spoke to a class at the University of the Incarnate Word about joining the national marrow registry. His presentation led one student to record his range of emotions in a brief essay:

Before Jon Hudson from GenCure's Marrow Donor Program made his presentation to our class, I hadn’t given much thought to being a bone marrow donor. The few times it actually did cross my mind, the thought left me less than enthusiastic. I didn’t fancy the idea of undergoing a procedure that at the time I thought would be painful. After all, they’re removing marrow from your bones, so how could that not hurt? The thought of bone marrow donation also led me to wonder about my own mortality. So when Mr. Hudson came to the class, I had the notion that there would be absolutely no way on this good green planet I would ever consider signing up to donate.