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Stories by Katherine Harmon

Evolution

Baby Mice Born from Eggs Made from Stem Cells

Stem cells have been coaxed into creating everything from liver cells to beating heart tissue. Recently, these versatile cells were even used to make fertile mouse sperm, suggesting that stem cell technology might eventually be able to play a role in the treatment of human infertility.Now two types of stem cells have been turned into viable mouse egg cells that were fertilized and eventually yielded healthy baby mice...

October 4, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Evolution

Super-Toxic Snake Venom Could Yield New Painkillers

A bite from the black mamba snake ( Dendroaspis polylepis ) can kill an adult human within 20 minutes. But mixed in with that toxic venom is a new natural class of compound that could be used to help develop new painkillers.Named "mambalgins," these peptides block acute and inflammatory pain in mice as well as morphine does, according to a new study.Researchers, led by Sylvie Diochot, of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at Nice University, Sophia Antipolis in France, purified the peptides from the venom and profiled the compounds' structure...

October 3, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Sustainability

Silk-Based Electronics Dissolve on Cue for Vanishing Medical Implants

Imagine an electronic medical implant that, like dissolvable stitches, could disintegrate after it is no longer needed. An innovative combination of silk and silicon have now been used to create just such ephemeral but effective devices, including diodes, transistors, mini heaters and stress sensors.A flexible device that is just nanometers thick can fight post-surgical infections or even capture images—until its work is done, when it vanishes right on cue...

September 27, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Health

Can Personal Technology Stop the Obesity Epidemic?

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—So much of our information from—and interaction with—the world is now mediated by computers, cell phones and tablets that health experts have been practically running themselves ragged trying to find ways to use these conduits to help people make healthier choices.Great success stories have come out of parts of the developing world, where cell phones have been used to improve maternal and infant care and help people adhere to medication guidelines...

September 25, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
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