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November 27, 2012

Human sweat glands contain stem cells used to repair the skin

Blood, sweat and no tears: sweat glands help repair skin - health - 27 November 2012 - New Scientist
HUMANS have evolved a sweaty way to repair skin wounds. It was thought that the body repairs wounds such as bed sores and burns by generating new skin cells from hair follicles or the skin at the edges of the wound – the same way that other animals do. But Laure Rittie from the University of Michigan Medical School and colleagues have shown that a type of sweat gland not found in animals also plays a role. The team used a laser to create minor wounds in 31 volunteers. Over the following week they took skin biopsies of the wound to identify where new skin cells had grown. Before wounding, there were few new cells in the eccrine glands, which help regulate temperature, but four days later there were plenty. This suggests that the glands contain a reservoir of adult stem cells that can be recruited to repair wounds. Humans have three times more eccrine glands than hair follicles, making them the major contributor to new skin cells. The finding is "unexpected and against current dogma", says Elaine Fuchs from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland. Rittie says the work has "taken the first step to identifying new therapies in wound healing".

November 16, 2012

Climate Collapse: If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month

If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month | Grist
Nowhere on the surface of the planet have we seen any record cold temperatures over the course of the year so far. Every land surface in the world saw warmer-than-average temperatures except Alaska and the eastern tip of Russia. The continental United States has been blanketed with record warmth — and the seas just off the East Coast have been much warmer than average, for which Sandy sends her thanks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summarizes October 2012: The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63C (58.23F). This is 0.63C (1.13F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature. Emphasis added. If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. That’s beyond astonishing.
UPDATE: Even When Bloggers Are Bad at Math, Global Climate Change Is Still a Reality

November 15, 2012

Scientists discover stone spear tip 200,000 years older than previously known specimens

First stone-tipped spear thrown earlier than thought - life - 15 November 2012 - New Scientist
The hunt for food led hominins to cast the first stone half a million years ago – 200,000 years earlier than we thought. Archaeologists have found the oldest evidence yet of stone-tipped spears. The new discovery in South Africa suggests that it was neither our species nor Neanderthals that pioneered the use of such spears, but our shared ancestor Homo heidelbergensis. We already knew that Homo heidelbergensis could fashion wooden spears – a 500,000-year-old horse shoulder blade from Boxgrove, UK, has a semicircular hole in it that suggests it was pierced by a spear. "But the hole's bevelled edges and circular shape are not suggestive of a stone-tipped weapon," says Jayne Wilkins at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Stone points used on spears had been found only at sites that date back no more than 300,000 years, and that are associated with Neanderthals or archaic members of our species. That gives huge significance to a new discovery by Wilkins and her colleagues in 500,000-year-old deposits at Kathu Pan in South Africa. The team unearthed a hoard of stone points, each between 4 and 9 centimetres long, that they think belonged to the earliest stone-tipped spears yet found. The stone points are the right shape and size for the job, and some have fractured tips that suggest they were used as weapons.

Energy drinks have sent tens of thousands of Americans to the emergency room

Why Popular Energy Drinks Could Be More Dangerous Than You Think | ThinkProgress
Since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in some 90 filings with the F.D.A., including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion, a summary of F.D.A. records reviewed by The New York Times showed. [...] The number of reports filed with the F.D.A. that mention 5-Hour Energy appears particularly striking. In 2010, for example, the F.D.A. received a total of 17 fatality reports that mentioned a dietary supplement or a weight loss product, two broad categories that cover more than 50,000 products, according to Mr. Fabricant, the F.D.A. official. [...] Another federal agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported late last year that more than 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009 were associated with energy drinks alone.