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13-Year-Old Boy Builds Braille Printer With Legos And Starts Company

In Silicon Valley, it’s never too early to become an entrepreneur. Just ask 13-year-old Shubham Banerjee.

The California eighth-grader has launched a company to develop low-cost machines to print Braille, the tactile writing system for the visually impaired. Tech giant Intel Corp. recently invested in his startup, Braigo Labs.

Shubham built a Braille printer with a Lego robotics kit as a school science fair project last year after he asked his parents a simple question: How do blind people read? “Google it,” they told him.

Shubham then did some online research and was shocked to learn that Braille printers, also called embossers, cost at least $2,000 — too expensive for most blind readers, especially in developing countries.

Long-Term Use Of Hormonal Contraceptives Is Associated With An Increased Risk Of A Rare Brain Tumor, Study Finds

Taking a hormonal contraceptive for at least five years is associated with a possible increase in a young woman’s risk of developing a rare tumour, glioma of the brain.

This project focused on women aged 15-49 years and the findings are published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Hormonal contraceptives, including oral contraceptives, contain female sex hormones and are widely used by women all over the world. While only a little is known about the causes of glioma and other brain tumours, there is some evidence that female sex hormones may increase the risk of some cancer types, although there is also evidence that contraceptive use may reduce the risk in certain age groups. “This prompted us to evaluate whether using hormonal contraceptives might influence the risk of gliomas in women of the age range who use them,” says research team leader Dr David Gaist of the Odense University Hospital and University of Southern Denmark.

Fine Motor Skills For Robotic Hands

Tying shoelaces, stirring coffee, writing letters, playing the piano. From the usual daily routine to demanding activities: Our hands are used more frequently than any other body part. Through our highly developed fine motor skills, we are able to perform grasping movements with variable precision and power distribution. This ability is a fundamental characteristic of the hand of primates. Until now, it was unclear how hand movements are planned in the brain. The most recent research project of Stefan Schaffelhofer, Andres Agudelo-Toro and Hansjörg Scherberger from the German Primate Center has shown how different grasping movements in the brain are controlled in rhesus monkeys.

Using electrophysiological measurements in those areas of the brain that are responsible for the planning and execution of hand movements, the scientists could predict a variety of hand positions through the analysis of exact neural signals. In initial experiments, the application of decrypted grip types was transferred to a robot hand. The results of the study will be incorporated in the future development of neuroprostheses, which will be used to enable paralyzed patients the recovery of hand functions.

Insulin Pump Moves One Step Closer To An Artificial Pancreas

Medtronic, Inc. today announced the start of the global launch of the MiniMed 640G System, the next breakthrough toward an artificial pancreas.  With the introduction of Medtronic’s exclusive SmartGuard technology, MiniMed 640G is designed to help people with diabetes achieve better glucose control through advanced protection from hypoglycemia. The system is the first in the world to both automatically suspend insulin delivery when sensor glucose levels are predicted to approach a low limit and resume insulin delivery once sensor glucose levels recover. The system includes the Enhanced Enlite sensor, which continuously monitors glucose levels with accuracy and comfort. It also incorporates a new insulin pump design to provide convenient diabetes management with a simple user interface, full-color screen, waterproofing and remote bolus.

“Managing hypoglycemia and rebound hyperglycemia after treatment is one of the biggest challenges of managing diabetes,” said Prof. Tim Jones, clinical professor at the University of Western Australia, and head of the diabetes department at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, Australia. “By suspending insulin delivery before the sensor glucose reaches a low limit, the MiniMed 640G System can help prevent severe hypoglycemia. In addition, with this new feature, hyperglycemic rebound may be avoided by resuming insulin delivery once those glucose levels recover6, making this a very valuable tool for achieving better glucose control.”

Connection Between Childhood Adversity, Psychiatric Disorders Seen At Cellular Level

In a new study published online in Biological Psychiatry  on researchers from Butler Hospital identify an association between biological changes on the cellular level and both childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders. These changes in the form of telomere shortening and alterations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), are important in the aging process, and this new research provides evidence that psychosocial factors–specifically childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders– may also influence these cellular changes and could lead to accelerated aging.

Mitochondria convert molecules from food into energy that can be used by cells and also play a key role in cellular growth, signaling, and death. Telomere shortening is also a measure of advanced cellular aging. Recent studies have examined the possible connection between mitochondria and psychiatric disorders, but the research is very limited, and no prior work has examined the relationship of mitochondrial DNA to psychosocial stress. “We are interested in these relationships because there is now clear evidence that stress exposure and psychiatric conditions are associated with inflammation and health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Identifying the changes that occur at a cellular level due to these psychosocial factors allows us to understand the causes of these poor health conditions and possibly the overall aging process.” said Audrey Tyrka, MD, PhD, Director of the Laboratory for Clinical and Translational Neuroscience at Butler Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University.

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