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🧊 The Plunge - December 13, 2023

Published 6 months ago • 3 min read

Clarity on staying healthy and happy arrives every day, from all corners of the globe. The Plunge brings you the information you always wanted: current, clear-cut answers from the world's leading scientists and creators.



TECH

Listening to Our Bodies

A new wearable device for continuously monitoring body sounds for health purposes has been developed by researchers at Northwestern University. The devices, published in Nature Medicine, are soft, miniaturized, and adhere to the skin. This may just be a game changing moment for the wearable community, enabling continuous, wireless tracking of sounds from various body parts.

The published study involved 15 premature babies with respiratory and intestinal issues and 55 adults, some with chronic lung diseases. The devices use digital microphones and micro accelerometers to capture sounds related to lung airflow, heart rhythm, and intestinal movements. The innovation is particularly promising for the possibilities it may lead to through continuous health monitoring. For immature babies, sound is necessary for tracking breathing and identifying gastrointestinal complications. While in adults, especially those with chronic lung disease, the devices can highlight issues though analysis of lung sounds.

Smart watches are now commonplace and have provided major insight into our bodies. These mini-microphones will add yet another dimension to our understanding.

News Medical


RESEARCH

The Science of Fasting

A study out of King’s College London, presented at the European Nutrition Conference last month, provides further support for time restricted eating. Mood and energy improvements as well as reduced hunger can come from slight restrictions to one's eating window. The protocol tested, involving ten-hours of eating and fourteen of fasting, isn't exceptionally restrictive but showed noticeable improvements.

Over 37,000 participants were studied using the ZEO health app, in which they ate normally for one week then followed the fasting protocol for two. Participants consistently following the ten-hour eating window experienced greater benefits than those with varying eating schedules. Although the findings haven't been subjected to a peer-review testing process, the study's chief scientist emphasized the practicality and positivity of the outcomes. Ten hours is plenty of time for eating, and of course, the best diets are the ones we keep.

King's College London

CRISPR Goes Live

CRISPR's here. Two new gene therapies were recently approved by the FDA for treating sickle cell disease, including the first CRISPR treatment approved in the US. Nearly 100,000 Americans are affected by the condition which causes deformations in red blood cells and can lead to severe complications such as anemia, organ damage, and early death.

Bone marrow transplants have previously been the mot effective treatment, though it's not a simple process and not widely applicable. Casgevy, the CRISPR therapy, involves editing a gene in bone marrow stem cells to reactivate the production of fetal hemoglobin which don't deform red blood cells like sickle hemoglobin. In trials, 93.5% of patients receiving Casgevy avoided vaso-occlusive crises, a serious blood flow issue, for at least 12 months.

The therapy is riding a perfect storm for the introduction of CRISPR, offering massive potential for sickle-cell disease, which has otherwise had few treatments. Beyond the value it will bring to the suffering, the normalization of CRISPR therapy within healthcare may be its biggest impact.

FDA

Spray Your Coffee Beans

A chemist and a volcanologist walk into a bar... now coffee may never be the same. The two discussed similarities between their espresso and volcanoes and proceeded to test the impact of moisture on each. The resulting research, recently published in the journal Matter, analyzed the impact of adding water to coffee beans before grinding. The process, known as the Ross droplet technique, reduces static electricity on the grounds which decreases clumping and improves espresso quality.

The chemist, Christopher Hendon, focuses his studies on optimizing espresso brewing. Beyond this work, his team previously found that fewer beans, coarser grind, and less water produces more consistent high-quality espresso. For the latest research, they experimented with various roasts and grinding methods, confirming that moisture level greatly influences static charge and clumping. The insight came from the realization, discussed over a pint at the pub, that volcanic eruptions have a similar build-up of electric charge and moisture contributes to clumping in both scenarios.

ArsTechnica


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by Corey Garvey

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