It’s every couch potato’s dream to have a pill that can deliver the benefits of exercise without moving a muscle. That’s a long way off… but a study in the journal Nature Communications shows that a class of naturally occuring proteins called Sestrin can do just that in flies and mice. Scientists hope they can find out how it works to help combat muscle wasting due to aging and other causes. 



Medical notes this week…

Cancer death rates have made the biggest one-year drop ever recorded. A new report from the American Cancer Society finds that in 2017, the overall cancer death rate dropped more than two percent—thanks in large part to a decline in lung cancer deaths. Since they peaked in 1991, lung cancer death rates have dropped by 29 percent. Cancer remains the number two killer in the United States, claiming more than 600,000 lives annually. Among those under age 80, it’s the number one cause of death.

Colonoscopy is currently the best way to find colon cancer, but it has its drawbacks. Very small lesions are hard to see, and even then, only the surface of the colon wall is examined. Now a new experimental technique using a special kind of imaging and machine learning has been developed, which can look up to two centimeters deep into the tissue. Combined with regular colonoscopy, researchers say it’s 100 percent accurate.

About 8,000 liver transplants were done last year in the United States, but far more could be performed. One factor holding the number back is that livers can be safely stored outside the body for just a few hours. Now a study in the journal Nature Biotechnology demonstrates a new machine that can keep livers alive for a week. as part of the study, researchers also put livers that were too damaged for transplant on the machine, and saw them return to full function within seven days. The next step will be to use those repaired organs for transplant.

And finally… it’s every couch potato’s dream to have a pill that can deliver the benefits of exercise without moving a muscle. That’s a long way off, but a study in the journal Nature Communications shows that a class of naturally occuring proteins called Sestrin can do just that in flies and mice. Scientists hope they can find out how it works to help combat muscle wasting due to aging and other causes.

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