Alzheimer’s Disease affects over 35 million people worldwide, and it’s expected that by 2050, over 115 million people will suffer from this disease. Understanding this disease is important- so what do worms and paper airplanes have to do with anything?
As you age, proteins in your brain build up and can prevent normal cell function. Neural damage due to protein build-up is seen in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease. But researchers have found a molecule that can enhance defense mechanisms against these toxic proteins. And recent studies have shown that it effectively clears these proteins out of worms (C. elegans) and extends their lifespan.
It sounds far-fetched, but this little worm can actually give scientists a lot of valuable information. By using such simple organisms, researchers can understand more about the underlying mechanisms of dementia. It’s like making paper airplanes- the aerodynamic principles behind paper airplane flight are also relevant when it comes to the principles behind flying a Boeing 777. Think of these little worms as the paper airplanes, and the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient as the Boeing 777. Let’s hope that these worms give researchers the important information they need to help develop a successful therapy for Alzheimer’s!
Snails, slugs and worms secrete a sticky substance that helps to reduce friction and allows them to travel more efficiently. But have you ever seen dried snail trails? That stuff is impossible to remove! For such small, slimy creatures, they sure do leave their marks.
Researchers were intrigued by the properties of these secretions, and they were inspired to create a new surgical glue! This glue is elastic and biodegradeable, sticks to wet tissue, repels blood and water, and can withstand the pressure of a pumping heart and flowing blood. And there’s a chemical in this glue that is activated by ultraviolet light, allowing it to seal wounds while still remaining elastic.
Incisions into delicate tissues can be difficult to close, and this new glue could really give doctors more options. Specifically, researchers are hoping that this glue will revolutionize heart surgery and pediatric surgery. Initial research has been very promising, and this glue will soon be used to seal suture holes that are created during cardiac surgery. If this goes well, future research will involve using this glue in place of sutures, and we’ll have to thank the snails for their inspiration!