Man Diagnosed 'Comatose' For 23 Years Was Actually Conscious All Along

In what can only be described as a harrowing instance of misdiagnosis, a Belgian man presumed comatose for 23 years after a near-fatal car crash was actually conscious and paralyzed the entire time. Rom Houben, whose real state was discovered three years ago but only now made public, could be one of many falsely diagnosed coma cases, raising serious questions about those diagnosed as "vegetative" and, even more frighteningly, the process by which vegetative people are removed from life support.

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Scientists Stun Nematode Worms With UV Phaser Straight Out Of Star Trek

Star Trek introduced the world to a wide range of fictional technology, most of which, like beaming or warp drive, will likely remain fiction. However, a team of scientists from the University of Canada has taken the phaser, the show's famous stun-laser, out of the TV and into reality. Unfortunately, right now it only works on worms.

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Implantable Device Allows Mastectomy Patients to Regrow Own Breasts

While mastectomies save many women from breast cancer, they often leave the subject feeling depressed, unattractive and ashamed. Some women opt for breast implants in an attempt to regain their lost positive body image, but an Australian doctor has now developed a device that allows women to regrow their lost breast using their own tissue.

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An Ultrasound Encryption Scheme Makes Artificial Organs Hack-Proof

Securing Implantable Devices: Researchers are testing their system using an implanted device in the abdominal wall of a cow.
Implantable medical devices have improved the quality of life for many with conditions like arrhythmia or chronic heart failure, but an increased reliance on electronics to keep our bodies ticking comes with inherent security risks; as more and more devices rely on wireless capabilities to communicate vital data to doctors, the possibility that devices could come under attack from third parties is harrowing at best.

Think about it: Would you want someone launching the equivalent of a denial-of-service attack on the device that keeps your heart beating properly?

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Synthetic Molecules Trick Body Into Improved Immune Response to HIV, Cancer

When it comes to eluding detection, HIV and cancer cells are at the top of the class. As such, the few treatments currently available to sufferers of HIV or prostate cancer are generally expensive, often hard to manufacture, and come packaged with a smattering of unpleasant side effects. But Yale researchers have now developed synthetic molecules that help the body recognize HIV and prostate cancer cells as threats, tricking the body into initiating an immune response that it normally would not.

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Anti-Paralysis Shot Improves Spinal Recovery Three Times As Fast

Purdue researchers tinkering with a nano-scale cancer drug delivery system may have discovered something just as good: an injection that repairs spinal cord damage far faster than any previous treatment. Synthetic “copolymer micelles” have been used for three decades as drug delivery vehicles in research, but it turns out they can directly treat spinal cord injuries when injected into the bloodstream shortly after an accident.

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Silk-Silicon Implantable Electronics Conform to Tissues, Then Melt Away

Implantable electronics like pacemakers are old hat, but these kinds of implants are limited by the fact that they must be encased to protect them from the body, and vice versa. But in the quest to make our bodies ever more bionic, researchers have now developed implantable silicon-silk electronics that almost dissolve completely inside the body, leaving behind nanocircuitry that could be used for improved electrical interfaces for nervous system tissues or photonic tattoos that display blood-sugar readouts on the skin’s surface.

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Lawsuit Banning Human Gene Patents Continues, Court Rules

The ACLU is one step closer to getting patents on human genes banned after a federal court today ruled that its lawsuit can continue. The defendants (The US Patent and Trademark Office and the owners of the BRCA breast cancer gene patent) had asked the court to dismiss the case.

About 20 percent of the human genome is currently patented, including genes associated with many diseases such as breast cancer and Alzheimer's. The patents mean that outside researchers need permission to study the genes and that tests can be astronomically expensive. (The test for BRCA is about $3,000.)

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Kissing Evolved To Spread Germs, Not Feelings

It looks like your kindergarten gut reaction to kissing might have been correct after all: it really is sick. Or, more specifically, the practice is designed to spread sickness. British scientists say the human habit of kissing evolved for less-than-romantic reasons, but one that is nonetheless important to a healthy reproductive relationship: to spread germs.

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Electric Fields Halt Spread of Brain Cancer

Until the naked mole rats yield their secrets, humanity will still have to worry about treating and controlling cancer. And to that end, one company may have figured out a novel way to prevent the spread of a highly dangerous form of brain cancer, through the use of pulsing electric fields.

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Med Students Use P2P File Sharing To Get Restricted Access Papers

While some companies hope an iTunes-like approach to distributing scientific papers on the cheap will get journal articles into the hands of people who need them, a new study shows that many medical students are already taking the Napster approach. A new paper studying the downloading habits of medical students found 125,000 users of peer-to-peer filesharing services who obtained some 5,000 scientific papers for free, circumventing the usual $30 fee.

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Hideous Rodent May Provide Cure For Cancer

The naked mole rat is immune to cancer. At last, scientists have figured out why

Naked mole rats are unique in many ways. For one, they're the only mammals with a hive mind, obeying their queen as if they were ants. Also, they feel no pain, an adaptation still not fully understood. But most importantly for us, they are the only animals that don't get cancer.

And now, a new study by scientists at the University of Rochester, New York, explains at last why these horrific animals, of all of the world's creatures, are immune to cancer.

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Robotic Pathologist Performs Precise, Clean Autopsies on Humans

Dr. Michael Baden, Meet Your Replacement :  University of Bern, via New Scientist
Autopsies, for all the useful information they provide, have significant downsides. They are often upsetting to the deceased's family, they prevent people from receiving certain kinds of religious burials, and they leave a bit of a mess. To correct for those problems and more, a team at the University of Bern, Switzerland, has developed a robot that can perform virtual autopsies.

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Successful Gene Therapy For Blindness Restores Eight-Year-Old Boy's Vision, Maze Navigation Skills

In a rare success for gene therapy, sight is regained in one eye

Lab mice, perk up your fuzzy little ears. You are not the only species that struggles through mazes in the name of science. Here, it's an eight-year-old boy who can't see too well. But don't feel bad, in the second video he aces the test when he's allowed to use his eye that's been treated with gene therapy. This procedure is one of the few successful applications of gene therapy, a technique that people once thought would cure nearly all ills, but problems getting the genes into the body's cells has plagued the field every step of the way.

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Scientists Find A Precision Clock Logging the Milliseconds Inside Your Brain

Though we do it without thinking, keeping track of time is integral to the brain's function, keeping our senses and our actions ordered in a chronology that we then recall in the form of memory. But important as it is, researchers have never understood the mechanism by which humans index the happenings of everyday life. Now, two macaque monkeys may have helped MIT researchers solve the time tracking puzzle.

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