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Doctors Repair Infants’ Damaged Hearts With Experimental Procedure

THE POWERHOUSE OF THE CELL. Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a new kind of transplant that is giving infants with damaged hearts a chance to lead a normal, healthy life. These babies aren’t receiving new organs, though. Instead, doctors are transplanting mitochondria from the infant’s own muscle cells right into their failing hearts — and they’re finding the experimental procedure produces remarkable results, according to a new report by The New York Times.

Every cell in our body contains a mitochondrion. These tiny specialized structures provide the cell with the energy it needs to do its thing. If a cell loses its supply of oxygen-rich blood, its mitochondrion can die, and the rest of the cell can follow. This damage to the mitochondrion can sometimes happen to heart cells during cardiac arrest or surgery to fix a heart defect. Even if the cells survive, they may be weak, and the heart can’t beat normally as a result.

A FULL RECOVERY. James McCully is a scientist who studies adult hearts. Through his research, he realized something remarkable about mitochondria: if he extracted the mitochondria from the muscle cells in a pig’s abdomen and injected them into the animal’s damaged (but not dead) heart cells, the pig’s heart recovered.

In 2015, McCully teamed up with Sitaram Emani, a pediatric heart surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, to test the mitochondrial transplant in a newborn with a heart damaged during surgery to fix a defect. McCully extracted roughly 1 billion mitochondria from a small piece of muscle from the baby’s abdomen and injected them back into the most damaged part of the baby’s heart. Within two days, the baby’s heart was beating the same way a healthy one would.

SAVING LIVES. In total, the doctors have tested their mitochondrial transplant technique in 11 newborns, and eight of those babies are now doing well, according to The NYT’s report. For infants with the same condition that hadn’t received such a transplant, the death rate was 65 percent. Of the 35 percent that survived, none recovered their heart function, and a third ended up on transplant waiting lists. So the procedure, if it proves to be effective, would help improve the lives of children who had few other options.

Finding enough pediatric patients for a clinical trial of this technique would be difficult, so the researchers plan to conduct a trial in adult patients undergoing bypass or bypass and valve surgery. As Annetine Gelijns, a biostatistician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, told The NYT, that trial will likely begin in 2019. So it might not be long before we know for sure whether mitochondrial transplants are an effective treatment option for damaged hearts.

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Here’s How Cars Are Secretly Making You Sleepier

Most of us have probably felt sleepy on a car journey, but it’s not always due to an early start, or a long day, or a lack of caffeine.

New research shows that something in the actual act of car travel can make even the most alert of us start to feel drowsy.

It’s all to do with the vibrations a car makes as it moves: they can bring on sleepiness in just 15 minutes, the new study shows.

That’s something for both car manufacturers and road safety experts to think about, according to the researchers from RMIT University in Australia. They want to conduct further studies into how car seat vibrations could be secretly bringing on sleep.

“When you’re tired, it doesn’t take much to start nodding off and we’ve found that the gentle vibrations made by car seats as you drive can lull your brain and body,” says one of the team, Stephen Robinson.

sleep drive 2The virtual simulator. (RMIT)

“Our study shows steady vibrations at low frequencies – the kind we experience when driving cars and trucks – progressively induce sleepiness even among people who are well rested and healthy.”

Robinson and his colleagues hooked 15 volunteers up to a virtual simulator that they could vibrate at different frequencies. The volunteers were tested twice, once with no vibration, and once with low-frequency 4-7KHz vibrations.

They then measured the heart rate variability (HRV) of the participants over the course of each 60-minute session. HRV is an indicator of drowsiness because it shows the body tweaking its central nervous system as it gets tired.

The monitors showed drowsiness kicking in for the drivers after just 15 minutes. On average, the drowsiness was “significant” by 30 minutes, and the volunteers continued to feel sleepier and sleepier until the tests finished.

What might be happening, the researchers say, is that the brain becomes synchronised to the vibrations and enters an early stage of sleep – hence why you might get a whole car full of people nodding off on a long trip.

The study does have some limitations we should talk about: only 15 people were tested, and at only one narrow range of frequencies.

They were also sent down a rather monotonous, two-lane virtual highway, without the distractions of a real drive.

But with tiredness a factor in around 1 in 5 fatal accidents on the road, it’s important that we find out exactly what’s going on. The researchers want to continue their work by looking at bigger groups of people and more ranges of frequencies.

Even if the effect can’t be negated completely, changes in car seat design could minimise it. In fact, the study team thinks the opposite effect could be engineered – at least until self-driving cars arrive and we can all fall asleep in peace.

“Our research also suggests that vibrations at some frequencies may have the opposite effect and help keep people awake,” says Robinson.

“So we also want to examine a wider range of frequencies, to inform car designs that could potentially harness those ‘good vibrations’.”

The research has been published in Ergonomics.

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New BlackFly flying car prototype that anyone can pilot

A Silicon Valley startup has developed a flying car prototype that it claims ‘anyone can pilot.’

Called BlackFly, the single-seat, all-electric aircraft doesn’t require the flyer to have a pilot license in order to operate it in the US, according to Palo Alto-based Opener.

Opener first drew up concepts for BlackFly nine years ago and has now built an early prototype that can travel 25 miles at speeds of up to 62mph.

A Silicon Valley startup has developed a flying car prototype that it claims ‘anyone can pilot.’ Called BlackFly, the single-seat, all-electric aircraft doesn’t require a pilot’s license to fly

BlackFly is an ultralight vehicle that consumes less energy than a traditional electric car and is also built to be steathily quiet.

The battery can be recharged in as little as 25 minutes.

Users don’t need a pilot’s license to operate it, but they must take part in minimal training, including sitting in a simulator for about five minutes.

It’s powered by eight, small electric motors and controlled using a responsive joystick.

Opener CEO Marcus Leng hopes that the BlackFly flying car will be ready to go on sale as soon as next year.

Unlike other flying car models, Leng plans to keep BlackFly affordable, with a price tag near the cost of a traditional SUV.

Earlier models may be more expensive, however.

‘Opener is re-energizing the art of flight with a safe and affordable flying vehicle that can free its operators from the everyday restrictions of ground transportation,’ Leng said in a statement.

The hope is to democratize ‘three-dimensional transportation’ such as flying cars, while maintaining safety.

Opener has conducted rigorous testing on BlackFly, including 1,000-plus flights and 10,000-plus miles flown.

‘We first flew 10,000 miles. We did a thousand-plus flights,’ Leng told CBS. ‘Autonomous. And we had a payload of 2,000 pounds.’

Users don’t need a pilot’s license to operate it, but they must take part in minimal training given by Opener, including sitting in a simulator for about five minutes

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Video Shows Car-Like Acceleration of Tesla’s Electric Truck

I happen to find trucks, big rigs or whatever you prefer to call them, very fascinating. I’ve always been awe struck by them since I was younger, and still have the same fascination to this day. Similar to trains, I think part of that fascination is the power. Thanks to Elon Musk, trucks are now taking advantage of the tremendous leaps that have been made in electric power technology.

This is quite incredible!

via Science Alert:

In Elon Musk’s future, you’ll never have to change lanes to avoid being stuck behind a truck at the lights again.

Here’s some more footage of someone having an excellent time testing Tesla’s electric truck in a residential area recently:

You might notice the hammer goes down as soon as the driver hits the 25mph (40km/h) zone.

And it’s not just because it’s unladen that the truck is pulling stunts you’ll only otherwise see at a drag strip.

Tesla claims the truck can hit 100 km/h in 20 seconds, even when fully loaded.

We can’t wait to see more.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

Additional Video via johannes h. – YouTube

The new Tesla Semi Truck:
+ 0-60 mph (96km/h) in 5 sec
+ 500miles (800km) of range
+ $180.000

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