Discovered: A shot that reduces double chins; sleeping brains act like they're trying to remember something; research à la carte; a dizzying earthquake simulation machine.
The fat shot. People who want a medical solution to losing fat but don't want to undergo invasive liposuction may have a glimmer of hope in new research led by Dr. Ouliana Ziouzenkova from Ohio State University. She and her colleagues have concocted an injection that burns targeted fat deposits in the neck and stomach areas. The shot is full of genetically modified, heat-producing fatty cells extracted from mice. When the body is inundated with these cells, it turns excess calories into heat rather than fat. "If you wanted to remove a small amount of fat under your face like a double chin, or in their arms or legs, you could target these with a single injection," the scientists write in a study published in the journal Biomaterials. Testing the shot on mice, Ziouzenkova found that over-fed mice lost up to 10 percent of their body weight. If trials on fat dogs go well later this year, the scientists hope to explore the possibility of turning their findings into a treatment for humans. [The Telegraph]
To sleep, perchance to remember. Sleep remains one of science's biggest mystery. Even on a basic level, we aren't sure why we need it. The latests study from UCLA professor of neurophysics Mayank R. Mehta doesn't get to the bottom of this looming question, but it does shed light on what our brains are up to while we snooze. Mehta and his colleagues measured activity in the entorhinal cortex (described as the bridge between the neocortex and the cerebral cortex, or the "old" and "new" brain, respectively) of sleeping mice. They found that the region acts as if it's trying to remember something, pointing towards sleep's possible role in memory formation and retention. ""The big surprise here is that this kind of persistent activity is happening during sleep, pretty much all the time," says Mehta. "These results are entirely novel and surprising. In fact, this working memory–like persistent activity occurred in the entorhinal cortex even under anesthesia." This region of the brain is involved in learning, memory and Alzheimers, and has not been studied in connection with sleep until now. [UCLA]