Engineers 3D print soft, rubbery brain implants

Technique may enable speedy, on-demand design of softer, safer neural devices.

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The brain is one of our most vulnerable organs, as soft as the softest tofu. Brain implants, on the other hand, are typically made from metal and other rigid materials that over time can cause inflammation and the buildup of scar tissue.

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Ask a Chemist: How does handwashing kill coronavirus?

The physical action of handwashing plus the properties of soap is a one-two punch for the virus.

  • A common recommendation from experts to help protect against coronavirus is to wash your hands often, but why? It turns out that each time you do it is an effective two-pronged attack.
  • As Kate the Chemist explains, the virus has a weak outer membrane. By using the proper handwashing technique, you're actually breaking through that membrane and ripping the virus apart.
  • Soap is an important part of the equation because of its two sides: the hydrophobic side (which grabs onto the virus), and the hydrophilic side (which grabs onto the water). Washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds allows the virus to be rinsed away.

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The plasma debate: The ethics of paying for human blood

Should pharmaceutical companies pay people for their plasma? Here's why paid plasma is a hot ethical issue.

  • Human blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of blood. It is used to treat rare blood conditions and has an increasing number of medical applications.
  • It is a $26 billion industry, and the US is a major exporter of plasma to other nations. Most nations do not collect enough plasma to sustain therapies for their own citizens. The US has such a large supply of plasma because it pays people to donate plasma—a controversial practice.
  • Is it ethical for people to be paid for their plasma? Here, Peter Jaworski, an ethics scholar, explains five key arguments people make against paying people for plasma—safety, security, altruism, commodification, and exploitation—and explains his views on them. What do you think?
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Study spots an autoimmune protein that may cause OCD

An overabundance of this particular protein make mice anxious and is found in human OCD patients.

Image source: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock
  • A study of mice discovers a protein that can induce anxiety if over-expressed.
  • Anxious mice calmed down when the protein was blocked.
  • Human OCD patients studied have six times more of this protein.
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88.1% of NYC coronavirus patients put on ventilators died

If a patient requires a ventilator, a new study finds they have a low chance of survival.

Image source: Bryan R. Smith/Getty
  • This is the first large-case study of COVID-19 outcomes in New York hospitals.
  • The ventilator mortality rate in the study is shocking: 88.1%.
  • The study's data is preliminary, ending April 4, and doesn't include patients still hospitalized at that time or since.
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