from the world's big
No, its not just to keep you warm with hair you don't have.
- A new study suggests that goosebumps are part of a larger system that not only keeps us warm, but also helps hair to heal.
- The sympathetic nerve system reacts to cold air with goose skin. If it stays on long enough, it orders new hair growth.
- The authors note that other, currently unknown, connections between this system and other parts of the body are likely to exist.
A hair-raising study<p>In animals, many organs are made of three kinds of tissue: epithelium, mesenchyme, and nerve. In the skin, which is an organ, a nerve connects to muscle in the mesenchyme. This nerve is part of the sympathetic nervous system and helps maintain homeostasis. The muscle itself is connected to stem cells in the epithelium that heal wounds and regenerate hair follicles.</p><p>The researchers focused on mice, as is typical in these studies, but suggest that the findings are also applicable to humans given the similarity between our skin and hair cells. </p><p>The researchers examined the behavior and structure of the nerve under an electron microscope. To their surprise, the nerve was not only attached to the previously mentioned muscle tissue but also wrapped around hair follicle stem cells. </p><p>In normal conditions, the sympathetic nervous system is always operating at a low level. This keeps the body functioning normally. When the researchers observed this behavior, they noticed signals being sent by the nervous system to the stem cells in the hair follicles. These signals seem to keep the stem cells at the ready for potential use. </p><p>However, when the researchers exposed the tissues to the cold, the activity ramped up. A flood of neurotransmitters was released, and the stem cells activated. This prompted new hair growth to begin. </p><p>Another experiment dove into how the nerve reached the stem cells in the first place. Co-Author Yulia Shwartz explained the findings in a press release:</p><p>"We discovered that the signal comes from the developing hair follicle itself. It secretes a protein that regulates the formation of the smooth muscle, which then attracts the sympathetic nerve. Then in the adult, the interaction turns around, with the nerve and muscle together regulating the hair follicle stem cells to regenerate the new hair follicle. It's closing the whole circle -- the developing hair follicle is establishing its own niche." </p><p>Putting this together, it appears that goosebumps are part of a two-phased response to cold. In the first, the muscle below the skin is stimulated to form goosebumps. If this stimulation lasts long enough, the second phase kicks in, with the sympathetic nervous system calling for new hair growth and repairs for the old ones to be made in response to the cold. </p>
This is interesting and all, but what possible application could this information have?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="a1mxkAJg" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="34227067ef7afd2e24cf95e8c455de17"> <div id="botr_a1mxkAJg_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/a1mxkAJg-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/a1mxkAJg-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/a1mxkAJg-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>In their <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/hu-trr072020.php" target="_blank">press release</a>, the authors suggest that further research can focus on how the body repairs itself in response to environmental stimuli in various situations. The findings also imply that other currently unsuspected connections between the sympathetic nervous system and other parts of the body exist. These potential interactions will undoubtedly be searched for and examined.</p><p> Everybody gets goosebumps now and then. We've always assumed we knew why we still get them, even though the hypothesis had some holes. This study's findings show that the benefits of getting goosebumps are more complex than initially thought. It just goes to remind us that we still have much to learn about even the most mundane things.</p>
Doctors may be missing fatal illnesses because medical textbooks are biased toward white skin.
- A medical student in the UK recently created a handbook to help trainee doctors recognize life-threatening conditions on black and brown skin.
- "Mind the Gap" includes images that display how certain illnesses appear on both darker and lighter skin tones.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems with suspected coronavirus patients being asked if they are "pale" or if their lips "turned blue".
Mind the Gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUwMzY4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDA2MjE4N30.LtHZlsQNOQdcpPiCKiFs-ooHpJS5fd9ZuzGt3gyR7dA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1605%2C0%2C507&height=700" id="23357" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bce1d08be9de55c4f969d605723bec67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt=""Mind the Gap" handbook" />
Photo Credit: St George's University of London<p>Mukwende has been working with Senior Lecturer in Diversity and Medical Education, Margot Turner, and Clinical Lecturer in Clinical Skills, Peter Tamony on the handbook "Mind the Gap" as part of a <a href="https://www.sgul.ac.uk/for-students/student-experience/student-staff-partnership-grants" target="_blank">student-staff partnership project</a> looking at clinical teaching on black and brown skins.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2578" target="_blank">British Medical Journal</a>, Mind the Gap aims "to teach medical students and other health professionals about the importance of recognizing how some conditions can present differently in darker skins."</p><p>The book includes images that display how certain illnesses appear on both darker and lighter skin tones. Additionally, it includes suggestions for appropriate phrases and vernacular for doctors to use with their patients. </p><p>"It is important that we as future healthcare professionals are aware of these differences so that we don't compromise our care for certain groups," said Mukwende in a St George's University press release, noting that medical textbooks contain a 'white skin bias,' which has put the health of those groups at risk. </p><p>Though Mind the Gap is not currently published or available for distribution, discussions with potential publishers are ongoing according to St George University's statement. </p>
Coronavirus and need for change<p>Mukwende explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems with suspected coronavirus patients being asked if they are "pale" or if their lips "turned blue".</p><p>"These are not useful descriptors for a black patient and, as a result, their care is compromised from the first point of contact," said Mukwende. "It is essential we begin to educate others so they are aware of such differences and the power of the clinical language we currently use. We will be hosting a training session for clinical skills peer tutors which will take place in July 2020."</p><p>He pointed out that conversations currently taking place regarding health disparities in the United Kingdom are pressuring universities to take real action to address those concerns. For example, at St George's there <a href="https://www.change.org/p/gmc-medical-schools-must-include-bame-representation-in-clinical-teaching" target="_blank">was a petition</a> calling for teaching clinical skills on black and brown skin. </p><p>"The petition, Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement all illustrate there is an urgent need for change," said Mukwende. </p>
A new study suggests that an old tuberculosis vaccine may reduce the severity of coronavirus cases.
- A new study finds a tuberculosis BCG vaccination is linked to its COVID-19 mortality rate.
- More BCG vaccinations are connected to fewer severe coronavirus cases in East Germany.
- The study is preliminary and more research is needed to support the findings.
Professor Luis Escobar
Credit: Virginia Tech
The European Union agreed on a list of 15 countries that would be allowed to travel in its bloc. U.S. citizens were not on it.
- The European Union made an agreement on a list of 15 countries that could travel in its bloc from July 1st.
- Citizens of the United States, as well as Russia, Brazil, and India, are not on it.
- The exclusion of the U.S. reflects concerns over its coronavirus surge.
Byron Manley/Henrik Pettersson, CNN
The smart skin can "sweat" like human skin and also self-heal.
- Scientists have recently created a robotic skin that can be made to release stored liquid on demand.
- The skin could one day be used to apply medicine as needed to wounds or to keep surfaces at a precise level of dryness.
- More work is needed before it comes to a bandage near you.