What Tim’s talking about on radio – 30 June

Tim’s blog

Listen to Tim Thwaites each Wednesday on 1377 Melbourne Talk Radio after 10 pm.

This week he’s talking about:

1. EVIDENCE MOUNTS AGAINST DIABETES DRUG Diabetes sufferers who use the drug Avandia are more likely to have a stroke or heart failure than those who take a rival drug, a survey of more than 200,000 insurance records in the US has shown. An advisory panel for the US Food and Administration is meeting on 13 and 14 July to evaluate Avandia, and decide if it should remain on the market.—Journal of the American Medical Association

A Nature report can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100628/full/news.2010.320.html

2. MAKING LUNGS IN THE LAB Two new American studies have improved the possibilities of replacing lung tissue—something we’ve not been very good at in the past. In one of the studies, researchers managed to grow lung cells in the lab that continued to function when transplanted into rats. In the other, biomedical engineers built a chip that mimics lung function, and can be used to test the impact of medicines.—Science

A Nature report can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100624/full/news.2010.314.html

3. ORIGAMI THAT FOLDS ITSELF Using “shape memory” foils made of metal alloys that “remember” and re-adopt a previous shape when heated, US researchers have developed origami that folds itself. Their aim is produce flat, self-folding sheets which can form themselves into products.—Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A Nature report can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100628/full/news.2010.317.html

4. INDONESIAN ‘HOBBITS’ REALLY EXISTED The metre-tall humans that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until 13,000 years ago truly were a separate species of human being and not simply malformed versions of modern humans, according to a Canberra researcher. He compared hobbit bones with those of modern humans suffering from a condition caused by iodine deficiency called cretinism, and found them very different.—Journal of Comparative Human Biology

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627664.500-flores-hobbits-werent-malformed-humans.html

5. ALTITUDE DOPING HAS ITS LIMITS A British study of patients with a genetic disorder that makes their bodies react as if they’re living at high altitude all the time suggests that altitude doping—where endurance athletes spend time in the thin air of alpine regions to increase their red blood cell count—may not be beneficial to performance.— Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/06/altitude-doping-has-its-limits.html

6. ARCTIC BEES STILL NEED THEIR BEAUTY SLEEP Even under the midnight sun, bees don’t keep buzzing through the night, researchers have found. They stick to their regular workday, which suggests that night-time rest confers a greater advantage than extra food.—BMC Biology

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/06/scienceshot-arctic-bees-still.html