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Neuroscience News Flash

Sun, 20th Jan 2013

Hannah Critchlow

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Listen Up, Restoring hearing!

Repetitively listening to loud music, getting old, and even certain drugs can cause the hair cells in your inner ear to stop working. Which can result in irreversible hearing problems.But Edge and colleagues at the Harvard Medical School have used a drug to trick existing cells in the ear to follow a different path and become new hair cells, resulting in the partial recovery of hearing. 

This study, published in Neuron was done in mice but may pave the way for a new treatment for hearing problems in humans.

Mizutari et al, 2013, Notch Inhibition Induces Cochlear Hair Cell Regeneration and Recovery of Hearing after Acoustic Trauma. Neuron - 9 January 2013 (Vol. 77, Issue 1, pp. 58-69).

Brown eyed people more trustworthy than blue

Kleisner and colleagues from Charles University, Czech Republic wanted to know what makes for a most trustworthy face!So, the researchers presented 250 volunteers with 80 photos of different men and women, asking them to rate trustworthiness. Results were analysed. And the brown eyes have it! This scorpion is black when viewed under normal lighting. Here it is seen illuminated by an ultra violet light.

Both men and women with brown eyes were perceived as more trustworthy than those with blue.  They followed the study with a bit of photo shopping, altering the eye colours, and found that it was not the eye colour per say that affected trustworthiness but more the eye shape and features associated with brown eyes. That study published in Plos One.

Kleisner et al, 2013. Trustworthy-Looking Face Meets Brown Eyes. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53285.

Scorpions venom paves the way for better brain tumour treatment 

A compound inspired by scorpion venom could help neurosurgeons identify cancerous brain tissue from the healthy stuff.

Traditionally surgeons have just felt their way around the brain when trying to remove just the cancerous tissue, which when it goes wrong, can lead to mental disability.

But a scorpion toxin has somehow evolved to that bind specifically to cancerous brain cells. Now Jim Olson at Seattle Children’s Hospital working with the Company Blaze Bioscience, have linked the toxin to a molecule so that it glows, forming a “tumor paint”. Clinical trials start this year.


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