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Skin Cell Regeneration from a Bioreactor

Here's a clip from National Geographic Explorer, showing Dr. Jörg Gerlach's experimental "skin gun," a tool used in regenerating burned skin using the patient's own skin cells from other parts of the body. This technique, though experimental, can heal in a matter of days, rather than the weeks (and the associated scarring caused in that time) typically necessary for other techniques like skin grafts.

Gerlach: "We isolate cells from the healthy part of the skin -- the patient's own cells -- which can be taken in a water solution, and that solution is prepared for cell spraying."

The whole approach is part of Gerlach's work on bioreactors; his approach involves not just the applicator gun, but also a system for growing cells and a special wound dressing that helps with healing. In the video below, we see one example of a man who had second-degree burns over much of his face, right arm, and right shoulder which was treated with the experimental technique -- and to my eye there's virtually no scarring. Let's hope this works for others!

Warning: there are a few images of second-degree skin burns in this video, though they are not shown with the intent to gross you out. If you're not cool with seeing a bit of post-burn flesh, don't watch. Just in case, I put the video (with its poster frame of a second-degree-burned hand) after the jump:

(Via Kottke.org, via @delfuego.)

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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