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Bright Street Lights Can Be Bad for Your Health, Doctors Say

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LED technology is cost-effective and energy-saving compared to other lighting options, but it may not always be the best choice for street lights. The cool, bright lights that have recently been installed in cities like Seattle and New York can be harmful to human health, a new statement from the American Medical Association argues. The group just released new policy suggestions on the subject, as Inhabitat reports.

"Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting," Maya Babu, a neurosurgeon and AMA Board Member, says in a press release.

Most LEDs emit mostly blue light, which is problematic for several reasons. The high contrast of the light—which appears bright white—increases glare and can be uncomfortable for the eyes, making it a road hazard.

It’s also bad for people who want to get to bed at a decent hour. Blue light suppresses melatonin, making it hard for people to fall asleep. Doctors and sleep experts recommend that you turn off your electronics before bed for this reason, but you can’t exactly turn off the street lights in your whole neighborhood.

Bright city lights are harmful to animals and plants, too. Light pollution can encourage trees to bud earlier and disrupt the sleep cycles of birds.

The AMA estimates that about 10 percent of existing street lighting in the U.S. has been replaced with LEDs. The organization doesn't recommend staying away from LED street lights altogether, but recommends using lights that emit as little blue light as possible, reducing glare. They also suggest that street lights could be dimmed during off-peak hours. Bulbs should also be shielded so that the light shines where it’s supposed to, rather than into the bedrooms of neighbors or up into the sky.

There’s a reason we call bedtime "lights out."

[h/t Inhabitat]

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New Cancer-Fighting Nanobots Can Track Down Tumors and Cut Off Their Blood Supply
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Scientists have developed a new way to cut off the blood flow to cancerous tumors, causing them to eventually shrivel up and die. As Business Insider reports, the new treatment uses a design inspired by origami to infiltrate crucial blood vessels while leaving the rest of the body unharmed.

A team of molecular chemists from Arizona State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences describe their method in the journal Nature Biotechnology. First, they constructed robots that are 1000 times smaller than a human hair from strands of DNA. These tiny devices contain enzymes called thrombin that encourage blood clotting, and they're rolled up tightly enough to keep the substance contained.

Next, researchers injected the robots into the bloodstreams of mice and small pigs sick with different types of cancer. The DNA sought the tumor in the body while leaving healthy cells alone. The robot knew when it reached the tumor and responded by unfurling and releasing the thrombin into the blood vessel that fed it. A clot started to form, eventually blocking off the tumor's blood supply and causing the cancerous tissues to die.

The treatment has been tested on dozen of animals with breast, lung, skin, and ovarian cancers. In mice, the average life expectancy doubled, and in three of the skin cancer cases tumors regressed completely.

Researchers are optimistic about the therapy's effectiveness on cancers throughout the body. There's not much variation between the blood vessels that supply tumors, whether they're in an ovary in or a prostate. So if triggering a blood clot causes one type of tumor to waste away, the same method holds promise for other cancers.

But before the scientists think too far ahead, they'll need to test the treatments on human patients. Nanobots have been an appealing cancer-fighting option to researchers for years. If effective, the machines can target cancer at the microscopic level without causing harm to healthy cells. But if something goes wrong, the bots could end up attacking the wrong tissue and leave the patient worse off. Study co-author Hao Yan believes this latest method may be the one that gets it right. He said in a statement, "I think we are much closer to real, practical medical applications of the technology."

[h/t Business Insider]

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New Peanut Allergy Patch Could Be Coming to Pharmacies This Year
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About 6 million people in the U.S. and Europe have severe peanut allergies, including more than 2 million children. Now, French biotechnology company DBV Technologies SA has secured an FDA review for its peanut allergy patch, Bloomberg reports.

If approved, the company aims to start selling the Viaskin patch to children afflicted with peanut allergies in the second half of 2018. The FDA's decision comes in spite of the patch's disappointing study results last year, which found the product to be less effective than DBV hoped (though it did receive high marks for safety). The FDA has also granted Viaskin breakthrough-therapy and fast-track designations, which means a faster review process.

DBV's potentially life-saving product is a small disc that is placed on the arm or between the shoulder blades. It works like a vaccine, exposing the wearer's immune system to micro-doses of peanut protein to increase tolerance. It's intended to reduce the chances of having a severe allergic reaction to accidental exposure.

The patch might have competition: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., which specializes in food allergy treatments, and the drug company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are working together to develop a cure for peanut allergies.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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