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You Might Be Able to Regenerate Your Finger, Bone and All

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Amputees will be glad to learn that we might not have to be jealous of a lizard’s ability to regrow its tail much longer. According to recently published research from NYU's Langone Medical Center, the stem cells found in fingernails might be the secret to developing treatments that could one day allow for complete limb regeneration in humans.

As we all know, the nails on our fingers and toes grow back. Through experiments on mice, the research team at NYU has discovered the chemical process by which this occurs, the process by which stem cells in the nails trigger their own regeneration. That all seems logical, but the surprise was when the scientists realized that these stem cells also promote bone regeneration in addition to that of the nail—meaning that these stem cells could, in theory, allow a human to grow back an entire finger, toe, or limb.

It might seem like far-off science fiction, but cases of finger regeneration are already a reality. For example, a woman named Deepa Kulkarni underwent a tissue regeneration procedure that resulted in a new pinky in just seven weeks. In this particular case, the patient used a powder called MatriStem that induced stem cells to regrow the tip of her finger. Scientists concluded at the time, however, that this was only possible because she lost only the tip of the finger and because there was still a “bit of nail” and its tissues present.

But what if we could take these nail stem cells and inject them where they are not? Say, in the upper arm? Thus far, clinical trials have been successful in mice.

“When they forced the production of [these stem cells] in mice, the team managed to regrow bone and tissue without any of the natural stem cells being present at all,” Popular Science reported. “This has huge implications for the treatment of amputations—the experiment was only performed on mice, but if the technique holds true for humans, this could be the beginning of the end for lost limbs.”

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This Organization Wants Your Old Eclipse Glasses
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Johan Ordonez, Getty Images

On Monday, August 21, America hosted what may have been the most-viewed solar eclipse in history. While those of us in the United States are still processing the awesome sight, residents of South America and Asia are just starting to look forward to the next total eclipse in 2019—and anyone who still has their protective glasses on hand can help them prepare.

According to Gizmodo, Astronomers Without Borders is accepting donations of used eyewear following Monday’s event. Any glasses they collect will be redistributed to schools across Asia and South America where children can use them to view the world’s next total eclipse in safety.

Astronomers Without Borders is dedicated to making astronomy accessible to people around the world. For this most recent eclipse, they provided 100,000 free glasses to schools, youth community centers, and children's hospitals in the U.S. If you’re willing to contribute to their next effort, hold on to your specs for now—the group plans to the announce the address where you can send them in the near future. Donors who don't have the patience to wait for updates on the group's Facebook page can send glasses immediately to its corporate sponsor, Explore Scientific, at 1010 S. 48th Street, Springdale, Arizona 72762.

Not sure if your glasses are suitable for reuse? Here’s the criteria they should meet for sun-gazing.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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Here's How to Tell If You Damaged Your Eyes Watching the Eclipse
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Amid the total solar eclipse craze, experts repeatedly warned spectators not to watch the rare phenomenon on August 21 with their naked eyes. But if you caught a peek sans glasses, pinhole projector, or protective filter, you may be wondering if your peepers were damaged. (After the sky show, "my eyes hurt" spiked as a Google search, so you’re not alone.)

While the sun doesn’t technically harm your eyes any more than usual during a solar eclipse, it can be easier to gaze at the glowing orb when the moon covers it. And looking directly at the sun—even briefly—can damage a spot in the retina called the fovea, which ensures clear central vision. This leads to a condition called solar retinopathy.

You won’t initially feel any pain if your eyes were damaged, as our retinas don’t have  pain receptors. But according to Live Science, symptoms of solar retinopathy can arise within hours (typically around 12 hours after sun exposure), and can include blurred or distorted vision, light sensitivity, a blind spot in one or both eyes, or changes in the way you see color (a condition called chromatopsia).

These symptoms can improve over several months to a year, but some people may experience lingering problems, like a small blind spot in their field of vision. Others may suffer permanent damage.

That said, if you only looked at the sun for a moment, you’re probably fine. “If you look at it for a second or two, nothing will happen," Jacob Chung, chief of ophthalmology at New Jersey's Englewood Hospital, told USA TODAY. "Five seconds, I'm not sure, but 10 seconds is probably too long, and 20 seconds is definitely too long."

However, if you did gaze at the sun for too long and you believe you may have damaged your eyes, get a professional opinion, stat. “Seeing an optometrist is faster than getting to see an ophthalmologist,” Ralph Chou, a professor emeritus of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, told NPR. “If there is damage, the optometrist would refer the individual to the ophthalmologist for further assessment and management in any case.”

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