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This Glove Calms Tremors in Parkinson’s Patients

One symptom of Parkinson’s disease is involuntary hand tremors that make simple tasks like getting dressed or eating breakfast a daily struggle. After being assigned to care for a Parkinson’s patient as a medical student when he was 24, Faii Ong was inspired to devise an innovative new treatment for the disease.

Ong’s GyroGlove uses some clever physics borrowed from childhood toys to calm hand tremors in patients with the condition. “Mechanical gyroscopes are like spinning tops: they always try to stay upright by conserving angular momentum,” Ong, now 26, explained to MIT Technology Review. “My idea was to use gyroscopes to instantaneously and proportionally resist a person’s hand movement, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearer’s hand.”

Working with a team of fellow students from Imperial College London, Ong developed a prototype of the glove outfitted with a miniature, dynamically adjustable gyroscope on the back of the hand. The effect it produces is similar to the sensation of moving your hand through heavy molasses: movement is hampered without being prevented entirely. In early tests, the battery-powered gyroscope was shown to reduce hand tremors by up to 90 percent.

Adjustments still need to be made to the technology before the GyroGlove is ready for commercial production, but the team’s mentor, Imperial College professor of musculoskeletal biodynamics Alison McGregor, told MIT Technology Review that the device “holds great promise and could have a significant impact on users’ quality of life.”

The device has potential applications beyond Parkinson’s treatment as well; Ong says he could see the glove being used in professional fields such as surgery or photography where a steady hand is essential. A precise cost and launch date for the product have not yet been revealed, but the team says they're aiming for a UK launch sometime before September at a price between about $550 to $850 USD.

[h/t: MIT Technology Review]

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Medicine
Why Haven't We Cured Cancer Yet?
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Walkathons, fundraisers, and ribbon-shaped bumper stickers raise research dollars and boost spirits, but cancer—the dreaded disease that affects more than 14 million people and their families at any given time—still remains bereft of a cure.

Why? For starters, cancer isn't just one disease—it's more than 100 of them, with different causes. This makes it impossible to treat each one using a one-size-fits-all method. Secondly, scientists use lab-grown cell lines cultivated from human tumors to develop cancer therapies. Living masses are far more complex, so potential treatments that show promise in lab experiments often don't work on cancer patients. As for the tumors themselves, they're prone to tiny genetic mutations, so just one growth might contain multiple types of cancer cells, and even unique sub-clones of tumors. These distinct entities might not respond the same way, or at all, to the same drug.

These are just a few of the challenges that cancer researchers face—but the good news is that they're working to beat all of them, as this TED-Ed video explains below.

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Health
Skipping Breakfast Could Be Bad for Your Heart
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There are mountains of evidence supporting the claim that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Getting something in your stomach in the first hours of the morning can regulate your glucose levels, improve your cognition, and keep your hunger in check. Now new research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology points to another reason not to wait until lunchtime to break last night’s fast. As TIME reports, people who skip breakfast are at an increased risk for atherosclerosis, a disease caused by plaque buildup in the arteries.

Researchers surveyed over 4000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 54 living in Spain. After looking at the dietary habits of each participant, they broke them into three groups: people who consumed more than 20 percent of their daily calories in the morning; those who got 5 to 20 percent; and those who ate less than 5 percent.

The subjects who ate very little in the a.m. hours or skipped breakfast all together were 2.5 more likely to have generalized atherosclerosis. This meant that plaque was starting to collect on the walls of their arteries, hardening and narrowing them and increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke. People who fell into the 5 to 20 percent calorie category were also more likely to show early signs of the disease, while those who ate the most calories in the morning were the healthiest.

These results aren’t entirely surprising. Previous studies have shown a connection between skipping breakfast and health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and unwanted weight gain. A possible explanation for this trend could be that waiting several hours after waking up to eat your first meal of the day could trigger hormonal imbalances. The time between getting into and out of bed is the longest most of us go without eating, and our bodies expect us to consume some calories to help kickstart our energy for the day (drinking straight coffee doesn’t cut it). Another theory is that people who don’t eat in the morning are so hungry by the time lunch rolls around that they overcompensate for those missing calories, which is why skipping breakfast doesn’t make sense as a diet strategy.

But of course there are many breakfast skippers who aren’t motivated by health reasons either way: They just don’t think they have the time or energy to feed themselves in the morning before walking out the door. If this describes you, here are some simple, protein-packed meals you can prepare the night before.

[h/t TIME]

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