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Newcastle University

  1. Science

    Spray For Cleaning Ship Hulls Could Relieve Your Really, Really Bad Sinusitis

    Do you suffer from sinusitis? Like, really bad sinusitis? Sinusitis that you would describe as "nightmarish" or... well, you get the point. No matter how badly your cavities are clogged, a team at Newcastle University may have hope for you yet. They're reporting in the journal PLOS ONE that a microbe-derived spray initially developed to clean the hulls of ships could be just the thing to break up the brick-like mucus found in folks suffering from chronic sinusitis.

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  2. Science

    Research Shows Pruney Fingers Are an Evolutionary Advantage, Still Gross to Look At

    Among other things our pedantic mothers warned us about when playing around in a swimming pool, getting pruney fingers from staying in the water too long was one of them, as though having one's fingertips resemble tiny geriatric faces was a terminal disease. It's a common experience nearly every human being on the planet has shared and yet science has never quite determined the purpose of this wrinkly phenomenon -- until now. Once thought to have been the swelling of the outer layers of skin caused from extended submersion, a research team from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University has discovered that pruney digits are an evolutionary response of the nervous system which allows us to get a grip on wet surfaces.

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  3. Science

    The Worst Sound in the World is a Knife Scraping a Bottle

    Researchers at Newcastle University wanted to learn more about why our brains make us recoil from unpleasant sounds like nails on a chalkboard or screaming. So they looked at the brains of a group of volunteers (who no doubt regretted their decision after this test) and played them a series of sounds to find where the recoil response was coming from. They also asked people to rate the sounds they heard from most to least pleasant, leaving them with a (slightly less than definitive because of its small sample size) list of the very worst sounds on the planet. At the top? The sound of a knife scraping a bottle. You can get a look at the rest of the list after the jump.

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  4. Science

    New Treatment For Hereditary Blindness Is First Drug To Restore Vision

    For the first time, scientists have been able to delay -- and in some cases reverse -- a hereditary blindness disorder called Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy using a daily drug treatment. The disease is a mitochondrial disease that causes the rapid onset of blindness in men in their twenties. It leads to total loss of vision within three to six months after the first symptoms begin to appear. This marks the first time that an inherited mitochondrial disease has been treated using a drug. Researchers from Newcastle University (UK) led by Patrick Chinnery conducted a clinical trial of the drug Idebenone. During the six month trial 55 people were given the drug, and 30 were given a placebo. The study showed that 11 people who received the drug were able to read an extra two lines of increased difficulty on a standard vision chart, and nine people who couldn't read at all were able to discern letters by the end of the trial. No negative side effects of the drug were reported. While the improvement of just 20 patients may not seem like much, it does suggest that Idebenone has a significant effect on restoring sight when the disease is caught in an early stage.

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