Already looking forward to those summer BBQs and picnics? Not so fast. While fruit and salad might sound like a healthier alternative to hot dogs and hamburgers, it turns out the best thing for your health this summer might be an empty plate.

That’s right — for better or for worse, more scientific evidence has emerged that fasting is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.

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A scientific researcher manipulates drops of embryonic stem cells in a laboratory, at 'Hospital do Coracao' heart institute, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 5 March, 2008. Brazil's Federal Supreme Court will decide today on the continuity of the stem cells research, after Roman Catholich church officials and anti-abortion groups urged to ban it, given that the stem cells extraction entails the destruction of the embryo. AFP PHOTO/Mauricio LIMA (Photo credit should read MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Sorry, Star Trek fans, looks like Geordi LaForge’s VISOR (Visual Instrument and Sight Organ Replacement) will remain the stuff of science fiction. A team of medical doctors in the United Kingdom have figured out another way to restore sight by using embryonic stem cells.

On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi’s congenital blindness was partially returned through technological wizardry in the form of a metallic band across his eyes. The band delivered “enhanced vision” to his brain in the form of a bandwidth of light frequencies including visible, infrared, and ultraviolet. Many times during the course of the show, the ship’s chief surgeon, Dr. Beverly Crusher, suggested ways of giving Geordi normal human vision via futuristic bio-medical discoveries.

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Matthew Vickaryous/Vickaryous Lab/University of Guelph

While broken bones can mend and torn tissue can regrow, if humans lose a limb, we live with that for the rest of our lives. And when we suffer a spinal injury, the cord never heals — but maybe it could. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada are studying the regenerative abilities of gecko lizards, which are able to regrow lost tails, with the hope they will discover new and better ways for humans to heal themselves.

If this seems like an idea plucked from science fiction or a comic book, that’s because it is. Fictional character Doctor Curt Connors, an antagonist and sometimes ally to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, injected himself with a lizard serum in the hopes of regrowing his amputated arm. Instead, he cursed himself with a Jekyll-Hyde existence, transforming into a monstrous and hungry humanoid lizard. Fortunately, the real-life science of lizard regeneration is far less dramatic and far more promising.

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[DIGEST: The Scientist, Nature, National Geographic]

It sounds like the subplot of a science-fiction movie: pig embryos growing human organs such as hearts and pancreases, available to be transplanted into people who are terminally or chronically ill.

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[DIGEST: Science Alert, The Guardian, BBC]

The painful drilling and scraping we associate with dental visits may soon be a thing of the past. According to a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers from the King’s College of London have identified a treatment that uses stem cells to regenerate rotten teeth from the inside out. Though only tested in mice thus far, this may one day replace fillings as we know them.

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[DIGEST: Science Alert, Salk Institute, Science Daily, Science, Wikipedia, Medical Xpress]

For the first time, scientists have been able to successfully reverse signs of aging in a live animal through cellular reprogramming.

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[DIGEST: Engadget, Telegraph, Medical Daily, Newsweek, NYT]

Few look forward to the dentist’s chair. And if you have a cavity, that visit could involve a needle in the gum and cheek followed by some uncomfortable drilling. A competent dentist could treat your cavity, but the filling — white, silver or expensive gold — will remain, or at least until it needs to be replaced, and the process starts all over again.

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