Tag Archives: science in the news

Cure for Malaria on the way?

Each year, more than a million people die of the harmful parasitic disease known as Malaria and this number is increasing each day. Approximately 3.3 billion people (this is almost half the population of the world!) live in Malaria-affected region; most prominently in the Sub-Saharan Africa. This harmful plague has been circulating our planet for a long time now and yet there is no known cure for this disease. In the past recent years, the parasite has developed resistance to a lot of drugs. According to some researchers, some prosperous nations were able to get rid of Malaria; it is the third-world countries where the number of deaths due to this disease keeps increasing. Figure 1. below shows the regions that are at risk of  Malaria. Fortunately, Malaria is no longer overlooked and there is extensive research being done to find the cure for this malicious disease.

Figure 1. World map showing the risk of Malaria across the world.


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From the genus Anopheles, the female mosquito attacks the human when it is sound asleep and drinks the blood without acknowledgement. In the process, she releases saliva to prevent blood coagulation, and it is at this point when the infection spreads in the human body. This saliva contains one-celled malaria parasites (plasmodia) that act like tiny microscopic worms and burrow themselves in different liver cells. From this point on the disease spreads in the body through red blood cells and causes symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, nausea etc. The following video shows what happens in detail once the parasite attacks the host:

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Researchers and doctors from all around the world are working hard to develop, not just vaccines, but drugs that might help cure Malaria. Through the use of chemical insecticides or drainage of the water where the larvae of these mosquitos live in, could result in a significant reduction of their population.

Additionally, several drugs are under work that may be effective on a small scale. One such company is GlaxoSmithKline that developed a vaccine and conducted a clinical trial on 15,000 babies and children in Africa. Up to 18 months of age, the drug worked effectively and protected the babies. But the effectiveness wore off afterwards. A Research team at the University of Cape Town have been working on a drug that worked adequately on animals with no adverse side effects. Once this drug is put to use in clinical trials and positive results are found, it might be the breakthrough to the cure for this disease.

Even though there isn’t a set cure for this disease yet, there is still some ongoing progress. Until further research is done and results are found, we can only hope that this plague is cured before it gets too late.

– Hiba Rajpar








Shivering can help lose weight!

Losing weight may not be an easy task as it requires great self-discipline and motivation on going to the gym and eating healthy; however, a new study shows that you can now lose weight in the comfort of your home.

Dutch researchers from Maastricht University Medical Center have now proved that you can lose weight by simply turning down the heat at home and allowing your body to shiver.


Turning down the heat is a possible way of losing weight


The study known as “cold thermogenisis” shows that most household kept their temperature around 21 degrees Celsius. If you drop the heat down to about 16 degrees Celsius, your body temperature will drop at a more rapid pace and your will brain respond by telling your muscles to starts shivering to maintain a stable body temperature. By doing so, the rapid movements of the muscle is not only keeping your body warm, but it is also increasing your metabolic rate by up to 30%. When the involuntary movement of shivering occurs, your muscles are moving so fast that researchers are comparing it to as if you were performing cardiovascular exercises. By shivering for one straight hour, you are able to burn up to 400 calories, which is equivalent to a 40 minute run at a moderate pace.

This is something very interesting because my previous knowledge to this technique had been either working out in cold weather or taking ice baths; thus, still quite time consuming as it still requires you go out of your way to do this. The new of shivering to lose some weight seems like a much simpler; however, it does not mean it is a treat either. Many must agree with me that feeling cold is a very tough to cope with and would not want to be in a cold environment for a long period of time.

In the end, if you are brave on a cold night like tonight, it is the perfect opportunity to turn down your thermostat  and shiver some of the weight off of your body.

Here is a video that shows the testing of “cold thermogenesis”:YouTube Preview Image


Cannon, P., & Keatinge, W. (1960). The metabolic rate and heat loss of fat and thin men in heat balance in cold and warm water. The Journal of Physiology, 154(2), 329-344.

Craig, A. D. (2002). How do you feel? interoception: The sense of the physiological condition of the body. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3(8), 655-666.

Gagge, A. P., Fobelets, A., & Berglund, L. (1986). A standard predictive index of human response to the thermal environment. ASHRAE Trans.;(United States), 92(CONF-8606125-)

A “Nutty” Remedy for your Peanut Allergy?


Image from Aktron on Wikimedia Commons

If you are allergic to peanuts, you must know how annoying and potentially deadly an allergic reaction is. It is the most common and severe food allergy, as it  affects one in fifty children. It causes problem with breathing and can even induce anaphylactic shock upon ingestion in severe cases. Peanut allergies can even go as far as making an impact on one’s social life as well when all action has to be taken to avoid making contact with peanuts at all cost. Needles to say, a peanut allergy is a big inconvenient. However, it seems as though scientists might have found a cure!

In an attempt to find a cure for the peanut allergy in children, scientists conducted a study where small increments of peanuts were exposed to children’s diet. They first started with peanut proteins equivalent to 1/70 of a peanut, then slowly increased the amount. After a few months, 88% of the participants built the tolerance to eat 5 peanuts a day, and 58% were able to eat as much as 10 peanuts. The experiment was carried out in two six-month periods; in the first six months, the children were given a placebo. Actual peanuts were prescribed in the second six months. No peanut tolerance was observed when the children were given the placebo, so the results in the end were definitely not due to the placebo effect. This study was recently published and the scientists hope that one day this will become a treatment for peanut allergies.

This is a video the details the overall experiment:

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The peanut treatments were conducted in a controlled environment in case of the occurrence of an allergic reaction. This should not be tried at home. This study is still in it’s early stages and can not be considered a cure just yet. However, the results are significant and are a beacon of light for those who have severe allergies. If a cure for peanut allergy is possible, then perhaps a remedy for other allergies might someday be a reality as well. Hopefully, in the near future, allergies will no longer exist as a limit to people’s everyday activities.

By: Kimberley Xiao