Archive for June 20th, 2006

Can Stem Cells Smooth Wrinkles?

Technology + Vanity = Profit!

Applying technology used for inspecting semiconductor wafers for defects, BrighTex developed the Clarity Pro facial image scanner, which claims to identify bacteria-clogging pores, show where wrinkles are forming and identify skin damage caused by the sun.


BrighTex, a San Jose, Calif.-based start-up, hopes to create a cheaper version for home use. Someday, the company even envisions its technology being built into cellphones or laptops so consumers can get an analysis of their skin on the go.


”We have developed algorithms which can recognize features and shapes and the significance of things before something develops fully,” says Chhibber. ”When it’s in the 5 percent stage, we can tell what it will turn into.” That means the product can tell if a wrinkle just starting to form will turn into a deep wrinkle or a fine line.

After taking a white light and UV image of a person’s face, that image is entered into a software program to detect damage. In the case of clogged pores, Clarity Pro can identify what type of bacteria is in the pores and predict where acne will form.

For sun damage, the facial scanner can tell how much damage is under the skin, how long a person can stay in sun before the skin is damaged more and forecast the chances of a person getting skin cancer due to harmful UV rays.

Chhibber, who founded the company in January 2005, comes from a semiconductor background and said the leap from detecting defects in wafers to defects in faces wasn’t that big. ”To me inspecting a face or a wafer is very similar,” he says, since in both cases you have to look for the tiniest of defects. [I hear the “Wafer Look” is in this season.]

Clarity Pro can also be used to monitor the progress of a particular facial cream to see if it is reducing wrinkles or improving sun damage. For the cosmetics field, Chhibber says a future product will be targeted toward research and development departments and may result in better creams and lotions.

Part of me is appalled, part of me thinks this is… kinda cool. On the one hand, I really can’t diss anything that could help fight skin cancer or even acne. On the other hand, this looks like a huge cash cow for the cosmetic industry, which would make all kinds of money exploiting vain wrinklephobes desperate to stamp out any signs of aging before they hatch.

4 comments June 20th, 2006 at 09:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Technology,Weirdness

Stem Cells Are Go!

This could be a bit awkward for Bush and the Republicans…

Scientists have used stem cells and a soup of nerve-friendly chemicals to not just bridge a damaged spinal cord but actually regrow the circuitry needed to move a muscle, helping partially paralyzed rats walk.

Years of additional research is needed before such an experiment could be attempted in people.

But the work marks a tantalizing new step in stem cell research that promises to one day help repair damage from nerve-destroying illnesses such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or from spinal cord injuries.


The Hopkins experiment isn’t the first to use stem cells to help paralyzed rodents move. But previous work bridged damage inside the spinal cord that blocked nerve cells from delivering their ”move” messages to muscles, sort of like fixing the circuit that brings electricity to a fan.

The new work essentially installs new wiring: replacing motor neurons — specialized nerve cells for movement — that have died to make a new circuit that grows neuronal connections out of the spinal cord and down to a leg muscle.


…The paralysis wasn’t completely gone, but six months after treatment, 11 of the 15 animals could bear weight, take steps and push away with the affected leg.

Of the roughly 4,000 new motor neurons generated in the rats’ spinal cords, about 120 reached the muscle, and 50 were electrically active, further testing showed.

The next step, to start this summer: Redoing the experiment in pigs, to see if new neurons can be enticed to grow connections over the longer distances needed to reach from a pig’s spinal cord to its leg.

Let’s see how long Bush’s policy of only funding research on existing stem cell lines holds up when people see a cure for paralysis on the horizon. It’s even more awkward when you consider how many paraplegics and quadriplegics Bush has single-handedly created with his unnecessary war.

On the other hand, those wheelchairs are mighty comfortable…

2 comments June 20th, 2006 at 08:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Politics,Science,Wankers


Saw some… interesting store windows on my way to softball on Sunday.

If you like Betty Boop as much as Popeye does…

You should get down to the South Side any way you can.

She might just make it worth your while. (Saucy!)

There is no God.


6 comments June 20th, 2006 at 07:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh,Weirdness

Heckuva Job, Bloomie.

Good to see Mayor Bloomberg is fighting so tenaciously to protect his city…

Mayor Bloomberg had the opening he needed – just enough face time with President Bush yesterday so he could grill him about the city’s 40% slash in anti-terror funding.

Instead, Bloomberg blinked.

There were no tough questions when the two met briefly at Kennedy Airport – merely a handshake, some pleasantries and a courteous exchange about the city’s Homeland Security Department funding slight.


“I did thank him for his efforts to make all homeland security moneys … distributed based on risk….

“And while I wish the pot was bigger, and that is something that he has some control over, then, it really gets down to the House and the Senate, and that’s where we’ve got to make our case,” Bloomberg said.


Asked why the mayor didn’t ask the President to restore the 40% cut, Stu Loeser, his spokesman, said, “When the mayor raised the issue of distributing homeland security funding based on risk, it was clear exactly what the reference was.”

Bloomberg has previously said he has little expectation that the 40% cut will be restored.


Bloomberg confirmed yesterday that he and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly received a classified report in 2003 about a terrorist plot to use homemade cyanide bombs in the city subways…. adding that the plot is evidence why New York needs a larger share of the homeland security budget.

Makes me want to move back right now, knowing that the city has such courageous and determined leadership.

Interestingly, there’s another Bloomberg quote in there where he basically says he’s trying to help the president out in his popularity slump, which suggests that he might want to call in a favor. But he doesn’t seem interested in actually doing so, except for a vague plea to make the pie higher. Strange.

5 comments June 20th, 2006 at 09:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Wankers

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