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July 22nd, 2008

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01:47 am - Mad science and SF oddness
It's not every day that you read an article titled Human-frog hybrids aid autism investigations. I clicked on it expecting something rather prosaic, and instead saw
Human-frog hybrids might reveal the neurological secrets of autism. By fusing cells from the preserved brains of deceased autistic patients with the eggs of a carnivorous African frog called Xenopus, scientists have started investigating the way the brain cells of people with autism behave.

The frog eggs work a little like human neurons and the hybrid cells act as a surrogate of a living brain with the condition.
Human brain cells, from dead people no less, and not just frogs, but carnivorous frogs. I haven't seen a 1950s or early 1960s horror film with that particular plot, but I've seen ones that were remarkably close. While New Scientist can be unreliable and overly uncritical, it's not every day that I read what looks remarkably like actual "mad science" in it.

After that, I read an article about powered exoskeletons helping paraplegics walk, and another that was a review of the NIA Brain-Computer Interface (essentially, a headband you use to control PC games and for similar uses). Strange days indeed...
Current Mood: amusedamused

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
Awesome but bizarre. Can't tell why they're using frog eggs and not the brain cells themselves.
[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
...and a retail brain-computer-interface is awesome. $148 is a lot for a game controller but cheap for medical equipment. Paging Stephen Hawking...
[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about this, but it could have something to do with the fact that the egg cells are as yet undifferentiated stem cells, so they may be less likely to reject human brain cells and more likely to differentiate in the direction of the human brain cells and provide a good living medium for them.
[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
there was that bad movie Frogs, and I do believe that Guy N. Smith probably wrote a book about evil frogs too (I much prefer his CRAB books)

Bullfrogs are refered to as "opportunistic feeders" which mostly covers that they will eat anything they can stick down their gullets.

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