Seven from Seven: ‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin Could be Used To Treat Alzheimer’s, and New Technology Can Turn Face Masks Into Internet Cables

28th October 2022

Each week, we scour the worlds of innovation, tech for good and social impact to bring you seven of our top stories…

  1. Scientists in Japan have shown that a derivative of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin can improve the memory of mice suffering from cognitive diseases, when it is sprayed up the mouse’s nose. This finding suggests that oxytocin could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans, as it can regulate cognitive behaviour and could therefore play a key role in reversing memory loss. The development of trails using oxytocin is encouraging and further testing is being carried out.
  2. Thanks to recent technology, mobile phones are now able to track the spread of water contaminants, such as viruses like COVID-19, or oil spills, within a few seconds. Researchers from McGill University have used artificial intelligence to develop remote sensing, which means that the technology can acquire information from water that is far away. This technology could be used to monitor pollutants in water systems around the world and could help reduce outbreaks of diseases or viruses, as well as minimising damage to ecosystems.
  3. Researchers at Stanford University have made a breakthrough in cancer treatment research, specifically they have discovered a new and improved way to produce an acclaimed cancer-fighting compound. The compound, known as tigilanol tiglate, functions by promoting a localised immune response against tumours – it shatters the blood vessels of the tumour and ultimately kills cancerous cells. Successful trials have been conducted on dogs who have cancer.
  4. Engineers from the University of California have designed a new class of material that uses artificial intelligence to learn desired behaviours over time and develop a ‘muscle memory’ of its own. The material is composed of a structural system that can change shape and behaviour in response to different conditions. For example, when the material is placed in aircraft wings, it could learn to morph into the shape of the wings based on the wind patterns during the flight. This technology will help stream-line aircrafts, making them more efficient. The changeable material can also be used in building structures to improve their stability during an earthquake.
  5. Face mask waste has become a big issue in today’s world following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But researchers at Swansea University have found a solution – pioneering a process that transforms used face masks into cable wires. Using green chemistry, researchers have converted the carbon found in discarded face masks to create high quality, single-walled, carbon nanotubes which are then used to make the cables. This process could be used to upcycle wasted materials and instead, transform them into materials with functionality.
  6. The National Grid has trailed new technology that allows renewable power to travel through existing power lines. The sensors will highlight spare capacity in these power lines, to allow for the integration of more renewable power. In turn, this renewable energy has the potential to power more than 500,000 homes and save £1.4 million in network operating costs per year and, as such, could mark the significant shift towards a more sustainable future.
  7. A Lincoln hospital is one of the first to introduce new technology in breast cancer screening and could catch what some traditional screenings might miss. ‘ABUS’, a machine that produces a 3D image, which can differentiate between dense tissue and cancer cells, could catch 30% more of those abnormalities as it produces a more accurate analysis. This will provide additional peace of mind to many women who have been told that they have dense tissue which is not cancerous.

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