It was recently reported that scientists in the UK and The Gambia have the first evidence that dogs can sniff out malaria. They have trained dogs to recognize tell-tale aromas using clothes from people infected with the disease. It is hoped the animals can be used to stop malaria spreading and eventually help with eradication. Although the research is still at an early stage, experts say the findings may even lead to new ways of testing for the disease.
Studies have already shown that being infected with the malaria parasite changes our aroma to make us more attractive to the mosquitoes that spread the disease. Now dogs are on the scent, too.
In light of this, here are three more weird medical discoveries.
1. Drinking coffee causes hallucinations
According to research, heavy coffee drinkers are more likely to have hallucinations or feel “the presence of dead people,”. A UK-based study quizzed 200 students on their caffeine intake and found those with the highest consumption were also more prone to report seeing, or hearing, things that were not there. Those who consumed a daily equivalent of seven cups of instant coffee or more – high caffeine users – were three times more likely to have extra-sensory experiences than low users, who had less than one cup daily.
When under stress, the body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. More of this stress hormone is released in response to stress when people have recently had caffeine. It is this extra boost of cortisol which may link caffeine intake with an increased tendency to hallucinate, say the scientists.
2. A tooth was used to restore a man’s eyesight
In 2009, Surgeons successfully restored a man’s sight by pulling out one of his teeth, placing a lens inside the tooth and then implanting the tooth in his eyeball. The revolutionary technique can only be used when a person has a scarred cornea on an otherwise healthy eye.
The process requires a living tooth as an implant because doctors suggest there are chances the eye would reject a plastic equivalent. A patch of skin is then taken from the inside of the cheek and placed in the eye for two months, where it gradually acquires its own blood supply. The tooth segment is finally transplanted into the eye socket. The flap of grafted skin is then partially lifted from the eye and placed over its new sturdy base.
3. Bio-engineering for penises
Scientists made a new breakthrough in bio-engineering technology by successfully growing functional male penises in a US laboratory. According to a recent article, this could be a potential solution for men who have lost their penis to injury or disease. The process of bio-engineering a penis involves using donor penis as a base. The penis is soaked in a solution for two weeks to remove the donor’s DNA. This prevents the recipient’s body from rejecting the penis once it is attached. Cells taken from the patient are cultivated in the lab for six weeks before they are placed onto the base.