February 16, 2018

Long weekend reads: Goodbye, fillings? Scientists get closer to spurring tooth regeneration.

Daily Briefing

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Slimming down the Happy Meal. McDonald's is excising cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from its Happy Meal menu, the restaurant chain announced Thursday—although the options will remain available upon request. The company will also shrink the French fry portion in the six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal. The announcement comes as the company, which has traditionally attracted more business from families with kids than its competitors, seeks to move away from its "junk-food image," according to the Associated Press

    Ever eaten a Semla? Semla, a cream-filled sweet bun, is the Fat Tuesday dessert of choice in Sweden. Newspapers usually hold "best of" panels ahead of the holiday, but one man—a local blogger who's opted to remain anonymous—found the reviews to be lacking. Now, "Semla Man" (or semmelmannen in Swedish) is on a mission to provide more complete reviews. "[T]he people in the panels: Why do they have this authority?" said Semla Man, who went on a one-man taste-testing mission of Stockholm's bakeries. "Who are they to tell me which one was best?" His reviews encompass five-point scores for appearance—lid, bun, almond paste, and cream—and qualitative assessments, such as when "a complete almond explosion ignites the synapses."

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Video games might help patients with schizophrenia. Individuals with schizophrenia may be able to curb the power of auditory hallucinations by playing a video game, according to a small study published in Translational Psychiatry. For the study, researchers asked schizophrenia patients to play a video game—while inside an MRI scanner—which required them to use their own mental strategies to land a computerized rocket. In doing so, according to the researchers, the patients were able to "turn down the volume on the external voices they heard" as well as "reduce the power of [their] hallucinations." The researchers said they are "now planning to conduct a randomized controlled study to test this technique in a larger sample."

    Dentists may be able to regenerate your teeth instead of filling a cavity. Paul Sharpe, a bioengineer at King's College London, has discovered that teeth may be able to regenerate using what's called the Wnt signaling pathway, which uses molecules involved in cell-to-cell communication, Ferris Jabr writes for Scientific American. To test the idea, Sharpe and other researchers drilled holes into the molars of mice and soaked small collagen sponges in drugs known to stimulate Wnt signaling. They placed the sponges on the mouse molars and left them sealed up for four to six weeks. After they were removed, the researchers found that the teeth were either significantly repaired or fully restored. "It was essentially a complete repair," said Sharpe. "You can barely see the joint where the old and new dentin meet. This could eventually be the first routine pharmaceutical treatment in dentistry."

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