Do you ever get tired at your job? You know, those days when the work just keeps piling up until you end up sending an email talking about the “Key Onion Leader” you want at your conference next year? Well turns out, basal stem cells can mess up at their jobs too… except their mess-ups can lead to the second-most prevalent form of lung cancer instead of confusion over vegetable management. The correlation was identified by University of Melbourne researchers who realized there was high basal stem cell growth in smokers since those cells help replace cells lost from smoking. The discovery gives innovator companies a drug target to stop lung cancer’s progress in its tracks.
Remember those anti-smoking campaigns that frequented commercial breaks in the early 2000’s, persuading smokers to toss the unhealthy habit? We do, too. And ever since, smoking in the United States has seen a real decline. However, while numbers in the U.S. and many other countries have declined in recent years, you might be surprised to hear that the global outlook is very different. Per a recent study from the World Health Organization, global rates of smokers are rising and cigarettes could kill up to 8 million people a year by 2030. While that figure alone is staggering, it’s accompanied by another not-so-fun fact. Smoking costs up to $1 trillion a year in health care and lost productivity. Smoke breaks: killing us and making us poorer since 5000 B.C.
Harvard researchers recently developed an instrument capable of emulating what has been, until now, a difficult environment to do research on: the human smoker’s lung. Because of the way lung cells move when being exposed to smoke, investigators have had a hard time artificially recreating the affected cells (no word if they tried using peer pressure.) But by using a ‘lung-on-a-chip,’ which contains living human lung cells, and a mechanism capable of pushing the air of up to ten cigarettes through the cells, the scientists are finally able to mimic the environment. This is also likely the first documented instance of a robot being encouraged to engage in vice, which we’re certain won’t come back to bite us in the future.