UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

First full face transplant performed

BARCELONA, Spain, April 23 (UPI) — A man injured in a shooting accident has received what Spanish doctors say is the world’s first full face transplant.

A team of 30 doctors performed the 22-hour surgery in March, but news of the transplant was kept quiet until recently, the BBC reported Friday.

The man was recovering at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona after receiving the facial skin, muscles, cheekbones, nose, lips and teeth of a deceased donor, hospital spokeswoman Bianca Bont told the BBC.

The man was considered for a full face transplant after nine previous operations failed. He had been unable to breathe on his own, swallow or talk properly since the shooting accident five years ago.

Since the full face transplant, the patient has seen himself in a mirror and was calm and satisfied, said Dr. Joan Pere Barret, who led the surgery.

The first partial face transplant was performed in France in 2005. About 10 partial face transplants have been done since then, primarily in China and the United States.

Poultry vaccine could lead to new viruses

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., April 23 (UPI) — Live vaccines that protect domestic poultry against Newcastle disease may be creating unpredictable wild virus strains, scientists in Pennsylvania said.

Newcastle disease is a bird-contagious influenza-like disease that costs the poultry industry millions of dollars annually.

While the live vaccines against Newcastle work in the short term, they may be making it more difficult to fight in the long term, said Mary Poss, professor of biomedical sciences at Pennsylvania State University.

Vaccinated birds can shed the vaccine virus to infect wild birds, Poss said, noting her team found new viruses were created when a vaccine strain was combined with at least three wild strains.

“This raises concerns that modified live virus vaccines, though effective, may combine with circulating viruses to create unpredictable new strains,” Poss and her team wrote in a recent issue of PLoS Pathogens.

Vaccine developers who now use modified live viruses should consider using killed or inactivated viruses, she said.

Pressure-cooking turns algae into biofuel

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 23 (UPI) — Treating algae with heat and pressure quickly produces a crude oil that could be used in engines, scientists at the University of Michigan said.

In their experiments, the scientists heated algae and water to 300 degrees for 30 minutes in a device similar to a pressure cooker.

“We’re trying to do what nature does when it creates oil, but we don’t want to wait millions of years,” said Phillip Savage, a professor of chemical engineering.

Algae breaks down more easily than other potential biofuel source plants because they have no leaves, stems or roots and, therefore, no tough cell walls, Savage said in a release Thursday.

Future experiments are to involve heating and pressurizing waste products tainted with E. coli to see what crude oils could be produced, he said.

The project is supported by a $2 million National Science Foundation grant funded under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Beetle wins war against Galapagos pest

RIVERSIDE, Calif., April 23 (UPI) — Releasing the ladybug beetle throughout the Galapagos Islands has nearly eliminated a devastating sap-sucking bug native to Australia, U.S. scientists said.

In 2002, when the beetle was released, a pest known as the cottony cushion scale was infesting woody ornamentals and crops on many of the islands, said Mark Hoddle, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside.

By 2009, the beetle, Rodolia cardinalis, had reduced the scale infestations by more than 99 percent on native plants such as mangroves and had completely eliminated scale infestations on rare native plants such as Darwiniothamnus tenuifolius, Hoddle said in a release Friday.

“We also found no evidence that the ladybug beetle was attacking non-target species,” Hoddle said. “The bug was never seen feeding on other insects in the Galapagos even when the cottony cushion scale and the non-target species were side by side on the same twig.”

The ladybug beetle first was used to fight cottony cushion scale in Southern California in 1888 when the pest invaded the state’s fledging citrus industry.

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Categorized | Birds, Engineering, Other
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