what's the buzz .

what's the buzz .

Wrinkles reducing creams are a waste

Using wrinkles creams to smooth and plump your skin does no good; rather it affects your pocket.

Scientists say that the collagen molecules in the enticing-sounding lotions and potions are so large that very few make it through the skin. As a result, they sit on the surface of the face until they are rubbed off or washed away. In other words, money spent on their products is, quite literally, going down the drain.

The criticism follows a survey of experts’ pet hates conducted by the charity Sense About Science. L’Oreal’s Wrinkle Decrease Collagen range is aimed at women aged 35-plus and claims to “reduce the appearance of wrinkles and creases”.

The firm’s Paris Dermot Expertise Collagen Micro-vibration eye cream costs around 11 pounds for a tube containing 15 ml, or three teaspoons worth. It contains collagen ‘biospheres’ said to have the power to combat crows’ feet, dark circles and bags under the eyes. But scientists have disputed the claims made by many beauty firms, saying the collagen molecules used are too large to penetrate the skin’s outer surface.

“The idea created by many of these products is that collagen can get through the upper layers of skin and reinforce our own natural collagen, but this is preposterous,” said Richard Guy, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Bath.

Sunlight to make clean water from waste effluents

Scientists have devised a new system that uses the cheapest possible energy source - sunlight — to produce clean water from waste effluents. Microfluidics — transporting water through tiny channels — and photocatalysis — using light to break down impurities — come together in the science of optofluidics.

“These two technologies have been developed in parallel but there have been few efforts to employ the natural synergy between them. Our results showed a dramatic improvement in the efficiency of the photocatalyst,” said Xuming Zhang of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The researchers fabricated a planar microfluidic reactor, or microreactor, which is essentially a rectangular chamber made of two glass plates coated with titanium dioxide, the active ingredient in many sunscreen lotions.

On exposure to sunlight, the coating releases electrons that react with contaminants in the water and break them down into harmless substances. This is the photocatalysis part of the process.

The high surface area of the microreactor enhances the ability of the catalyst to capture sunlight. Although the gap between plates is small, Zhang plans to expand the rectangular dimensions to two square meters.

“Our current small-scale proves the concept but we are also scaling up the reactor to a throughput of 1,000 liter per hour,” he said.

If the larger reactor proves effective, many parallel devices might be used to handle industrial water treatment applications.

Scientists grow human liver tissue for transplantation

Scientists have attained success in growing human liver cells on resorbable scaffolds made from material similar to surgical sutures. This liver tissue could be used in place of donor organs during liver transplantation or during the bridge period until a suitable donor is available for patients with acute liver failure.

Joerg-Matthias Pollok, University Medical Centre in Hamburg, Germany said, “Currently isolated liver cells are used for liver cell transplantation, but these cells suffer during cell isolation and cryopreservation, which is one reason there is limited success with this type of transplant procedure.”

In applying their tissue engineering approach, the researchers were able to successfully create new liver tissue providing a potential solution to the obstacles challenging liver cell transplantation. The team isolated liver cells from 12 human liver specimens with a viability of 82 per cent. After a two-day culture period, liver cells formed tightly packed cellular aggregates, called spheroids, and took on a liver-like appearance.

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