Sunday, 9 October 2011

Environmental friendly anti-fouling repells barnacles

Untreated part covered with barnacles.
Do you, like me, love to sail? Or just mess around in boats? Do you also, like me, feel a bit guilty about the gory stuff that keeps your bottom clean?  if so help is on the way.
A team of scientist have developed a anti-fouling that is effective against barnacles without being toxic to the marine environment.
 For non-boaters: A barnacle is a small rockhard shellfish that colonizes hard surfaces. When they in great numbers settle on a boat bottoms they greatly increase resistance and fuel consumption. The normal treatment is to paint the bottom with a toxic paint loaded with metal like copper and tin. Those create havoc in estuaries. Amongst other things they make small marine slugs to change sex.

The team from the University of Gothenburg have made a anti-fouling without metal. Instead they added  a minute amount of Ivermectin, a wide spread veterinary medicine used against parasitic infections. It does not kill the barnacle larvae. But it stops them from getting a firm hold of the bottom so they fall of and dies.

Being a drug it has its own environmental hazards. The researchers have however, by tinkering whit the composition of the paint,  found a method to stop the drug from leaking in to the water. Good news for marine life, and good news for boaters - the coat of paint is effective for more than one season.

Read more here.

Mutation may explain why young athletes die

A dissertation presented at the University of Linkoping in Sweden suggests a way to predict the risk for young athletes to suddenly die on the field. By detecting the condition the risk for early death is reduced.

The scientists, in Meriam Astrom Aneqs team, have found a correlation between a, so far unknown,  mutation in the PKP2 gene and ARVC (arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy) which causes the heart to stop during hard work like in fierce athletic competition.

The findings is based in a genetic study on relatives to at 18 year old athlete who died suddenly in ARVC.  The mutation in the PKP2 gene was found in three generations.

The finding might reduce the risk for a person carrying the mutant gene but it does little for saving an athletic career:

- The best cure is to avoid hard training, says Meriam Astrom Aneq.

Operation and medicine can also help, but will not allow for hard training.