The Week That Wasn't: Snail Glue Sutures, Helpful Jet Lag, Viral Cancer Cure

Narrated by Frank Cusimano, medical student

April 12, 2019

Hi, I'm Frank Cusimano and welcome to Medscape's The Week That Wasn't, our weekly series that highlights stories our news team chose not to cover for one reason or another. Let's see what's up this week.

Our first story is about a potential new suturing technique that could make scars "escargot away." Researchers from Ithaca College speculate that the natural network of proteins found in slug slime may be superior to the stitches, staples, and other bandaging techniques now used to close up wounds and surgical incisions. While gross, goopy snail trails may be the bane of gardeners everywhere, they could also act as a strong, flexible glue that speeds healing and minimizes skin damage.

Medscape never shies away from covering a good mucus study, but the evidence on mollusk polymers seems highly speculative. Still, this idea could inch its way towards practical application.

This next bit of research looked at the effect of jetlag on the brains of fruit flies.

So many questions: How were the researchers able to book insects on commercial flights? Did they fly coach? Do fruit flies even have brains?

Actually, no planes were involved here. Instead, Northwestern scientists put flies with Huntington's disease genes in cages and flicked the lights on and off over a 20-hour cycle, creating the Drosophila equivalent of permanent jet lag. Other flies were given a deliberate mutation to their circadian clock-setting genes.

Surprisingly, rather than damaging the flies' brains, the sleep disruption resulted in sturdier neurons and fewer accumulated proteins associated with Huntington's disease.

This is another speculative study, and fly research is a long way off from human studies, which is why we skipped this one.

Lastly, a study presented at the recent AACR conference. Here, Spanish scientists injected tumor-killing viruses into the brains of children with the incurable pediatric cancer DIPG to see if the technique would kill the invading cells as well as supercharge the brain's immune response. Preliminary results offer a glimmer of hope, but it's far too early, and this trial is far too small to say we are on our way to a cure — which is why we passed on coverage. But as a med student, I appreciate its potential promise. Check out the rest of our extensive AACR coverage on Medscape.

For Medscape's the Week That Wasn't, I'm Frank Cusimano. Thanks for watching.

Script by Liz Neporent; video production by John Rodriguez

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