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Scars are a normal part of life — for now, anyway. In the future, that might not be the case, as researchers have developed a method to eliminate scarring by prompting wounds to heal as normal skin rather than as scar tissue.
Scar tissue looks different than normal skin because it doesn’t feature any fat cells or hair follicles. Smaller cuts are filled in with skin that contains fat cells called adipocytes, which allows it to blend in with the surrounding area. However, this isn’t the case for scar tissue, which is largely comprised of myofibroblasts.
This research indicates that we might be able to convert myofibroblasts into adipocytes, converting scar tissue to look like normal skin. Previously, this conversion was thought to be possible only in fish and amphibians.
The study, published in Science, builds upon previous research that established a link between the way that fat cells and hair follicles developed in the regenerated skin. Both would form separately, but not independently, with the hair follicles always appearing first.
This prompted the team to try inducing the growth of hair follicles in scar tissue that was being formed in samples of skin taken from mice and humans. Hair follicles were seen to release a signaling protein known as Bone Morphogenetic Protein during their development, which converted myofibroblasts to adipocytes.
These results are an improvement over currently available cosmetic surgery, which can make scars less visible but cannot actually eliminate scarring.
“Previous approaches to scar-reducing therapies focused on minimizing the size of the scar, but not eliminating it all together,” Maksim Plikus of the University of California, Irvine, a co-author of the study, told Futurism. “We observe regeneration of completely new fat cells from myofibroblasts, the principal cell type that causes scarring. This means that instead of just being reduced, scar tissue can be eliminated, replaced by normal tissues via the regeneration mechanism.”
However, there are some limitations to the procedure, at least in its current form. In mouse wounds, there’s a window of opportunity for the scars to be addressed, which seems to fall between day 15 after the injury (when new hair follicles start to regenerate) and day 28 (when fat regeneration is completed).
“The time window for inducing regeneration in wounds is fairly long, which is a great news for potential future regeneration-inducing therapy,” Plikus noted, acknowledging that further testing will be required to assess whether the window can be extended beyond 28 days after the injury was sustained. It’s not yet clear whether it will be possible to modify the therapy for use on older scars.
Furthermore, there are important differences between the skin of humans and mice that warrant further testing. Plikus wrote that the regeneration inducing signaling molecules observed in mice still have to be validated in human skin wounds, for instance.
The therapy has been demonstrated in human skin samples, but there’s a way to go before it can be performed on a living person’s wound. Still, it’s an exciting development that shows just how much we have to learn about our own skin. “Our research shows that adult skin in mammals has much broader regenerative potential than previously assumed,” Plikus said.
By now, most of us who’ve seen the iPhone X can say with confidence whether we love or hate the notch. Regardless of your personal preference, it should be known to all that the notch is here to stay for the next few generations of iPhone..
While there’s plenty of evidence suggesting the notch will ultimately be slimmed down (or eliminated entirely), Apple’s fiercest rival in the phone space recently come out swinging with its own concept of a thinner, discreet, and inherently “more advanced” solution of its own.
Samsung’s Perforated Hole Patent
Published by the World Intellectual Property Organization last week, Samsungs patent No. WO 2018/012719 A1 describes and illustrates a truly “edge-to-edge” OLED display design, featuring small perforated “holes” within the glass, which would house components like the front-facing camera, earpiece, speakers, and more.
As noted by the Dutch-language tech blog, LetsGoDigital an all-screen design like this would allow Samsung to conceal its front-facing components under the glass — effectively side-stepping the need to incorporate a sensor bar like we see on the iPhone X (and to a lesser extent, on the Android-powered Essential Phone).
The patent goes on to detail other key aspects about the concept, such as how digital content like photos and videos stand to benefit from the screen’s substantially decreased “dead area” meaning the unusable screen space currently occupied by the notch.
Too Little, Too Late?
Conceptually, Samsung’s vision of a discreet next-generation ‘notch’ solution is certainly novel and forward-thinking, albeit consistent with the South Korean company’s (generally half-assed attempts) at mimicking Apple’s prized technologies.
More importantly, while Samsung’s design might seem like a promising evolution in the style and functionality of its Galaxy devices, what’s described in the company’s inherent patent is — technologically speaking — just a watered-down version of what Apple is already rumored to be working on.
Apple’s Perforated Hole Patent
In January of last year, it was revealed by an Apple patent that the company may be working on a similar “perforated hole” design, describing a method by which iPhone would be able to hide these crucial components under its display glass.
Unfortunately, while Samsung’s plans are not clear from the patent, it’s still interesting to see the Galaxy maker come up with a solution which eliminates most traces of the notch.
Apple, however, is already at least 2.5 years ahead of the competition both in terms of technology and design. So while iPhone X might not be your ‘cup of tea’ for the time being, we have plenty of reason to believe the notch as we know it will see a major transformation in the years to come.
American Express announced on Monday that it plans to stop requiring signatures when customers make debit or credit card purchases.
The company is now joining the ranks of MasterCard and Discover, and all three credit card providers will eliminate signature requirements in the U.S. and Canada in April 2018. The change, of course, will allow for a faster, simpler and more consistent checkout system for cardholders and merchants, American Express said.
“The payments landscape has evolved to the point where we can now eliminate this pain point for our merchants,” said Jaromir Civilek, executive vice president of Global Network Business at American Express.
Signatures have long been required as an additional security measure for card purchases. But modern security technology improvement — including contactless payments and chip-based cards — have made signatures less of a necessity.
“Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud. In addition, the majority of American Express transactions today already do not require a signature at the point of sale as a result of previous policy changes we made to help our merchants,” Divilek said.
American Express and other companies have already eliminated signature requirements for purchases under $ 50 in the U.S., but the complete phaseout of required signatures is likely to be a welcome shift for consumers in the next few years. On the merchant side, it’ll likely reduce operating costs associated with retaining customer signatures.
While the changes apply to the U.S. and Canada, American Express said it’s working to phase out signature requirements globally. On the other hand, merchants will still have to collect signatures if required by local law.
The Effect of Apple Pay
Part of the reason credit card companies are simplifying the checkout process is the advent of mobile and contactless payment systems like Apple Pay and others. Mike Cook, senior vice president of Wal-Mart, said that consumers are increasingly expecting a streamlined checkout process.
But while the elimination of signature requirements will obviously streamline the point of sale process for physical cardholders, it’s also likely to speed up transactions for Apple Pay users in the U.S.
Occasionally, Apple Pay requires a signature for certain purchases over $ 50 in the U.S. With major credit card firms doing away with this requirement, it’s likely that the step will be eliminated for Apple Pay and other payment method systems when it’s introduced. While Apple Pay is already faster than chip-based credit card transactions, eliminating the signature requirement will make it quicker still.
On the other hand, there are still certain jurisdictions — such as some areas in Canada — where contactless payment systems can’t be used for large purchases. The phaseout of the signature requirement, unfortunately, won’t do anything to improve that process.