This Teen Used Juice You Probably Have in Your Fridge to Invent Low-Cost Stitches That Detect Infection

Dasia Taylor's sutures can be life-changing for people in developing countries.

Dasia Taylor invented sutures that can change color to indicate an infection is present.

Dasia Taylor invented sutures that can change color to indicate an infection is present.

High school senior Dasia Taylor knew she wanted a career in the medical field, but she wanted to take her passion to the next level. During some research with her chemistry teacher at Iowa City West High School, she realized there was a way to make stitches with a natural indicator that changes color if the person's wound is infected. What was the natural material she used?

Beet juice!

This smart teen invented sutures made with beet juice concentrate, and they change from a red color to a purple color when an infection is present. The beet juice responds to the changing pH level in the surrounding tissue and blood.

Dasia's sutures can be life-changing for people in developing countries, where wound infections are more prevalent. Her low-cost and easy sutures can help people learn of infections sooner and in an affordable way.

Prone to Clotting? How Blood Thinners Could Help Save Your Life

You've seen all the commercials, but here's what to know about the medications.

Have you ever wondered why there are so many blood thinner commercials on TV? Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis advertisements flood the airwaves promising to protect you from life-threatening clots while also claiming superiority to a medication many of us remember our grandparents taking, called warfarin. Of course, none of us understood why our grandparents may have been taking warfarin (a medication made from rat poison) in the first place. But the newer blood thinners called NOACs (novel oral anticoagulants) are actually great treatment options for many people with specific medical conditions. So should you pay attention the next time one of these commercials pops up? To clot, or not to clot, that is the question perhaps we should all be asking.

What Is Warfarin?

Warfarin, also called coumadin, is in fact derived from rat poison. Being an animal activist and lover of all animals, I will refrain from expounding on how warfarin went from poisoning rats to being used clinically in patients (I'm not sure I would have gone to that doctor), as I find animal persecution too upsetting. However, a well-written article in Nature Reviews Cardiology explains this evolution. In truth, the medical use of warfarin was revolutionary in both treating and preventing leg and lung clots as well as in effectively decreasing the risk of stroke in patients with either an abnormal heart rhythm, called atrial fibrillation, or in people with abnormal heart valves. However, the drawback of warfarin treatment is that patients require frequent blood tests to ensure proper blood levels, as its therapeutic effect and its bleeding risk can be quickly affected by changes in diet (including alcohol) and by multiple medication interactions (including antibiotics).

Keep Reading Show less