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Sperm size may predict swimming ability

Penis size may not matter for reproductive success, but sperm size may make all the difference, according to a study published last month in the journal Human Reproduction.

The research team, led by University postdoctoral researcher Jim Mossman during his doctoral studies at the University of Sheffield, examined how sperm length relates to swimming ability, according to a University press release.

Though most sperm research has focused on the head of the sperm, Mossman studied the entire sperm - head, midpiece and flagellum. He found that factors such as flagellum length, full sperm length and flagellum-to-head ratios can be good predictors of how well a sperm can swim, the release said.

The researchers also found that men who produced sperm varying greatly in length tended to produce worse swimmers than men producing more consistently-sized sperm. Mossman added that he is interested in examining the environmental and genetic factors that might determine a man's ability to manufacture sperm of consistent length.

Eye protection reduces field hockey injuries

States that mandate protective eyewear for high school women's field hockey players had significantly fewer eye injuries than did states without such a mandate, according to a study that will be published in the journal Pediatrics next month.

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Peter Kriz served as the principal investigator on the study, which also found that many types of eye injury nearly disappeared during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 field hockey seasons in states that required eye protection, according to a press release.

"We now have a large, national study that provides evidence that protective eyewear is indeed effective in reducing head and facial injuries, including eye and orbital injuries, which validates the decisions of rules committees such as the (National Federation of State High School Associations) to mandate protective eyewear use in high school field hockey and other sports," Kriz said in the press release.

States with a mandate also saw fewer injuries that took more than 10 days to recover from than did states without such a rule, though the study found that the field hockey games were no less aggressive, as both groups saw the same number of concussions.

The research was a collaboration between Hasbro Children's Hospital, the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and Boston Children's Hospital.

Nanomaterials hold potential for skin repair

The University entered an agreement with Parios Regenerative Sciences, Inc. earlier this month to license the rights to the skin repair technology Oderm, developed by former Associate Professor of Engineering Thomas Webster. Webster recently joined Northeastern University's faculty as the head of the chemical engineering department.

Oderm relies on the production of structures resembling collagen, a key component of connective tissue found in skin. Development of the technology could have clinical impacts for skin repair after injury, according to a press release.

The assembly process is guided by nanomaterials, which could make the technology more successful than current processes involving larger materials.

"Cells recognize nanomaterials as more friendly," Webster told Northeastern last month. "More like the tissues that they themselves created."

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the sport in Peter Kriz's study. In fact, Kriz's research looked at injuries in field hockey, not lacrosse. The Herald regrets the error.



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