science + technology news

Controlling inflammation to reduce chronic disease risk

August 10, 2015

Two-hit model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (credit: ILSI Europe)

In an open-access paper in the British Journal of Nutrition, a coalition of 17 experts explain how elevated unresolved chronic inflammation is involved a range of chronic diseases, and how nutrition influences inflammatory processes and helps reduce chronic risk of diseases.

According to the authors, “the nutrition status of the individual with for example a deficiency or excess of certain micronutrients (e.g. folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin 1, vitamin… read more

Google Glass could bring toxicology specialists to remote emergency rooms

August 10, 2015

credit: Google

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have found that Google Glass — presumably the Enterprise Edition — could effectively extend bedside toxicology consults to distant health care facilities such as community and rural hospitals to diagnose and manage poisoned patients, according to a paper in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.

“In the present era of value-based care, a toxicology service using hands-free devices, such… read more

Scientists reveal secrets for reaching age 100 (or more)

Prime factors: long telemere length (pre-age 100) and low inflammation
August 6, 2015

Telomere length in study participants up to 115 years of age. Leukocyte telomere length vs age is shown for males (blue or cyan) and females (green or red). Centenarians, (semi-)supercentenarians, and centenarian offspring are shown in blue (males) or red (females), respectively. Unrelated participants younger than 100 years are indicated in cyan (males) or green (females). Regression lines belonging to these groups are indicated by the same colour. (credit: Yasumichi Arai et al./EBioMedicine)

Scientists say they have cracked the secret of why some people live a healthy and physically independent life over the age of 100: keeping inflammation down and telomeres long.

Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing in the U.K. and Keio University School of Medicine note that severe inflammation is part of many diseases in the old, such as diabetes or diseases attacking the bones… read more

Non-surgical electrical/drug stimulation helps patients with paralysis to voluntarily move their legs — a first

July 30, 2015

Range of voluntary movement prior to receiving stimulation compared to movement after receiving stimulation, physical conditioning, and buspirone. The subject’s legs are supported so that they can move without resistance from gravity. The electrodes on the legs are used for recording muscle activity. (credit: Edgerton Lab/UCLA)

In a study conducted at UCLA, five men who had been completely paralyzed were able to move their legs in a rhythmic motion thanks to a new, noninvasive neuromodulation and pharmacological procedure that stimulates the spinal cord.

The researchers believe this to be the first time voluntary leg movements have ever been relearned in completely paralyzed patients without surgery. The results are reported in an… read more

Common chemicals may act together to increase cancer risk, international study finds

July 22, 2015

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Common environmental chemicals assumed to be safe at low doses may act separately or together to disrupt human tissues in ways that eventually lead to cancer, according to a task force of almost 200 scientists from 28 countries.

In a nearly three-year investigation of the state of knowledge about environmentally influenced cancers, the scientists studied low-dose effects of 85 common chemicals not considered to be carcinogenic to humans.… read more

How to regenerate axons to recover from spinal-cord injury

July 17, 2015

HKUST researchers cut mouse corticospinal tract axons (labeled red). A year later, they deleted the Pten gene in the experimental group (bottom) but not the control group. The Pten gene removal resulted in axon regrowth in seven months, unlike the control group (top). (credit: Kaimeng Du et al./The Journal of Neuroscience)

Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have found a way to help patients recover from chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) by stimulating the growth of axons.

Chronic SCI prevents a large number of injured axons from crossing a lesion, particularly in the corticospinal tract (CST). Patients inflicted with SCI often suffer a temporary or permanent loss of mobility… read more

Wireless device delivers drugs to brain and triggers neurons via remote control

July 16, 2015

Tiny, implantable devices are capable of delivering light or drugs to specific areas of the brain, potentially improving drug delivery to targeted regions of the brain and reducing side effects. Eventually, the devices may be used to treat pain, depression, epilepsy and other neurological disorders in people. (credit: Alex David Jerez Roman)

A team of researchers has developed a tiny “wireless optofluidic neural probe” the width of a human hair that can be implanted in the brain and triggered by remote control to deliver drugs and activate targeted populations of brain cells.

The technology, demonstrated for the first time in mice, may one day be used to treat pain, depression, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders in people by targeting therapies to… read more

Nanospheres safely deliver high chemotherapy doses to attack tumors

Trojan-horse strategy make the cancer's own enzymes rip up nanoparticles, releasing drugs
July 15, 2015

Tumors secrete enzymes the slice open peptide coatings (blue) that help to safely deliver an anti-cancer drug (red) (credit: Cassandra E. Callmann et al./Advanced Materials)

Scientists have engineered a drug delivery system that uses specially designed nanoparticles that release drugs in the presence of a specific enzymes — the very ones that enable cancers to metastasize.

“We can start with a small molecule and build that into a nanoscale carrier that can seek out a tumor and deliver a payload of drug,” said Cassandra Callmann, a graduate student in chemistry and biochemistry… read more

Major drug company to market implantable microchips that deliver drugs inside the body

"Artificial gland" replaces injections and pills now needed to treat chronic diseases
July 6, 2015

Microchip-based drug delivery device (credit: Robert Farra et al./Science Translational Medicine)

MIT spinoff Microchips Biotech has partnered with Teva Pharmaceutical, the world’s largest producer of generic drugs, to commercialize its wirelessly controlled, implantable, microchip-based devices that store and release drugs inside the body over a period of years.

Invented by Microchips Biotech co-founders Michael Cima, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, the… read more

Pulsed electric field technology may rejuvenate skin function and appearance

June 30, 2015

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A team of Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School researchers has devised a novel non-invasive tissue-stimulation technique using pulsed electric fields (PEF) to generate new skin tissue growth.

The technique produces scarless skin rejuvenation and may revolutionize the treatment of degenerative skin diseases, according to research team leader Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical… read more

‘Microswimmer’ robots to drill through blocked arteries within four years

Controlled by an external magnetic field, nanoscale bacteria-like chains could replace stents and angioplasty balloons
June 30, 2015

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Swarms of microscopic, magnetic, robotic beads could be used within five years by vascular surgeons to clear blocked arteries. These minimally invasive microrobots, which look and move like corkscrew-shaped bacteria, are being developed by an $18-million, 11-institution research initiative headed by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technologies (KEIT).

These “microswimmers” are driven and controlled by external magnetic fields, similar to how nanowires from … read more

Nanowire implants for remote-controlled drug delivery

June 25, 2015

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Purdue researchers have created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled. The nanowires respond to an electromagnetic field generated by a separate device, which can be used to control the release of a preloaded drug.

The system eliminates the tubes and wires required by other implantable devices that can lead to infection and other complications, said team leader Richard Borgens,… read more

Cocktail of chemicals may trigger cancer

Fifty chemicals the public is exposed to on a daily basis may trigger cancer when combined, according to new research by global task force of 174 scientists
June 23, 2015

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A global task force of 174 scientists from leading research centers in 28 countries has studied the link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. The open-access study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to humans and found 50 of them actually supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today.

According to co-author cancer Biologist Hemad Yasaei from… read more

Micro-tentacles for tiny robots can handle delicate objects like blood vessels

June 23, 2015

A micro-tentacle developed by Iowa State engineers spirals around an ant (credit: Jaeyoun (Jay) Kim/Iowa State University)

Iowa State University engineers have developed microrobotic tentacles that could allow small robots to safely handle delicate objects.

As described in an open-access research paper in the journal Scientific Reports, the tentacles are microtubes just a third of an inch long and less than a hundredth of an inch wide. They’re made from PDMS, a transparent elastomer that can be a liquid or a soft,… read more

How to make instant carbon nanoparticles at home for cool biomedical uses

Molasses: check. Honey: check. Pig: um, check.
June 19, 2015

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How would you like to produce carbon nanoparticles small enough to evade the body’s immune system, that reflect light in the near-infrared range for easy detection in the body, and even carry payloads of pharmaceutical drugs to targeted tissues — all in the privacy of your own home?

If so, well, University of Illinois bioengineering professors Dipanjan Pan and Rohit Bhargava have a DIY recipe for you.… read more

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