science + technology news

MRI breakthroughs include ultra-sensitive MRI magnetic field sensing, more-sensitive monitoring without chemical or radioactive labels

Heart mechanical contractions recorded in MRI machine for first time; hope to monitor neurotransmitters at 100 times lower levels
December 30, 2016

Highly sensitive magnetic field sensor (credit: ETH Zurich / Peter Rüegg)

Swiss researchers have succeeded in measuring changes in strong magnetic fields with unprecedented precision, they report in the open-access journal Nature Communications. The finding may find widespread use in medicine and other areas.

In their experiments, the researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, which is operated jointly by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, magnetized a water droplet inside a magnetic resonance imaging… read more

Immune cells in covering of brain discovered; may play critical role in battling neurological diseases

December 28, 2016

A composite image showing the immune cells. In addition to being important defenders of the brain, the cells may also may be the missing link connecting the brain's immune response to the microbiome in the gut. That relationship already has been shown important in Parkinson's disease. (credit: Sachin Gadani | University of Virginia School of Medicine)

University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have discovered a rare and powerful type of immune cell in the meninges (protective covering) of the brain that are activated in response to central nervous system injury — suggesting that these cells may play a critical role in battling Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and other neurological diseases, and in supporting healthy mental functioning.

By harnessing the power of the cells, known as… read more

Using graphene to detect brain cancer cells

December 20, 2016

GBM cell on graphene ft

By interfacing brain cells with graphene, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers have differentiated a single hyperactive Glioblastoma Multiforme cancerous astrocyte cell from a normal cell in the lab — pointing the way to developing a simple, noninvasive tool for early cancer diagnosis.

In the study, reported in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the researchers looked at lab-cultured human brain astrocyte cells taken from a… read more

How diabetes drug metformin prevents, suppresses cancer growth

Ancient genetic pathway suggests new ways to fight cancers and support healthy aging
December 16, 2016

Metformin growth inhibition process (credit: Lianfeng Wu et al./Cell)

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School investigators has identified a pathway that appears to underlie the apparent ability of the diabetes drug metformin to both block the growth of human cancer cells and extend the lifespan of the C.elegans roundworm.

That finding implies that this single genetic pathway may play an important role in a wide range of organisms — including humans.

“We… read more

Trump considering libertarian reformer to head FDA

Peter Thiel associate advocates anti-aging medicine and patient freedom to use new drugs found safe, at their own risk
December 10, 2016

(credit: Seasteading Institute)

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is considering libertarian Silicon Valley investor Jim O’Neill, a Peter Thiel associate, to head the Food and Drug Administration, Bloomberg Politics has reported.

O’Neill, the Managing Director of Mithril Capital Management LLC, doesn’t have a medical background, but served in the George W. Bush administration as principal associate deputy secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.… read more

Implantable device targets cancer, other illnesses with controlled long-term drug delivery

5000 nanochannels control release; can deliver medicinal doses for several days or a few weeks, also effective for HIV and damaged joints
December 2, 2016

This diagram describes how the device Dr. Hood helped to develop is implanted into a cancerous tumor. (credit: Lyle Hood/UTSA)

A new drug-delivery system based on an tiny implantable capsule could “revolutionize” the delivery of medicine to treat cancer and a host of other diseases and ailments, according to researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

“The problem with most drug-delivery systems is that you have a specific minimum dosage of medicine that you need to take for it to be effective,” said… read more

Smart skin patch releases blood thinners in closed-loop control system

Prevents both thrombosis and spontaneous hemorrhaging; no need for patients to test blood on a regular basis
November 30, 2016

The thrombin-responsive microneedle patch is made of heparin-modified hyaluronic acid. (credit: Yuqi Zhang)

North Carolina researchers have developed a smart skin patch designed to monitor a patient’s blood and release a blood-thinning drug, as needed, to prevent thrombosis (dangerous blood clots).

Thrombosis — one of the leading causes of cardiovascular mortalities and morbidities worldwide — occurs when blood clots disrupt the normal flow of blood in the body, which can cause severe health problems such as pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.… read more

This tiny electronic device applied to the skin can pick up heart and speech sounds

November 18, 2016

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University have developed a tiny, soft, wearable acoustic sensor that measures vibrations in the human body and can be used to monitor human heart health and recognize spoken words.

The stretchable Band-aid-like device attaches to the skin on nearly any surface of the body, using “epidermal electronics” to capture sound signals from the body.

It’s… read more

Scientists find key protein for spinal cord repair in zebrafish

The human CTGF protein is 87% similar in its amino acid building blocks to the zebrafish form
November 3, 2016

Duke University | Spinal Cord Injury and Regeneration in Zebrafish

Duke University scientists have found a protein that’s important for the ability of the freshwater zebrafish’s spinal cord to heal completely after being severed. Their study, published Nov. 4  in the journal Science, could generate new leads for what is a paralyzing and often fatal injury for humans.

Searching for the repair moleculesread more

Electroacupuncture lowers hypertension by activating natural opioids

A needle a day keeps the doctor away
November 1, 2016

The UCI study shows that repetitive electroacupuncture evokes a long-lasting action in lowering blood pressure in hypertension. (credit: Chris Nugent / UCI)

A study led by researchers at UC Irvine’s Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine suggests electroacupuncture can effectively reduce hypertension in rats.

The team led by cardiology researcher Zhi-Ling Guo published evidence in Nature’s Scientific Reports (open access) to show how electroacupuncture remediates high blood pressure “by increasing the gene expression of enkephalin, one of three major opioid peptides produced by the body.”

The new study*… read more

Boosting levels of antioxidant may help resist age-related decline

NAC, used in emergency-room toxic crises, boosts glutathione. Could NAC also help resist aging-related toxins?
October 28, 2016

The chemical structure of glutathione, an antioxidant that may help resist the toxins that are an underlying cause of aging. (credit: Graphic courtesy of Oregon State University)

Researchers at Oregon State University have found evidence in a rat study* that levels of glutathione, which helps resist the toxic stresses of everyday life, decline with age, and this sets the stage for a wide range of age-related health problems, they suggest.

The new study, published in the journal Redox Biology, also highlighted a compound called N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), which is used in… read more

Zapping deep tumors with microwave-heated photosensitizer nanoparticle

Inexpensive new nanoparticle generates toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) for targeted attack of cancer cells
October 18, 2016

Figure Explaining the New Method ft

Physicists at The University of Texas at Arlington have invented a new photosensitizer  nanoparticle called copper-cysteamine (Cu-Cy) that when heated by microwave energy can precisely zap cancer cells deep in the body .

Photodynamic therapy kills cancer cells when a photosensitizer* nanoparticle introduced into tumor tissue is stimulated by (typically) near-infrared light, generating toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as singlet oxygen, by photoexcitation. However, near-IR light cannot penetrate… read more

First human clinical trial for nicotinamide riboside

Vitamin safely boosts levels of important cell metabolite NAD+, which is critical for cellular energy production and protection against stress and DNA damage
October 11, 2016

(credit: iStock)

In the first controlled clinical trial of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a newly discovered form of Vitamin B3, researchers have shown that the compound is safe for humans and increases levels of a cell metabolite called NAD+ that is critical for cellular energy production and protection against stress and DNA damage.

Levels of NAD+ (first discovered by biochemists in 1906) diminish with age, and it has… read more

New catheter lets doctors see inside arteries for first time

October 5, 2016

Image-guided catheter with a camera the size of a grain of salt (credit: UC San Diego Health)

A new safer catheter design that allows cardiologists to see inside arteries for the first time and remove plaque from only diseased tissue has been used by interventional cardiologists at UC San Diego Health.

The new image-guided device, Avinger’s Pantheris, allows doctors to see and remove plaque simultaneously during an atherectomy — a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting plaque away from the artery and… read more

Smoking leaves ‘footprint’ in DNA

Findings could provide researchers with potential targets for new therapies
September 25, 2016

Extinguishing a cigarette (credit: American Heart Association)

Smoking leaves its “footprint” on the human genome in the form of DNA methylation, a process that affects what genes are turned on, according to new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, an American Heart Association journal.

The new findings could provide researchers with potential targets for new therapies.

“These results are important because methylation, as one of the mechanisms of the regulation of gene expression, affects… read more

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