science + technology news

Creating custom drugs on a portable refrigerator-size device

A breakthrough for responding quickly to disease outbreak and producing small quantities of custom drugs needed for clinical trials, treating rare diseases, or use as personalized "orphan drugs"
April 1, 2016

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MIT researchers have developed a compact, portable pharmaceutical manufacturing system that can be reconfigured to produce a variety of drugs on demand — if you have the right chemicals.

The device could be rapidly deployed to produce drugs needed to handle an unexpected disease outbreak, to prevent a drug shortage caused by a manufacturing plant shutdown, or produce small quantities of drugs needed for clinical trials or… read more

Nanoparticle ‘cluster bombs’ destroy cancer cells

New delivery method directly penetrates tumor cells, avoiding toxic side effects of cisplatin chemotherapy drug
March 30, 2016

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Scientists have devised a triple-stage stealth “cluster bomb” system for delivering the anti-cancer chemotherapy drug cisplatin, using nanoparticles designed to break up when they reach a tumor:

  1. The nanoparticles start out relatively large  — 100 nanometers wide — so that they can move through the bloodstream and smoothly transport into the tumor through leaky blood vessels.
  2. As they detect acidic conditions close to tumors, the nanoparticles discharge

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New type of molecular tag makes MRI 10,000 times more sensitive

Could detect biochemical processes in opaque tissue without requiring PET radiation or CT x-rays
March 25, 2016

Duke scientists have discovered a new class of inexpensive and long-lived molecular tags that enhance MRI signals by 10,000-fold. To activate the tags, the researchers mix them with a newly developed catalyst (center) and a special form of hydrogen (gray), converting them into long-lived magnetic resonance “lightbulbs” that might be used to track disease metabolism in real time. Credit: Thomas Theis, Duke University

Duke University researchers have discovered a new form of MRI that’s 10,000 times more sensitive and could record actual biochemical reactions, such as those involved in cancer and heart disease, and in real time.

Let’s review how MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) works: MRI takes advantage of a property called spin, which makes the nuclei in hydrogen atoms act like tiny magnets. By generating a strong… read more

A wearable graphene-based biomedical device to monitor and treat diabetes

March 22, 2016

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A  wearable graphene-based patch that allows for accurate non-invasive blood-sugar diabetes monitoring and painless drug delivery has been developed by researchers at The Institute for Basic Science (IBS) Center for Nanoparticle Research in South Korea.

The device uses a hybrid of gold-doped graphene and a serpentine-shape gold mesh to measure pH (blood acidity level) and temperature by measuring the amount of glucose in sweat. If abnormally high levels… read more

Major steps toward a bioengineered heart for transplantation

Using a patient’s own cells may overcome problems associated with receiving a heart donated by another person
March 17, 2016

A partially recellularized human whole-heart cardiac scaffold, reseeded with human cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, being cultured in a bioreactor that delivers a nutrient solution and replicates some of the environmental conditions around a living heart. (credit: Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Lab, Center for Regenerative Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital)

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers have taken early steps towards producing a bioengineered heart for transplantation that would use cells from the patient receiving the heart.

Using a patient’s own cells would help to overcome some of the problems associated with receiving a heart donated by another person, including immune rejection of the donated heart, as well as the long-term side effects of life-long treatment with the immunosuppressive… read more

New synthesized molecule could reduce brain damage in stroke victims

March 14, 2016

This graphic depicts a new inhibitor, 6S, locking up an enzyme (red) to block the production of hydrogen sulfide (yellow and white). Hydrogen sulfide concentrations have been shown to climb after the onset of a stroke, leaving to brain damage. (credit: Matthew Beio, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

A new molecule known as 6S has reduced the death of brain tissue from ischemic stroke by up to 66 percent in rats while reducing the accompaning inflammation, researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the National University of Singapore reported March 9 in an open-access paper published by the journal ACS Central Science.

The inhibitor molecule works by binding to cystathionine beta-synthase… read more

Are you ready for soft, morphing, crawling robots with glowing skin displays?

Turn and face the strange.
March 11, 2016

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Your future robot or mobile device could have soft, morphable, stretchable “skin” that displays information, according to research by Cornell University engineers. Imagine a health-care robot that displays your blood glucose level and oxygenation, and even your mood — perhaps also your remote physician’s face in 3D.

“When robots become more and more a part of our lives, the ability for them to have an emotional connection with… read more

Amputee feels texture with a ‘bionic’ fingertip

Other artificial-touch uses include robotics in surgery, rescue, and manufacturing
March 10, 2016

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Amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen is the first person in the world to recognize texture (smoothness vs. roughness) using an artificial “bionic” fingertip surgically connected to nerves in his upper arm. The experimental system was developed by EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) and SSSA (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna).

“The stimulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand,” says Sørensen. “I felt the texture sensations at the tip of… read more

Rapidly building artificial arteries for testing drugs

Could also help research in creating replacement arteries for patients
February 26, 2016

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Duke University researchers have developed a rapid new technique for making small-scale artificial human arteries for use in a system for testing drugs — one that is more accurate and reliable than using animal models. That means promising drugs could be better tested before entering human trials.

The new technique produces the artificial arteries ten times faster than current methods and the arteries are functional.

The… read more

New electronic stethoscope and app diagnose lung conditions

February 24, 2016

Based on an analysis of the characteristics of respiratory sounds, the Respiratory Sounds Visualizer app generates this diagnostic chart. The total area in red represents the overall volume of sound, and the proportion of red around each line from the center to each vertex represents the proportion of the overall sound that each respiratory sound contributes. (credit: Shinichiro Ohshimo et al./Annals of Internal Medicine)

The traditional stethoscope has just been superseded by an electronic stethoscope and an app called Respiratory Sounds Visualizer, which can automatically classify lung sounds into five common diagnostic categories.* The system was developed by three physician researchers at Hiroshima University and Fukushima Medical University in collaboration with Pioneer Corporation.

The respiratory specialist doctors recorded and classified lung sounds of 878 patients, then turned these… read more

Clearing out the clutter: ‘senolytic’ drugs improve vascular health in mice

Reduced calcification of plaques on blood-vessel walls
February 11, 2016

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Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated the first study in which repeated treatments to remove senescent cells (cells that stop dividing due to age or stress) in mice improve age-related vascular conditions — and may possibly reduce cardiovascular disease and death.

The researchers intermittently gave the mice a cocktail of two senolytic drugs (ones that selectively induce cell death): dasatinib (a cancer drug, trade… read more

Could humans ever regenerate limbs?

February 10, 2016

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Just lopped off your ring finger slicing carrots (some time in the future)? No problem. Just speed-read this article while you’re waiting for the dronebulance. …

“Epimorphic regeneration” — growing digits, maybe even limbs, with full 3D structure and functionality — may one day be possible. So say scientists at Tulane University, the University of Washington, and the University of Pittsburgh, writing in a review article just published in… read more

New cryopreservation procedure wins Brain Preservation Prize

First preservation of the connectome demonstrated in a whole brain
February 9, 2016

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The Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF) has announced that a team at 21st Century Medicine led by Robert McIntyre, PhD., has won the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize, which carries an award of $26,735.

The Small Mammalian Brain Preservation Prize was awarded after the determination that the protocol developed by McIntyre, termed Aldehyde-Stabilized Cryopreservation, was able to preserve an entire rabbit brain with well-preserved ultrastructure, including… read more

Mitochondria trigger cell aging, researchers discover

How to rejuvenate or prevent aging in human and mice cells
February 5, 2016

Components of a typical mitochondrion (credit: Kelvinsong/Creative Commons)

An international team of scientists led by João Passos at Newcastle University has for the first time shown that mitochondria (the “batteries” of the cells) are major triggers for aging, and eliminating them upon the induction of senescence prevents senescence in the aging mouse liver.

As we grow old, cells in our bodies accumulate different types of damage and have increased inflammation, factors that are thought to contribute… read more

Future of drug delivery seen in a crystal ball

Not flakey --- and a few 100 times stronger than liposomes
February 3, 2016

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A Drexel University materials scientist has discovered a way to encapsulate medication to deliver it more effectively inside the body.

Until now, crystals have grown in rigid, structured formations (like the snowflake) — with a web of straight lines connecting to making a grid that grows into the crystalline flake.*

But the formation of a crystal is affected by the environment in which it forms. And Christopherread more

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