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Medical

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Brazil starts screening transfusion blood for Zika virus

As the mosquito-borne Zira virus monopolizes the attention of Brazil's government and media, adding to the burden of the dengue epidemic, researchers are offering a method to blood banks that wish to screen transfusion blood for pregnant women and in cases of intrauterine transfusion. There is a suspicion that Zika could cause foeatuses to develop microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small heads and brains.

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Odoreader accurately detects prostate cancer from urine

Standard prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests for prostate cancer are far from ideal, sometimes resulting in unnecessary biopsies, and even failing to detect some cancers altogether. With the goal of developing a more capable alternative, a team of researchers has turned to a machine it calls the Odoreader, which is designed to analyze urine samples to provide a non-invasive prostate cancer test.

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Spinning up artificial capillaries with a cotton candy machine

From growing a full thymus gland inside a mouse, to creating a slice of artificial liver tissue, to using ink jet printing technology to create a human ear, researchers are steadily moving us toward the day when ordering up a new organ could be as commonplace as ordering an MRI is today. One of the hurdles in creating lab-grown organs, though, is that the cells in such a structure need a way to receive nutrients. Researchers at Vanderbilt University (VU) may have just leaped that hurdle using a most unexpected tool – a cotton candy machine.

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Machine-learning robot could streamline drug development

Testing out newly developed drugs is an extremely time-consuming process, and it can be difficult to get right. Now, a team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is working to streamline the task, creating a robotically driven experimentation system that's able to reduce the number of tests that have to be carried out by as much as 70 percent.

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Implantable device translates thought into action for people with spinal injuries

Researchers in Australia have built an implantable brain-machine interface (BMI) that may give people with spinal cord injuries the ability to walk again using the power of their own thoughts. Consisting of a stent-based electrode, known as a "stentrode", implanted within a blood vessel of a patient's brain, along with a power supply and transmitter inserted under the skin in front of the shoulder, the new system creates a minimally invasive BMI that is capable of translating thoughts into action.

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Laser-based blood glucose monitor promises a less prickly way to keep diabetes in check

For a number of years now, various research groups have been examining the potential for lasers applied to the skin to measure blood-glucose levels in an effort to put an end to the daily finger-pricks and meticulous blood sampling performed by diabetics. Japanese scientists have now developed one such system that differs from previous techniques by relying on far infrared light, which the researchers say is harmless and offers unprecedented levels of accuracy.

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X-rays and nanoparticles combine to kill cancer deep in the body

Cancer may be terrifying, but cancerous cells aren't actually that difficult to kill. The tricky bit is doing so without killing the host or making them dreadfully ill in the process. The key is treatments that only target the cancer cells while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue alone. By combining X-rays with nanoparticles, a team of researchers from the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) in Australia has found a way of combating cancer deep inside the body in this way using a simple chemical.

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Genomic signature could lead to new early-detection cancer test

Detecting cancer when it's still in the early stages of development is a difficult task, but an extremely important one, with the chances of effective treatment being much higher the quicker it's caught. Now, a team of researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) has identified a signature of tumor DNA that occurs, and is detectable, in five different cancers – a discovery that could lead to a simple early detection blood test.

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