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— Medical

Whale protein puts researchers on path to developing synthetic blood

Researchers at Rice University have discovered that a protein found in whale meat may hold the key to developing synthetic blood. The protein, called myoglobin, allows marine mammals to remain submerged at great depths for up to two hours and has an ultra-stable structure that could one day allow for the manufacturing of a blood substitute using bacteria as biofactories.

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Hydrogel boosts uptake of stem cells in repairing damaged hearts

With their ability to help repair damaged muscle, stem cells have shown promise as tools for rebuilding the body's organs, but their potential is yet to be fully realized – especially when it comes to the heart. Part of this is because only a small percentage of stem cells injected actually survive the process, but a newly developed liquid could make life a little easier for freshly transplanted cells. Researchers have found that encapsulating them in a sticky hydrogel gives them the ability to not only survive, but multiply and improve the injured heart's ability to pump blood.

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Scientists uncover potential biomarker and drug target for autism

Improving our understanding of what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can not only lead to better drugs to treat it, but more precise methods of diagnosis. Though progress has been made, as it stands there are no reliable biomarkers for ASD, with previous research implicating hundreds of genes in the condition which has muddied the waters somewhat. But now a team of scientists has zeroed in on defects in a particular signaling pathway that may be responsible for cognitive impairments associated with the condition.

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Paralyzed man uses own brainwaves to walk again – no exoskeleton required

A man suffering complete paralysis in both legs has regained the ability to walk again using electrical signals generated by his own brain. Unlike similar efforts that have seen paralyzed subjects walk again by using their own brainwaves to manually control robotic limbs, the researchers say this is the first time a person with complete paralysis in both legs due to spinal cord injury was able to walk again under their own power and demonstrates the potential for noninvasive therapies to restore control over paralyzed limbs.

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Machine learning algorithms could predict breast cancer treatment responses

Different patients with the same type of cancer can have different responses to the same medication, which leaves doctors in a tough spot: how do they know which treatment will have the best response? If they get it right, their patient may enter remission; but if they're wrong the patient's health will deteriorate. Now researchers at Western University might have the answer. They developed machine learning algorithms – a branch of artificial intelligence – that crunch genetic data to determine the most likely treatment response and allow more personalized treatment regimens.

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3D-printed guide aids in complex nerve regeneration

Complex nerve injuries are a challenging problem for the medical fraternity, as their reattachment and regrowth is a fraught and delicate process that is very rarely successful. Overcoming these difficulties, however, would mean that a cure for debilitating conditions like paraplegia, quadriplegia and other forms of paralysis may one day be found. In this vein, US researchers have created the first-ever 3D printed guide specifically designed to assist in the regrowth of the sensory and motor functions of complex nerves.

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Protein patch restores heart tissue and function after a heart attack

Though sufferers of heart attacks may survive the initial event, they cause permanent damage to the organ in the form of scar tissue, which affects its ability to pump blood. Scientists around the world are working on this problem, with hydrogels, human stem cells and even bioengineered tissue that sticks together like Velcro all offering possible solutions. But the latest promising advance comes from a team of researchers that has developed a simple protein patch that restores animal hearts almost to normal function.

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New technique bodes well for lung transplant success rate

Our bodies have developed a particularly unforgiving immune response when a threat is posed to our lungs. This is great for warding off infections and illness, though is something of a double-edged sword regarding transplants, with the recipient's body often perceiving the incoming organ as a threat and seeking to destroy it. But a new approach promises to boost the success rate of such procedures, by both repairing unhealthy donor lungs that wouldn't otherwise make the grade and reducing the chances of rejection once it is implanted.

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Tadpole-like endoscope swims through gastrointestinal tract in search of cancer

Endoscopes are essential tools for the medical examination of many organs of the human body, and are best known for their use in examining the gastrointestinal tract. Generally consisting of a flexible tube with a light source and an arrangement of lenses – or small cameras in more modern devices – the endoscope is a vital, but unwieldy tool that takes a great deal of skill to operate and maneuver around in tight areas. Now engineers have created a new device dubbed the Tadpole Endoscope, that literally swims around inside the organ of a patient and wirelessly transmits video of what it sees. Read More
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