As with every form of the deadly disease, early detection of oesophageal cancer is critical to recovery. The current approach of detecting the cancer through biopsy can be a little hit and miss, so the University of Cambridge's Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald and her team have developed what they claim to be a more accurate tool for early-diagnosis. Billed as "a pill on a string," the Cytosponge is designed to scrape off cells from the length of the oesophagus as it is yanked out after swallowing, offering up a much larger sample for inspection of cancer cells.
Respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma are extremely prevalent, with more than 35 million sufferers in the US alone. Now, a team from the Weizmann Institute of Science has worked to create a new treatment for repairing damaged lung tissue, using the procedure for bone marrow stem cell transplantation as a template.
In order to monitor their blood glucose levels, diabetics typically have
to perform painful and inconvenient finger-prick blood tests – in some
cases, several times a day. Using an implantable glucose-monitoring sensor
is one alternative, although it must be surgically installed and
subsequently removed for replacement. Another option may be on the way,
however, in the form of a device that simply shines a laser on the
The field of optogenetics where individual brains cells are made to behave differently when exposed to light has wide-ranging potential. It may one day be used to reverse acquired blindness, alter pain thresholds and even hit the rest button on our biological clocks. With one eye on this emerging area of neuroscience, scientists have developed a device the width of a human hair that can be planted in the brain to deliver light or drugs only where needed, offering better targeted treatments and reduced side effects.
Building on previous work, researchers at Duke University have developed a new technology that wraps nanoshells in a thin film of drug-infused hydrogel, adding additional firepower to the already promising targeted cancer treatment. The hydrogel is loaded with cancer-fighting drugs and coated onto the nanoshells, which heat up when exposed to infrared light and release the chemotherapeutic drugs, delivering a one-two punch, directly to the tumour.
We have drugs to treat nasty conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, but unfortunately their effects are often blunted by little stumbling blocks known as the stomach and the small intestine. These body parts are prone to absorbing certain medications before they can do their best work. But a new type of capsule holds onto its payload until reaching the large intestine, making for more effective delivery.
Scientists believe they can isolate the medical benefits of THC from the "unwanted side effects". By blocking a particular receptor, the cognitive effects of THC, including memory loss, anxiety and dependence can be suppressed, whist the analgesic and tumor-inhibiting properties remain.
If the thought of using a person's brainwaves to control a machine isn't quite enough to make the mind boggle, then mixing signals from multiple brains for the same purpose might just do the job. This far-fetched field of neuroscience is edging ever closer to real-world technology, with a number of recent research efforts achieving significant advances, with mind-controlled drone flight just one example. The latest step forward in this area sees the brains of separate animals hooked up and their combined motor and sensory information used for things like controlling a virtual arm, pattern recognition and even predicting the weather.
Further to the mental anguish, a lot of time in a hospital bed can bring about some agonizing physical discomfort. This is most commonly brought about by skin ulcers and bedsores, which threaten to evolve into dangerous and potentially deadly infections if left untreated. But a British research team has happened upon a technique that promises to cut the healing time of these and other chronic wounds by around a third, using simple low-intensity ultrasounds.
When things in our body go awry, through disease or infection, for example, the types of molecules in our breath can change. These variations have presented researchers around the world with a very real opportunity to detect various conditions, including lung cancer, with unprecedented ease. The latest scientists to start sniffing around this emerging form of medical diagnosis is a team from the University of Adelaide, who are developing a laser instrument inspired by dog's nose that can screen breath samples for signs of unrest.