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Medical

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Cultured liver cell microreactor might replace animal testing

Finding alternatives to animal testing is an important endeavor. While the practice has been banned in the cosmetic products industry since 2013, it's still a central part of evaluating the effectiveness and dangers of new medication, with researchers usually using laboratory rodents to test out their latest drugs. Now, a team lead by scientists at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology has created a microbioreactor that has the potential to provide medication testing using cultured liver cells rather than animals.

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Improved DNA tech could replace antibodies in detecting and treating diseases

A team of researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has worked to develop an efficient technology that uses DNA to detect and treat infectious diseases. Improving upon an existing method, the research makes use of single-stranded DNA molecules called aptamers, and it could be used to treat cancer.

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New pain-relief drug shapes as less addictive alternative to morphine

Opiates have brought pain relief to humankind for hundreds of years, but they don't come without consequences. Motor impairment and respiratory depression are a couple of potential side effects, but from opium-dependent Chinese of the mid-19th century to the morphine-riddled soldiers of the Vietnam War, the risk of addiction remains the biggest problem. Researchers have now developed a new painkiller they claim to be as strong as morphine, but without much of this unwanted baggage.

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Natural food additive found to block skin cancer cells in mice

A latin American seed once used by Mayans as body paint and today as an orange food coloring in your cheddar cheese may prove useful in the fight against skin cancer. Scientists have found that a compound found in natural food additive annatto prevents the formation of cancer cells resulting from UV radiation in mice, and are now exploring whether annatto-rich diets can prevent similar sun damage in humans.

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Lab-made liver tissue may be used for drug screening

Laboratory-engineered liver tissue could be extremely useful, helping doctors to screen new drugs, and it could even one day be used for transplants. Unfortunately, it's also very difficult to replicate the organ's complex structure and functions outside of the human body. Now, researchers from China's Northwest A&F University have managed to construct artificial tissue that's proving effective at mimicking the real thing.

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Encapsulated cells could free diabetics from insulin injections

Type 1 diabetes patients have to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels, regularly injecting insulin to make sure they stay healthy. Not only is this a burden for patients, but it can also be difficult to get right, often resulting in long-term medical problems. A team of researchers, including scientists from MIT, has been working on a better system. They're developing a transplantable capsule that can carry cells able to replace the patient's lost ability to produce insulin, and that isn't rejected or rendered useless by the host's body.

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Nanoparticles used to take on late-stage liver cancer

Treating late-stage liver cancer can be extremely difficult, with drugs that prove effective in healthy organs causing high levels of toxicity when introduced to cirrhotic livers. A newly-developed nanoparticle delivery system could improve the situation, with early tests showing it to be effective as a non-toxic treatment in experiments with laboratory mice.

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Brain scans could head off depression

A simple brain scan could identify children at risk of suffering from depression later in life, according to a new study. If implemented, the early warning test could allow doctors to carry out treatment prior to the first instance of depression, making it less likely that the patient will suffer further bouts.

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Blocking key protein puts the brakes on leukaemia

Our body has controls in place to regulate how cells grow and divide, which is a particularly useful mechanism in preventing the spread of disease. But when it comes to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), an aggressive form of blood cancer, these controls are neutralized, giving the cancer cells free rein to multiply and grow uncontrollably. Australian researchers have now discovered a protein that drives this process, and have shown that by blocking its activity they might be able to stop the deadly form of cancer in its tracks.

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