Because they often have weakened immune systems and/or blood flow
restrictions, diabetics run a heightened risk of serious infection from
even the smallest of open wounds. That's why a team of scientists from
Egypt's Alexandria University have developed a means of getting those
wounds to heal faster – silver-impregnated dressings.
When blood clots form in the aftermath of a heart attack or stroke, medications can be deployed to break them apart, but delivery is tricky. Getting the medicine to the clot takes some guesswork and there's no guarantee it will arrive in the right dosage, with complications like hemorrhaging a real possibility. A team of Australian scientists has developed a new approach that sees the drugs carried safely inside a nanocapsule, opening up the treatment to more patients and lessening the chance of side effects.
With a lack of clear symptoms even when the disease is well progressed, more than 80 percent of pancreatic cancer diagnoses come after the cancer has already spread. This has led some researchers to look beyond blood to urine testing, which is a less complex fluid. Among those is a team at the Queen Mary University of London, which has uncovered a three-protein biomarker in the urine of pancreatic cancer sufferers, suggesting a less invasive, early stage test may be on the way.
Five men with complete motor paralysis have regained the ability to move their legs voluntarily and produce step-like movements after being treated with a non-invasive form of spinal cord stimulation. The new treatment builds on prior work to generate voluntary movements in paralyzed people through electrical stimulation – in particular, two studies (one completed in 2011, the other in 2014) that involved surgically implanting an electrode array on the spinal cord. This time, however, the researchers found success without performing any invasive surgery.
The same genes that allow many cancers to proliferate and thrive could in the future be repurposed as a force for good. A study at the San Diego State University (SDSU) Heart Institute has found that mouse hearts regenerate cells better, causing the mice to live longer, when their progenitor cells are modified to over-express a key gene in cancer production. The researchers believe this could lead to a new treatment for people with heart disease or who have suffered from other age-related cardiac problems.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is where the miraculous meets the impractical. In addition to probing the secrets of the Universe at the subatomic level, it also has potential for a variety of medical applications. Unfortunately, with a circumference of 27 km (16.7 mi) the LHC is so unwieldy that it would be about as practical as using Big Ben for a wristwatch. In the hopes of creating something a bit more useful for the medical fraternity, CERN engineers have come up with a miniature linear accelerator (mini-Linac) that, at 2 m (6.5 ft) long, is small enough to be set up in hospitals for medical imaging and radiotherapy applications.
Researchers at MIT have developed a new material that shows promise for use in ultra-long drug delivery systems, as well as electronic monitoring of the stomach and weight-loss intervention. A type of polymer gel, the material is flexible and pH-responsive, allowing it to reside in the stomach for long periods of time before safety dissolving in the small intestine.
Portable test kits represent an advance in disease diagnosis, as their
ready availability increases chances of earlier detection and treatment.
This type of technology is constantly evolving, and sometimes
inspiration can come from surprising sources. Such is the case with
research carried out by a Swiss team, which has borrowed from the
mechanics behind the firefly's glow to develop a sensitive molecule
Although we've seen "bio-inks" that allow sensors to be drawn directly on a person's skin and other surfaces to gauge things like glucose levels, functional inks such as this are usually heat-sensitive, meaning they aren't suitable for use in inkjet printers. Researchers at Tufts University have now developed silk-based inks containing bacteria-sensing agents that can withstand the rigors of inkjet printing, opening the door much wider for printing biomolecules.
Some of the most difficult types of surgery just got easier and more versatile. A team of engineers and doctors at Vanderbilt University has developed a tiny mechanical wrist that can be used for millimeter-sized incisions and sutures that allow new kinds of operations and less-invasive ways of conducting existing procedures. The wrist is flexible enough that its end can be steered to allow needles to reach inside the nose, throat, ears, urethra, and brain.