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— Medical

Motorized spermbots help weak swimmers along to boost fertility

There are a number of possible solutions available to those having trouble conceiving, including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, but these treatments are far from a surefire fix. Researchers at IFW Dresden in Germany are working towards another approach they hope will provide better results by targeting a key driver of infertility, sperm that don't swim well. The team has now demonstrated sets of motorized "spermbots" that can give weaker swimmers a much needed boost to the egg.

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Cloaking chemo drugs in cellular bubbles destroys cancer with one fiftieth of a regular dose

The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel is commonly used to treat breast, lung and pancreatic cancers, slowing their growth by preventing cancerous cells from replicating. But once administered the drug is attacked by the body's defenses, necessitating larger doses that result in complications such as joint pain, diarrhea and an impaired ability to fend off other infections. Researchers have now discovered a way to sneak the drug through to the tumor with its entire payload intact, a technique that could make for more effective cancer treatments with fewer side effects.

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— Medical

Mobile EEG cap to enable brainwave monitoring on the go

Like many scientists around the world, researchers working out of UC San Diego have high hopes for how our brainwaves might one day be used to control devices, tackle neurological disorders and everything in between. But for that to happen, the devices used to monitor them not only have to be highly advanced, but comfortable and practical to wear on our heads in everyday environments. The team has now taken a promising step towards such a future, unveiling what it says to be a first-of-its-kind EEG headset that will take brain monitoring out of the lab and into homes, cars and offices.

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Enzyme that governs sugar metabolism may uncover treatments for obesity and diabetes

Scientists have uncovered a new enzyme that works to block the adverse effects of sugar on the body. Present in all mammals, the enzyme plays the role of disposing of the unwanted byproducts of heightened glucose levels. In discovering this key step in the metabolism of sugar, the scientists say they have uncovered a new therapeutic target for conditions like type 2 diabetes and obesity, and are now working to develop drugs that boosts its activity.

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Whole-body imaging technology uses contactless tracking of blood flow

Whether it's a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff or a carefully placed pair of fingers, current approaches to monitoring blood flow typically rely on readings from a single point of the body. Scientists have developed a new technology they say paints a more complete picture. The imaging technique tracks blood flow around the body and does so without needing to make contact with the skin, providing a tool that could prove useful in treating everybody from severe burn victims to the elderly.

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— Medical

Exposé of flu's cell hijacking tactics could stop viruses taking hold

It's not easy for bird flu to migrate to humans, but once there it can have wreak considerable havoc, with consequences that include death. For the first time scientists have zeroed in on the very narrow pathway that allows the passage of this type A influenza virus from birds to mammals, a discovery they say could one day enable them to shut the gate on the flu virus altogether.

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Boosting brain molecule points to treatment for autism and other neurological disorders

Rett Syndrome is a rare but severe neurological disorder that causes autism-like behavior in young females. It has long been known that behind the condition is a genetic mutation, and researchers are now claiming to have found an absent molecule that facilitates regular nerve cell function and development in healthy brains. Armed with a drug that can repair this missing link, the scientists are hopeful their work can lead to effective treatments for not only Rett Syndrome, but various forms of autism-spectrum disorders as well.

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