A new type of medical device could one day put the minds of chronic pain sufferers at ease by distributing the body's own natural pain relief signals at just the right time. Developed at Linköping University in Sweden, the tiny "ion pump" is made from organic electronics and could be implanted in patients, serving to cut off pain signals in the spinal chord before they make their way to the brain.
In order to confirm that a patient presenting with a heart attack has in
fact had one, doctors typically use bulky, expensive lab equipment ...
which isn't always available to clinicians in developing nations or
rural locations. That's why scientists from Korea's Pohang University of
Science and Technology have created a simple thermometer-like device
that reportedly does the job.
In Africa, the spread of parasitic worms known as Loa loa is seriously hindering the efforts of health care workers to cure particular rampant diseases. Though there are drugs available to treat both river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, if they are administered to a patient who also happens to also be infected with Loa loa the consequences can be lethal. This is complicated further by the inherent difficulties in screening for the worms, but a newly developed mobile phone microscope needing only a drop of blood to automatically detect the parasite promises to make things a whole lot simpler.
A key battleground in the fight against cancer has been the development of vaccines to stop tumors taking hold. These are intended to kick the body's own immune system into action to fend off the cancerous cells, with immunotherapy drugs for melanomas, prostate and lung cancer all emerging in recent years. But one hurdle oncologists are yet to tackle with any great success is a vaccine for breast cancer. New research now suggests this mightn't be all that far away, with the discovery that loading cancer antigens into silicon microparticles serves to greatly boost the immune response.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed and tested a molecule that has the ability to disrupt the body's regulation of cancer cells, causing the cells to self-destructing rather than multiply. The method was found to be effective when tackling dormant brain cancer cells that existing treatments are ineffective at eradicating.
A natural enzyme called catalase may prove hugely significant in treating neurological disorders such as Parkinson's. These extremely potent antioxidants can tackle neuron-killing inflammation with an effectiveness unparalleled by small molecule drugs. But there's a problem, they are big. So big that getting them through the blood-brain barrier for delivery straight to the brain is nearly impossible. But researchers have now discovered that loading them into tiny, naturally occurring bubbles allows them to sneak past the brain's defenses, pointing to the possibility of improved treatments for such conditions.