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Disease

— Science

New microscopy technique lets scientists see live viruses in their natural habitat

Traditionally, in order to view tiny biological structures such as viruses, they must first be removed from their natural habitats and frozen. While this certainly keeps them still for the microscope, it greatly limits what we can learn about them – it’s comparable to an ichthyologist only being able to study dead fish in a lab, instead of observing live ones in the ocean. Now, however, researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have devised a technique for observing live viruses in a liquid environment. It could have huge implications for the development of treatments for viral infections. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

NanoMal's hand-held blood analyzer targets drug treatments for malaria

A small company in the U.K. is developing an affordable, hand-held device that will not only diagnose malaria in the field, but will also read DNA markers that suggest which antimalarial drugs will be most effective for treatment. If fielded, such a device could help alleviate the 200+ million cases of malaria per year, as well as prevent some of the nearly one million deaths associated with malarial illness. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

Scientists announce new treatment for type II diabetes

According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 347 million diabetics worldwide, with 90 percent of those people having type II diabetes specifically. It occurs when fat accumulates in places such as muscles, blood vessels and the heart, causing the cells in those areas to no longer be sufficiently responsive to insulin. This insulin resistance, in turn, causes blood glucose levels to rise to dangerous levels. Ultimately, it can result in things such as heart disease, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. Fortunately, however, an international team of scientists has just announced a new way of treating the disease. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

Chemical that slows down the biological clock could lead to new drugs to treat diabetes

Scientists have long suspected that metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, could be linked to our circadian rhythm or biological clock. For example, laboratory mice with altered biological clocks often become obese and develop diabetes. Now biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that a chemical, which affects the activity of a key protein that regulates our biological clock, can repress the production of glucose by the liver, offering a promising new direction for the development of a new class of drugs to treat diabetes. Read More
— Science

New tech could lead to wider use of drug-delivering microspheres

One of the more promising developments in the field of medical technology involves the use of microspheres for targeted drug delivery. In a nutshell, this encompasses creating tiny hollow balls that are filled with a specific drug, which travel directly to a specific organ or area of diseased tissue. Once there, the spheres release their medication, keeping it concentrated where it’s needed while sparing other tissue from any harmful side effects. Recently, a team of scientists from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces devised a new method of manufacturing such microspheres, which is said to offer several advantages over existing techniques. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

Cancer treatment that blocks cellular “protein factories” set to begin clinical trials

Researchers at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum (Peter Mac) Cancer Centre are set to begin clinical trials of a cancer treatment they say represents a major shift in molecular approaches to treating the disease. The treatment, which has proven successful in the lab against lymphoma and leukemia cells, targets the production of proteins within the heart of cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unaffected. Read More
— Medical

Synthetic protein kick-starts the immune system to prevent all strains of the flu

We’ve seen promising moves towards developing a universal or near-universal influenza vaccine, but researchers at the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center have taken a different tack to ward of the crafty virus. Although the flu virus actively keeps the immune system from detecting it for a few days, giving it time to gain a foothold, the researchers have found that a powerful synthetic protein, known as EP67, can kick start the immune system so that it reacts almost immediately to all strains of the virus. Read More
— Medical

Handheld DMR spectrometer diagnoses cancer in an hour

Magnetic resonance. We all think of the massive multimillion dollar magnetic resonance imaging machines into whose gaping mouth we are slowly propelled on a motorized table, ready to have our smallest flaws exposed. But the phenomenon of magnetic resonance has other medical uses. A team of physicians and scientists led by Prof. Ralph Weissleder of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has developed a handheld diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR) device that can diagnose cancer in an hour with greatly improved accuracy compared to the current gold standard. The DMR technique is sensitive enough that only material from a fine needle aspiration biopsy is needed for the test - a far less painful experience compared to the usual surgical or core needle biopsies. Read More
— Medical

Smart T-shirt to remotely monitor chronically ill patients

No one likes going to the doctor. There's the inevitable wait in the waiting room before eventually being ushered into the office of the harried doctor who spends most of his day dealing with relatively minor complaints or simple follow-up visits. Then, of course, there's the bill. But what if patients could get a check up without having to actually visit the doctor? A smart T-shirt fitted with various sensors is designed to do just that. Read More
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