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Disease


— Health and Wellbeing

Genetically-engineered mosquitoes can't transmit malaria

Last year, Prof. Anthony James announced that he and his colleagues had genetically altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a fashion that could drastically reduce their populations. In a nutshell, the altered genes cause the female mosquitoes to be born without wings – this makes it rather difficult for them to go foraging for blood, and turns them into easy prey for almost any predator. The non-biting males are born with wings, and subsequently go off and mate with unmodified females, passing the modified genes along to their offspring. Now, James has done some more genetic engineering, to create mosquitoes that can’t spread malaria. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Ultra-sensitive biosensor could detect diseases in their earliest stages

A new ultra-sensitive test developed by scientists from the Imperial College London and Spain’s University of Vigo has the potential to detect the earliest stages of a disease, thereby giving any treatment the best possible chance of succeeding. The researchers claim their new biosensor test is capable of detecting biomarkers (molecules which indicate the presence of a disease) at concentration levels much lower than is possible with existing biosensors. While the new test has already proven capable of detecting a biomarker associated with prostate cancer, the team says their biosensor could be easily reconfigured to detect biomarkers related to other diseases or viruses. Read More
— Medical

FDA approves 20 minute take-home HIV test

One of the biggest problems in fighting the spread of AIDS has always been convincing people to have themselves tested regularly. Unfortunately, getting someone to take a trip to a clinic isn't always easy, particularly in areas where there aren't many options for discreet testing. In a development that could leap right over this privacy hurdle, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just unanimously approved an over-the-counter HIV test that enables people to test themselves in their own home and receive results in just 20 minutes. Read More

Mini-lab promises affordable on-site DNA-based testing

A genetic testing mini-lab developed by researchers at the University of Alberta to set to begin commercial trials within a year. The Domino system provides a portable, cheap and powerful alternative to conventional laboratories that delivers a range of point-of-care diagnostic possibilities including tests for blood borne diseases such as malaria and those affecting farm animals. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Antibiotic resistant bacteria discovered in isolated New Mexico cave

Research into the growing emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, could be greatly assisted by the discovery of bacteria from deep within Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico. The previously unknown strains of bacteria, which have never before been exposed to humans, were found to possess a naturally occurring resistance to multiple types of antibiotics that doctors currently use to treat patients. This means that new forms of bacteria may have been exposed to undiscovered antibiotics which, in turn could be used against currently untreatable infections in the future. Read More
— Medical

Forget the new iPad - the sub-10-cent oPAD could save lives

In First World countries' medical systems, the standard way of checking a patient's body fluid samples is to send them off to a lab. In developing nations, however, such labs often don't exist, nor does the infrastructure for transporting biological samples. Fortunately, a number of groups have been developing simple, inexpensive testing devices that could be used by clinicians in these countries. One of the latest gadgets is the very simple origami Paper Analytical Device, or oPAD – it's made out of paper, could be purchased for under 10 cents, and is folded together by the user. Read More
— Science

Portable device instantly detects diseases

Infectious diseases these days seem to have gotten a lot of attention, with media hype and threats of pandemics often being portrayed in apocalyptic sci-fi movies. We all know that several types of these diseases can spread rapidly, and it is crucial that doctors be able to identify them quickly in order to prevent an epidemic. Unfortunately, current testing methods can take hours and even days, delaying the process of adequate prevention. It should then ease your mind to hear that researchers at the University of Tennessee have invented a device that can rapidly detect these unwanted afflictions. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Maintaining a brain protein’s sugar levels could prevent development of Alzheimer’s

We’ve reported on numerous different approaches by scientists looking to tackle Alzheimer’s disease. While some, such as the anticancer drug bexarotene and a compound known as J147, show great promise, there is still no approved treatment to slow the disease’s progression. The latest promising candidate for a treatment comes from Canada’s Simon Fraser University (SFU), where a team has concluded that ensuring that sugar levels in a brain protein known as tau are maintained could slow or prevent the fatal disease. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

New vaccine is effective against all major strains of hepatitis C

Although the existence of hepatitis C had been postulated in the 1970s, it wasn’t until 1989 that a team led by Michael Houghton identified the virus. Often being asymptomatic, it is estimated between 130 – 170 million people worldwide are infected with the virus that can lead to scarring of the liver and cirrhosis. Although treatment with medication is available, it isn’t effective in all cases and between 20 to 30 percent of those infected with hepatitis C develop some form of liver disease. Now Houghton and a team at the University of Alberta have developed a vaccine from a single strain that is effective against all known strains of the disease. Read More
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