Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Drugs

In this set of four photos, dengue hemorrhagic fever virus kills untreated monkey cells (l...

While not delivering a knockout blow, the discovery of penicillin in 1928 provided a potent weapon in the fight against a wide range of bacterial infections. The quest to develop a similarly broad-spectrum drug to fight viral infections has proven more difficult but now researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory have designed a drug that has so far proven effective against all 15 viruses it has been tested on. These include rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.  Read More

A new sensor that detects the presence of GHB and ketamine could help reduce the incidence...

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, around 200,000 women were raped in the U.S. in 2007 with the aid of a “date rape” drug – and because so many cases go unreported, the actual figure is believed to be 80 to 100 percent higher. GHB is one of the most commonly used drugs because it is odorless, tasteless and invisible when dissolved in water. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences have developed an easy-to-use sensor that, when dipped into a cocktail, can instantly detect GHB and another commonly used date rape drug, ketamine.  Read More

An enhanced color image of fluorescence from single-walled carbon nanotubes (right) shows ...

Mice are frequently used as lab models when testing new drugs, and fluorescent dyes are sometimes injected into their bodies so that researchers can better see how those drugs are progressing through their systems. Unfortunately, the pictures obtained in this process start to become murky when imaging anything more than a few millimeters beneath the skin. Scientists from Stanford University have now devised a system that utilizes fluorescent carbon nanotubes to produce clear color images of organs that are located centimeters within a mouse's body.  Read More

Newly designed nanoparticles can quickly locate a tumor, then set off a chemical reaction ...

To minimize the toxic effects of chemotherapy, many researchers have been working to develop nanoparticles that that deliver drugs directly to tumors. But researchers at MIT claim that even the best of these nanoparticles are typically only able to deliver about one percent of the drug to their intended target. Now, a team has developed a new delivery system that sees a first wave of nanoparticles homing in on a tumor that then calls in a larger second wave that dispenses the cancer drug. In a mouse study, the new approach was found to boost drug delivery to tumors by over 40-fold.  Read More

A Phrygian cap, also known as the 'liberty cap' - one of over 200 species of fungi produci...

The use of mushrooms by man for practical, culinary or recreational purposes is said to date back to at least Paleolithic times, with perhaps the best-known variety in recent times being Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric. Nibbling on one side of this fungus made Alice grow in size and the other made her shrink, leading to some rather bizarre adventures and inspiring one of my favorite songs - White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. The favored psychoactive mushrooms of the drop-out 1960s, though, were members of the Psilocybe genus. Researchers now believe that they have found the optimum dose of the pure chemical found in those so-called magic mushrooms, a level which offers maximum therapeutic value with little risk of having a bad trip.  Read More

Inexpensive to manufacture and simple to administer, RISUG could offer a cost effective bi...

A promising new birth control method for men that's more easily reversible than vasectomy has been developed in India. Called RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance or Vasalgel in the U.S) the method is claimed to be 100 percent effective in trials, doesn't contain controversial hormone therapy and it lasts a minimum of 10 years.  Read More

A pharmacy robot selecting medication (Photo: Susan Merrell/UCSF)

The University of California at San Francisco Medical Center is now starting to use robots, not humans, to dispense medication from its hospital pharmacy. While robots are often brought into workplaces as a cost-cutting measure, UCSF claims that in this case, it's to minimize the chances of patients receiving the wrong medication. So far, it seems to be working out well – out of 350,000 doses of oral and injectable medication prepared to date, not a single error has occurred.  Read More

The pseudoceratinapurpurea sea sponge has a naturally-occurring chemical that blocks compo...

Psammaplin A is a naturally occurring chemical found in the sea sponge that has been found to block several components that are involved in the growth and division of cancer cells. Dr Matthew Fucher and his team at Imperial College London have developed a new, and inexpensive way of manufacturing psammaplin A, and is using synthetic variations of the chemical to better understand its anti-cancer properties, which will help them in future efforts to create anti-cancer drugs.  Read More

The pilot study on the effect of restoring testosterone levels in older women used a novel...

For women, the onset of midlife brings with it an array of distressing symptoms related to changes in hormone levels. The risk of dementia increases with age – particularly after the mid-60s – memory loss is a frequent complaint and quality of life is compromised as a result. Using a novel "patchless" patch method of drug delivery, researchers have been investigating whether restoring testosterone levels in older women to those of younger women will improve brain function and ultimately protect against dementia.  Read More

Project lead researcher Dr. Stefan Bon

One of the promising areas in the field of nanomedicine is the development of vesicles – microscopic polymer sacs, designed to deliver a payload of medication to specific sites in the body. Unfortunately, the body’s immune system often sees these vesicles as intruders, sending antibodies to thwart them in their mission. Now, drawing inspiration from plankton and bacteria, chemists from the University of Warwick are developing armor coatings that should help vesicles to withstand or avoid those attacks.  Read More

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