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Infections

The intelligentM bracelet monitors the hand-washing activities of healthcare workers, to m...

Although it may be surprising to hear that being in the hospital can make a person sick, it definitely does happen. In the United States, about one in every 20 people admitted to a hospital will end up with a healthcare acquired infection, or HAI. Of those people, approximately 100,000 die from such infections annually. One of the keys to reducing the occurrence of HAIs is to get healthcare workers to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly – which is just what the intelligentM bracelet is designed to do.  Read More

The new infection-indicating dressing on a healthy skin sample (R) and on an infected skin...

Serious burns can lead to infection and potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Once an infection sets in, it is vital to begin treatment quickly to avoid or minimize a transition to TSS. The problem is, removing dressings to check for infection can be painful, slow the healing process and increase the chance of scarring. A prototype dressing developed by chemists at the University of Bath in the UK alerts doctors to the first signs of infection by glowing under ultraviolet (UV) light.  Read More

Harvard's spleen-on-a-chip blood filtration device

The spleen’s job is to filter our blood. When people are critically ill or have received traumatic injuries, however, the spleen alone is sometimes not able to remove enough of the pathogens on its own – potentially-fatal sepsis is the result. In order to help avert such an outcome in those situations, scientists from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are developing a device known as the spleen-on-a-chip.  Read More

Blue light has been used to kill potentially-lethal Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria (pictu...

Over the past few years, blue light has allowed us to understand heart problems, control brain functions, and activate muscle tissue. Now, another biomedical function can be added to its list – because it’s known to have antimicrobial qualities, it’s been used to stop infections of the skin and soft tissues.  Read More

Microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe and her lab team, whipping up a batch of RePOOPulate

If the clostridium difficile bacterium becomes over-abundant in a person’s colon, the results can include gastrointestinal problems such as severe diarrhea. Ordinarily, c. difficile populations are kept in check by the usually-present beneficial gut bacteria. If those “good” bacteria are killed off as a side effect of taking antibiotics, however, the nasties can take over. The treatment? Well ... it often involves having another person’s stool implanted in your gut via enema. Yikes. Fortunately, a less icky treatment is in the works, that involves the use of a “synthetic poop” known as RePOOPulate.  Read More

A 3D image of a rotavirus, constructed from data gathered using the new technique

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

The spores of the Bacillus subtilis (pictured above) have been implemented into a vaccine ...

Taking the “ouch” out of injections is a worthy endeavor, but what if they could be avoided entirely? New research conducted at Royal Holloway, University of London offers the hope of achieving just this, by using a bacterium to deliver a vaccine which can be administered via nasal spray, oral liquid, capsule, or small soluble film placed under the tongue, thus reducing the risk of spreading infectious diseases like HIV.  Read More

UCLA researchers found that Prozac component fluoxetine can inhibit RNA and protein produc...

It became an iconic drug that entered pop cultural folklore, but fluoxetine, marketed as Prozac, has put a smile on the faces of researchers for a purpose other than the treatment of depression. Studies carried out at UCLA have found that fluoxetine is a promising antiviral agent, particularly for enteroviruses that can be a cause of death in several parts of the world.  Read More

NTU's nanoporous antimicrobial coating is being used in the manufacture of contact lenses

Scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have created a "magnetic-like" coating that traps and destroys 99 percent of the bacteria and fungi that it encounters. The antibacterial coating has been shown to be effective against superbugs like Staphylococcus aureus and is already being used in the manufacture of contact lenses. As well as finding numerous biomedical and household applications, the research could lead to new wound treatments and even be used to target bacterial infections inside the body without the use of conventional antibiotics.  Read More

Scientists have used genetically engineered stem cells to seek out and kill HIV-infected c...

Although there is currently no cure for HIV, the body does already contain cells that fight the virus – the problem is, there just aren’t enough of them to completely get rid of it. In 2009, scientists at UCLA performed a proof-of-concept experiment, in which they were able to grow these CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes (better known as infection-fighting “T cells”) from genetically engineered human stem cells. Now, in a subsequent study, they have demonstrated that these engineered cells can seek out and kill HIV-infected cells in a living organism.  Read More

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