Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Infections

The color-changing, heat-sensitive fiber researchers plan to weave into bandages (Image: L...

Researchers have developed a fiber that changes color in response to temperature with the aim of creating a smart bandage that can indicate the state of underlying wounds and warn of infection. With the ability to show temperature changes of less than 0.5 of a degree Celsius, the smart bandage would allow for easier and faster identification of healing problems that are typically accompanied by an increase or decrease in local temperature, such as infection or interruptions to blood supply.  Read More

A chemist has developed an 'artificial nose' system, that can identify infectious bacteria...

Being able to quickly confirm the presence of infectious bacteria in a patient’s bloodstream, and then identifying the specific species and strain, can make the difference between life and death for that patient. While traditional detection and identification methods are fairly accurate, they can also take too long to perform. A chemist from the University of Illinois, however, has developed an inexpensive new system that is much quicker – and it works by sniffing out the harmful bacteria.  Read More

A study has shown that more bacteria are present in water dispensed from hands-free electr...

Just three years ago, a study conducted by the University of Westminster, London, determined that the “hygenic” warm air hand dryers commonly found in public washrooms actually left users with more bacteria on their hands than if they’d simply used paper towels. Now, it seems that the good name of hands-free electronic-eye faucets is being similarly besmirched – researchers at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore have discovered that water coming from such faucets contains more Legionella bacteria than that dispensed by conventional fixtures. Their theory is that the high-tech faucets’ complex inner workings are to blame.  Read More

Dr Marc Pellegrini (left) and Mr Simon Preston, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute i...

Australian scientists may have discovered a vital key to curing HIV and other immune related illnesses by boosting the body’s immune response. A team of researchers led by Dr. Marc Pellegrini from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, successfully cured a HIV-like infection from mice by boosting the function of cells vital to their immune system.  Read More

Scientists have used Salmonella bacteria (pictured) to eliminate viruses in mice (Photo: V...

Generally speaking, it is inadvisable to eat foods containing Salmonella bacteria – especially if you’re not a fan of diarrhea, fever or abdominal cramps. In the future, however, we might be swallowing genetically-engineered versions of the little guys as a way of treating viral infections. If we do, it will be thanks to research presently being carried out at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Scientists there have reprogrammed Salmonella bacteria to act as harmless transporters of virus-stopping enzymes.  Read More

Researchers in the UK are developing a self-diagnosis system for sexually transmitted infe...

A consortium of scientists has been formed to try and stem the rise of sexually transmitted diseases (or infections as they are now called) that's said to be reaching epidemic proportions in the UK. As early diagnosis and treatment is essential in such matters, the team is creating a self-diagnosis system where results can quickly be displayed on a mobile phone or computer screen. The system could even automatically make an appointment at a clinic or direct the unfortunate sufferer to the nearest pharmacy, where treatment would be waiting.  Read More

The new dressing material indicates infection by turning purple (Image: Fraunhofer EMFT)

Wounding yourself can be bad enough, but having to regularly remove the dressing to check for infection can be painful and can also compound things by exposing the wound and giving germs the chance to enter. Now researchers have developed a new material for dressings and plaster that changes color if an infection arises, making it possible to check wounds without changing the dressing.  Read More

Princeton engineers Michael McAlpine and Manu Mannoor with a frog peptide chip (Photo: Fra...

Confused by that headline? It's simple really – when drugs and medical devices are tested for contamination, a substance called Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) is used. LAL is made from the blood cells of horseshoe crabs, which are caught along the U.S. Atlantic coast, drained of 30 percent of their blood, then returned to the water. Although the majority of the crabs survive the process, it has been estimated that at least 30 percent do not. This, in turn, is affecting populations of the red knot, a bird that feeds on horseshoe crab eggs. Now, engineers from Princeton University have discovered that a substance from the skin of the African clawed frog could be used instead of the crab blood – with no harm done to the frog. No word on whether eye of newt or wing of bat would work, too.  Read More

The MGH microfluidic neutrophil-capturing device

Recently, researchers have come to realize that neutrophils – the most abundant type of white blood cell – play a key role in both chronic and acute inflammation, and in the activation of the immune system in response to injury. Of course, the best way to study neutrophils is to get a hold of some, but traditional methods have required relatively large blood samples, and take up to two hours. Because neutrophils are sensitive to handling, it is also possible to inadvertently activate them, which alters their molecular patterns. A microfluidic device developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), however, allows for neutrophils to be collected from a relatively small blood sample, unactivated, in just minutes.  Read More

Plastic antibodies, such as this cluster of particles, may fight a wide range of human dis...

From bricks to jackets, it seems just about anything can be made using plastic nowadays. The latest items to get a plastic fantastic makeover are antibodies – proteins produced by the body’s immune system to recognize and fight infections from foreign substances. Scientists are reporting the first evidence that a plastic antibody works in the bloodstream of a living animal, opening up the possibility of plastic antibodies being custom tailored to fight everything from viruses and bacteria to the proteins that cause allergic reactions.  Read More

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