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Infections

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

Transmission Electron Micrograph of the Ebola Virus

In a world full of scary viruses Ebola surely ranks right up there amongst the scariest. It can cause fever, rashes, muscle pain, headache, followed by internal and external bleeding, with case fatality rates as high as 80 percent in humans. Currently there are no available vaccines or therapies to combat the virus. Now scientists report they have successfully prevented monkeys exposed to the virus from dying from hemorrhagic fever and suggest that such protection should be possible for humans.  Read More

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and other drug-resistant bacteria could...

Low temperature plasma is currently used for the sterilization of surgical instruments. This is because plasma works at the atomic level and is able to reach all surfaces, even the interior of hollow needle ends. Its ability to disinfect is due to the generation of biologically active bactericidal agents, such as free radicals and UV light, which can be delivered to specific locations. Research into how and why these biologically active agents are generated has led to the construction of two prototype devices: one for the efficient disinfection of healthy skin in hospitals and public spaces where bacteria can pose a lethal threat; and another to treat infested chronic wounds.  Read More

Composite drug-releasing fibers that can be used as dissolvable wound dressings

In today’s environment of advanced medical treatments where high success rates are achieved in amazingly delicate operations that until recently weren’t thought possible, a staggering 70 percent of people with severe burns still die from related infections. It is hoped that a revolutionary new wound dressing developed at Tel Aviv University (TAU) could cut that number dramatically.  Read More

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