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University of North Carolina


— Medical

Cloaking chemo drugs in cellular bubbles destroys cancer with one fiftieth of a regular dose

The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel is commonly used to treat breast, lung and pancreatic cancers, slowing their growth by preventing cancerous cells from replicating. But once administered the drug is attacked by the body's defenses, necessitating larger doses that result in complications such as joint pain, diarrhea and an impaired ability to fend off other infections. Researchers have now discovered a way to sneak the drug through to the tumor with its entire payload intact, a technique that could make for more effective cancer treatments with fewer side effects.

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— Health and Wellbeing

Smart patch to take pain and hassle out of insulin injections

According to the International Diabetes Federation, 387 million people around the world suffer from diabetes, with this number expected to rise to 592 million by 2035. That adds up to a lot of blood sugar checks, diet watching and insulin shots, but researchers in the US have developed a patch that could revolutionize how the disease is managed. The patch contains of more than 100 microneedles, each automatically secreting insulin into the bloodstream when required.

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— Medical

Tiny cellular bubbles enable delivery of Parkinson's drugs straight to the brain

A natural enzyme called catalase may prove hugely significant in treating neurological disorders such as Parkinson's. These extremely potent antioxidants can tackle neuron-killing inflammation with an effectiveness unparalleled by small molecule drugs. But there's a problem, they are big. So big that getting them through the blood-brain barrier for delivery straight to the brain is nearly impossible. But researchers have now discovered that loading them into tiny, naturally occurring bubbles allows them to sneak past the brain's defenses, pointing to the possibility of improved treatments for such conditions.

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— Medical

Implantable device targets tumors using electric fields

Further to a list of side effects ranging from mildly unpleasant to just plain awful, the scattergun nature of chemotherapy often sees healthy tissue damaged along with the cancerous cells. Attacking these cancer cells with better precision would lead to more effective treatments and reduce harmful side effects, and has been a primary objective for researchers. Among this group is a team of scientists that has developed a way of administering cancer-fighting chemicals using an electric field that is claimed to enable a highly-targeted form of treatment. Read More
— Medical

Flipping the switch on cell conversion could better repair damaged hearts

One complication that can arise from a heart attack is the formation of scar tissue, which can the harden organ's walls and impede its ability to pump blood. This is caused by fibroblast cells which move to replace damaged muscle with the scar tissue. New research conducted at the University of North Carolina's (UNC) School of Medicine suggests these cells could be converted to endothelial cells which actually assist in recovery, potentially minimizing the damage caused during a heart attack. Read More
— Electronics

New electrolyte could mean an end to spontaneously combusting lithium batteries

Last year, lithium-ion battery fires became a hot topic, pardon the inescapable pun, with both a Tesla automobile and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner succumbing to fires. In cross-disciplinary research at the University of North Carolina (UNC), a compound being studied to prevent marine life from sticking to ships may also be the solvent (and the solution) to keep lithium ion batteries from catching alight when they overheat. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Ultrasound pulses could replace daily injections for diabetics

There could be hope for diabetics who are tired of giving themselves insulin injections on a daily basis. Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are developing a system in which a single injection of nanoparticles could deliver insulin internally for days at a time – with a little help from pulses of ultrasound. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Injectable nanoparticles maintain normal blood-sugar levels for up to 10 days

Aside from the inconvenience of injecting insulin multiple times a day, type 1 diabetics also face health risks if the dosage level isn’t accurate. A new approach developed by US researchers has the potential to overcome both of these problems. The method relies on a network of nanoscale particles that once injected into the body, can maintain normal blood sugar levels for more than a week by releasing insulin when blood-sugar levels rise. Read More
— Science

Researchers get partial memory control and create "hybrid" memories in mice

You may remember – pun intended – that earlier in the week we reported on research that may provide an explanation of how memories are stored in the brain. In related news, a team consisting of researchers from the Scripps Research Institute, the University of Oregon and the University of North Carolina has found a way to partially control a specific memory in mice by turning neurons in their brains on and off. Although the research is in its early stages, the scientists say it could lead to a better understanding of how memories form and maybe even provide ways to change people’s thought patterns. Read More
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