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Scientists control cells following transplantation, from the inside out

January 10, 2014 10:08 am | News | Comments

Harvard Univ. stem cells scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology can now engineer cells that are more easily controlled following transplantation, potentially making cell therapies, hundreds of which are currently in clinical trials across the U.S., more functional and efficient.

A Synthetic Solution Saves Lives

January 9, 2014 2:24 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In the 2nd century BC, Indian surgeon Sushruta used autografted skin transplantation in nose reconstruction, also known as rhinoplasty. This was the first reasonable account of organ transplantation recorded. The first successful human corneal transplant was performed in 1905 in the Czech Republic, and the first steps to skin transplantation occurred during World War I. The first successful kidney transplant happened in 1962 in the U.S.

Simple test can indicate cervical cancer

January 9, 2014 8:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Louisville have confirmed that using the heat profile from a person’s blood, called a plasma thermogram, can serve as an indicator for the presence or absence of cervical cancer, including the stage of cancer. To generate a plasma thermogram, a blood plasma sample is melted, producing a unique signature indicating a person’s health status.

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Study: Thinking positive helps migraine drug work

January 8, 2014 3:29 pm | by LAURAN NEERGAARD - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Talk about mind over matter: A quirky new study suggests patients' expectations can make a big difference in how they feel after treatment for a migraine. Boston researchers recruited 66 migraine patients in an attempt to quantify how much of their pain relief came from a medication and how much was due to what's called the placebo effect, the healing power of positive belief.

Chemical imaging brings cancer tissue analysis into the digital age

January 8, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

A new method for analyzing biological samples' chemical makeup is set to transform the way medical scientists examine diseased tissue. When tests are carried out on a patient’s tissue today, such as to look for cancer, the test has to be interpreted by a histology specialist, and can take weeks to obtain a full result. Mass spectrometry imaging uses technologies that reveal how chemical components are distributed in a tissue sample.

On-demand vaccines possible with engineered nanoparticles

January 8, 2014 8:02 am | News | Comments

Vaccines combat diseases and protect populations from outbreaks, but the life-saving technology leaves room for improvement. Vaccines usually are made en masse in centralized locations far removed from where they will be used. They are expensive to ship and keep refrigerated and they tend to have short shelf lives. However, Univ. of Washington engineers have developed hope for on-demand vaccines.

Costs for complications from cancer surgical care extremely high

January 6, 2014 11:14 am | News | Comments

Although complications from surgical care for cancer patients may seem infrequent, the costs associated with such outcomes are extremely high, according to researchers from Rice Univ.’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Technique targets specific areas of cancer cells with different drugs

January 6, 2014 10:50 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a technique for creating nanoparticles that carry two different cancer-killing drugs into the body and deliver those drugs to separate parts of the cancer cell where they will be most effective. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Chinese herbal compound relieves inflammatory, neuropathic pain

January 2, 2014 1:52 pm | News | Comments

A compound derived from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine has been found effective at alleviating pain, pointing the way to a new non-addictive analgesic for acute inflammatory and nerve pain, according to Univ. of California Irvine (UC Irvine) pharmacology researchers. Working with Chinese scientists, the UC Irvine team isolated a compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) from the roots of the Corydalis yanhusuo plant.

Vapor nanobubbles rapidly detect malaria through the skin

January 2, 2014 8:09 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have developed a noninvasive technology that accurately detects low levels of malaria infection through the skin in seconds with a laser scanner. The “vapor nanobubble” technology requires no dyes or diagnostic chemicals, and there is no need to draw blood. A preclinical study shows that Rice’s technology detected even a single malaria-infected cell among a million normal cells with zero false-positive readings.

Vitamin E may slow Alzheimer's disease progression

December 31, 2013 4:33 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Researchers say vitamin E might slow the progression of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease—the first time any treatment has been shown to alter the course of dementia at that stage. In a study of more than 600 older veterans, high doses of the vitamin delayed the decline in daily living skills, such as making meals, getting dressed and holding a conversation, by about six months over a two-year period.

Imaging technology could unlock mysteries of a childhood disease

December 30, 2013 12:29 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

By the time they’re two, most children have had respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and suffered symptoms no worse than a bad cold. But for some children, RSV can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis. A new imaging technique for studying the structure of the RSV virion and the activity of RSV in living cells could help researchers unlock the secrets of the virus.

Drug blocks HIV in lab study, human tests planned

December 20, 2013 12:59 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Can an experimental drug developed to treat epilepsy block the AIDS virus? A preliminary lab study suggests it's possible, and researchers are eager to try it in people. When tested in human tissues in the laboratory, the drug "works beautifully" to prevent HIV from destroying key cells of the immune system.

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New anti-HIV drug target identified

December 18, 2013 4:16 pm | News | Comments

Univ. of Minnesota researchers have discovered a first-of-its-kind series of compounds possessing anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) activity. The compounds present a new target for potential HIV drug development and future treatment options. The compounds were found to stop the replication and spread of HIV by blocking HIV DNA synthesis.

Role of sugar uptake in breast cancer revealed

December 18, 2013 3:56 pm | News | Comments

Metabolism was lost in the shadows of cancer research for decades but has recently been reclaiming some of the spotlight. Now, Mina Bissell, distinguished scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Life Sciences Div. and a leading authority on breast cancer, has shown that aerobic glycolysis is not the consequence of the cancerous activity of malignant cells but is itself a cancerous event.

Single bacterial super-clone behind epidemic of drug-resistant E. coli

December 18, 2013 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Virulent, drug-resistant forms of E. coli that have recently spread around the world emerged from a single strain of the bacteria. The strain causes millions of urinary, kidney and bloodstream infections a year. It could have a far greater clinical and economic impact than any other strain of bacteria, including the so-called MRSA superbug.

Superbugs found breeding in sewage plants

December 18, 2013 8:37 am | News | Comments

Tests at two wastewater treatment plants in northern China revealed antibiotic-resistant bacteria were not only escaping purification but also breeding and spreading their dangerous cargo. Scientists found “superbugs” carrying New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), a multidrug-resistant gene first identified in India in 2010, in wastewater disinfected by chlorination.

New drug, study method show breast cancer promise

December 13, 2013 12:22 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A novel and faster way to test cancer drugs has yielded its first big result: An experimental medicine that shows promise against a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. The method involves studying drugs in small groups of people to quickly separate winners from duds. Bringing a new cancer drug to market usually takes more than a decade and tests in thousands of patients, and costs more than $1 billion.

Team identifies mechanism of cancer spread

December 13, 2013 9:59 am | News | Comments

Cancer involves a breakdown of normal cell behavior. Cell reproduction and movement go haywire, causing tumors to grow and spread through the body. A new finding by Univ. of Pennsylvania scientists has identified key steps that trigger this disintegration of cellular regulation. Their discovery—that a protein called Exo70 has a split personality—points to new possibilities for diagnosing cancer metastasis.

U.S. ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending

December 13, 2013 9:05 am | News | Comments

A new study by researchers at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles and McGill Univ. reveals that the U.S. health care system ranks 22nd out of 27 high-income nations when analyzed for its efficiency of turning dollars spent into extending lives. The study illuminates stark differences in countries' efficiency of spending on health care, and the U.S.'s inferior ranking reflects a high price paid and a low return on investment.

Using air transportation data to predict pandemics

December 13, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

Computational work conducted at Northwestern Univ. has led to a new mathematical theory for understanding the global spread of epidemics. The resulting insights could not only help identify an outbreak’s origin but could also significantly improve the ability to forecast the global pathways through which a disease might spread.

U.K. says cure or drug for dementia possible by 2025

December 11, 2013 11:37 am | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he hopes to kick-start an international effort to find a cure or effective treatment for dementia by 2025. At a one-day summit on dementia hosted by the U.K., Cameron declared that discovering a cure or treatment for dementia is "within our grasp." The Group of Eight health and science ministers signed a declaration agreeing to identify "a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia" by 2025.

Blood clots absorb bacterial toxin

December 11, 2013 8:07 am | Videos | Comments

Blood clots play an unexpected role in protecting the body from the deadly effects of bacteria by absorbing bacterial toxins, researchers have found. Even with modern antibiotics, septic shock from bacterial infections afflicts about 300,000 people a year in the U.S., with a mortality rate of 30 to 50%. Septic shock is caused by Gram-negative bacteria, which release a toxin called lipopolysaccharide or endotoxin.

A Distant Hope

December 10, 2013 3:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In early March, in a rural Mississippi hospital, an infant was born to an HIV-infected mother. The chances of an infant contracting HIV from an infected mother not receiving antiretroviral treatment is around 25% in the U.S., and this child was on the wrong end of that statistic. Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center HIV expert, knew that meant this baby would only have a 50% chance of living past the age of nine years.

Tech for Faster Diagnosis, Cures

December 10, 2013 2:52 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In January 2013, an assoc. prof of biomedical engineering at Columbia Univ., Samuel K. Sia, developed a lab-on-a-chip technology that not only checks a patient’s HIV status with a finger prick, it also synchronizes the results automatically and instantaneously with central health care records. The technology, developed in collaboration with OPKO Diagnostics and called mChip, performs all ELISA functions, and produces results within 15 min.

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