May 30th, 2023 by Conn Hastings
Researchers at UMass Chan Medical School have developed a small interfering RNA (siRNA) technology that is stable enough for inhalation into the lungs, where it can potentially treat diseases as diverse as asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and viral infections such as COVID-19. siRNA is not typically stable enough to survive for long in the lungs, but the researchers chemically modified the constituent nucleotides to stabilize the molecules and help them to evade immune destruction. The technology is designed to silence genes that are crucial in disease processes. In a demonstration of...Read More
Researchers at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands have developed a biobank of cancer organoids using tissue samples obtained from head and neck cancer patients. So far, the team used the biobank to validate tumor biomarkers. Excitingly, they also correlated patient treatment responses with organoid treatment responses, suggesting that the organoids provide a good proxy for testing new treatments and for designing a personalized treatment plan for individual patients. The organoids also revealed that certain drugs work better or worse in combination with other techniques, such as radiotherapy, offering new...Read More
A recent study in Nature Medicine, entitled “An automated histological classification system for precision diagnostics of kidney allografts,” has showcased the efforts of a group of researchers who have developed an automated system that can diagnose kidney transplant rejection. A variety of disparate factors can affect the chances that a transplant will be rejected. At present, clinicians have to manually consider these complex data when making decisions about transplant patients, which can lead to a high level of misdiagnosis and patient morbidity. This new system incorporates an algorithm that can...Read More
Researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany have developed a cell culture chamber that lets them culture tissue samples, mimic the mechanical conditions that tissues experience in various disease states, and closely monitor tissue reactions. The technology could be particularly useful for pre-clinical drug testing, allowing researchers to test the effects of various drug candidates on tissues without the need to use experimental animals. The chamber includes elastic posts to which muscle fibers can attach and pull against, and permits high-resolution microscopy so that the researchers can appraise how...Read More
Researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a soft robotic electrode, that can be advanced through a small hole in the skull and then opened into a series of spiral arms, to provide electrocorticography measurements from a relatively large area of the brain surface. The technology could prove very useful for brain surgeons who wish to map regions of the brain that may be triggering epileptic seizures and then target these lesions surgically. Reducing the area of the skull that is removed during surgery helps...Read More
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a laser-based breathalyzer technology that can detect molecules in breath samples that indicate the presence of specific diseases, such as COVID-19. The device is called a frequency comb breathalyzer, and using it involves pumping a breath sample into the device where lasers irradiate it at many different frequencies, and mirrors bounce the light around to ensure that the sample is thoroughly investigated. Based on how the molecules in the sample absorb...Read More

May 22nd, 2023 by Conn Hastings
Researchers at MIT have developed a method that allows them to analyze the three dimensional interactions of sections of the genome in unprecedented detail. The technique could let scientists investigate the origin and progression of genetic diseases, as well as identifying new therapeutic targets for them. The new approach, called Region Capture Micro-C, involves using an enzyme to cut a section of the genome into small and uniform fragments, and then linking pieces of the genome together again that are predicted to interact with each other in the cell nucleus,...Read More

May 22nd, 2023 by Conn Hastings
Scientists at the University of Minnesota have developed a method to detect misfolded proteins more rapidly and sensitively. The technique could eventually allow clinicians to diagnose diseases that involve misfolded proteins more easily, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The approach involves an enhancement to an existing assay called Real-Time Quaking-Induced Conversion (RT-QuIC) assay. This assay involves adding a small sample containing misfolded proteins to a larger protein sample, and shaking the mixture for hours. This causes the misfolded proteins to increase in number, allowing their eventual detection. These researchers...Read More
Scientists at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Ishikawa, Japan have developed an anti-cancer treatment that consists of bacteria that are naturally found inside some tumors. Isolating and then injecting these bacteria into existing tumors appears to provoke a strong immune response that can lead to tumor destruction, without the need for advanced techniques such as bacterial genetic engineering or complex drug delivery. The concept of using bacteria to target tumors is not new, but typically it is studied in the context of using the bacteria to...Read More

May 19th, 2023 by Conn Hastings
Student researchers at Rice University have developed a paper strip test for hypothyroidism, similar to those that are commonly used for COVID-19 testing. Babies with congenital hypothyroidism require prompt diagnosis and treatment, but in many parts of the world a lack of healthcare resources can mean that the condition can go undiagnosed for long periods, affecting a child’s development. This paper-based device may be well suited for large screening programs in such countries, as it is inexpensive and easy to use, requiring just a small drop of blood. The device...Read More
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a bioinspired implant coating that is designed to be implanted along with devices such as spinal implants. The technology has been inspired by dragonfly and cicada wings that contain tiny pillars that can skewer bacteria, providing mechanical anti-microbial action. Unlike current approaches that use antibiotics that are gradually released by the implant, the mechanical approach will not become depleted over time or cause side-effects in nearby tissues. It also avoids the manifestation of antimicrobial drug resistance and can also easily...Read More

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siRNA as a COVID-19 Treatment

Researchers at UMass Chan Medical School have developed a small interfering RNA (siRNA) technology that is stable enough for inhalation into the lungs, where it can... May 30th, 2023


Vein on a Chip Includes Flexible Valves

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom have developed a microfluidic device that mimics a human vein, including anatomical features such... May 9th, 2023


Emergency Medicine

Smartphone Camera Measures Blood Oxygen

At the University of Washington a research team has developed a smartphone system that can measure blood oxygen levels. The technology uses the camera and flash of... September 21st, 2022


Implanted Ultrasound Lets Chemo Access Brain

Researchers at Northwestern University have trailed an implanted ultrasound device in patients, which is used in combination with microbubbles to transiently open... May 12th, 2023

Brain Decoder Spells Out Thoughts

Researcher scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a brain decoding technology that combines an fMRI scanner and artificial intelligence,... May 11th, 2023


Smartphone Camera Measures Blood Oxygen

At the University of Washington a research team has developed a smartphone system that can measure blood oxygen levels. The technology uses the camera and flash of... September 21st, 2022