David Kirkpatrick

November 26, 2010

Barcoding mouse embryos …

… and people are next.

Sounds pretty creepy, but it seems there’s some actual utility in the process to aid in vitro fertilization right now.

From the link:

Scientists from Spain’s Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), along with colleagues from the Spanish National Research Council, have successfully developed an identification system in which mouse embryos and oocytes (egg cells) are physically tagged with microscopic silicon bar code labels. They expect to try it out on human embryos and oocytes soon.

The purpose of the system is to streamline in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer procedures. If egg cells and embryos can be quickly and easily identified, then things should run much smoother, and success rates should be higher.

The research, published online in Human Reproduction, represents a first step towards designing a direct labeling system of oocytes and embryos. The objective was to develop a system that minimizes risks when identifying female gametes and embryos during in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer procedures, to reduce the phases of the clinical process requiring control and supervision by two embryologists.

 

November 12, 2010

Robots with an, ahem, personal touch

Probably got you with the title. Here’s news from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

From the link:

A robot known as “Cody” successfully wiped away blue candy from a test user’s legs and arms without being too forceful, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology (led by assistant professor Charlie Kemp) reported at the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) conference last month.

September 12, 2010

Stem cell therapy potential — here comes the science

Stem cell research is back all over the news again with court rulings and counter rulings making the subject either okay, or not okay, for federal funding. It’s a crazy debate to my mind because stem cell research has the potential to improve the health of many, many people and it’s a philosophical crime for it to be held hostage to the mythology of theocons. And even if the research is held back in the United States by lack of government money, it will be going on around the world and just pushing the U.S. that much farther behind in the cutting edge of medical research.

It’s a hot topic all the time, especially right now, but really what is the potential of stem cell research? Helpfully here’s news out of Elsevier Health Sciences with some expert opinion on the subject.

From the first link, the release:

What Progress Has Been Made, What Is Its Potential?

New York, NY, September 9, 2010 – The use of stem cells for research and their possible application in the treatment of disease are hotly debated topics. In a special issue of Translational Research published this month an international group of medical experts presents an in-depth and balanced view of the rapidly evolving field of stem cell research and considers the potential of harnessing stem cells for therapy of human diseases including cardiovascular diseases, renal failure, neurologic disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, pulmonary diseases, neoplastic diseases, and type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Personalized cell therapies for treating and curing human diseases are the ultimate goal of most stem cell-based research. But apart from the scientific and technical challenges, there are serious ethical concerns, including issues of privacy, consent and withdrawal of consent for the use of unfertilized eggs and embryos. “Publication of this special issue could not have been more timely, given the recent federal district court injunction against federal support for human embryonic stem cell research,” said Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and Editor in Chief of Translational Research. “This court order stops all pending federal grants and contracts, as well as their peer review, suspending over 20 major research programs and over $50 million in federal funding for them,” he noted. As Dr. Francis Collins, NIH director, stated, “This decision has the potential to do serious damage to one of the most promising areas of biomedical research, just at the time when we were really gaining momentum.”

Through a series of authoritative articles authors highlight basic and clinical research using human embryonic and adult stem cells. Common themes include preclinical evidence supporting the potential therapeutic use of stem cells for acute and chronic diseases, the challenges in translating the preclinical work to clinical applications, as well as the results of several randomized clinical trials. Authors stress that considerable preclinical work is needed to test the potential of these approaches for translation to the clinical setting.

In considering the potential for clinical applications, some common challenges and questions persist. The issue focuses on critical questions such as whether the use of any stem cell population will increase the risk of cancer in the recipient and whether the goal of stem cell therapy is to deliver cells that can function as organ-specific cells.

Writing in a commentary on advances and challenges in translating stem cell therapies for clinical diseases, Michael A. Matthay, MD, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California San Francisco, notes that “the progress that has been achieved in the last 30 years in using allogeneic and autologous hematopoietic stem cells for the effective treatment of hematologic malignancies should serve as a model of how clinical applications may yet be achieved with embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, endothelial progenitor cells, and mesenchymal stem cells. Although several challenges exist in translating stem cell therapy to provide effective new treatments for acute and chronic human diseases, the potential for developing effective new cell-based therapies is high.”

KEY POINTS:

Bone marrow and circulating stem/progenitor cells for regenerative cardiovascular therapy
Mohamad Amer Alaiti, Masakazu Ishikawa, and Marco A. Costa
Despite initial promising pilot studies, only small improvements in a few clinical outcomes have been seen using stem cell therapies to treat heart disease in the acute or chronic setting. But new research, and a multitude of new pilot studies, may alter this scenario.

New therapies for the failing heart: trans-genes versus trans-cells
Vincenzo Lionetti, and Fabio A. Recchia
This review presents key aspects of cardiac gene therapy and stem cell therapy for the failing heart. Recent discoveries in stem cell biology may revitalize gene therapy and, vice versa.

Endothelial lineage cell as a vehicle for systemic delivery of cancer gene therapy
Arkadiusz Z. Dudek
Rather than focusing on the cancer cell itself, attention to blood vessels feeding the cancerous cells, lined by endothelial cells, presents a new avenue of cancer therapy. The author discusses recent evidence that endothelial progenitor cells may be useful in treating primary and metastatic tumors. Targeted cancer gene therapy using endothelial lineage cells to target tumor sites and produce a therapeutic protein has proven feasible.

Pluripotent stem cell-derived natural killer cells for cancer therapy
David A. Knorr, and Dan S. Kaufman
The potential value as well as challenges of using human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells is to provide platforms for new cell-based therapies to treat malignant diseases are discussed.

Translation of stem cell therapy for neurological diseases
Sigrid C. Schwarz, and Johannes Schwarz
Early clinical work to develop cell-based therapy for neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease is discussed.

Stem cell technology for the treatment of acute and chronic renal failure
Christopher J. Pino, and H. David Humes
The authors cover the relative potential and success to date of embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells as therapies for regenerating functional kidney tissue.

Stem cell approaches for the treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus
Ryan T. Wagner, Jennifer Lewis, Austin Cooney, and Lawrence Chan
The authors provide a thorough discussion of the potential of using either embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells to generate functional islet cells, the cells of the pancreas which normally make insulin, but fail to do so in severe forms of diabetes.

Intestinal stem cells and epithelial–mesenchymal interactions in the crypt and stem cell niche
Anisa Shaker, and Deborah C. Rubin
Both preclinical and early clinical trials have been carried out with allogeneic bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells to treat steroid refractory acute and chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, particularly Crohn’s disease.

Stem cells and cell therapy approaches in lung biology and diseases
Viranuj Sueblinvong, and Daniel J. Weiss,
Cell-based therapies with embryonic or adult stem cells have emerged as potential novel approaches for several devastating and otherwise incurable lung diseases, including emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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The articles appear in Translational Research, The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, Volume 156, Issue 3 (September 2010) entitled Stem Cells: Medical Promises and Challenges, published by Elsevier. The entire issue will be available online via Open Access for a 3-month period beginning September 20, 2010 at www.translationalres.com.

August 28, 2010

Congress may pass emergency bill to restart stem cell research

And it can’t happen a day too soon. Allowing theocrats to hijack scientific and medical research only puts the United States that much more under the gun of losing dominance  in fields that will — will, not might — have a major influence on human life and the global marketplace in the very near future.

The release:

Congressman, CSHL president urge quick action to reverse judicial embryonic stem cell research ban

A federal judge’s decision ‘sets back’ vital work and handcuffs American science

Cold Spring Harbor, NY – Against a backdrop of some of the world’s most sophisticated biological research labs, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) this morning issued a challenge to his colleagues in Congress: immediately upon their return from summer recess, he urged, they should pass legislation that would reverse a recent Federal court decision that has brought embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. to a screeching halt.

Rep. Israel was seconded in his plea by Dr. Bruce Stillman, a renowned cancer researcher and President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which hosted the Congressman’s announcement to the press this morning. Also lending vocal support was Brooke Ellison, a stem cell research advocate and instructor at Stony Brook University, who, since a car accident in 1990, has been a quadriplegic.

Rep. Israel said the Aug. 23 decision by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, “sets back research, sets back patients, and sets back jobs,” on Long Island and across the nation. The decision, which prevents federally funded research from being conducted on any embryonic stem cells derived from human embryos, “has not only rolled back the Obama policy on stem cells, but has actually rolled back the Bush policy,” Israel noted.

The Congressman said he regards the legal appeals process too slow, given the gravity of the matter. “I don’t think we should wait for an appeal,” he said. “We’ve got to act, and act fast.” Congress has twice in the past decade passed bills giving the go-ahead for embryonic stem cell research. “The Judge said Congress created the policy, and only Congress can revisit it. Well, I want to take him up on that. When we return to Washington on Sept. 14, the House, as one of its first priorities, should re-pass the very legislation that it has passed twice before.” If passed by the Senate, such a bill would be almost certain to receive a presidential signature, thus ending any ambiguity about the will of Congress, Israel said.

President Stillman of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory praised Rep. Israel for taking a strong position on the issue and calling for an immediate remedy. “To the scientific community,” Dr. Stillman said, “this judicial decision was an absolute shock. Embryonic stem cells have been studied since the 1980s, and now the work has been forced to a complete stop. The judge’s decision reverses the policies of two presidents, goes far beyond the debate that we’ve seen in this country, and sets a standard that is unique in the world. This is now the only country in the world where you cannot do embryonic stem cell research.”

Dr. Stillman said he believed that bringing the matter before Congress once more “will not only clarify the situation,” but will provide Congress with a golden opportunity “to make a strong statement to the people of this country and to patients like Brooke Ellison, who are counting on steady progress in stem cell research.” The prior passage by Congress of two bills enabling research with embryonic stem cells is evidence of the strong public support that exists for this type of research, Stillman said.

Brooke Ellison, who spoke from her wheelchair, said that “stem cell research has been used as a political see-saw,” subject to the uncertainties of the political process. “But this is not a political, judicial or ideological issue,” she said. “It’s a human issue. One that speaks to the very core of what it means to show basic human compassion.”

Dr. Stillman said that while most work involving stem cells at CSHL was not embryonic stem cell research, any labs in which embryonic cells are used will now be subject to the National Institutes of Health’s recent interpretation of Judge Lamberth’s ruling. He said there was still some ambiguity about whether the interpretation will hold up under inevitable challenge. But the point, Dr. Stillman emphasized, is that science cannot properly proceed and the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells cannot be discovered — by researchers working in America — unless research is permitted to proceed in unfettered fashion.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a private, not-for-profit research and education institution at the forefront of efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate knowledge that will yield better diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurological diseases and other major causes of human suffering. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.

August 26, 2010

Cool nanotech image — microneedles

Cool to look, even more cool when put into practice. Microneedles can deliver quantum dots into skin and should lead to new diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions such as skin cancer.

And now, the image:

Hollow microneedles open the door to new techniques for diagnosing and treating a variety of medical conditions, including skin cancer. Image reproduced by permission of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

For more on microneedles, here’s the full release.

July 16, 2010

Nanotech and breast cancer

Nanotechnology is proving to be a key component in the fight against cancer and I’ve done a lot of blogging about the topic. Here’s another breakthrough on that front, this time targeting breast cancer with an arsenic nanoparticle.

From the second link, the release:

New Arsenic Nanoparticle Blocks Aggressive Breast Cancer

New technology targets cancer prevalent in young women

By Marla Paul

CHICAGO — You can teach an old drug new chemotherapy tricks. Northwestern University researchers took a drug therapy proven for blood cancers but ineffective against solid tumors, packaged it with nanotechnology and got it to combat an aggressive type of breast cancer prevalent in young women, particularly young African-American women.

That drug is arsenic trioxide, long part of the arsenal of ancient Chinese medicine and recently adopted by Western oncologists for a type of leukemia. The cancer is triple negative breast cancer, which often doesn’t respond well to traditional chemotherapy and can’t be treated by potentially life-saving targeted therapies. Women with triple negative breast cancer have a high risk of the cancer metastasizing and poor survival rates.

Prior to the new research, arsenic hadn’t been effective in solid tumors. After the drug was injected into the bloodstream, it was excreted too rapidly to work. The concentration of arsenic couldn’t be increased, because it was then too toxic.

A new arsenic nanoparticle — designed to slip undetected through the bloodstream until it arrives at the tumor and delivers its poisonous cargo — solved all that. The nanoparticle, called a nanobin, was injected into mice with triple negative breast tumors. Nanobins loaded with arsenic reduced tumor growth in mice, while the non-encapsulated arsenic had no effect on tumor growth. The arsenic nanobins blocked tumor growth by causing the cancer cells to die by a process known as apoptosis.

The nanobin consists of nanoparticulate arsenic trioxide encapsulated in a tiny fat vessel (a liposome) and coated with a second layer of a cloaking chemical that prolongs the life of the nanobin and prevents scavenger cells from seeing it. The nanobin technology limits the exposure of normal tissue to the toxic drug as it passes through the bloodstream. When the nanobin gets absorbed by the abnormal, leaky blood vessels of the tumor, the nanoparticles of arsenic are released and trapped inside the tumor cells.

“The anti-tumor effects of the arsenic nanobins against clinically aggressive triple negative breast tumors in mice are extremely encouraging,” said Vince Cryns, associate professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at Northwestern Medicine and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. “There’s an urgent need to develop new therapies for poor prognosis triple negative breast cancer.”

Cryns and Tom O’Halloran, director of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern, are senior authors of a paper on the research, which will be published July 15 in Clinical Cancer Research and featured on the journal cover. Richard Ahn, a student in the medical scientists training program at Northwestern, is lead author.

“Everyone said you can’t use arsenic for solid tumors,” said O’Halloran, also associate director of basic sciences at the Lurie Cancer Center. “That’s because they didn’t deliver it the right way. This new technology delivered the drug directly to the tumor, maintained its stability and shielded normal cells from the toxicity. That’s huge.”

The nanoparticle technology has great potential for other existing cancer drugs that have been shelved because they are too toxic or excreted too rapidly, Cryns noted. “We can potentially make those drugs more effective against solid tumors by increasing their delivery to the tumor and by shielding normal cells from their toxicity,” he said. “This nanotechnology platform has the potential to expand our arsenal of chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer.”

“Working with both professors O’Halloran and Cryns has enabled us to develop the nanobins and hopefully create a new platform for the effective treatment of triple negative breast cancer,” Ahn said. “Having both a basic science mentor and breast cancer mentor is ideal training for me as a future physician-scientist.”

Looking ahead, the challenge now is to refine and improve the technology. “How do we make it more toxic to cancer cells and less toxic to healthy cells?” asked Cryns, also the director of SUCCEED, a Northwestern Medicine program to improve the quality of life for breast cancer survivors.

Northwestern scientists are working on decorating the nanobins with antibodies that recognize markers on tumor cells to increase the drug’s uptake by the tumor.  They also want to put two or more drugs into the same nanobin and deliver them together to the tumor.

“Once you fine-tune this, you could use what would otherwise be a lethal or highly toxic dose of the drug, because a good deal of it will be directly released in the tumor,” O’Halloran said.

The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute-funded Northwestern University Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence. Northwestern has one of seven such centers in the United States.

(Northwestern Medicine is comprised of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.)

Marla Paul is the health sciences editor

Here’s PhysOrg’s coverage of this story.

July 15, 2010

Culture-growing adult stem cells

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:25 pm

News on the stem cell research front.

From the link:

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a technique they believe will help scientists overcome a major hurdle to the use of adult stem cells for treating muscular dystrophy and other muscle-wasting disorders that accompany aging or disease: They’ve found that growing muscle stem cells on a specially developed synthetic matrix that mimics the elasticity of real muscle allows them to maintain their self-renewing properties.

July 8, 2010

Drug delivery system, electromagnetic fields and nanotech

Medical news about nanotechnology.

The release:

Researchers develop drug delivery system using nanoparticles triggered by electromagnetic field

KINGSTON, R.I. July 8, 2010 – A new system for the controlled delivery of pharmaceutical drugs has been developed by a team of University of Rhode Island chemical engineers using nanoparticles embedded in a liposome that can be triggered by non-invasive electromagnetic fields.

The discovery by URI professors Geoffrey Bothun and Arijit Bose and graduate student Yanjing Chen was published in the June issue of ACS Nano.

According to Bothun, liposomes are tiny nanoscale spherical structures made of lipids that can trap different drug molecules inside them for use in delivering those drugs to targeted locations in the body. The superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles the researchers embed in the shell of the liposome release the drug by making the shell leaky when heat-activated in an alternating current electromagnetic field operating at radio frequencies.

“We’ve shown that we can control the rate and extent of the release of a model drug molecule by varying the nanoparticle loading and the magnetic field strength,” explained Bothun. “We get a quick release of the drug with magnetic field heating in a matter of 30 to 40 minutes, and without heating there is minimal spontaneous leakage of the drug from the liposome.”

Bothun said that the liposomes self-assemble because portions of the lipids are hydrophilic – they have a strong affinity for water – and others are hydrophobic – they avoid water. When he mixes lipids and nanoparticles in a solvent, adds water and evaporates off the solvent, the materials automatically assemble themselves into liposomes. The hydrophobic nanoparticles and lipids join together to form the shell of the liposome, while the water-loving drug molecules are captured inside the spherical shell.

“The concept of loading nanoparticles within the hydrophobic shell to focus the activation is brand new,” Bothun said. “It works because the leakiness of the shell is ultimately what controls the release of the drugs.”

The next step in the research is to design and optimize liposome/nanoparticle assemblies that can target cancer cells or other disease-causing cells. In vitro cancer cell studies are already underway in collaboration with URI pharmacy professor Matthew Stoner.

“We are functionalizing the liposomes by putting in different lipids to help stabilize and target them so they can seek out particular cancer cell types,” he said. “We are building liposomes that will attach to particular cells or tumor regions.”

Bothun said that research on nanomedicine shows great promise, but there are still many challenges to overcome, and the targeting of appropriate cells may be the greatest challenge.

“Any ability to target the drug is better than a drug that goes everywhere in your system and generates off-target effects,” he said, noting that the hair loss and nausea from anti-cancer drugs are the result of the high drug concentrations needed for treatment and the drug’s affect on non-target cells. “If you can get an assembly to a targeted site without losing its contents in the process, that’s the holy grail.”

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July 2, 2010

Nanotechnology and dentistry

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:08 am

Okay, for many, many years I’ve been reading about all sorts of breakthroughs, innovations and miraculous-sounding dental treatments that never really seem to pan out (remember that cavity removing painless gel anyone?), but I couldn’t resist throwing this bit of nanotech out there.

The release:

Nano-sized advance toward next big treatment era in dentistry

IMAGE: Dentists may use a special nano-sized film in the future to bring diseased teeth back to life rather than remove them.

Click here for more information.

Scientists are reporting an advance toward the next big treatment revolution in dentistry — the era in which root canal therapy brings diseased teeth back to life, rather than leaving a “non-vital” or dead tooth in the mouth. In a report in the monthly journal ACS Nano, they describe a first-of-its-kind, nano-sized dental film that shows early promise for achieving this long-sought goal.

Nadia Benkirane-Jessel and colleagues note that root canal procedures help prevent tooth loss in millions of people each year. During the procedure, a dentist removes the painful, inflamed pulp, the soft tissue inside the diseased or injured tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. Regenerative endodontics, the development and delivery of tissues to replace diseased or damaged dental pulp, has the potential to provide a revolutionary alternative to pulp removal.

The scientists are reporting development of a multilayered, nano-sized film — only 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair — containing a substance that could help regenerate dental pulp. Previous studies show that the substance, called alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone, or alpha-MSH, has anti-inflammatory properties. The scientists showed in laboratory tests alpha-MSH combined with a widely-used polymer produced a material that fights inflammation in dental pulp fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are the main type of cell found in dental pulp. Nano-films containing alpha-MSH also increased the number of these cells. This could help revitalize damaged teeth and reduce the need for a root canal procedure, the scientists suggest.

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Nanostructured Assemblies for Dental Application”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE
http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/nn100713m

May 27, 2010

More nanotech medical treatment

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:23 pm

Both via KurzweilAI.net, and both as a follow-up to my previous post on killing tumors with gold nanoparticles.

First up is using carbon nanotubes as a radiotherapy delivery system:

Nanocapsule delivers radiotherapy
PhysOrg.com, May 26, 2010

Oxford University chemists have encapsulated radionuclides within carbon nanotubes and set new records for highly concentrated in vivo radiodosage, while demonstrating zero leakage of isotopes to high-affinity organs, such as the thyroid.


Artist’s rendition of nanocapsules (Gerard Tobias)
Read Original Article>>

And second is using nanoporous particles as a molecular therapy deliver system to tumors:

Nanoporous Particles Deliver Novel Molecular Therapies to Tumors
PhysOrg.com, May 26, 2010

Using nanoporous silicon particles, two teams of investigators have created drug delivery vehicles capable of ferrying labile molecular therapies deep into the body, creating new opportunities for developing innovative anticancer therapies.
Read Original Article>>

Killing tumors with gold nanoparticles

Via KurzweilAI.net — The latest in fighting cancer with nanotechnology.

Self-Assembling Gold Nanoparticles Use Light to Kill Tumor Cells
PhysOrg.com, May 26, 2010

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have developed a method for creating supramolecular assemblies of gold nanoparticles that function as highly efficient photothermal agents for delivery to tumors, using a laser beam to heat the nanoparticles above 374 degreesC, the temperature at which explosive microbubbles form.
Read Original Article>>

May 1, 2010

US government puts $145M into anti-cancer nanotech research

I’ve done a ton of blogging on cancer fighting nanotechnology, so I’m particularly pleased to read about this government initiative. Nanotech may well be the “magic bullet” researchers have been searching for in the battle against cancer.

From the second link, the release:

New advances in science of the ultra-small promise big benefits for cancer patients

IMAGE: Gold nanoparticles, the bright structures attached to the cultured human cell in this electron microscope image, are among the ultra-small technologies that may help improve the diagnosis and treatment of…

Click here for more information.

A $145-million Federal Government effort to harness the power of nanotechnology to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer is producing innovations that will radically improve care for the disease. That’s the conclusion of an update on the status of the program, called the National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. It appears in ACS Nano, a monthly journal published by the American Chemical Society.

Piotr Grodzinski and colleagues note in the article that the alliance, launched in 2004, funds and coordinates research specifically intended to move knowledge about the small science out of laboratories and into hospitals and doctors offices in a big way. It builds on more than 50 years of advances in cancer care that although substantial, still leave cancer as the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and globally.

The article describes a range of advances, including some showing significant promise in clinical trials that are poised to make a big impact on cancer. They promise earlier disease diagnosis, highly targeted treatments that kill cancer cells but leave normal cells alone, fewer side effects, and improved survival, the article

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Recent Advances from the National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/nn100073g

April 21, 2010

More cancer-fighting nanotech

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:26 am

Research has found carbon nanotubes can help the body’s immune system fight cancer. Hit this link for all my cancer-related nanotechnology blogging.

From the first link:

Carbon nanotubes boost cancer-fighting cells

New Haven, Conn.—Yale University engineers have found that the defects in carbon nanotubes cause T cell antigens to cluster in the blood and stimulate the body’s natural immune response. Their findings, which appear as the cover article of the April 20 issue of the journal Langmuir, could improve current adoptive immunotherapy, a treatment used to boost the body’s ability to fight cancer.

Adoptive immunotherapy involves extracting a patient’s blood so that the number of naturally occurring T cells (a type of white blood cell) can reproduce more effectively in the laboratory. Although the body produces its own tumor-fighting T cells, they are often suppressed by the tumor and are too few to be effective. Scientists boost the production of T cells outside the body using different substances that encourage T cell antigens to cluster in high concentrations. The better these substances are at clustering T cell antigens, the greater the immune cell proliferation. Once enough T cells are produced, the blood is transferred back into the patient’s body.

The Yale team had previously reported the unexpected effect that carbon nanotubes had on T cell production. They found that the antigens, when presented on the surface of the nanotubes, stimulated T cell response far more effectively than coating other substrates such as polystyrene in the antigens, even though the total amount of antigens used remained the same.

Now they have discovered the reason behind the increased stimulation. They found that the antigens cluster in high concentrations around the tiny defects found in the carbon nanotubes.

“Carbon nanotube bundles resemble a lymph node microenvironment, which has a labyrinth sort of geometry,” said Tarek Fahmy, associate professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering at Yale and senior author of the paper. “The nanotube bundles seem to mimic the physiology and adsorb more antigens, promoting a greater immunological response.”

Current adoptive immunotherapy takes weeks to produce enough T cells, but lab tests showed that the nanotubes produced the same T cell concentration in just one-third the time, Fahmy said.

Carbon nanotubes can cause problems, such as an embolism, when used in the body. But this isn’t the case when they are used in blood that has been extracted from the patient, Fahmy said. Next, the team will work on a way to effectively remove the carbon nanotubes from the blood before it is returned to the patient.

“We think this is a really interesting use of carbon nanotubes. It’s a way to exploit the unique properties of this material for biological application in a safe way.”

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Other authors of the paper include lead author Tarek Fadel, Michael Look, Peter Staffier, Gary Haller and Lisa Pfefferle, all of the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science.

April 6, 2010

Nanotech and medicine

New research on how carbon nanotubes may be used in medical applications.

The release:

[PRESS RELEASE, 5 April 2010] A team of Swedish and American scientists has shown for the first time that carbon nanotubes can be broken down by an enzyme – myeloperoxidase (MPO) – found in white blood cells. Their discoveries are presented in Nature Nanotechnology and contradict what was previously believed, that carbon nanotubes are not broken down in the body or in nature. The scientists hope that this new understanding of how MPO converts carbon nanotubes into water and carbon dioxide can be of significance to medicine.

“Previous studies have shown that carbon nanotubes could be used for introducing drugs or other substances into human cells,” says Bengt Fadeel, associate professor at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet. “The problem has been not knowing how to control the breakdown of the nanotubes, which can caused unwanted toxicity and tissue damage. Our study now shows how they can be broken down biologically into harmless components.”

Carbon nanotubes are a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms rolled into a tube with a diameter of only a couple of nanometres (1 nanometer = 1 billionth of a metre) and a length that can range from tens of nanometres up to several micrometers. Carbon nanotubes are lighter and stronger than steel, and have exceptional heat-conductive and electrical properties. They are manufactured on an industrial scale, mainly for engineering purposes but also for some consumer products.

Carbon nanotubes were once considered biopersistent in that they did not break down in body tissue or in nature. In recent years, research has shown that laboratory animals exposed to carbon nanotubes via inhalation or through injection into the abdominal cavity develop severe inflammation. This and the tissue changes (fibrosis) that exposure causes lead to impaired lung function and perhaps even to cancer. For example, a year or two ago, alarming reports by other scientists suggested that carbon nanotubes are very similar to asbestos fibres, which are themselves biopersistent and which can cause lung cancer (mesothelioma) in humans a considerable time after exposure.

This current study thus represents a breakthrough in nanotechnology and nanotoxicology, since it clearly shows that endogenous MPO can break down carbon nanotubes. This enzyme is expressed in certain types of white blood cell (neutrophils), which use it to neutralise harmful bacteria. Now, however, the researchers have found that the enzyme also works on carbon nanotubes, breaking them down into water and carbon dioxide. The researchers also showed that carbon nanotubes that have been broken down by MPO no longer give rise to inflammation in mice.

“This means that there might be a way to render carbon nanotubes harmless, for example in the event of an accident at a production plant,” says Dr Fadeel. “But the findings are also relevant to the future use of carbon nanotubes for medical purposes.”

The study was led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and was financed in part through grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. The work was conducted as part of the NANOMMUNE project, which is coordinated by associate professor Bengt Fadeel of the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, and which comprises a total of thirteen research groups in Europe and the USA.

April 4, 2010

Just in time for Easter …

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:16 pm

… research has determined a bacterial byproduct that was found in the soil of Easter Island provides longevity in mice, and two separate studies showed reversal of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Pretty amazing discovery.

From the link:

A study published yesterday in the Journal of Biological Chemistry confirmed that mice with Altzheimers showed marked improvement in memory and cognition after being fed a rapamycin-enhanced diet. This study was released simultaneously with another, in PLoS One, which confirmed the results of the first in a different group of mice.

Also from the link:

Rapamycin has already been approved by the FDA to treat organ rejection in transplant patients. That means doctors could start prescribing it for the “off label” use of treating Alzheimers tomorrow. The researchers are still not sure if the drug would reverse the effects of Alzheimers, or simply block them. But for millions of people suffering the effects of Alzheimers, that question may be moot.

March 21, 2010

Health care reform is going to pass

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:35 pm

Love it, hate it or maybe just sick of hearing about it, this bill will pass today. Obama essentially staked his entire presidency on health care reform this past week, so there’s no shock this thing is going to become a law. Next stop Obama’s desk, and then on to SCOTUS?

Should have taken that $100 bet at Thanksgiving …

March 19, 2010

More news on laser-heated nanoparticles and cancer

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:53 am

There’s been a lot of blog-worthy news on cancer research and nanotech lately, particularly on heating nanoparticles with low-intensity lasers to zap cancer cells. I first blogged on this tech a couple of years ago, but lately a number of institutions have released different research results on the process so I’m guessing it is really getting somewhere. This amount of news release activity makes me wonder if this is getting close to actually treating people. This latest release — the third this month — is from the University of Florida. This particular laser-excited nanoparticle tech does go beyond medical usage

The release:

Engineers: Weak laser can ignite nanoparticles, with exciting possibilities

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida engineering researchers have found they can ignite certain nanoparticles using a low-power laser, a development they say opens the door to a wave of new technologies in health care, computing and automotive design.

A paper about the research appears in this week’s advance online edition of Nature Nanotechnology.

Vijay Krishna, Nathanael Stevens, Ben Koopman and Brij Moudgil say they used lasers not much more intense than those found in laser pointers to light up, heat or ignite manufactured carbon molecules, known as fullerenes, whose soccer-ball-like shapes had been distorted in certain ways. They said the discovery suggests a score of important new applications for these so-called “functionalized fullerenes” molecules already being developed for a broad range of industries and commercial and medical products.

“The beauty of this is that it only requires a very low intensity laser,” said Moudgil, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the engineering college’s Particle Engineering Research Center, where the research was conducted.

The researchers used lasers with power in the range of 500 milliwatts. Though weak by laser standards, the researchers believe the lasers have enough energy to initiate the uncoiling or unraveling of the modified or functionalized fullerenes. That process, they believe, rapidly releases the energy stored when the molecules are formed into their unusual shapes, causing light, heat or burning under different conditions.

The Nature Nanotechnology paper says the researchers tested the technique in three possible applications.

In the first, they infused cancer cells in a laboratory with a variety of functionalized fullerenes known to be biologically safe called polyhydroxy fullerenes. They then used the laser to heat the fullerenes, destroying the cancer cells from within.

“It caused stress in the cells, and then after 10 seconds we just see the cells pop,” said Krishna, a postdoctoral associate in the Particle Engineering Research Center.

He said the finding suggests doctors could dose patients with the polyhdroxy fullerenes, identify the location of cancers, then treat them using low-power lasers, leaving other tissues unharmed. Another application would be to image the locations of tumors or other areas of interest in the body using the fullerenes’ capability to light up.

The paper also reports the researchers used fullerenes to ignite a small explosive charge. The weak laser contained far less energy than standard electrical explosive initiators, the researchers said, yet still ignited a type of functionalized fullerenes called carboxy fullerenes. That event in turn ignited comparatively powerful explosives used in traditional blasting caps.

Mining, tunneling or demolition crews currently run electrical lines to explosives, a time-consuming and expensive process for distant explosives. The experiment suggests crews could use blasting caps armed with the fullerenes and simply point a laser to set them off.

“Traditional bursting caps require a lot of energy to ignite — they use a hot tungsten filament,” said Nathanael Stevens, a postdoctoral associate in the Particle Engineering Research Center. “So, it is interesting that we can do it with just a low-powered laser.”

The researchers coated paper with polyhyroxy fullerenes, then used an ultrahigh resolution laser to write a miniature version of the letters “UF.” The demonstration suggests the technique could be used for many applications that require extremely minute, precise, lithography. Moudgil said the researchers had developed one promising application involving creating the intricate patterns on computer chips.

Although not discussed in the paper, other potential applications include infusing the fullerenes in gasoline, then igniting them with lasers rather than traditional sparkplugs in car engines, Moudgil said. Because the process is likely to burn more of the gasoline entering the cylinders, it could make cars more efficient and less polluting.

The researchers have identified more than a dozen potential applications and applied for several patents. This week’s Nature Nanotechnology paper is the first scientific publication on the discovery and the new technique.

-30-

March 17, 2010

DNA nanotubes as a drug delivery system

Medical nanotech news from McGill University.

The release:

DNA nanotechnology breakthrough offers promising applications in medicine

McGill researchers create DNA nanotubes able to carry and selectively release materials

This release is available in French.

A team of McGill Chemistry Department researchers led by Dr. Hanadi Sleiman has achieved a major breakthrough in the development of nanotubes – tiny “magic bullets” that could one day deliver drugs to specific diseased cells. Sleiman explains that the research involves taking DNA out of its biological context. So rather than being used as the genetic code for life, it becomes a kind of building block for tiny nanometre-scale objects.

Using this method, the team created the first examples of DNA nanotubes that encapsulate and load cargo, and then release it rapidly and completely when a specific external DNA strand is added. One of these DNA structures is only a few nanometres wide but can be extremely long, about 20,000 nanometres. (A nanometre is one-10,000th the diameter of a human hair.)

Until now, DNA nanotubes could only be constructed by rolling a two-dimensional sheet of DNA into a cylinder. Sleiman’s method allows nanotubes of any shape to be formed and they can either be closed to hold materials or porous to release them. Materials such as drugs could then be released when a particular molecule is present.

One of the possible future applications for this discovery is cancer treatment. However, Sleiman cautions, “we are still far from being able to treat diseases using this technology; this is only a step in that direction. Researchers need to learn how to take these DNA nanostructures, such as the nanotubes here, and bring them back to biology to solve problems in nanomedicine, from drug delivery, to tissue engineering to sensors,” she said.

The team’s discovery was published on March 14, 2010 in Nature Chemistry. The research was made possible with funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

###

On the Web: http://www.hanadisleiman.com

Video link: http://snurl.com/uw2q1

March 8, 2010

Cancer killing nanotech assassins

Nanotechnology is proving to have many medical applications, and the bulk of those apps are in cancer research. Here’s the latest from Cornell.

The release:

Like little golden assassins, ‘smart’ nanoparticles identify, target and kill cancer cells

ITHACA, N.Y. – Another weapon in the arsenal against cancer: Nanoparticles that identify, target and kill specific cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

Led by Carl Batt, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Food Science, the researchers synthesized nanoparticles – shaped something like a dumbbell – made of gold sandwiched between two pieces of iron oxide. They then attached antibodies, which target a molecule found only in colorectal cancer cells, to the particles. Once bound, the nanoparticles are engulfed by the cancer cells.

To kill the cells, the researchers use a near-infrared laser, which is a wavelength that doesn’t harm normal tissue at the levels used, but the radiation is absorbed by the gold in the nanoparticles. This causes the cancer cells to heat up and die.

“This is a so-called ‘smart’ therapy,” Batt said. “To be a smart therapy, it should be targeted, and it should have some ability to be activated only when it’s there and then kills just the cancer cells.”

The goal, said lead author and biomedical graduate student Dickson Kirui, is to improve the technology and make it suitable for testing in a human clinical trial. The researchers are now working on a similar experiment targeting prostate cancer cells.

“If, down the line, you could clinically just target the cancer cells, you could then spare the health surrounding cells from being harmed – that is the critical thing,” Kirui said.

Gold has potential as a material key to fighting cancer in future smart therapies. It is biocompatible, inert and relatively easy to tweak chemically. By changing the size and shape of the gold particle, Kirui and colleagues can tune them to respond to different wavelengths of energy.

Once taken up by the researchers’ gold particles, the cancer cells are destroyed by heat – just a few degrees above normal body temperature – while the surrounding tissue is left unharmed. Such a low-power laser does not have any effect on surrounding cells because that particular wavelength does not heat up cells if they are not loaded up with nanoparticles, the researchers explained.

Using iron oxide – which is basically rust – as the other parts of the particles might one day allow scientists to also track the progress of cancer treatments using magnetic resonance imaging, Kirui said, by taking advantage of the particles’ magnetic properties.

###

The research was funded by the Sloan Foundation and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, which has been a partner with Cornell since 1999 to bring laboratory work to clinical testing. The research is reported in the Feb. 15 online edition of the journal Nanotechnology.

Text by Anne Ju, Cornell Chronicle

February 25, 2010

Getting power from body movement

This study fits in with “wearable electronics” concept. For wearable electronics to be effective you need comfortably wearable juice to power those devices. Looks like some interesting medical applications here as well.

The release:

An electrifying discovery: New material to harvest electricity from body movements

IMAGE: “Piezo-rubber, ” super-thin films that harvest energy from motion, could be worn on the body or implanted to power cell phones, heart pacemakers, and other electronics in the future.

Click here for more information.

Scientists are reporting an advance toward scavenging energy from walking, breathing, and other natural body movements to power electronic devices like cell phones and heart pacemakers. In a study in ACS’ monthly journal, Nano Letters, they describe development of flexible, biocompatible rubber films for use in implantable or wearable energy harvesting systems. The material could be used, for instance, to harvest energy from the motion of the lungs during breathing and use it to run pacemakers without the need for batteries that must be surgically replaced every few years.

Michael McAlpine and colleagues point out that popular hand-held consumer electronic devices are using smaller and smaller amounts of electricity. That opens the possibility of supplementing battery power with electricity harvested from body movements. So-called “piezoelectric” materials are the obvious candidates, since they generate electricity when flexed or subjected to pressure. However, manufacturing piezoelectric materials requires temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees F., making it difficult to combine them with rubber.

The scientists describe a new manufacturing method that solves this problem. It enabled them to apply nano-sized ribbons of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) — each strand about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair — to ribbons of flexible silicone rubber. PZT is one of the most efficient piezoelectric materials developed to date and can convert 80 percent of mechanical energy into electricity. The combination resulted in a super-thin film they call ‘piezo-rubber’ that seems to be an excellent candidate for scavenging energy from body movements.

###

ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber for Flexible Energy Conversion”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/nl903377u

February 21, 2010

The medibots are coming, part two

Okay, I admit I’m running this release for the most part to run the title above (hit this link for part one), but robot-assisted surgery is an idea that will continue to gain acceptance and improve as a discipline.

The release:

Comparison shows robot-assisted option offers advantages for kidney surgery

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A comparison of two types of minimally invasive surgery to repair kidney blockages that prevent urine from draining normally to the bladder found that robot-assisted surgery was faster and resulted in less blood loss and shorter hospital stays.

Reporting in the Canadian Journal of Urology, Ashok Hemal, M.D., a urologic surgeon from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, compared laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery for repairing the blockage, known as uretero-pelvic junction obstruction. Following the patients for 18 months showed that both options were equally successful, but the robot-assisted technique had several advantages.

On average, robot-assisted surgery was 50 percent faster (98-minute versus 145-minute average), resulted in 60 percent less blood loss (40ml versus 101ml average), and required a two-day hospital stay, versus 3.5 days for laparoscopic surgery.

“This was one of the first studies where a single surgeon at one center performed both types of surgery and compared the results,” said Hemal, director of the Robotic and Minimally Invasive Urologic Surgery Program at Wake Forest Baptist. “It allows for a more accurate comparison of surgical options than multiple physicians performing the surgeries. The results showed that robot-assisted surgery had significant advantages for this condition. It is also generally easier for surgeons to learn.”

All 60 patients had a procedure known as pyeloplasty that involves reconstructing the narrow area where part of the kidney meets the ureter, the tube that carries the urine from the renal pelvis into the bladder. Blockages in this area can be the result of birth defects or, in adults, from injury, previous surgery or disorders that can cause inflammation of the upper urinary tract.

Previously the repair required a large incision. New technology led to minimally invasive approaches that require only small incisions — laparoscopic surgery, in which the surgeon directly manipulates a viewing device and operating instruments inserted into the abdomen, and robot-assisted surgery, in which the surgeon sits at a console and uses hand and finger movements to control centimeter-size instruments while viewing the surgical site on a screen.

Various studies have reported on the results of the options, but this is one of the first studies in which a surgeon with expertise in both options compared them. Hemal treated 30 patients with laparoscopic surgery and 30 with robot-assisted surgery.

“The evolution of laparoscopic surgery in urology has been limited because it is technically challenging and requires the surgeon to be proficient in advanced suturing,” said Hemal. “Robot-assisted surgery offers a way of overcoming some of the major impediments of laparoscopic surgery. This study shows the two options are equally effective and that robot-assisted surgery has several advantages.”

###

Hemal’s colleagues on the report are Satyadip Mukherjee, M.D., and Kaku Singh, M.D., both with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, where the surgeries were performed.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (www.wfubmc.edu) is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Brenner Children’s Hospital, Wake Forest University Physicians, and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine and Piedmont Triad Research Park. The system comprises 1,154 acute care, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and has been ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report since 1993. Wake Forest Baptist is ranked 32nd in the nation by America’s Top Doctors for the number of its doctors considered best by their peers. The institution ranks in the top third in funding by the National Institutes of Health and fourth in the Southeast in revenues from its licensed intellectual property.

February 17, 2010

Home cancer detection …

… may not be all that far off. The release doesn’t get into any sort of time-to-market predictions, but if this becomes reality it will be one amazing medical breakthrough.

The release:

Small Liquid Sensor May Detect Cancer Instantly, Could Lead to Home Detection Kit

MU researcher developing a sensor to detect diseases, such as breast cancer, in bodily fluids

Feb. 17, 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. – What if it were possible to go to the store and buy a kit to quickly and accurately diagnose cancer, similar to a pregnancy test? A University of Missouri researcher is developing a tiny sensor, known as an acoustic resonant sensor, that is smaller than a human hair and could test bodily fluids for a variety of diseases, including breast and prostate cancers.

“Many disease-related substances in liquids are not easily tracked,” said Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at MU. “In a liquid environment, most sensors experience a significant loss of signal quality, but by using highly sensitive, low-signal-loss acoustic resonant sensors in a liquid, these substances can be effectively and quickly detected — a brand-new concept that will result in a noninvasive approach for breast cancer detection.”

Kwon’s real-time, special acoustic resonant sensor uses micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS), which are tiny devices smaller than the diameter of a human hair, to directly detect diseases in body fluids. The sensor doesn’t require bulky data reading or analyzing equipment and can be integrated with equally small circuits, creating the potential for small stand-alone disease-screening systems. Kwon’s sensor also produces rapid, almost immediate results that could reduce patient anxiety often felt after waiting for other detection methods, such as biopsies, which can take several days or weeks before results are known.

“Our ultimate goal is to produce a device that will simply and quickly diagnose multiple specific diseases, and eventually be used to create ‘point of care’ systems, which are services provided to patients at their bedsides,” Kwon said. “The sensor has strong commercial potential to be manifested as simple home kits for easy, rapid and accurate diagnosis of various diseases, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.”

Last January, Kwon was awarded a $400,000, five-year National Science Foundation CAREER Award to continue his effort on this sensor research. The CAREER award is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research. Kwon’s sensor research has been published in the IEEE International Conference on Solid-state, Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems and the IEEE Conference on Sensors.

–30–

January 14, 2010

Using nanotech to attack cancer

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:44 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — Nanotechnology continues to be a major player in treating cancer.

Nanoparticle Cocktail Targets and Kills Tumors
PhysOrg.com, Jan. 13, 2010

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute’s Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence have developed a “cocktail” of two different nanometer-sized particles that work in concert within the bloodstream to locate, adhere to and kill cancerous tumors.

One nanomaterial was designed to find and adhere to tumors in mice and then sensitize tumor cells for the second nanoparticle, which kills the tumors.

Read Original Article>>

December 21, 2009

Health Care reform is coming

Filed under: Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:19 pm

And the form of the reform is taking shape. It’s a major issue in the U.S. and an insanely hot button topic in politics, made even more in modern politics after the defeat of Hillarycare in Clinton’s first term. I’ve stayed largely on the sidelines on heath care reform and have mostly sought as unbiased as possible ideas and opinions. I did think it was a strategic mistake for the GOP to effectively take itself out of the serious sausage-making of the bills and just throwing random poop at the walls to see what resonated as a decent attack line.

I’ve finally read one piece that makes me feel quite a bit better about the legislation that will hit Obama’s desk sometime in the near future, “Testing, Testing” by Atul Gawande in the December 14, 2009, issue of the New Yorker. Gawande is a M.D. and a regular New Yorker contributor and has written on the challenges of receiving and practicing medical care in the current climate. This article is measured, doesn’t really take any of the partisan sides other than to acknowledge something has to be done to change the status quo, and lays out a vision where the current legislation could start an ongoing process of continued improvement in heath care and its administration.

Whichever side of the reform debate you stand on, this article should be a priority read for a glimpse into what could be with the current legislation. It’s not going appease anyone who opposes the bill on either extreme, but it should make anyone who reads the article feel a bit better about the future of medicine in the United States.

In the article Gawande lays out parallels between the agriculture reform efforts of the twentieth century and the current effort at health care reform.

From the link, here’s the concluding graf:

Getting our medical communities, town by town, to improve care and control costs isn’t a task that we’ve asked government to take on before. But we have no choice. At this point, we can’t afford any illusions: the system won’t fix itself, and there’s no piece of legislation that will have all the answers, either. The task will require dedicated and talented people in government agencies and in communities who recognize that the country’s future depends on their sidestepping the ideological battles, encouraging local change, and following the results. But if we’re willing to accept an arduous, messy, and continuous process we can come to grips with a problem even of this immensity. We’ve done it before.

November 30, 2009

Plasma kills superbugs dead

Via KurzweilAI.net — This is good news for a serious medical concern.

Device spells doom for superbugs
BBC News, Nov. 26, 2009

A prototype device that uses “cold atmospheric plasma” to rid hands, feet, or even underarms of bacteria, including the hospital superbug MRSA, has been developed by Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics researchers.

The team says that an exposure to the plasma of only about 12 seconds reduces the incidence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on hands by a factor of a million, a number that stands in sharp contrast to the several minutes hospital staff can take to wash using traditional soap and water.


(New Journal of Physics)

 

Read Original Article>>

November 29, 2009

Nanomagnet cancer treatment

Nanoscale magnetic discs actually physically wreck cancer cells. Nanotech is offering a lot of medical treatments, particularly in cancer research.

From the link:

Laboratory tests found the so-called “nanodiscs”, around 60 billionths of a metre thick, could be used to disrupt the membranes of , causing them to self-destruct.

The discs are made from an iron-nickel alloy, which move when subjected to a magnetic field, damaging the cancer cells, the report published in Nature Materials said.

One of the study’s authors, Elena Rozhlova of Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, said subjecting the discs to a low magnetic field for around ten minutes was enough to destroy 90 percent of cancer cells in tests.

November 20, 2009

The medibots are coming

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:10 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — This is a concept that combines a lot of elements — excitement, concern, fear, hope and quite a bit of creepy.

Medibots: The world’s smallest surgeons
New Scientist Health, Nov. 20, 2009

Advances in robotics could revolutionize healthcare, pushing the limits of what surgeons can achieve, from worm-inspired capsules to crawl through your gut, and systems swallowed in pieces that assemble themselves inside the body, to surgical robots that will soon be ready to embark on a fantastic voyage through our bodies, homing in on the part that’s ailing and fixing it from the inside.

Swimming camera capsule (The Royal College of Surgeons / Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna)

 

Read Original Article>>

November 13, 2009

Biodegradable organic transistors

Via KurzweilAI.net — This may prove to be a major medical breakthrough once some practical applications get into actual practice and spur on additional innovation.

Biodegradable Transistors
Technology Review, Nov. 13, 2009

Fully biodegradable organic transistors have been fabricated by researchers at Stanford University.

They could be used to control temporary medical implants placed in the body during surgery, and help monitor the healing process from inside the body.

 

Read Original Article>>

October 29, 2009

The public plan is in play

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:30 pm

And if the GOP is honestly against it I really wonder why the party took itself out of the sausage-making from day one.

From the link:

U.S. House leaders today plan to unveil legislation that would create a government-run health- insurance program, require employers to offer coverage to their workers and impose a new tax on the wealthiest Americans.

The legislation comes after three months of negotiations by House Democrats and represents the most sweeping changes to the nation’s health-care system since the 1965 creation of the federal Medicare program for the elderly. The measure would overhaul the insurance market, encourage greater use of preventive medicine and help Americans buy coverage.

“We think we’ll have the votes,” said California Representative George Miller, who runs the House Education and Labor Committee, after meeting with fellow Democrats yesterday. Formal debate is planned for next week, Miller said.

Lawmakers said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to a compromise over one of the most divisive issues facing Congress — the establishment of the government insurance program to compete with private insurers try to and drive down costs.

October 22, 2009

Nanoantennas and high-speed optical data networks

Via KurzweilAI.net — Looks like this nanotech has applications in communications, medicine and alternative power, to name three.

Nanoantennas allow for high-speed optical data networks

KurzweilAI.net, Oct. 22, 2009

Gold nanoantennas smaller than 100 nm that transmit and receive light have been developed by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology researchers.

The antennas could be used in new optical high-speed data networks and in chip manufacturing and photovoltaic devices, and for the study of individual biomolecules.


(LTI)

More info

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