Obesity is a serious public health problem that is taking hold of the vast majority of countries in the developed world. For example, approximately 4 of every 10 adults in America is obese. Obesity may have a considerable negative impact on quality of life, as it can impede normal independent movement and exercise. It may also lead to chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic liver failure.
Owing to the persistence of issues such as infertility and failure to conceive, aspects of female fertility have been studied in the past, and are still being researched extensively. Recently, scientists at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK, along with other German experts, discovered that epigenetics and a protein called MLL2, can attempt to solve the issue of fertility by helping in maintaining the fertilizable egg cells’ freshness and stasis.
Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer. It can even be fatal, although timely detection and treatment can effectively protect against this eventuality. This treatment may come in the form of surgical incision, or as medical anti-tumour therapy. Medical treatment for melanoma has resulted in full remission for some patients. However, adaptations in these tumours have led to relapses for others. This is true for a recently-developed treatment called anti-PD-1 therapy.
Although affecting less than one million people in the United States, junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB) is a lethal genetic condition that causes severe blistering and erosions on the skin by means of injury or from friction by scratching. Those who survive endure chronic wounds that can often lead to skin cancer, and sometimes even death.
Today, there are many projects that investigate new and emerging treatments that address a critical factor in cancer progression: the tumor microenvironment. This is a complex process, in which cancer cells adjust the conditions within, and also possibly in the immediate vicinity of, the tumor they have formed to their own ‘liking’. Tumors develop their own internal environments for a number of reasons, which include resistance to aspects of the patient’s immune system which could be capable of destroying or damaging them otherwise.
Many material scientists and engineers work with the goal of making synthetic polymers with the strength and conformation to rival or exceed natural products such as silk. This is done to create textiles, sheets or other implements to be used in construction or outerwear for their durability, strength and longevity. Unfortunately, though, there are often drawbacks linked to the compounds these researchers develop. They may be made from toxic substances, be expensive to manufacture, or require a large amount of energy in their formation.
Drugging the Undruggable: Novartis’ New Academic Partnership Seeks to Drag Diseases into the Cellular Recycle Bin
Many drugs available today act by targeting one pathological protein associated with an illness. This protein might be a toxin from bacteria or virus particles, or a dysfunctional human protein that cancer cells use to avoid the natural process of cell death. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and researchers can achieve this because they have been able to study the protein in question in enough depth to find locations within their molecular structure that are highly relevant to disease risk or progression.
Many scientists hypothesise that the creation of life as we know it required a pivotal stage in which primal, simple biological building blocks (such as amino acids) were bonded together, most likely as a result of phosphorylation (a reaction in which two molecules are conjoined with the input of one phosphorus atom and the loss of one atom from the molecules’ existing structure). Phosphorylation underpins a huge range of important biochemical reactions (e.g.
The AIDS virus, HIV, continues to threaten communities globally, affecting more than 35 million people each year. Although there have been attempts to develop vaccines for this life-threatening syndrome, it is the virus’ genetic diversity that has posed challenges in the past. Researchers at pharmaceutical company, Sanofi, and the US National Institutes of Health have collaborated to engineer specific broadly neutralizing antibodies with the capacity to fight 99 percent of HIV strains, and potentially prevent infection too.
Millions of people in the United States suffer from ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), a chronic brain disorder that results in children or sometimes even adults having a limited attention span, being extremely hyperactive and taking rash decisions or showing impulsivity. This automatically reduces their ability to meet deadlines or perform daily duties, as per usual.
One of the most common phrases a medical doctor hears on introducing themselves as a member of said profession is probably along the lines of ‘Can you look at this mole for me?’ A specialisation in dermatology aside, most doctors would hesitate to eliminate a skin cancer diagnosis on the spot.
Artificial limbs, such as prosthetic legs or arms, are a common solution nowadays for patients who have gone through the process of amputation. Prosthetic parts of the body are being used for such medical cases since the 16th century and as the centuries pass, their quality is dramatically improving.
Pacemakers are devices that regulate the rhythm at which the chambers of the heart pump blood, intended for people who have developed irregular heartbeats. This may happen for reasons related to genetic, environmental or lifestyle factors, or a combination of all these. Some pacemakers are designed to co-ordinate the pumping action of the left and right sides of the heart, which if left uncorrected can lead to abnormal cardiac rhythms or other conditions. They work by delivering a tiny electrical impulse into the existing nervous circuitry of the heart.
Pediatric leukemia, a cancer of the blood in children, is classified into two types — acute lymphocytic/lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Of the two, ALL is more common, occurring between the age groups of two and four. Apart from when chemotherapy is successful, these children are left with a bleak prospect of survival because of this devastating disease.
The next generation of electronics is likely to come in the form of smart textiles and textile-like materials that may be more ergonomic, flexible and versatile. Their ability to support electronics and interfaces will be derived from the superconductive and conductive nanoparticles embedded in these fabrics, which can form circuits, sensors and antennas when laid down or ‘woven’ into appropriate formations.
If you’re into tattoos, bioengineering and high-tech health-sensing devices, this new development may be just the thing for you. A new project completed as a collaboration between researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School has resulted in a prototype ‘tattoo’ that changes colour in response to variations in certain health metrics, and can be read through the skin. This clinical ink has been shown to be able to indicate skin pH, glucose and sodium levels.
Ceramic is amazing stuff. It’s extremely strong and durable, has an amazing capacity for heat absorption and is also stable at high temperatures. This could well make ceramic an excellent component in materials or biomaterials, were it not for their tendency to shatter at any given opportunity. The structure of ceramics as they are typically produced allows even very minor structural flaws to propagate within them easily, thus causing a crack to ‘spread’ through a solid layer of ceramic with ease.
End stage liver diseases, such as Stage 4 cirrhosis takes the lives of about 10,000 people every year in the United States, and unfortunately this number only seems to be increasing.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a branch of neurological medicine in which small devices that can deliver electric impulses are placed into the brain, in areas that are damaged or affected by disease. The central idea behind DBS is that these devices, which are most often electrodes, are used to replace, augment or modulate abnormal activation (or ‘firing’) in the neural circuits found in these brain regions. This may in turn correct or alleviate their manifestations in the mind or body, which include uncontrollable movements in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Electroencephalograms (EEGs) are a relatively well-established way of analysing brain activity. They use non-invasive sensors that detect the electrical activity of this organ through the skull. They then represent this activity in graphical forms than can be recorded, stored and used by people such as medical professionals. EEGs have been observed to be reliably associated with the brain activity they are supposed to visualise. Many normal, healthy brain regions even produce reproducible EEG feedback patterns, or frequencies.