A team of researchers at Louisiana Tech Univ. has developed an innovative method for using affordable, consumer-grade 3-D printers and materials to fabricate custom medical implants that can contain antibacterial and chemotherapeutic compounds for targeted drug delivery.
The team comprised of doctoral students and research faculty from Louisiana Tech’s biomedical engineering and nanosystems engineering programs collaborated to create filament extruders that can make medical-quality 3-D printing filaments. Creating these filaments, which have specialized properties for drug delivery, is a new concept that can result in smart drug delivering medical implants or catheters.
‘Chili-pepper Receptor’ May Be Key to Treating Pain
As anyone who has bitten into a chili pepper knows, its burning spiciness — though irresistible to some — is intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper’s effect are using their findings to develop a new drug candidate for many kinds of pain, which can be caused by inflammation or other problems. They reported their progress on the compound, which is being tested in clinical trials, in ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
Doctors and nurses fighting Ebola in West Africa are working 14-hour days, seven days a week, wearing head-to-toe gear in the heat of muddy clinics. Agonizing death is the norm for their patients. The hellish conditions aren’t the only problem: health workers struggle to convince patients they’re trying to help them, not hurt them.
Rumors are rife that Western aid workers are importing Ebola, stealing bodies or even deliberately infecting patients. Winning trust is made harder by a full suit of hood, goggles, mask and gown that hides their faces.
Jell-O-like Substance Attracts, Kills Cancer Cells
Chasing cancer cells with chemotherapy drugs can save lives, but there’s no guarantee that the treatment will kill every run-away cancer cell in the body.
What if, instead of hunting those metastatic cells, a treatment could lure them out of hiding — every last one of them — and eliminate them in one swift blow? Yong Wang, associate professor of bioengineering at Penn State, has created such a therapy — a tissue-like biomaterial that attracts cancer cells, like bits of metal to a magnet, and entraps them.
Queen’s Univ. researcher Richard Oko and his co-investigators have come up with a promising method of treating male infertility using a synthetic version of the sperm-originated protein known as PAWP.
They found this protein is sufficient and required to initiate the fertilization process. Oko’s research promises to diagnose and treat cases of male factor infertility where a patient’s sperm is unable to initiate or induce activation of the egg to form an early embryo.
'Dimmer Switch' Possible Key to Tackling Schizophrenia
Discovery of a new mechanism of drug action could lead to the next generation of drugs to treat schizophrenia. Affecting one percent of the world’s population, schizophrenia is a major health condition. It affects a person’s ability to think, feel and act and is associated with distressing symptoms including hallucinations and delusions.
A Monash Univ. study’s findings, published in Nature Chemical Biology, offer hope of a new class of drug that can act as a “dimmer switch” to control schizophrenia, without causing some of the common side effects associated with current anti-psychotic medicines.
Bee, snake or scorpion venom could form the basis of a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs, scientists say. They have devised a method for targeting venom proteins specifically to malignant cells while sparing healthy ones, which reduces or eliminates side effects that the toxins would otherwise cause.
The report was part of the 248th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). “We have safely used venom toxins in tiny nanometer-sized particles to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells in the laboratory,” says Dipanjan Pan, from the Univ. of Illinois, who led the study. “These particles, which are camouflaged from the immune system, take the toxin directly to the cancer cells, sparing normal tissue.”
The human brain remains one of the least understood organs in the human body, because of its complexity and the difficulty of studying its physiology in the living body. Tufts Univ. researchers have announced the development of the first reported complex three-dimensional model made of brain-like cortical tissue that exhibits biochemical and electrophysiological responses and can function in the laboratory for months. The engineered tissue model offers new options for studying brain function, disease, trauma and treatment. The National Institutes of Health funded research is reported in PNAS.
Advancing the study of brain trauma, disease and therapeutic treatments is something that the paper’s senior and corresponding author David Kaplan has wanted to pursue for a long time. Kaplan is Stern Family professor and chair of biomedical engineering at Tufts School of Engineering. “There are few good options for studying the physiology of the living brain, yet this is perhaps one of the biggest areas of unmet clinical need when you consider the need for new options to understand and treat a wide range of neurological disorders associated with the brain. To generate this system that has such great value is very exciting for our team,” said Kaplan, who directs the NIH-funded P41 Tissue Engineering Resource Center based at Tufts.
“Parasite Pill” Could Ease Autoimmune Disease Symptoms
Experts believe a molecule in parasitic worms could help explain why worm infections can effectively treat a range of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
The Monash Univ. study, published in the FASEB Journal, successfully identified peptides from parasitic worms that suppress the body’s immune response. Researchers believe this could pave the way for a new drug containing the peptide to provide relief from the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
A team led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the Univ. of Pennsylvania found that a susceptibility gene for type 1 diabetes regulates self-destruction of the cell’s energy factory. They report their findings this week in Cell.
The pathway central to this gene could be targeted for prevention and control of type-1 diabetes and may extend to the treatment of other metabolic-associated diseases.
Researchers Find Weakness in Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria
New research from the Univ. Of East Anglia, published in the journal Nature, reveals an Achilles’ heel in the defensive barrier that surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells.
The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed and tested a vaccine that triggered the growth of immune cell nodules within pancreatic tumors, essentially reprogramming these intractable cancers and potentially making them vulnerable to immune-based therapies.
In their study described in today’s issue of Cancer Immunology Research, the Johns Hopkins team tested the vaccine in 39 people with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC), the most common form of pancreatic cancer. The disease becomes resistant to standard chemotherapies and is particularly lethal, with fewer than 5 percent of patients surviving five years after their diagnosis.
There is new hope for people suffering from depression. Researchers have identified a compound, hydroxynorketamine (HNK), which may treat symptoms of depression just as effectively and rapidly as ketamine, without the unwanted side effects associated with the psychoactive drug, according to a study in the July issue of Anesthesiology, the official medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Interestingly, use of HNK may also serve as a future therapeutic approach for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, the authors note.
Constipation, the most common digestive health disorder, affects up to 42 million Americans. Symptoms of chronic constipation include pain, bloating, infrequent bowel movements and painful and hard stools.
Now a new treatment in the form of a vibrating pill-size capsule may serve to alleviate chronic constipation, as demonstrated by a new pilot study from researchers led by Yishai Ron of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Tel Aviv Univ.-affiliated Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. The team presented its findings last month at the Digestive Disease Week convention in Chicago.
In the battle against stubborn skin infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a new single-dose antibiotic is as effective as a twice-daily infusion given for up to 10 days, according to a large study led by Duke Medicine researchers.
Researchers say the advantage of the new drug, oritavancin, is its potential to curtail what has been a key driver of antibiotic resistance: a tendency for patients to stop taking antibiotics once they feel better. In such instances, the surviving bacteria may become impervious to the drugs designed to fight them.