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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

DNA-based liquid biopsy can spot cancer recurrence a year before conventional CT scans

DNA-based liquid biopsy can spot cancer recurrence a year before conventional CT scans | Amazing Science |
‘Liquid biopsy’ diagnosed cancer recurrence up to a year before conventional scans in major lung cancer trial, and could buy crucial time for doctors


A revolutionary blood test has been shown to diagnose the recurrence of cancer up to a year in advance of conventional scans in a major lung cancer trial. The test, known as a liquid biopsy, could buy crucial time for doctors by indicating that cancer is growing in the body when tumors are not yet detectable on CT scans and long before the patient becomes aware of physical symptoms.


It works by detecting free-floating mutated DNA, released into the bloodstream by dying cancer cells. In the trial of 100 lung cancer patients, scientists saw precipitous rises in tumor DNA in the blood of patients who would go on to relapse months, or even a year, later.


The findings add to building anticipation that the technology, which is already in widespread use in non-invasive prenatal tests for Down’s syndrome, will have a major impact in cancer medicine.


Nitzan Rosenfeld of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, who was not involved in the latest trial, predicts that “most if not all” cancer patients will be given the DNA-based tests in future. “Even if only a fraction of cancers that are currently detected at a lethal stage will in future be detected at an early curable stage this will represent a great benefit in lives saved,” he said.


In the latest trial, reported in the journal Nature, 100 patients with non-small cell lung cancer were followed from diagnosis through surgery and chemotherapy, having blood tests every six to eight weeks.


By analyzing the patchwork of genetic faults in cells across each tumor, scientists created personalized genomic templates for each patient. This was then compared to the DNA floating in their blood, to assess whether a fraction of it matched that seen in their tumor.


Prof Charlie Swanton, a cancer geneticist at the Francis Crick Institute who led the work, described how circulating tumour DNA tracked the patient’s disease status with remarkable precision. Of patients who would remain in remission, he said that “Within 48 hours of surgery, the DNA drops down to undetectable.”


By contrast, rising tumour DNA levels were seen in patients whose disease would later recur, indicating that cancer remained in the lungs or had migrated to other organs, where it was lying dormant. When the tests of 24 patients were analyzed in detail, the scientists could say with 92% accuracy who would relapse.

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Whole-body vibration may be as effective as regular exercise

Whole-body vibration may be as effective as regular exercise | Amazing Science |

If you’re overweight and find it challenging to exercise regularly, now there’s good news: A less strenuous form of exercise known as whole-body vibration (WBV) can mimic the muscle and bone health benefits of regular exercise — at least in mice — according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.


Lack of exercise is contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, according to the researchers. These disorders can also increase the risk of bone fractures. Physical activity can help to decrease this risk and reduce the negative metabolic effects of these conditions.


But the alternative, WBV, can be experienced while sitting, standing, or even lying down on a machine with a vibrating platform. When the machine vibrates, it transmits energy to your body, and your muscles contract and relax multiple times during each second.


“Our study is the first to show that whole-body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combating some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes,” said the study’s first author, Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, Ph.D., ofAugusta University in Georgia. “While WBV did not fully address the defects in bone mass of the obese mice in our study, it did increase global bone formation, suggesting longer-term treatments could hold promise for preventing bone loss as well.”


Just as effective as a treadmill

Glucose and insulin tolerance testing revealed that the genetically obese and diabetic mice showed similar metabolic benefits from both WBV and exercising on a treadmill. Obese mice gained less weight after exercise or WBV than obese mice in the sedentary group, although they remained heavier than normal mice. Exercise and WBV also enhanced muscle mass and insulin sensitivity in the genetically obese mice.


The findings suggest that WBV may be a useful supplemental therapy to combat metabolic dysfunction in individuals with morbid obesity. “These results are encouraging,” McGee-Lawrence said. “However, because our study was conducted in mice, this idea needs to be rigorously tested in humans to see if the results would be applicable to people.”


The authors included researchers at the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Aging (NIA). Funding was provided by the American Diabetes Association, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, and the National Institute on Aging.

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Virtual reality journey through a tumor

Virtual reality journey through a tumor | Amazing Science |

Cambridge scientists have received two of the biggest funding grants ever awarded by Cancer Research UK, with the charity set to invest £40 million over the next five years in two ground-breaking research projects in the city. This is an enormous challenge. I liken it to the idea of putting a man on Mars – there’s so much technology that you have to develop to do it. All sorts of things are happening in tumors that we can’t study using the technology we have.


The funding will come from the first Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge awards – set up to help scientists solve some of the hardest unanswered questions in cancer research, and to revolutionize the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Teams based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute – both part of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre – have been awarded two of the four grants.


Professor Greg Hannon will lead a team at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, part of the University of Cambridge. Working with researchers in America, Switzerland, Canada and Ireland, they aim to build 3D versions of breast tumors, which can be studied using virtual reality, allowing scientists and doctors to study every cell and aspect of a tumor in unprecedented detail.

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Augmented reality guides surgeons during surgery

Augmented reality guides surgeons during surgery | Amazing Science |

The system, which combines camera images of the outside of the patient with three-dimensional X-rays of the inside of the body, is designed to create a detailed path for the spinal surgeon to follow. This could help to improve surgical tool navigation and implant accuracy, as well as reducing procedure times.


Spinal procedures have traditionally been carried out using open surgery, in which a large incision is made in the body and the muscles moved aside in order to expose the vertebrae.

But this invasive procedure results in a lengthy recovery period and a considerable amount of pain for the patient, according to Ronald Tabaksblat, business leader of image-guided therapy systems at Philips.


However, replacing open surgery with minimally-invasive techniques is particularly difficult in the case of spinal procedures such as vertebrae fusion, as screws are inserted which must be positioned with sub-millimeter accuracy, said Tabaksblat. “A small error in one direction and you could hit an artery, causing major bleeding, while a small error in another direction means you could hit a nerve, causing nerve damage or even paralysis,” he said.

“This technology is designed to offer the ability to carry out a procedure with a high level of confidence and accuracy, using minimally-invasive techniques.”


The system uses high-resolution optical cameras mounted on a flat-panel X-ray detector to image the surface of the patient. It then combines the external view captured by the cameras with the 3D internal view acquired by the X-ray system to create accurate real-time, augmented-reality images of the patient’s anatomy.

Via Daniel Perez-Marcos
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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

25,000 data points per day: Wearable sensors can alert you when you are getting sick

25,000 data points per day: Wearable sensors can alert you when you are getting sick | Amazing Science |

A new wave of portable biosensors allows frequent measurement of health-related physiology. A group at Stanford investigated the use of these devices to monitor human physiological changes during various activities and their role in managing health and diagnosing and analyzing disease. By recording over 250,000 daily measurements for up to 43 individuals, they found personalized circadian differences in physiological parameters, replicating previous physiological findings. Interestingly, the research group also found striking changes in particular environments, such as airline flights (decreased peripheral capillary oxygen saturation [SpO2] and increased radiation exposure). These events are associated with physiological macro-phenotypes such as fatigue, providing a strong association between reduced pressure/oxygen and fatigue on high-altitude flights.


Importantly, when they combined biosensor information with frequent medical measurements, they made two important observations: First, wearable devices were useful in identification of early signs of Lyme disease and inflammatory responses; the research team used this information to develop a personalized, activity-based normalization framework to identify abnormal physiological signals from longitudinal data for facile disease detection. Second, wearables distinguish physiological differences between insulin-sensitive and -resistant individuals.


Overall, these results indicate that portable biosensors provide useful information for monitoring personal activities and physiology and are likely to play an important role in managing health and enabling affordable health care access to groups traditionally limited by socioeconomic class or remote geography.

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A ‘smart’ patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

A ‘smart’ patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed | Amazing Science |

A team of scientists has invented a replacement for daily glucose-level finger-pricking and insulin shots: a painless “smart” patch that monitors blood glucose and releases insulin when levels climb too high. The report on the device, which has only been tested on mice so far, appears in the journal ACS Nano.


People with Type 1 diabetes don’t make insulin — a hormone that regulates blood glucose (sugar). Those with Type 2 diabetes can’t use insulin effectively. Either way, glucose builds up in the blood, which can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, blindness and amputation of toes, feet or legs.


To avoid these outcomes, people with Type 1 or advanced Type 2 diabetes regularly prick their fingers to measure blood-sugar levels, and some patients must inject themselves with insulin when needed. But sometimes, despite a person’s vigilance, glucose levels can still get out of whack.


So Zhen Gu and colleagues* decided to invent a simpler, more effective, shot-free way to manage diabetes: a skin patch covered in painless microneedles that are loaded with tiny insulin-carrying pouches. The pouches (vesicles) are engineered to break apart rapidly and release the insulin in response to rising glucose levels.


Diabetic mice wearing the patch maintained consistent concentrations of insulin in their blood. When these mice received a shot of glucose, their blood sugar levels spiked initially, but then fell to normal levels within two hours.


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FDA clearance for AI-assisted cardiac imaging system

FDA clearance for AI-assisted cardiac imaging system | Amazing Science |

A San Francisco startup has landed Food and Drug Administration approval for artificial intelligence-assisted cardiac imaging in the cloud.


Arterys Inc.’s Cardio DL program applies deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to automate tasks that radiologists have been performing manually. It represents the first FDA-cleared, zero-footprint use of cloud computing and deep learning through AI in a clinical setting, the company said.


Arterys developed the technology by mining a data set of more than 3,000 cardiac cases. Cardio DL produces editable, automated contours, according to a company statement. It can provide accurate and consistent cardiac measurements in seconds, as opposed to one hour for manual processing.


Obtaining an image of a heart through MRI is a complex, time-consuming process that Arterys is working to improve, according to Arterys CEO Fabien Beckers.


Radiologists have traditionally used software to segment and draw contours around the ventricle to determine how the heart is functioning, Becker said. The new, AI-assisted software can provide deep learning-generated contours of the insides and outsides of the heart’s ventricles to speed up the process and improve accuracy.


“It’s the new way of doing medical imaging, a cloud medical imaging application that can have AI embedded in it,” he said. “It has the potential to make sure that physicians benefit from the work of thousands of other physicians and can be transforming healthcare in a positive fashion.”

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Artificial Red Blood Cells Created

Artificial Red Blood Cells Created | Amazing Science |

According to a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, an artificial red blood cell has been created that can effectively pick up oxygen in the lungs and deliver it to tissues throughout the body.


The artificial blood cell, which is about one-fiftieth the size of a normal red blood cell, is made from purified human hemoglobin proteins that have been coated with a synthetic polymer. The coating was developed by the study's lead researcher, Dipanjan Pan, PhD, an assistant professor of bioengineering with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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IBM: How to use your phone camera to identify skin cancer based on AI app

IBM: How to use your phone camera to identify skin cancer based on AI app | Amazing Science |
Technology like computer vision and machine learning help identify cancerous spots.


Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is expected to cause more than 10,000 deaths in the U.S. alone in 2016. Researchers are now hard-pressed to find a new way to catch the disease and others like it in the earliest stages. That's where that handy, ubiquitous iPhone camera can help, according to new research.

In an IBM Research Blog post, Dr. Noel Codella outlines a means of identifying markers of melanoma via skin image analysis that might be available to doctors and patients in the future.


The methodology for home diagnosis via smartphone is relatively simple (at least in theory): When someone finds a questionable spot on their skin, they use their handset's camera to take a picture of the lesion and submit the image to be assessed by an analytics service, which can recognize and reliably identify the characteristics of disease. 


In practice, though, it's much more complicated than that. We've seen this type of system put to the test before in standalone apps, but those programs were woefully inadequate at best, resulting in a dreadful 93 percent failure rate in some instances. But that was all the way back in 2013. Now, the IBM team is employing much more powerful tools to improve the accuracy of computer image analysis.


The key to the success of this project hinges on two factors. The first is the widespread use of Dermascopes, which are devices that can be attached to smartphone cameras to optimize photos of lesions for analyzation. The second (and more important) factor is the development of a massive database containing images of cancerous skin spots. The database is accessed using IBM's machine learning, computer vision and cloud computing capabilities to develop the means to consistently identify cases of melanoma through technology. 

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A smart ‘bionic’ cardiac patch that doubles as advanced pacemaker/arrhythmia detector

A smart ‘bionic’ cardiac patch that doubles as advanced pacemaker/arrhythmia detector | Amazing Science |

Harvard researchers have designed nanoscale electronic scaffolds (support structures) that can be seeded with cardiac cells to produce a new “bionic” cardiac patch (for replacing damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches). It also functions as a more sophisticated pacemaker: In addition to electrically stimulating the heart, the new design can change the pacemaker stimulation frequency and direction of signal propagation.


In addition, because because its electronic components are integrated throughout the tissue (instead of being located on the surface of the skin), it could detect arrhythmia far sooner, and “operate at far lower (safer) voltages than a normal pacemaker, [which] because it’s on the surface, has to use relatively high voltages,” according to Charles Lieber, the Mark Hyman, Jr. Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.


“Even before a person started to go into large-scale arrhythmia that frequently causes irreversible damage or other heart problems, this could detect the early-stage instabilities and intervene sooner,” he said. “It can also continuously monitor the feedback from the tissue and actively respond.”


The patch might also find use, Lieber said, as a tool to monitor responses to cardiac drugs, or to help pharmaceutical companies screen the effectiveness of drugs under development.

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Hospitals in Asia use IBM Watson supercomputer for cancer treatment

Hospitals in Asia use IBM Watson supercomputer for cancer treatment | Amazing Science |

Clinicians use the Watson computer to mine cancer patients' records and provide treatment advice in Thailand, India, and soon, China. Watson for Oncology analyzes patient medical records, along with millions of pages of articles and textbooks, to make treatment recommendations.


In 2011, a supercomputer won $1 million on Jeopardy! In 2016, that same supercomputer is tackling a challenge quantified not in millions of dollars but in millions of cancer patients. The goal is to use Watson’s natural language processing to mine the medical literature and a patient’s records to provide treatment advice. And this month the Watson computer system is drastically expanding its reach — from one hospital in Thailand to six in India and a planned 21 more in China.


This instantiation of Watson, dubbed Watson for Oncology, is an artificial intelligence system that has access to millions of pages of medical textbooks and journal articles. Oncologists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center trained the system to provide appropriate treatment recommendations by giving it descriptions of patients and then telling Watson the correct treatment.

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Triple transplant teen suffering from cystic fibrosis doing well after rare surgery

Triple transplant teen suffering from cystic fibrosis doing well after rare surgery | Amazing Science |

Toronto General Hospital performs world-first triple transplant combination of double lung, liver and pancreas organs simultaneously.


A unique triple transplant has transformed the life of a 19-year-old Cystic Fibrosis patient who can now walk without an oxygen tank, exercise, eat full meals, and plan for the future. Just two weeks after his life-saving three-organ transplant, Reid Wylie was walking around the transplant unit, inhaling and exhaling without coughing, and diligently keeping up his breathing exercises to expand his lungs.


“For the first time, when I walk, my legs are more tired than my lungs,” says a smiling and shy Reid, who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was two years old.


Reid received a world-first transplant combining double lungs, liver, and a pancreas in the summer of 2015. The procedure took 17 hours, with 15 staff which included: surgeons, surgical fellows, anesthesiologists, operating room nurses and healthcare specialists in the use of the heart-lung machine during surgery.

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New catheter lets doctors see inside arteries for first time

New catheter lets doctors see inside arteries for first time | Amazing Science |

A new safer catheter design that allows cardiologists to see inside arteries for the first time and remove plaque from only diseased tissue has been used by interventional cardiologists at UC San Diego Health. The new image-guided device, Avinger’s Pantheris, allows doctors to see and remove plaque simultaneously during an atherectomy — a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow.


The new technology treats patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of the legs and feet, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the extremities. Patients with PAD frequently develop life threatening complications, including heart attack and stroke; in some severe cases, patients may even face amputation.

PAD affects nearly 20 million adults in the United States and more than 200 million globally.


“Peripheral artery disease greatly impacts quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness and discoloration of their extremities,” said Mitul Patel, MD, cardiologist at UC San Diego Health. “This new device is a significant step forward for the treatment of PAD with a more efficient approach for plaque removal and less radiation exposure to the doctor and patient.”


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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from DNA and RNA research!

Lung cancer diagnosis with a simple breath test

Lung cancer diagnosis with a simple breath test | Amazing Science |
“Inhale deeply ... and exhale.” This is what a test for lung cancer could be like in future. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim have developed a method that can detect the disease at an early stage. To this effect, they investigated the presence of traces of RNA molecules that are altered by cancer growth. In a study on healthy volunteers and cancer patients, the breath test correctly determined the health status of 98 percent of the participants. The method will now be refined in cooperation with licensing partners so that it can be used for the diagnosis of lung cancer.
Most lung cancer patients die within five years of diagnosis. One of the main reasons for this is the insidious and largely symptom-free onset of the disease, which often remains unnoticed. In the USA, high-risk groups, such as heavy smokers, are therefore routinely examined by CAT scan. However, patients can be wrongly classified as having the disease.
Together with cooperation partners, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research have now developed a breath test that is much more accurate. In their research, the diagnosis of lung cancer was correct in nine out of ten cases. The method is therefore reliable enough to be used for the routine early detection of lung cancer.
The researchers analyzed RNA molecules released from lung tissue into expired breath, noting differences between healthy subjects and lung cancer patients. Unlike DNA, the RNA profile is not identical in every cell. Several RNA variants, and therefore different proteins, can arise from one and the same DNA segment. In healthy cells, such variants are present in a characteristic ratio. The scientists discovered that cancerous and healthy cells contain different amounts of RNA variants of the GATA6 and NKX2 genes. Cancer cells resemble lung cells in the embryonic stage.
The researchers developed a method to isolate RNA molecules. Not only is their concentration in expired breath extremely low, but they are also frequently highly fragmented. The researchers then investigated the RNA profile in subjects with and without lung cancer and from these data established a model for diagnosing the disease. In a test of 138 subjects whose health status was known, the test was able to identify 98 percent of the patients with lung cancer. 90 percent of the detected abnormalities were in fact cancerous.

Via Integrated DNA Technologies
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From Virtual Nurses To Drug Discovery: 106 Artificial Intelligence Startups In Healthcare

From Virtual Nurses To Drug Discovery: 106 Artificial Intelligence Startups In Healthcare | Amazing Science |

Increasingly crowded imaging & diagnostics: 19 out of the 24 companies under imaging & diagnostics raised their first equity funding round since January 2015 (this includes seed or Series A rounds, as well as a first round raised by stealth startup Imagen Technologies). In 2014, Butterfly Networks raised a $100M Series C, backed by Aeris Capital and Stanford University. This was one of the largest equity rounds to an AI in healthcare company, after China-based iCarbonX’s $154M mega-round and two $100M+ raises by oncology-focused Flatiron Health.


Remote patient monitoring: London-based Babylon Health, backed by investors including Kinnevik and Google-owned DeepMind Technologies, raised a $25M Series A round in 2016 to develop an AI-based chat platform. New York-based AiCure raised $12.3M in Series A funding from investors including Biomatics Capital Partners, New Leaf Venture Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, and Tribeca Venture Partners, for the use of artificial intelligence to ensure patients are taking their medications. California-based has developed a virtual nursing assistant, Molly, to follow up with patients post-discharge. The company claims Molly gives clinicians “20% of their day back.” Sentrian, backed by investors including Frost Data Capital, analyzes biosensor data and sends patient-specific alerts to clinicians.


Core AI companies bring their algorithms to healthcare: Core AI startup Ayasdi, which has developed a machine intelligence platform based on topological data analysis, is bringing its solutions to healthcare providers for applications including patient risk scoring and readmission reduction. Other core AI startups looking at healthcare include and Digital Reasoning Systems.


Top VCs: Khosla Ventures and Data Collective are the top VC investors in healthcare AI startups, and have backed 5 unique companies each. Khosla Ventures backed California-based, which focuses on patients with depression and anxiety; healthcare analytics platform Lumiata; Israel’s Zebra Medical Vision and California-based Bay Labs, which applies AI to medical imaging; as well as drug discovery startup Atomwise. Data Collective backed imaging & diagnostics startups Enlitic, Bay Labs and Freenome, analytics platform CloudmedX, and previously mentioned Atomwise.


Drug discovery is also gaining attention: Startups are using machine learning algorithms to reduce drug discovery times, and VCs have backed 6 out of the 9 startups on the map. Andreessen Horowitz recently seed funded twoXAR, developer of the DUMA drug discovery platform; Khosla Ventures and Data Collective backed Atomwise, which published its first findings of Ebola treatment drugs last year, and has also partnered with MERCK; Lightspeed Venture Partners invested in Numedii in 2013; Foundation Capital participated in 3 equity funding rounds to Numerate.


AI in oncology: IBM Watson Group-backed Pathway Genomics has recently started a research study for its new blood test kit, CancerIntercept Detect. The company will collect blood samples from high-risk individuals who have never been diagnosed with the disease to determine if early detection is possible. Other oncology-focused startups include Flatiron HealthCyrcadia (wearable device), CureMetrixSkinVisionEntopsis, and Smart Healthcare.

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Stanford scientists develop ‘lab on a chip’ that costs 1 cent to make

Stanford scientists develop ‘lab on a chip’ that costs 1 cent to make | Amazing Science |
Microfluidics, electronics and inkjet technology underlie a newly developed all-in-one biochip from Stanford that can analyze cells for research and clinical applications.


Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a way to produce a cheap and reusable diagnostic "lab on a chip" with the help of an ordinary inkjet printer. At a production cost of as little as 1 cent per chip, the new technology could usher in a medical diagnostics revolution like the kind brought on by low-cost genome sequencing, said Ron Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics and director of the Stanford Genome Technology Center.


A study describing the technology will be published online Feb. 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Davis is the senior author. The lead author is Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD, an engineering research associate at the genome center. The inexpensive lab-on-a-chip technology has the potential to enhance diagnostic capabilities around the world, especially in developing countries. Due to inferior access to early diagnostics, the survival rate of breast cancer patients is only 40 percent in low-income nations -- half the rate of such patients in developed nations. Other lethal diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, also have high incidence and bad patient outcomes in developing countries. Better access to cheap diagnostics could help turn this around, especially as most such equipment costs thousands of dollars.


"Enabling early detection of diseases is one of the greatest opportunities we have for developing effective treatments," Esfandyarpour said. "Maybe $1 in the U.S. doesn't count that much, but somewhere in the developing world, it's a lot of money."

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Blood test to catch pancreatic cancer during early stages

Blood test to catch pancreatic cancer during early stages | Amazing Science |

Pancreatic cancer is known as the “silent killer” because it is usually too advanced by the time it is discovered. An early blood test could change that.


Tumor-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) are of increasing interest as a resource of diagnostic biomarkers. However, most EV assays require large samples and are time-consuming, low-throughput and costly, and thus impractical for clinical use.


A group of scientists now describe a rapid, ultrasensitive and inexpensive nanoplasmon-enhanced scattering (nPES) assay that directly quantifies tumour-derived EVs from as little as 1 μl of plasma. The assay uses the binding of antibody-conjugated gold nanospheres and nanorods to EVs captured by EV-specific antibodies on a sensor chip to produce a local plasmon effect that enhances tumor-derived EV detection sensitivity and specificity. The team identified a pancreatic cancer EV biomarker, ephrin type-A receptor 2 (EphA2), and demonstrates that an nPES assay for EphA2-EVs distinguishes pancreatic cancer patients from pancreatitis patients and healthy subjects.


EphA2-EVs were also informative in staging tumor progression and in detecting early responses to neoadjuvant therapy, with better performance than a conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The nPES assay can be easily refined for clinical use, and readily adapted for diagnosis and monitoring of other conditions with disease-specific EV biomarkers.

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A transistor-like pH nanoprobe for image-guided tumor surgery

A transistor-like pH nanoprobe for image-guided tumor surgery | Amazing Science |

A binary response to tumor pH by a fluorescent nanoprobe allows for precise surgery.


Oncologic surgery is practiced today as it has been for millennia – the surgeon looks for and sees the tumor, and executes a strategy for the most complete and efficient removal. Intraoperatively, surgeons still largely rely on inspection and palpation to determine surgical margins in real-time. Given this inherently imprecise method, positive tumor margins are encountered quite often. For example, a second operation, due to inadequate tumor removal during breast cancer surgery, is required for 20–25% of patients, delaying recovery, causing patient trauma, and adding to healthcare costs as well as worsening patient prognosis2. Techniques that can improve the intraoperative visualization of tumor margins would improve the completeness of surgical resection while minimizing the removal of normal tissue.


Surgeons rely heavily on preoperative imaging with modalities such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but these do not provide real-time information to the surgeon during the operation and do not easily mesh with the optical and tactile methods that surgeons have used since the earliest days of surgery. To integrate imaging into the surgical workflow, optical imaging strategies are being developed using fluorescent probes, targeting tumor markers1,2. One limitation of the marker-targeting strategy is the lack of broad tumor applicability in cancer patients. For example, although the folate receptor is widely expressed in ovarian cancer, expression in other cancers, such as head-and-neck cancer, is limited. Even within a given type of cancer, expression can be variable; < 25% breast cancer patients have Her2 expression3.


To achieve universal tumor targeting, a group of researchers has now been working with ubiquitous tumor markers, or “hallmarks of cancer”4. These researchers have previously shown that targeting two such hallmarks, angiogenesis andextracellular acidic tumor microenvironment, allows for imaging of a wide variety of cancers using fluorescence5. They have subsequently discovered that the acidic cancer microenvironment, first described by Otto Warburg6, can be imaged in a unique way that enhances the information provided to surgeons.

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A 3D bioprinter that prints fully functional human skin

A 3D bioprinter that prints fully functional human skin | Amazing Science |

A prototype 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin has been developed by scientists from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and BioDan Group in Spain. The skin has been used to treat burns as well as traumatic and surgical wounds in a large number of patients in Spain, according to the scientists.


The system provides two processes. Autologous skin (from the patient’s own cells to generate human collagen) for therapeutic use, such as in the treatment of severe burns, instead of the animal collagen used in other methods.  The researchers have applied for approval by various European regulatory agencies to guarantee that the skin that is produced is adequate for use in transplants on burn patients and on those with other skin problems.


The 3D-printed skin replicates human bilayered skin, using “bioinks” (biological components) containing human plasma as well as primary human fibroblasts and keratinocytes obtained from skin biopsies. These are controlled by a computer, which deposits them on a print bed in an orderly manner to then produce the skin.


The researchers were able to generate 100 cm2 of printed skin in less than 35 minutes (including the 30 min required for fibrin gelation).


Allogeneic skin (from a stock of cells), done on a large scale for industrial processes. This skin can be used to test pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, and consumer chemical products where current regulations require testing that does not use animals.


“This method of bioprinting allows skin to be generated in a standardized, automated way, and the process is less expensive than manual production,” says Alfredo Brisac, CEO of BioDan Group, the Spanish bioengineering firm specializing in regenerative medicine that is collaborating on this research and commercializing this technology. The research was published online in the journal Biofabrication.

chirurgien-visage-tunisie's curator insight, February 21, 7:44 AM

L'injection de graisse auto logue est une réalité scientifique et médicale prouvée par des injections de graisse sous la peau du sein pour une patiente donnée en Tunisie, cette technique très avancée à l'époque est devenue aujourd'hui une possibilité grand public pour des patientes qui veulent s'offrir une augmentation mammaire sans risque d'allergie contre les implants mammaires de silicone ou autres types. En Espagne, on a développé un prototype machine 3D BIOPRINTER  qui intervient dans la génération de Kollagene  pour des usages thérapeutiques de la peau endommagée.

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Intricate microdevices that can be safely implanted

Intricate microdevices that can be safely implanted | Amazing Science |

Columbia Engineering researchers have invented a technique for manufacturing complex microdevices with three-dimensional, freely moving parts made from biomaterials that can safely be implanted in the body. Potential applications include a drug-delivery system to provide tailored drug doses for precision medicine, catheters, stents, cardiac pacemakers, and soft microbotics.


Most current implantable microdevices have static components rather than moving parts and, because they require batteries or other toxic electronics, they have limited biocompatibility.

The new technique stacks a soft biocompatible hydrogel material in layers, using a fast manufacturing method the researchers call “implantable microelectromechanical systems” (iMEMS).

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Skin patches instead of needles: can nanotechnology vaccinate the world?

Skin patches instead of needles: can nanotechnology vaccinate the world? | Amazing Science |

Postage-stamp sized patches that target vaccines to the immune system are now in clinical trials.


Think of a device which is around postage stamp size and has thousands upon thousands of tiny spikes on its surface: this is a nanopatch. There are approximately 20,000 projections per square centimeter on each patch, each around 60 to 100 micrometres in length. One micrometre is one million times smaller than a metre, so the height of these tiny spikes is approximately the width of a human hair.


The nanopatch is produced using a technique known as “deep reactive ion etching”, which essentially makes use of ions (charged atoms) in an electric field to selectively etch the surface of a material away. Controlling the electric field and the ions allows a high degree of control, so the microprojections are regularly spaced and of similar dimensions.


An added advantage of this approach is it has been used in the electronic circuit and solar energy industries for many years, and has the potential for increasing the scale of production. It’s just one example of new manufacturing techniques that have become available through advances in nanotechnology, a process of engineering on the nanoscale (one nanometre is one billionth of a metre).

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Creating a slippery slope on the surface of medical implants

Creating a slippery slope on the surface of medical implants | Amazing Science |

Implanted medical devices like catheters, surgical mesh and dialysis systems are ideal surfaces on which bacteria can colonize and form hard-to-kill sheets called biofilms. Known as biofouling, this contamination of devices is responsible for more than half of the 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections in the United States each year.


In a report published in Biomaterials today, a team of scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University has demonstrated that an innovative, ultra-low adhesive coating prevented bacteria from attaching to surfaces treated with it, reducing bacterial adhesion by more than 98 percent in laboratory tests.


“Device related infections remain a significant problem in medicine, burdening society with millions of dollars in health care costs,” said Elliot Chaikof, MD, PhD, chair of the Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at BIDMC and an associate faculty member at the Wyss Institute. “Antibiotics alone will not solve this problem. We need to use new approaches to minimize the risk of infection, and this strategy is a very important step in that direction.”


The self-healing slippery surface coatings – known as ‘slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces’ (SLIPS) – were developed by Joanna Aizenberg, PhD, a Wyss Institute core faculty member, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at SEAS at Harvard University.


Inspired by the carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plant that uses the slippery surface of its leaves to trap insects, Aizenberg engineered surface coatings that work to repel a variety of substances across a broad range of temperature, pressure and other environmental conditions. They are stable when exposed to UV light, and are low-cost and simple to manufacture. The current study is the first to demonstrate that SLIPS not only limit the ability of bacteria to adhere to surfaces, but also impede infection in an animal model.


“We are developing SLIPS recipes for a variety of medical applications by working with different medical-grade materials, ensuring the stability of the coating, and carefully pairing the non-fouling properties of the SLIPS materials to specific contaminates, environments and performance requirements,” said Aizenberg. “Here we have extended our repertoire and applied the SLIPS concept very convincingly to medical-grade lubricants, demonstrating its enormous potential in implanted devices prone to bacterial fouling and infection.”


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New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors

New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors | Amazing Science |

Physicists at The University of Texas at Arlington have shown that using microwaves to activate photosensitive nanoparticles produces tissue-heating effects that ultimately lead to cell death within solid tumors.


"Our new method using microwaves can propagate through all types of tissues and target deeply situated tumors," said Wei Chen, UTA professor of physics and lead author of the study published this month in he Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology titled "A new modality of cancer treatment-nanoparticle mediated microwave induced photodynamic therapy."

Photodynamic therapy kills cancer cells when a nanoparticle introduced into tumor tissue generates toxic singlet oxygen after being exposed to light. Singlet oxygen is a highly reactive type of oxygen that irreversibly damages cell mitochondria and eventually causes cell death.


"Up to now, photodynamic therapy, which depends on visible, ultraviolet or near infrared light, was considered effective for skin cancers or cancers close to the skin surface," Chen said. "Our new concept combining microwaves with photodynamic therapy opens up new avenues for targeting deeper tumors and has already proven effective in rapidly and safely reducing tumor size."


In prior studies, the researchers had identified a new type of nanoparticle, copper-cysteamine or Cu-Cy, that could be activated by X-rays to produce singlet oxygen and slow the growth of tumors. X-ray radiation, however, poses significant risks to patients and can harm healthy tissue.


In this new lab study, the team demonstrated that the nanoparticle Cu-Cy also can be activated by microwaves, which can be targeted directly at the tumor itself without harming surrounding tissue.

"Our new microwave-induced photodynamic therapy offers numerous advantages, the most significant of which is increased safety," Chen said. "Our nanoparticle Cu-Cy also demonstrates very low toxicity, is easy to make and inexpensive, and also emits intense luminescence, which means it can also be used as an imaging agent."


The researchers demonstrated that both in vitro and in vivo studies on an osteosarcoma cell line showed significant cell destruction using copper cysteamine nanoparticles under microwave activation. The heating effects and the release of copper ions from copper cysteamine upon activation was the main mechanism for the generation of the reactive oxygen needed for cancer cell destruction.

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Bioengineers create sweat-based sensor to monitor glucose

Bioengineers create sweat-based sensor to monitor glucose | Amazing Science |

Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas are sweating the small stuff in their efforts to develop a wearable device that can monitor an individual's glucose level via perspiration on the skin.


But for diabetics and those at risk for diabetes, self-monitoring of blood glucose, or blood sugar, is an important part of managing their conditions. "Fitness trackers that monitor heart rate and step count are very popular, but wearable, non-invasive biosensors would be extremely beneficial for managing diseases," said Prasad, the Cecil H. and Ida Green Professor in Systems Biology Science.


Typical home-use blood glucose monitors require a user to obtain a small blood sample, usually through the prick of a finger and often several times a day. However, the UT Dallas textile-based sensor detects glucose in the small amount of ambient sweat on a person's skin. "In our sensor mechanism, we use the same chemistry and enzymatic reaction that are incorporated into blood glucose testing strips," Prasad said. "But in our design, we had to account for the low volume of ambient sweat that would be present in areas such as under a watch or wrist device, or under a patch that lies next to the skin."


Prasad said that researchers who work with sweat often use a process called iontophoresis, which sends an electric current through the skin to generate enough perspiration for sensing experiments. However, because this method can lead to rashes and burns on the skin, the team sought an alternative that would work with small amounts of sweat.


Their design works with volumes of sweat less than a microliter, which is the approximate amount of liquid that would fit in a cube the size of a salt crystal. The technology also provides a real-time response in the form of a digital readout.

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First diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy via a noninvasive prenatal test

First diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy via a noninvasive prenatal test | Amazing Science |

A research team based in Shanghai, China, has for the first time successfully diagnosed the most common form of muscular dystrophy using noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT). Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is inherited via the X chromosome and affects 1 in 3,600 to 6,000 boys. The researchers used a technique they developed to recover, in a single step, the fetal genotype and both parental sequences from DNA in maternal blood plasma. Using this approach, they accurately predicted the mutation status of the fetus in eight pregnant women known to be DMD carriers. The tests showed that three of the fetuses were girls, two of whom did not inherit the DMD mutation. All five of the male fetuses were positive for the DMD trait. The results were confirmed by amniocentesis. Prior to this study, the researchers had shown that the technique effectively identified several autosomal recessive disorders, including congenital adrenal hyperplasia, maple syrup urine disease, and congenital deafness. However, no one had used NIPT to noninvasively predict the fetal mutation status in an X-linked disease. The test is not yet ready for routine clinical use, but the ability to diagnose common genetic disorders noninvasively early in pregnancy is sure to have important implications, both medical and ethical.

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