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A Drug Made From A Poisonous Weed Can Kill Cancer Cells

A Drug Made From A Poisonous Weed Can Kill Cancer Cells | Medical News |

Scientists have created a drug, derived from a poisonous weed, that can travel harmlessly through the bloodstream until it detects cancer cells and kills them. The drug, G202, shrunk human prostate tumors grown in mice by an average of 50  percent within 30 days, far outperforming docetaxel,  a chemotherapy drug currently used.

G202 is derived from Thapsia garganica, a weed that grows in  the Mediterranean region that makes a product called thapsigargin, which has  been known to be toxic to animals since the time of ancient Greece.

Scientists re-engineered the plant by chemically modifying thapsigargin  so that it can travel through the bloodstream without harming healthy blood  vessels and tissues. But when G202 encounters cancer tumors, a protein released  by the tumors triggers the drug to release cell-killing agents into the tumor  and the blood vessels that feed it

physicians have performed phase I clinical trials to assess the safety of the  drug and have treated 29 patients with advanced cancer. They are planning a  phase II trial to test the drug on patients with prostate and liver cancers.

The study by scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Denmark was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine

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MIT Develops a Magnetic Hypospray for Needleless Shots

MIT Develops a Magnetic Hypospray for Needleless Shots | Medical News |

MIT develops a magnetically driven needless drug delivery system that fires nearly as fast as the speed of sound.

The mechanics behind the actuator involve a powerful magnet surrounded by a
coil of wire that’s also attached to a piston inside the drug ampoule (usually a
small vial container). When an electrical current is applied, the magnetic field
pushes the piston forward, causing the drug to eject forward as a jet of

The stream of medicine shoots out at high pressure--100 megapascals--and at a
velocity of 314 meters per second (1,030 feet per second). For reference, the
speed of sound is 326 meters per second (1,126 feet per second). So yeah, it's

MIT’s device achieves this by forcing the drug out of a nozzle that is just
as wide as a mosquito proboscis (what a mosquito uses to pierce the skin and
suck blood). But don’t think this method is all about brute force, because with
a Lorentz-force actuator, doctors can actually control the injection as it
happens to deliver a drug to whatever depth they desire.

With a high-pressure shot, the drug has enough energy to breach the patient’s
skin and make it down to their bloodstream. However if the doctor alters the
current to lower the pressure, an injection can be delivered in a steady stream
to the patient’s bloodstream and surrounding tissue

Via Kalani Kirk Hausman, GranGoddessa
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AliveCor Takes Heart in Initial Findings of iPhone ECG Study

AliveCor Takes Heart in Initial Findings of iPhone ECG Study | Medical News |

An initial study of the iPhone ECG was presented at the America College of Cardiology 61st Annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

“iPhone Rhythm Strip: Clinical Implications of Wireless and Ubiquitous Heart Rate Monitoring,” the new 8-week study enrolled 54 participants and has begun to answer these and many other questions.

After using the device, 24 percent of subjects reached out to their private physicians for a consultation and 16 percent felt that they discovered a health condition previously unknown to them. Seventy five percent of participants requested continuation of the device usage after the eight week study period. Thirty-three percent felt that they were more health conscious after participating in the study and 88 percent thought that the device was transmitting accurate information. Participants indicated that they found the portability, ease of use, and the form factor to be key aspects of the device that were most conducive for use.

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Childbirth takes longer now than 50 years ago

Childbirth takes longer now than 50 years ago | Medical News |

Many tasks can be tackled more quickly now than 50 years ago, but delivering a baby naturally it seems is not one of them, according to a U.S. government study.

Compared with the 1960s, U.S. women have in recent years spent two to three hours longer in labor, according to researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, who said the findings suggest doctors may need to rethink the definition of "normal" labor.

The extra time is spent in the first stage of labor - the longest part of the process, before the "pushing" stage, according to findings published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Mothers are different as well. On average, they're older and weigh more, and their newborns are bigger too.

"But even when we take these changing demographics into account, labor is still longer," said lead researcher Katherine Laughon, at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Epidural pain relief, which is far more common now than 50 years ago, might be a reason for that. Epidurals are known to slow labor down by about 40 to 90 minutes.

When it came to length of labor, first-time mothers in recent years typically spent 2.6 hours longer in the first stage, compared with their counterparts in the 1960s. The difference dropped to two hours with women who had given birth before.

Contemporary women were far more likely to have an epidural - 55 percent, compared to just four percent of counterparts 50 years ago. Twelve percent had a C-section compared with three percent in the 1960s, while 31 percent were given oxytocin, which stimulates contractions, against 12 percent 50 years ago.

Also more women now have labor inductions or planned cesarean sections versus decades ago, so women who actually go into spontaneous labor these days may differ somehow from their counterparts of 50 years ago.

But whatever the underlying reasons, doctors may need to redefine "normal" labor, a concept that's based on what was the norm for women a half-century ago.

For example, doctors have considered labor to be abnormal if there's no change in the cervix after two hours in the "active" part of the first stage of labor. At that point, they may intervene by either giving ocytocin or doing a C-section.

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Learning another language 'could protect against dementia'

Learning another language 'rewires' the brain and could help delay the onset of dementia by years, research suggests.

In spite of being equivalent on a variety of cognitive and other factors, the bilinguals experienced onset and symptoms and were diagnosed approximately three to four years later than the monolinguals. Specifically, monolingual patients were diagnosed on average at age 75.4 years and bilinguals at age 78.6 years.
The early age of acquisition, overall fluency, frequency of use, levels of literacy and grammatical accuracy all contribute to the bilingual advantage, with no single factor being decisive.
Having to learn two languages makes the brain work harder, making it more resilient in later life
Brain imaging scans have found that having to switch between two languages helps exercise parts of the brain that carry out taxing intellectual tasks, like multi-tasking and concentrating intensely on a subject for a sustained period of time.
These "executive control" functions tend to be among the first to wane in old age, a process known as "cognitive decline".
This review discusses the evidence that keeping our brains active by switching between different languages could help to resist some of the damage caused by dementia, delaying the onset of symptoms.

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QWERTY curiosity: Keyboard's right-hand letters make us happier

New research suggests people  have warmer feelings toward words that use mostly letters on the right side of  the keybord. Words with a lefty bent are viewed as more negative,  the researchers report online in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 

With everyday typing and texting now common, the researchers' findings suggest that how we produce words  influences how we feel about them.

In a series of experiments, cognitive  researchers Kyle Jasmin of University College London and Daniel Casasanto of the  New School for Social Research in New York asked volunteers to rate their  positive and negative feelings regarding English, Dutch and Spanish words. The  researchers found that no matter the language and no matter whether the rater  was right- or left-handed, people had more positive feelings about words that  mainly involved right-side keyboard letters.

The results held even for  made-up words such as "pleek," though the association was at its strongest in  new words and abbreviations such as "LOL," the study found.

It's  possible that warm toward right-leaning words come from the fact that the left hand  has a tougher job on the QWERTY keyboard: It's responsible for 15 letters,  versus 11 for the right hand.

That might mean that right-keyboard words are  easier to type and thus bestow more positive feelings on the typist. 

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20 Sexting Acronyms Every Parent Needs to Know

Some 10% of  teens and tweens have exchanged sexually suggestive photos via phone, the Internet, or other electronic media, according to a new study just published in the journalPediatrics. But even more — up to 39%, according to a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy — have sent or received sexually suggestive messages, such as texts, e-mails, or IMs.

Sexting, the transmission of such messages and images, primarily between cell phones, is an increasing concern among parents— and though the study indicates it’s not as widespread a problem as we’d previously feared, such behavior can have serious consequences, not just for your child’s emotional well-being and privacy, but from a legal standpoint as well. If you have teens, you’re likely already on the lookout for red flags. But do you know what those flags are? Many sexually explicit messages aren’t actually that explicit — to parents, anyway. A lot of sexting is done in code, using acronyms and decoy words.

Here are just a few of the many (many!) examples of shorthand that teens and tweens use to sext:

53X = sex 8 = oral sex Banana = penis CD9 = code 9, parents are around P911 = parent alert CU46 = see you for sex GNOC = get naked on cam GYPO = get your pants off IMEZYRU = I'm easy, are you? IPN = I'm posting naked ITS = intense text sex IWSN = I want sex now J/O = jerking off Kitty = vagina LH6 = let's have sex LHU = let's hook up NFS = need for sex PRON = porn TDTM = talk dirty to me RUH = are you horny?

If you spot any of these messages on your child’s phone, don’t just get angry and take away his or her text privilages. Talk with your teen about why and with whom they’re exchanging such messages, and discuss the potential consequences of their actions. Then make a plan to check in with your child about his or her text habits in the future. You may also want to consider monitoring cell phone and computer use for further inappropriate behavior, and contacting the parents of the other child involved.

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Like Father Like Son? Y Chromosome Linked to Heart Disease

Like Father Like Son? Y Chromosome Linked to Heart Disease | Medical News |

Dad may be credited with more than just your facial features. A new study suggests that heart disease risk may be passed from father to son.

The researchers focused on genetic markers on the Y chromosome — which is present only in male DNA (women have two X chromosomes) — and found that men with a certain genetic variant were 50% more likely to have coronary artery disease than those without it. It has to do with its influence on inflammation and immunity.

The findings do not suggest that the variant accounts fully for men’s heart disease risk, or that scanning Y chromosomes would help predict an individual man’s risk of developing coronary artery disease. But the association offers an interesting avenue for further scientific inquiry.

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Sugar shock: Should your sweet tooth be regulated?

Sugar shock: Should your sweet tooth be regulated? | Medical News |

All forms of added sugar, including table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are as harmful to health as alcohol and tobacco, and should be regulated to decrease the risk of chronic illness.

The sugar that occurs naturally in foods such as milk, 100% juice and fresh and dried fruits like dates, figs and raisins, is not considered a health risk, however.

On average, Americans eat 297 cups of the stuff every year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Like protein and fat, added sugar contributes calories that could complicate weight control efforts. Excess body fat is linked to a greater chance for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and other conditions.

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Is Alzheimer's Caused by Contagious Proteins? | Healthland |

Is Alzheimer's Caused by Contagious Proteins? | Healthland | | Medical News |

There’s been a lot of excitement over a paper that suggests a surprising way Alzheimer’s may progress in the brain.

In their paper, published in PLoS One, the scientists describe a novel mouse strain that was genetically engineered to carry the human version of the gene for tau, which is one of two major proteins that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Not only did the mice express tau in the same regions of the brain as humans do, but, the scientists say, they saw tau appear in cells that weren’t engineered to contain the gene. Plus, these cells were connected to the cells that were.

That tau was somehow being transmitted from one cell to the other, propagating the destruction of neural networks as it went along. Aberrant versions of tau are the first signs that the physical architecture of neural networks is starting to degrade, eventually causing them to splinter into strands of dying nerve fibers that become entangled like disordered loops of wire. By looking at the presence of tau in the mice at different times, the researchers suggest that tau abnormalities spread like a contagion from cell to cell, thus causing the global breakdown of neural communication that eventually leads to cognitive losses.

If that’s true, then the most breathless result from this work would be a drug that could stop the tau contagion, much like an antibiotic or antiviral are designed to thwart bacteria and viruses from their infectious mission.

But all of this is still theory and a mouse is not a person

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9 YO Girl bouncing back after 6-organ transplant

9 YO Girl bouncing back after 6-organ transplant | Medical News |

A 9-year-old Maine girl is home from a Boston hospital healthy, active and with high hopes — and a new stomach, liver, spleen, small intestine, pancreas, and part of an esophagus to replace the ones that were being choked by a huge tumor.

Spunky and bright-eyed as she scampered around her family's farmhouse outside Portland, Alannah Shevenell said Thursday that she's glad to be feeling well again and able to go sledding, make a snowman, work on her scrapbooks and give her grandmother a little good-humored sass.

 Doctors discovered the tumor that year and twice attempted to remove it, as it made its way like octopus legs from organ to organ. But it was difficult to access what turned out to be a rare form of sarcoma.

The family was told there was a 50 percent chance Alannah wouldn't survive the procedure. But without it, she had no chance whatsoever.

More than anything, though, the family is thankful for the girl's second chance at life and to the family that went through the pain of losing a child and before deciding to donate the organs to help Alannah

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Pfizer reaches out women after birth control recall

Pfizer reaches out women after birth control recall | Medical News |

Pfizer Inc is reaching out directly to women consumers to warn them about its U.S. recall of one million packets of birth control pills as concerns mounted that a manufacturing error could raise the risk of unplanned pregnancies.

Pfizer said on Wednesday that the error may have been limited to 30 packets of the birth control pills, in which the "placebo" tablets taken at the beginning of a woman's menstrual cycle were placed in the wrong order with the pills that contain the contraceptive's active ingredient.

Pfizer was alerted to the problem when a consumer noticed a discolored pill in the middle of a pack, she said. All lots possibly affected were recalled, the problem was fixed and prevention measures are now in place.

The pills were distributed nationwide with no specific geographic concentration, Pfizer said. Expiration dates on the affected packs range from July 2013 to March 2014

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Researchers identify factors linked to menopause onset

Researchers identify factors linked to menopause onset | Medical News |

New genetic factors associated with a woman's age when she begins menopause have been identified by an international team of researchers. For most women, menopause, the term for the end of reproductive function of the ovaries,  occurs in the early 50s.

"Our findings demonstrate the role of genes which regulate DNA repair and immune function, as well as genes affecting neuroendocrine pathways of ovarian function in regulating age at menopause, indicating the process of aging is involved in both somatic and germ line aging," the study authors said.

"We hope that as a better understanding of the biologic effects of these menopause-related variants are uncovered, we will gain new insights into the connections between menopause and cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis and other traits related to aging, and that this will provide avenues for prevention and treatment of these conditions," Lunetta said.

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Home HIV tests backed by US panel

Home HIV tests backed by US panel | Medical News |

Over-the-counter HIV tests, which would allow people in the US to check in the privacy of their homes if they have the virus, move a step closer.

HIV affects nearly 1.2m people in the US, with 50,000 new cases each year.

Experts on the Blood Products Advisory Committee voted 17-0 to back the test, saying it would help people who are HIV-positive get access to healthcare and social services.

They urged Pennsylvania-based OraSure, the company that manufactures the product, to include highly visible warnings about false negative results.

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B.C. scientists map breast cancer genomes

B.C. scientists map breast cancer genomes | Medical News |

Scientists at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University in Canada have helped unlock the genetic code of the deadliest form of breast cancer.

International team that mapped the genomes of more than 100 tumours of triple-negative breast cancer, the largest ever genetic analysis of this type of cancer.

Research, published in the scientific journal Nature, found that no two tumours were the same, shedding light on why the cancer is so hard to treat. The study suggests that cancer drug treatment used should be tailored to the genetic makeup of a particular tumour, as opposed to a more generalized therapy.

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Cancer Rates Fall; Lifestyle Toll Mounts

The authors of the Annual Report to the Nation summarized trends in cancer incidence and mortality, going back as far as 1975. They devoted an entire section to statistics and science of associations between excess weight, lack of physical activity, and cancer.

Cancer incidence and mortality have continued the decline that started in the early 1990s.

Overall, cancer incidence declined by 0.5% per year from 1999 to 2008.

Cancer mortality declined from 1999 to 2008 overall, and from 2004 through 2008 decreased by 1.3% annually. 

"Obesity and physical inactivity are critical problems facing all states. For people who do not smoke, excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity may be among the most important risk factors for cancer."

"In the U.S., two in three adults are overweight or obese, and fewer than half get enough physical activity," John R. Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society.

Moreover, cancer incidence and mortality in children and adolescents continued to increase from 2004 through 2008, a trend that has been ongoing since 1992.

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Chocolate 'may keep people slim'

Chocolate 'may keep people slim' | Medical News |

People who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner than those eating it occasionally, suggests US research looking at diet, calorie intake and body mass index.

A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, found those who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who ate it occasionally.

The link remained even when other factors, like how much exercise individuals did, were taken into account.

And it appears it is how often you eat chocolate that is important, rather than how much of it you eat. The study found no link with quantity consumed.

Even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favour weight loss rather than fat synthesis, scientists believe.

Antioxidant compounds found in chocolates, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight.

But before you reach for a chocolate bar, there are still lots of unanswered questions. And in the absence of conclusive evidence, experts advise caution.

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Women Tell 474 Diet Lies a Year

Weight loss takes a lot of personal accountability, you have to make yourself exercise, watch what you eat, and limit your portions. But according to a new survey of 3000 UK women, women constantly overstate how responsible they are — about 474 times a year, or 9 times per week.

In a survey conducted by Timex, women fessed up to lying to themselves and others more than once a day about their less-than-perfect eating habits.

The single most popular lie? “It was only a small portion.”

The foods that spurred women to lie the most included desserts, cheese, bread, fries and burgers, wine, and beer, the survey found. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they try their best to eat well, but admitted to slipping up occasionally. More than 40 percent lied to others about their healthy habits, simply to give off the impression that they are healthier than they really are.

Here, the top 10 lies women tell about their diets:

1. It was only a small portion.
2. I’ll have a big lunch, so I won’t eat much after this.
3. I treat myself only once in a while.
4. I always eat my five fruits and vegetables a day.
5. I didn’t touch any of the biscuits.
6. I had only one glass.
7. I didn’t eat the last one.
8. I won’t eat again today after this.
9. I was too busy to have lunch.
10. I might as well polish them off now, or they’ll go bad.

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Caffeine May Alter Women's Estrogen Levels

Caffeine May Alter Women's Estrogen Levels | Medical News |

Caffeine changes women's estrogen levels and has different effects in Asian and white women, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says. Estrogenis the reproductive hormone produced by the ovaries.

Asian women who consumed an average of 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day (equivalent to about two cups of coffee) had elevated estrogen levels compared to women who consumed less. But white women who consumed the same amount of caffeine had slightly lower estrogen levels than women who consumed less.

The caffeine consumed by the women in the study came from any of these sources: coffee, black tea, green tea and caffeinated soda.

The caffeine-related changes in estrogen levels did not appear to affect women's ovulation, but we know that variations in estrogen level are associated with such disorders as endometriosis, osteoporosis, and endometrial, breast and ovarian cancers.

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Teen pregnancy, abortion rates at record low

Teen pregnancy, abortion rates at record low | Medical News |

Birth and abortion rates among U.S. teens fell to record lows in 2008 as increased use of contraceptives sent the overall teen pregnancy rate to its lowest level since at least 1972, a study showed on Wednesday.

But disparities among racial and ethnic groups continued to persist, with black and Hispanic teens experiencing pregnancy and abortion rates two to four times higher than their white peers.

They found that nearly 750,000 U.S. women under the age of 20 became pregnant in 2008 -- nearly 98 percent of them between the ages of 15 and 19

The teen abortion rate in 2008 dropped to the lowest rate seen since 1972 at 17.8 per 1,000 teen girls and women, and was down 59 percent from 1988 when the abortion rate peaked at 43.5 per 1,000 teen women.

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Spoon-fed babies 'end up fatter'

Spoon-fed babies 'end up fatter' | Medical News |

Babies weaned on pureed food tend to end up fatter than infants whose first tastes are finger food, researchers believe.

Spoon feeding babies mashed up fruits and vegetables appears to give them a sweeter tooth, a Nottingham University team found after studying 155 children.

Infants who are instead allowed to feed themselves solids tend to favour more satiating carbohydrates like toast. 

 This weight difference remained even after the investigators accounted for other factors that might have influenced the findings, such the baby's birth weight, how long they were breastfed for and whether their parents were rich or poor. This was despite the fact that along with sweet foods, children in the spoon-fed group had also been offered carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins and whole meals such as lasagne more often than those in the baby-led weaning group. But self-control of feeding may also be a factor. You are handing over control and letting the baby decide how much they want to eat. The findings are particularly valuable and interesting as they suggest that altering weaning patterns can have a direct impact on a child's food selection when they get older.
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Smoking tied to higher psoriasis risk: study

Smoking tied to higher psoriasis risk: study | Medical News |

Adding to the list of possible health consequences from smoking, a large study suggests that smokers have an increased risk of developing the chronic skin condition psoriasis.

Experts believe the disease is caused by an abnormal immune system attack on the body's own cells. Some studies have suggested that smokers are more vulnerable to psoriasis, possibly because the habit can affect immune activity.

Of nearly 186,000 men and women followed for 12 to 20 years, 2,410 developed psoriasis during that time. And the risk was greater among both current smokers and former smokers.

People who were current smokers at the study's start were almost twice as likely as lifelong non-smokers to develop psoriasis. And past smokers had a 39 percent higher risk than non-smokers.

Past studies have found links between psoriasis and both obesity and heavy drinking. But after accounting for those factors, the smoking-psoriasis link remained.

As for people who already have psoriasis, the current findings don't speak directly to whether quitting will help them.


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Study gives new clues on how Alzheimer's spreads

Study gives new clues on how Alzheimer's spreads | Medical News |

 Alzheimer's disease appears to spread in a predictable pattern, infecting brain cell after brain cell as the disease spreads along linked circuits known as synapses, according to a new study.

The findings, published on Wednesday in the online journal PloS One, help confirm a new understanding of how the disease gets from one region of the brain to another. It suggests blocking that process early on may keep the disease from spreading.

Imaging studies in people have suggested that Alzheimer's spreads from region to region in the brain rather than popping up spontaneously in different areas, but the evidence was not strong enough to say for sure.

"In the past, we have asked many of our colleagues in the field of Alzheimer's research what they mean when they say 'spread'. Most think that the disease just pops up in different areas of the brain over time, not that the disease actively jumps from one area to the next," they said.

"Our findings show for the first time that the latter might be true."

The researchers think those findings suggest new strategies for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's disease.

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Experts build crab-like robot to remove stomach cancer

Experts build crab-like robot to remove stomach cancer | Medical News |


Inspired by Singapore's famous chilli crab dish, researchers have created a miniature robot with a pincer and a hook that can remove early-stage stomach cancers without leaving any scars.

Mounted on an endoscope, it enters the patient's gut through the mouth. It has a pincer to hold cancerous tissues, and a hook that slices them off and coagulates blood to stop bleeding.

Stomach, or gastric, cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide and is particularly common in east Asia. Diagnosis of gastric cancer usually occurs at a late stage of the disease when treatment is difficult and often unsuccessful.

The researchers formed a company last October and hope to make the robot commercially available in three years


hia's comment, February 19, 2012 1:49 PM
how long is the operation??