Paul Rigg, Flickr

Science snippets

Story By; Yildiz Kelahmetoglu & Ben Libberton

Alzheimer drug that treats your teeth

Researchers at King’s College London have found a natural way of repairing tooth cavities without the need for cement filling. A drug developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease also happened to regenerate dentine, a mineralized material that protects the tooth, by stimulating stem cells contained in the tooth pulp. Cavities were repaired within six weeks when small collagen sponges soaked in the drug were inserted into them. Since the drug has already passed the safety tests for other purposes, scientists hope that it would be quickly approved as dental treatment. (Scientific Reports, January 2017)

Novel nanochip heals organs with a single touch

Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a new technology to inject genetic material into living skin cells, in order to change their function. Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT) can generate any type of cell within the patient’s own body and can be used to repair injured tissue by growing elements of any compromised organ. The procedure is short and non-invasive, requiring only a small electrical charge that immediately induces cell reprogramming. Despite the concept being simple, TNT needs to be further explored in order to improve the technology. (Nature Nanotechnology, August 2017)

f2486122, Flickr

A pen that diagnoses cancer

MasSpec Pen is a real-time diagnostic tool, which brings a new approach to cancer diagnosis. Developed by researchers at University of Texas, this handheld device uses tiny droplets of water that extract molecules from patient’s cells to detect cancerous tissue in about 10 seconds. MasSpec Pen can speed up surgery and lower the risk of infection and cancer recurrence. However, the size of the mass spectrometer that it is connected to is still a limiting factor in the transition phase to the clinic. (Science Translational Medicine, September 2017)

Scientists test psychedelics on human mini-brains

Humans have used psychedelic substances for centuries without really knowing their actions on our brains.  However, it’s difficult to learn more without getting anyone high. Fortunately, Brazilian scientists have found a way. They exposed cerebral organoids – 3D cultures of neural cells that resemble a developing human brain- to single doses of hallucinogenic compound known as 5-MeO-DMT. The drug was found to alter the proteome of mini-brains by up-regulating proteins crucial for memory and learning and silencing factors involved in inflammation and degeneration. The study suggests a hidden, neuroprotective effect of restricted substances that could be of interest for medical and scientific communities. (Scientific Reports, October 2017)

Mike Allee, Flickr

First digital medicine approved by FDA

A novel digital medicine system (DMS) has been developed to objectively report ingestion of an anti-psychotic drug in patients with schizophrenia. The FDA-approved sensor is activated by gastric juices in the stomach and sends signal to a wearable patch that logs the date and time of intake. Health experts believe that DMS will improve patient outcome by helping them to stick to their medicines, and may even help track participants of clinical trials that test experimental drugs. (Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, October 2016)

Anti-aging mutation discovered

Northwestern University researchers have found a small Amish community that carries a mutation in SERPINE1 gene to live 10 percent longer than others. Individuals with a single copy mutation are protected from age-related changes, observed by low blood pressure, low fasting insulin levels and more flexible blood vessels. Given this discovery, researchers have developed a drug that is currently in phase 2 clinical trials, which could potentially slow the effects of aging in humans. (Science Advances, November 2017)

This text was previously published in Medicor 2017 #4
Proofread by: Nigel Kee

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