Archive for February, 2016

Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System

Cancer drug research has seen another major breakthrough with shape shifting nano particles that will deliver drugs  directly to cancer cells in the body. Controlled drug delivery systems have a major advantage over traditional medicine. This process is likely to help reduce the abysmal side effects of cancer drugs such as loss of hair and skin damage by targeting only the specific cells in the body. Naturally this is much better for the patients.

Elena Batrakova, associate professor in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy of the University of North Carolina was associated with a study where 50 % less medicine was required when using the nano particle drug delivery system to successfully combat cancer cells in mice. This means that less quantities of drugs will be needed and patients will still be able to overcome cancer.

This is important because eventually the doses of medication will be reduced even further as the researchers target the malignant cells alone. Plus the intrusive chemotherapy sessions which cancer patients undergo will become less prone to multiple side effects and still be considered effective treatment.  Needless to say the practical applications of this science project in the real world of human medicine will be tremendously useful.


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Super Earth has Hydrogen and Helium

55 Cancri is the exoplanet which is eight times the size of the Earth and has been dubbed Super Earth. It is located about 40 lightyears away from us and is circling a star which is slightly smaller than our own sun. The orbit is so close to the star that its year lasts just 18 hours and temperatures on the surface are thought to reach around 2000 degrees Celsius.

Scientists have also called it the diamond planet as they have speculated that based on its mass and radius is it likely to have a high carbon content. NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations were analysed by new software in order for the scientists to discover more about the atmosphere of 55 Cancri. This is what lead to the confirmation of gases Hydrogen and Helium in the atmosphere of the planet. The signature for Hydrogen Cyanide was also present.

Professor Giovanna Tinetti was delighted with the science project‘s observations and findings. He said that the result of the project gives a first insight into the atmosphere of a super-Earth. We now have clues as to what the planet is currently like, how it might have formed and evolved, and this has important implications for 55 Cancri and other super-Earths.

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What is the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System?

Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System is a fancy name for the 3D printed tissue which is being used in regenerative medicine to replace diseased or lost organs. The Institute for Regenerative Medicine developed this process over a period of more than a decade. The process involves using both biodegradable and plastic materials to create the artificial tissue which has water based gels which contain the cells.

A strong, temporary, outer structure is also printed and this does not harm the cells. This tissue is then implanted into the patient and allowed to integrate itself into the body and eventually becomes living tissue. The trick is to keep it alive long enough for a successful integration to take place. The micro channels printed along the water based cells are used to keep nutrients and oxygen flowing from the body to the new tissues.

Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine said that thier results indicate that the bio-ink combination they used, combined with the micro-channels, provides the right environment to keep the cells alive and to support cell and tissue growth. He added that with further development of this science project, this technology could potentially be used to print living tissue and organ structures for surgical implantation.

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“Printing” Living Tissue

In yet another leap in the field of 3D printing, the researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have managed to prove that it is possible to print living tissue structures which can replace injured or diseased tissue in patients. Something that would truly have been considered science fiction is making its way into the real world of medical wonders.

The science experiment involved printing ear, bone and muscle structures using customized 3D printers. The regenerative living tissue thus printed was implanted in animals and managed to mature into functional tissue. It even developed a system of blood vessels and got integrated into the body.

What’s exciting for the regenerative medicine scientists is that the process seems to be compatible for human beings. The project has received funding from the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. They are interested in the possibilities that this project could have on battlefield injuries.

As the team moves on to implant these  bio printed muscle, cartilage and bone in patients in the future it will be interesting to see their success rate. Needless to say the successful culmination in human testing for this science project will have huge implications for the field of regenerative medicine.


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The Fascinating Human Brain

There is no computer as complex as the human brain and there is no one alive on Earth who can claim to understand just how the brain works completely. The complexities of the human brain are as varied as the possibilities of the universe itself. Perhaps that’s why scientists and researchers can literally spend their lives trying to uncover just one facet of how the human brain really works.

The nerve cells and the pathways between them are what define a brain. The more neurological activity the more smart the brain is supposed to be. This is why activities that stimulate new pathways in the brain centre are encouraged. This literally makes you think better and faster and areas of the brain that are performing these actions can be lit up in scans.

Helping to make a model of a working brain with all its complex neurological pathways, is to say it simply, quite a difficult task. However there are so many fascinating aspects to this such as studying the formation of nerve cells, directing their connections, and understanding which chemicals work in what manner to accomplish a specific end result. Science projects on these topics would keep a neuroscientists happy for years together, simply trying to solve these riddles.

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