Pulse 150: Nanoparticles May Treat Physics of Cancer

4 May 2020
Giulio Prisco

Cell Imaging

A new nanoparticle-based imaging technique could diagnose and even treat cancer (see below).

"We engineered the ability to measure and quantify the nanomechanical properties of individual living cells within the body of a living animal for the first time," says Bryan Smith, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan State University, in a press release. "The discovery was made possible by integrating state-of-the-art imaging and particle tracking technologies from our and our collaborators' labs."

"We found that as a tumor begins to form in a living mouse, individual tumor cells mechanically stiffen,” adds Smith. “This is a fundamental finding which is ultimately likely to have implications for cancer spread (metastasis) and tumor lethality."

"I hope one day we'll be able to treat the physics of metastasis", concludes Smith. Nanoparticles might be used to monitor the health of cells and the types of changes they undergo in disease processes - and may even alter that course.

Nanoparticle Imaging for Cancer Treatment

Researchers at Michigan State, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford universities, have developed a new nanoparticle-based in vivo imaging technique that may one day be used to help diagnose and even treat cancer.

The new technique is outlined in a paper published in Materials Today. It captures fundamental relationships between physics and in vivo (in a living organism) biology.

According to the researchers, the most exciting application of the findings may be in disease diagnosis and treatment.

Nanodevice May Halt Alzheimer's Disease

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Korean Institute of Science and Technology, and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, have designed a nanodevice. It has potential to prevent peptides from forming dangerous plaques in the brain in order to halt development of Alzheimer's disease.

A paper published in Advanced Functional Materials describes the new approach. It prevents plaque formation by engineering a nano-sized device that captures the dangerous peptides before they can self-assemble.

People with Amputations Experience Touch

Scientists led by Chalmers University of Technology have shown that people with arm amputations can experience sensations of touch in a mind-controlled arm prosthesis that they use in everyday life.

The study was published in New England Journal of Medicine. It reports on three Swedish patients who have lived, for several years, with one of the world's most integrated interfaces between human and machine.

The arm prosthesis, called e-OPRA, is mind-controlled via the electrical muscle and nerve signals sent through the arm. The newest part of the technology, the sensation of touch, is possible through stimulation of the nerves that used to be connected to the biological hand before the amputation.

COVID-19 Recovery Is 31% Faster with Remdesivir

Hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung involvement who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received placebo.

These findings are according to preliminary data analysis from a randomized, controlled trial involving 1063 patients, which began on February 21. Preliminary results indicate that patients who received remdesivir had a 31 percent faster time to recovery than those who received placebo.

The trial, known as the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT), was sponsored by National Institutes of Health. It is the first clinical trial launched in the United States to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19.

Minimally Invasive Optogenetics Without Implants

Researchers led by MIT have developed a minimally invasive optogenetic technique that does not require brain implants. Optogenetics is a method that involves using light to activate or deactivate neurons that are genetically modified to produce light-responsive proteins.

The new technique is described in a study published in Neuron. It has successfully manipulated the activity of neurons in mice and monkeys.

The researchers first genetically engineered neurons to produce a newly developed, extremely light-sensitive protein called SOUL. They then demonstrated that it is possible to shine light through the skull to alter neuronal responses throughout the entire mouse brain, and to reach superficial regions of the macaque brain.

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