medicine

DARPA program seeks ‘rugged drugs’ that don’t expire

DARPA program seeks ‘rugged drugs’ that don’t expire

Much like the food in your fridge and the cleaning supplies in your closet, the drugs — both over the counter and prescription — in your medicine cabinet have an expiration date. While that expiration date isn’t a hard and fast rule in most cases, at least according to past research on the matter, it does mark a time when one can expect the medication to start losing potency, making it difficult to take proper dosages. Thanks to a new synthetic protein recently detailed by DARPA, however, that reality may itself soon be obsolete.

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Pain killer patch releases ibuprofen over 12 hours

Pain killer patch releases ibuprofen over 12 hours

Ibuprofen can be seen as one of the most useful medications available today; just two to four pills of the pain killer can help treat headaches to muscle pain. But researchers may have just improved its effectiveness by developing the world's first ibuprofen patch capable of releasing the drug over a 12 hour period once applied to the skin. That sounds much better than having to remember to take the pills every four hours or so.

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Researchers use Microsoft Kinect to take better X-rays

Researchers use Microsoft Kinect to take better X-rays

Next time your parents claim that nothing good would come from gaming, this little anecdote might tide things in your favor. Of course, it's gaming technology that's in focus here, but we're not going to split hairs. Microsoft's Kinect controller has become one of the most hacked and repurposed gaming peripherals in the market and that kind of modification might soon benefit medicine as well. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have developed a way to reduce radiation exposure when taking X-rays by reusing the technology found in the Kinect.

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3D printed medicine gets FDA stamp of approval

3D printed medicine gets FDA stamp of approval

Is there anything 3D printing can't do these days? From toys, to chocolate, to dog legs, to house parts. And now we even have 3D printed drugs. Now that in itself isn't really a novel feat, considering 3D printed food. The success that Aprecia Pharmaceuticals achieved is in actually getting the US Food and Drug Administration to approve it. This makes its SPRITRAM seizure drug to be the first 3D printed medication to receive FDA approval, perhaps opening the doors to even more such products in the future.

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Bioengineered bacteria change color in urine to indicate diseases

Bioengineered bacteria change color in urine to indicate diseases

Science is going to great lengths to harness the ability to detect disease before it can wreak havoc on the human body. From a cancer detecting bra, to a smartphone accessory that can detect HIV, new medical gadgets are making it easier to identify what ails us. Recently, researchers have decided to do away with the gadgetry altogether, letting bacteria do the work. These new, mutant bacteria are bioengineered to detect specific diseases, and change the color of the patient's urine for a fast diagnosis.

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Robotic pill being developed as replacement for injection medications

Robotic pill being developed as replacement for injection medications

At some point in the future, you may no longer need to suffer through injections to have certain medications administered. The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis and the US biotech startup Rani Therapeutics have revealed they will together in developing a "robotic pill" that could simply be swallowed and then deliver drugs to the body via needles made of sugar. This has the potential to make taking certain medication much more convenient for patients, as it could be a new delivery method for drugs that have never been possible in pill form before.

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Quick blood test can triage radiation exposure victims, saving lives

Quick blood test can triage radiation exposure victims, saving lives

In the rare, but serious, cases of a radiation leak like the Fukushima nuclear plant's meltdown, first responders are tasked with sending radiation victims to triage based on their level of exposure. A new genetics-based blood test could be a faster, more accurate way to assess how individual victims will respond to radiation. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and New York City's Montefiore Medical Center have created a method of identifying long-term damage from radiation, immediately. Their technique involved looking beyond blood cell counts and delving into blood-bound genes.

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IBM supercomputer Watson can treat cancer

IBM supercomputer Watson can treat cancer

IBM's powerful supercomputer, Watson, can make calculations at superhuman speeds, making connections between analyzed data that humans might miss. This is exactly why a team of oncologists plans to use Watson to guide cancer therapies at fourteen different cancer institutes in America and Canada. The hospitals are paying IBM a subscription fee to access the supercomputer. Watson will be especially useful to oncology institutes as cancer doesn't have a one-size-fits-all protocol. Sure, we imagine it's as simple as radiation or chemotherapy, but sometimes tumor cells induce odd mutations in surrounding cells, making them impervious to standard treatments.

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Chinese scientists raise eyebrows, genetically modify human embryos

Chinese scientists raise eyebrows, genetically modify human embryos

Scientists in China have genetically modified human embryos, embarking on a slippery slope that could be capable of a calamitous ripple effect in human offspring. Scholarship aside, the ethics questions that sprout from genetically altering human embryos are innumerable. In a paper published by the journal Protein and Cell, a research team in GuangZhou, China, headed by Junjiu Huang, detailed their process and results of genetic editing. The gene in question is responsible for β-thalassaemia, which is a blood disorder that can be potentially fatal. Researchers used the CRISPR/Cas9 technique to edit the genes. As a matter of ethics, the researchers only used "non-viable" embryos that would be unable to make it to a live birth.

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Researchers might finally have a fix for the color blind

Researchers might finally have a fix for the color blind

Despite our many advancements in technology, there are still some biological matters that continue to confound and befuddle us. It might come as a surprise to many that color blindness, a condition that affects more than 10 million in the US alone, is one of those. But hopefully not anymore. Jay and Maureen Neitz, husband and wife researchers from the University of Washington, may finally have a way to fix this genetic mutation to help those affected by it to see in color again. And it won't even require surgery.

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New Ebola-proof tablet designed for medical field workers

New Ebola-proof tablet designed for medical field workers

Ebola field doctors' need for an "Ebola-proof" tablet is finally filled. Hose it down with de-contaminating bleach, and all of the data will still be safe as its virus-free exterior. Here's something you probably never considered about the world's Ebola outbreaks: How can doctors and nurses keep track of patient data when every piece of paper, pen, and clipboard becomes contaminated just by being in the hot zone? As it turns out, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the doctors were shouting patient data over makeshift barricades to avoid spreading the contagion.

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Bioprinter 3D-prints living cartilage nose in 16 minutes

Bioprinter 3D-prints living cartilage nose in 16 minutes

While traditional 3D-printers build objects using layers of plastic, we've seem some great strides in 3D-printing like lattices emerging from amorphous, resinous goo. Now bioprinters are entering the ring with their ability to create 3D models from biological materials. There's no need to wait for an ear to grow on the back of a mouse; this bioprinter from the ETH Zurich Cartilage Engineering and Regeneration Group can print a nose from biopolymers and living cartilage cells in only 16 minutes. Best of all, no mice are harmed in the process!

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