Cocaine's a hell of a drug, and even more so when laced with another drug that's commonly used to deworm opossums. Federal agents have found that 69 percent of cocaine shipments seized entering the United States contain levamisole, a veterinary drug linked to serious weakening of the immune system in humans. Here's the real funny part: no one knows why.
As bacteria continue to grow more resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, doctors are searching furiously for better ways to kill infectious microbes. Enter hydroxyurea. Researchers at MIT and Boston University have discovered that hydroxyurea, normally a drug prescribed for sickle-cell anemia or psoriasis, also causes bacteria to create their own poisons and kill themselves.
Blood cells are great for transporting materials through the body as the entire circulatory system evolved to facilitate their movement. For 50 years, scientists have tried to take advantage of that mobility by creating artificial red blood cells. And for 50 years, scientists had failed, until a team at UC Santa Barbara finally solved the problem.
Purdue researchers tinkering with a nano-scale cancer drug delivery system may have discovered something just as good: an injection that repairs spinal cord damage far faster than any previous treatment. Synthetic “copolymer micelles” have been used for three decades as drug delivery vehicles in research, but it turns out they can directly treat spinal cord injuries when injected into the bloodstream shortly after an accident.
Researchers have shown for the first time today that a vaccine can help reduce drug abuse. There's currently no FDA-approved treatment to get people off of cocaine (or crack), so this could really help out the 2.5 million Americans dependent on cocaine.
Thirty-eight percent of drug abusers who were given the vaccine produced anti-cocaine antibodies. Over the course of seven weeks, these subjects were 45 percent likely to have a cocaine-free pee test, as opposed to 35 percent for those who got placebo vaccine instead.
Snort your way to perfect health? Just last week, we heard that snorting stem cells might be the best way to get them into your noggin. And this week, scientists have declared that a nasal spray can help your memory.
Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, not to mention an economic drain, for doctors and pharmaceutical makers trying to fight bacterial infections. Many antibiotics in our arsenal are becoming practically useless, as bacteria breed resistance to them. But researchers at Texas Tech University and Baylor University have developed a chemical additive that could make old drugs useful again.
Nanotechnology, lasers, genetics, and cancer? If there was also something about space, this story might have been a PopSci full house. Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), have figured out a way to deliver cancer-stopping RNA directly into the nucleus of a diseased cell. To get into the nucleus, the RNA is wrapped in special gold nanoshells which are then selectively opened by a laser.
For medicines that do not go down well in pill form, administering drugs via transdermal patches is nothing new. Patches are currently on the market for nicotine replacement, birth control, and even pain relief. But many drugs, such as an effective migraine medication called sumatriptan, do not pass easily from a patch into the skin. Drug company NuPathe has a solution: at the press of a button, an electric current running through the patch gently prods the meds into your body.
Lab-on-a-Chip: 1,000 Reactions in the Palm of Your Hand
Labs-on-a-chip are generally so specialized and specific in what they do, it's futile to try and explain what makes them particularly special. But in the case of this LoC from UCLA faculty, here's what you need to know: it can carry out upwards of a 1,000 different reactions simultaneously, when most others can barely do two or three.