Diagnosing racing thoroughbreds can be like diagnosing an engine problem in a car; it starts with a vibration that might be imperceptible, but unchecked it can become a serious mechanical problem. It’s very hard to tell if a horse has a slight hitch in its gait, but Danish researchers think they’ve found an objective diagnostic tool in the same small accelerometers developed for smartphones.
Liver disease is the 12th-leading cause of death in the U.S., chiefly because once it's determined that a patient needs a new liver it's very difficult to get one. Even in cases where a suitable donor match is found, there's no guarantee a transplant will be successful. But researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have taken a huge step toward building functioning livers in the lab, successfully transplanting culture-grown livers into rats.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology wrapped its annual conference this week, going through the usual motions of presenting a lot of drugs that offer some added quality or extension of life to those suffering from a variety of as-yet incurable diseases. But buried deep in an AP story are a couple of promising headlines that seems worthy of more thorough review, including one treatment study where 100 percent of patients saw their cancer diminished by half.
The complexity of the brain makes it one of the most fascinating and sophisticated pieces of biology that we know of. But when things start to go sideways up there, modern medicine is often calls for treatments like surgery or shock stimulation, practices that can result in even more damage to fragile brain tissues. But a new method of noninvasive brain stimulation could diagnose and treat an array of neurological ailments using nothing but pulses of harmless ultrasound.
Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a handy scientific tool to have around (for instance, it's the fundamental tech behind magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI). It's ability to identify and study things like protein structures and chemical compositions make it fantastically flexible, but there is a huge drawback: The size and expense of the superconducting magnets necessary for precision NMR make it an immobile and expensive process.
In Popular Science's July issue, we look at the phenomenon of stem-cell tourism: patients who head overseas for experimental medical treatments unavailable in the U.S. For the article, I spent a few days checking out Regenocyte, a Florida-based medical operation that coordinates experimental stem cell treatments in the Dominican Republic.
Now another developing country known for courting overseas patients -- Costa Rica -- has discontinued stem cell procedures at its biggest clinic, the Institute of Cellular Medicine (ICM) in San Jose, which has treated about 400 people since it opened in 2006.
We use plastics to make everything from our computers to our toothbrushes, but a collaboration of researchers from the University of California at Irvine and the University of Shizuoka in Japan has made a big breakthrough by taking plastics to microscopic levels. Using plastic nanoparticles just 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, the team has created plastic antibodies that successfully function in the bloodstream of living animals to identify and fight a variety of antigens.
In a breakthrough that could shake up the way researchers think about cancer vaccines, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have found a protein that appears to prepare the immune system to prevent cancer.
The fight against pathogens is usually reactionary; a pathogen evolves or mutates, developing a drug resistance or finding a more efficient path toward infection, and researchers scramble to shift tactics for fighting off said pathogen. That’s not good enough for DARPA, which wants a means to look into the future so researchers can stop an outbreak of a potentially dangerous pandemic before it ever begins.