The sooner a disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be well managed or cured. The challenge to finding a disease early is that most of us don’t seek treatment until we have symptoms, which means the disease has already progressed.
But breakthroughs in nanobiotechnology techniques mean that in five years we will be able to examine and filter bodily fluids for tiny bioparticles that reveal signs of disease like cancer before we have any symptoms, letting us know immediately if we should consult a doctor.
By Gustavo Stolovitzky | theguardian
Photograph: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images/iStockphoto
It all started as a painless callus on Donna Morrow’s left foot. Since she knew her diabetes made her susceptible to foot ulcers, she saw her podiatrist, who shaved down the callus as a precaution. A few months later, her foot swelled so much she could barely walk. The callus had unfurled into gaping, infected ulcers whose appearance made her sick to her stomach. The former retiree from outside Philadelphia, now a director and founder of Victory Nutrition, spent months hooked to an antibiotic IV drip, hardly able to stand or shower, and underwent three skin grafts. “Is this ever going to end?” she wondered. Fears of amputation plagued her.
Morrow’s foot took more than a year to heal. She’s not alone: About half of all diabetics suffer from nerve damage, or neuropathy, which might mean a blister or a cut escapes notice until it progresses into something more serious. Diabetes also can lower blood circulation and immunity, which may slow healing. Now, researchers are devising solutions by upgrading run-of-the-mill balms, dressings and sutures with nanotechnology designed to speed and improve healing. The latest innovations include ointments that contain nanoparticles loaded with substances that trigger the migration of new skin cells to a targeted area, as well as scaffolds for these cells to populate. One “smart bandage” fluoresces to alert doctors of infection long before clinical symptoms appear.
By Melissa Pandika | OZY
The healthcare system remains something of a mess, riddled with inefficiencies and burdened by the industry’s historic aversion to change. Yet, for the first time in years, many execs see a way out of the morass — and it’s the health-tech sector providing leadership and innovation in equal measures.
The technology market may be experiencing a downturn, but according to a Rock Health report, digital-health funding reached $981.3 million in Q1 2016. The sum represents almost 50% year-over-year growth and is the highest first quarter since it began tracking deals in 2011.
“This is the most interesting time in the history of healthcare and medicine,” says Zen Chu, MD of Accelerated Medical Ventures and senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “We’ve got so many new technologies and redesigned experiences impacting both the value we deliver, and also the value patients are getting from healthcare.”
In a proof-of-concept study with mice, scientists at The Johns Hopkins University show that a novel coating they made with antibiotic-releasing nanofibers has the potential to better prevent at least some serious bacterial infections related to total joint replacement surgery.
A report on the study, published online the week of Oct. 24 inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted on the rodents’ knee joints, but, the researchers say, the technology would have “broad applicability” in the use of orthopaedic prostheses, such as hip and knee total joint replacements, as well pacemakers, stents and other implantable medical devices. In contrast to other coatings in development, the researchers report the new material can release multiple antibiotics in a strategically timed way for an optimal effect.
The 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded for the design and synthesis of the world’s smallest machines. The work has overtones of science fiction, but holds huge promise in fields as diverse as medicine, materials and energy.
All grand endeavors start small. This is especially true of efforts to develop nano-scale machines (1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair), which are always destined to remain tiny however big our ambitions for them grow.
It’s difficult to trace the development of molecular machines to one person or scientific step. But a 1959 lecture by the celebrated physicist Richard Feynman is as good a point as any. His talk, given at an American Physical Society meeting in California and titled Plenty of Room at the Bottom, laid the conceptual foundations for nanotechnology. In it, he also anticipated one of the most widely discussed applications for molecular machines – in nano-robotic surgery and localized drug delivery.
By Paul Rincon | BBC
A researcher from RMIT and collaborators have created a novel nanosurface to be used in medical devices and implants that will prevent contamination with lethal bacteria.
Due to the aging population there is a demand for more medical devices, which poses a global challenge of preventing infections caused as a result of medical biomaterials.
When the human body is implanted with a medical device, bacterial and human cells battle to colonize the maximum surface area possible.
This means that regardless of the stringent aseptic and sterilization procedures being applied, bacterial infection can become a main obstacle in the use of medical devices.
Iranian researchers from Stem Cell Technology Research Center, Tarbiat Modarres University and Sharif University of Technology used graphene to synthesize a scaffold to treat damaged muscles.
According to Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC), researchers produced polymeric nanofibers and used graphene to synthesize a scaffold with optimized properties that can be used in the treatment of damaged muscle tissues.
In the past few decades, polymeric nanofibrous membranes and carbon-based nanostructured materials have been introduced in tissue engineering as scaffolds. Graphene and graphene oxide sheets have also attracted the attention of researchers due to their high physicochemical properties and biocompatibility in various aspects such as biosensors and smart drug delivery.