Researchers from Denmark have embarked on a mission to develop nanorobotic devices that may transport medications to specific organs. The goal is to develop the first nanorobot of DNA molecules that can encapsulate and release active biomolecules to target diseased state cells within the human body.
NeuroPace is revolutionizing the manner by which physicians can treat an epileptic. Frank Fischer, the CEO of NeuroPace, recently explained that " once the system is implanted, it is tuned to look for the patient’s specific abnormal electrical activity that may lead to a seizure, and once that pattern is detected, and it could be one or two patterns for a given patient, basically the device then delivers imperceptible levels of stimulation to disrupt that abnormal activity so it does not get picked up by essentially the rest of the brain, resulting in a seizure.”
A new study in Current Biology shows how optogenetics can modify brain circuits with the same efficacy as the conventional method of electrical conductivity. In attempting to control the visual decision-making brain processes of the primate brain, researchers at Brown stimulated the lateral intraparietal area with optical and electrical stimulation. The LIP is an area of the brain which is affiliated with registering locations of salient objects in the visual world. The researchers report that optogenetic stimulation of neurons demonstrated imperative advantages over electrical stimulation, such as the ability to more easily record the activity of the target neurons. Optogenetics may potentially be utilized in humans for diagnostic and therapeutic benefits.
Canadian researchers may pave the way for more effective treatment of an aggressive and deadly type of brain tumor, known as ETMR/ETANTR. The tumor, which is seen only in children under four, is almost always fatal, despite aggressive treatment. The study proposes a new model for how this brain tumor develops and suggests possible targets to investigate for novel therapies. Scientists produced “genomic” profiles of the ETMR/ETANTR tumors, and also integrated and analyzed data from five massive publicly available data sets. Their analysis suggested that, in patients with ETMR/ETANTR, a developmental pathway – a process involved in the early formation of an organ in an embryo – is somehow “hijacked.” As a result, patients produce a specific form of an enzyme known as DNMT3B far later in development and in far greater quantities than normal. From a clinical point of view, the results of this study suggest DNMT3B may be a suitable target for future therapies designed to combat ETMR/ETANTR.
Scientists at Case Western developed a light-weight, battery powered device that can repair damaged pathways in the brain. Mechanical components were scaled to fit a rat-sized brain to test the neural prosthetic idea. The microdevice was implanted into damaged frontal cortexes in order to record signals in one area of the brain and then translate the signals into electrical impulses that stimulate other locations in the brain. The implant illustrated that artificial communication could help brain injured animals recover their motor skills. Rats were tested via their ability to reach a food pellet. Without the device turned on, the animals were unable to reach the pellet. Amazingly, when the neuromodulating device was on, all the animals were able to reach their pellets at a pre-injury performance level. The goal is to scale up the engineering of this product to be implantable in humans. This technology could help brain injury and stoke patients alike
Hitherto, the closest a neurosurgeon could get to practicing on a real human was through cadavers. A novel innovation has lead to the utilization of 3D printing to develop human brains from brain scans of real patients. Created with the same texture, as well as the ability to bleed, this may give neurosurgeons the ability to refine their surgical skills on patient-specific models prior to operating.
Cancer stem cells are thought to be the main drivers of tumor growth. Aside from being resistant to conventional interventions, cancer stem cells are believed to contain the capability of self-regeneration and repopulation of tumor cells, results in cancer recurrence. UCLA researchers have received awards from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to run two clinical trials in 2014 aimed at stem cell targeted therapy for cancer and the first in-human testing of stem cell gene therapy for sickle cell disease.
Ultrasound microscopy: An aid for surgeons to make the invisible, visible. Professor Naohiro Hozumi of Toyohashi Tech is developing the technology to monitor living tissue and cell specimens for medical purposes.The ultrasonic microscope emits a high frequency sound at an object, and the reflected sound captured by its lens is converted into a two dimensional image of the object under scrutiny.This data can potentially help surgeons differentiate between types of tissue.
Researchers at Rutgers have used a targeted nanomedicine approach to deliver small molecule drugs and successfully treat mice with deadly advanced-stage ovarian cancer.
Medtronic, Inc. has successfully implanted the world's smallest pacemaker into the heart of a human patient. The Micro Transcatheter Pacing System is one- tenth the size of a regular pacemaker, and is placed directly into the heart via a catheter inserted in the femoral vein. This novel pacemaker attaches directly to the wall of the heart and does not require any wiring to do so.