News

Small Implanted Device Could Improve Breast Cancer Survival

A small scaffold device is designed to attract breast cancer cells. (University of Michigan College of Engineering) A small device implanted under the skin can improve breast cancer survival by catching cancer cells. The implantable scaffold device is made of FDA-approved material commonly used in sutures and wound dressings. It’s biodegradable and can last up to two years within a patient.

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Will you watch drone racing?

This week's Question: The Drone Racing League announced on Wednesday that it had signed deals to broadcast a 10-episode season on ESPN and ESPN2, along with the European stations Sky Sports Mix and 7Sports. According to league officials, stationary pilots will use headsets and joysticks to steer the drones through obstacle-filled courses — at up to 80 miles per hour. Tiny cameras mounted on the drones offer the human controllers a cockpit-like view. What do you think?

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Flexible Electronic Skin Patch Monitors Alcohol Levels

The alcohol sensor consists of a temporary tattoo (left) and a flexible printed electronic circuit board. Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a flexible wearable sensor that can accurately measure a person’s blood alcohol level from sweat and transmit the data wirelessly to a laptop, smartphone or other mobile device. The device can be worn on the skin and could be used by doctors and police officers for continuous, non-invasive and real-time monitoring of blood alcohol content.

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New NASA Instrument Measures Greenhouse Gases

Mark Stephen (left) and Tony Yu are part of the team that developed the advanced laser system used on the CO2 Sounder Lidar. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Bill Hrybyk) NASA scientists and engineers have built an instrument powerful and accurate enough to gather around-the-clock global atmospheric carbon-dioxide (CO2) measurements from space. The CO2 Sounder Lidar operates by bouncing an infrared laser light off the Earth’s surface. Like all atmospheric gases, carbon dioxide absorbs light in narrow wavelength bands — in this case, the infrared. By tuning the laser to the infrared, scientists can detect and then analyze the level of carbon dioxide in that vertical path.

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Sensors Measure Power Use by Each Device in a Household

Researchers at MIT have developed a device and software that could figure out exactly how much power is being used by every appliance, lighting fixture, and device in a home. (Bryce Vickmark) New postage-stamp-sized sensors developed at MIT measure exactly how much power is being used by every device in a household. No wires need to be disconnected, and the placement of the sensors over the incoming power line does not require any particular precision. The sensors pick up so much information about spikes and patterns in the voltage and current, that the system can tell the difference between every different kind of light, motor, and other device, and show exactly which ones go on and off at what times.

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New at IMTS

Optomec (Albuquerque, NM) unveiled its LENS machine tool machines that integrate the company's metal 3D printing technology into standard CNC machine tool platforms. Three standard system configurations are offered, making hybrid and traditional metal additive manufacturing more affordable and accessible. The three systems are open-atmosphere, hybrid additive and subtractive, and an inert system with a hermetically sealed chamber.

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Therapeutic Target for Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common of pancreatic cancers, is extraordinarily lethal, with a 5-year survival rate of just 6 percent. Chemotherapy treatments are poorly effective, in part due to a high degree of drug-resistance to currently used regimens. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, together with colleagues at Keio University, the University of Nebraska, and Ionis Pharmaceuticals, describe an innovative new model that not only allowed them to track drug resistance in vivo but also revealed a new therapeutic target, which early testing suggests could provide a strategy to arrest pancreatic cancer growth. In a collaboration that combined scientific and clinical expertise, principal investigators Tannishtha Reya, Ph.D., professor in the departments of pharmacology and medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Andrew Lowy, MD, chief of surgical oncology in the department of surgery at UC San Diego Health and Moores Cancer Center, worked with colleagues to develop a new "reporter" mouse model that enables non-invasive, image-based tracking of stem cell signals in living animals. Using this strategy, the group showed that the stem cell gene Musashi (Msi) is a critical element in pancreatic cancer progression. In particular, the work revealed that Msi expression rises with cancer progression and that Msi expressing cells are key drivers of cancer growth, drug resistance, and lethality. Given the role of Msi in promoting aggressive disease, the investigators partnered with Robert MacLeod Ph.D., vice-president of oncology drug discovery at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, to develop next-generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) inhibitors against Msi. These inhibitors effectively targeted and blocked Msi expressing cells, resulting in halted tumor growth in animal models as well as in patient-derived cancer cells, which harbor more complex mutations and are uniformly drug-resistant. Antisense inhibitors are synthetic nucleic acid drugs that can be designed to selectively bind to messenger RNA from the targeted, disease-linked gene, and inactivate it. Reya said the findings could be broadly useful for studying cancer. "Because Msi reporter activity can be visualized by live imaging," said Reya, "these models can be used to track cancer stem cells within the tumor microenvironment, providing a real-time view of cancer growth and metastasis, and serving as a platform to test new drugs that may be better able to eradicate resistant cells."

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