research

What Is TNT Research and What Can It Do for Future Clinical Applications?

As a follow-up to a previous Video of the Week (that can be revisited by clicking here), this week’s video provides additional information regarding ongoing research in tissue nano-transfection technology (TNT). The TNT system consists of two components: a hardware chip, and a cargo load containing a combination of cell reprogramming factors specific to the cell type attempting to be induced/produced. The chip is the size of a cufflink, and according to it’s developers, only needs to be present on the skin’s surface for a few minutes. More impressively, the actual activation time required for the chip to initiate its long-lasting cellular reprogramming effects is less than 1 second. In mice-based ischemic limb injury models, the researchers noticed positive changes in revascularization just 7 days after treatment. More astonishingly, they report that by week 3 the injured legs of the treated mice were actually saved (all achieved without implementing any other forms of treatment). The researchers also indicate the utility of TNT is not limited to just cutaneous use. In fact, they also tested its ability to transform skin cells into neuronal cells and then injected those new cells into the brains of mice-based stroke models to help restore neural function. Click here to read more about this research from Ohio State University in the journal Nature: Here, we report a novel yet simple-to-implement non-viral approach to topically reprogram tissues through a nanochannelled device validated with well-established and newly developed reprogramming models of induced neurons and endothelium, respectively. We demonstrate the simplicity and...

Farmacies: A Nutrition-Based Intervention

Have you ever wondered about the irony of a pharmacy a couple aisles down from the fresh produce section in grocery stores? While patients could easily be picking up kale or other fresh produce to bring down their BP and blood glucose, they are instead picking up losartan and metformin. We can partly blame this on the fast-paced and capitalistic society we live in, where time and money are often a barrier to a nutritious lifestyle, especially for the underserved. It’s a problem that needs an immediate solution given that the US spends billions of dollars per  year on diet-related illness. According to the New York Times,  just type II diabetes is projected to cost the US $500 billion dollars in 2020 (Bittman “How to Save a Trillion Dollars”). Luckily, there are now innovative solutions to this age-old health paradox in society; how can those, especially the underserved, who have a chronic disease secondary to poor diet/lifestyle in the first place focus on buying healthy food while they now have to spend money on medications to get their health under control? Geisinger Health System recently launched “food pharmacies” (or a punnier name Farmacies)  in a hospital in Central Pennsylvania. According to NPR, “it looks more like a grocery, with neatly stocked shelves filled with healthy staples such as whole grain pasta and bean (Aubrey “Fresh Food By Prescription: This Health...

What Are the Effects of CTE in Football Players?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma. Currently, CTE can only be confirmed post-mortem. In a new study from JAMA, researchers examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players — more than half of them from the NFL — and talked to their family members to identify pathological and clinical features of CTE. CTE has affected football players of all ages, including a player student athlete that committed suicide because he had known about the condition: Whilst perusing Instagram in the days following Madison’s incident, I came across a powerful statement written by another female athlete whom I had known in college: After experiencing two suicides in the athletic community at Penn within four years, my stance on the matter remains clear: universities need to do a better job at providing supports for student athletes and educating them on mental health. We have strength coaches, nutritionists, tutors, etc. But we continue to neglect mental health as a society, and regard it as a ‘touchy’ subject. Athletes, coaches, and administrators should feel safe to discuss these pressing matters that often affect too many of us student athletes. Keeping Penn athletics, friends and family in my thoughts. The other suicide to which she is referring is that of Owen Thomas who, within weeks of being made captain of UPenn’s football team,...

DNA Bacteria Will Be Your New Hard Drives

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to encode five frames of a vintage motion picture into the DNA Bacteria of E. coli bacteria. By reducing each frame into a series of single-color pixels and matching each color to a DNA code, the scientists were able to string together DNA strands that represented the video frames. Non-biological information has been encoded into DNA before, going back as far as 2003. However, this is the first time living organisms have been used as the message’s vessel. Living organisms are in a constant state of movement and flux, making them less stable and less predictable than the synthetic DNA material used in previous encoding experiments. Even though this technology is in its infancy, the research team was able to retrieve approximately 90% of the original message from the E. coli cells, effectively marking a new milestone in the advancement of our information storage methods. According to the research from Methods and applications, edited by Y.E. Khudyakov and W.A. Fields. 2003, for the US National Library of Medicine: Despite the broadness of the biochemical and medical applicability of artificial DNA presented in this book, some important aspects from a more chemical point of view are missing. These include new synthetic DNA constructs, such as locked DNA (LNA), metal-mediated base pairing (M-DNA), artificial DNA bases with or without hydrogen-bonding capabilities, new DNA base pairs for the extension of the...

How Should You Find The Best Research Possible?

For every pre-medical or medical student, this is always a lingering question. What is the best way to find a research mentor? Is there a magic key to getting the best research project? Should you be spending your days working on a lab bench trying to discover the mechanistic basis of diseases or should you be scanning your eyes through patient charts in the comfort of an office? Having gone through this myself, I would like to offer a few words of advice to all rising undergraduate and future medical students. My suggestion would be to approach this issue with three basic things in mind: 1. Pursue what you enjoy doing This may seem like the most obvious fact. However, students often seem to neglect their interest for a particular area of research for its supposed popularity and potential for publications. If you are not involved in work that you find interesting, you are undoubtedly going to have a difficult time tolerating it for the next however many years to come. Research takes long-term commitment. Once you find something you are truly passionate about, stick to it. But until you do, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to switch from one mentor to another. 2. Set expectations with your mentor Whether you decide to do basic science or clinical research, make sure you have an honest conversation...

Reprogramming Cells to Fight Leukemia

The FDA may soon approve a new cancer therapy that genetically alters a patient’s own existing T-cells to fight leukemia. This new, investigational treatment is known as CTL019 and is a type of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy. CTL019 utilizes a process in which T-cells are carefully harvested from each individual leukemia patient. These patient-specific T-cells are then genetically reprogrammed to express a chimeric CD19 antigen receptor and subsequently transfused back into the specific patient from whom they were originally collected. Once back inside the patient, these reprogrammed T-cells multiply, hunt down, and attack CD19-positive leukemia cells. Click here to read about this FDA update in the NY Times. A Food and Drug Administration panel opened a new era in medicine on Wednesday, unanimously recommending that the agency approve the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight cancer, transforming them into what scientists call “a living drug” that powerfully bolsters the immune system to shut down the disease. If the F.D.A. accepts the recommendation, which is likely, the treatment will be the first gene therapy ever to reach the market in the United States. Others are expected: Researchers and drug companies have been engaged in intense competition for decades to reach this milestone. Novartis is now poised to be the first. Its treatment is for a type of leukemia, and it is working on similar types of treatments in hundreds of patients for another form...

Ketamine: The New “Miracle” for Depression?

Although it is known among the general population mostly as a popular party drug, ketamine was originally invented in a commercial laboratory in 1962.  In 1970, it was approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic among soldiers in the Vietnam War. Non-medical use of ketamine began in the U.S. at roughly the same time, but it wasn’t until 1999 that ketamine became a federally controlled substance in the U.S. Despite its bad rap as a dangerous post-party drug, ketamine is listed as a “core” medicine in the WHO’s Essential Drugs List, as it is produced very cheaply around the world and is fast and effective as an anesthetic for minor procedures. Image: Source However, ketamine is having a new heyday as patients and clinicians are looking to the drug to help treat severe depression. Although it is still considered an “off-label” use of the medication, researchers from the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, have just completed clinical trials using ketamine to treat depression. Although the initial trial consisted of just 16 senior citizens, the researchers are extremely optimistic about the emerging results, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Lead Professor Colleen Woo reported to ABC News in Australia that “all the symptoms of depression across the board disappeared. So [the patients] felt better, they were able to enjoy things, they were interested in...

Page 1 of 33123...10...Last ›