tech

A New FDA-Approved Therapy That Treats Leukemia and Lymphoma

Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, or CAR-T, is a precision medicine approach to treating certain forms of leukemia and lymphoma. The patients own cells are filtered and separated, then mixed with a deactivated virus that causes the cells to grow an artificial receptor that will track down the CD19 antigen expressed by these cancers. The modified T-cells are then reintroduced to the patient’s blood stream to begin therapy. Click here to read the press announcement from the FDA Newsroom. The FDA’s August 2017 approval of the CAR-T therapy known as tisagenlecleucel for certain pediatric and young adult patients with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia was the first gene therapy approved in the United States. Less than two months later, the approval of axicabtagene ciloleucel expands the milestone further and reinforces the FDA’s willingness to support these novel therapies. Earlier this year, the FDA was in works to approve therapy which genetically alter’s a patient’s T-cells: 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,...

Scientists Develop New Antibody to Target HIV Strains

In 2016, HIV continued to confound patients, physicians, and researchers while resulting in one million deaths due to AIDS-related illness worldwide. Additionally, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV and 1.8 million new HIV infections reported. HIV mutational ability generally inactivates the immune system leading to lethal virulence. As a result of a collaboration between Sanofi and the United States National Institutes of Health, research scientists have developed a revolutionary tri-specific antibody designed to target three separate components of HIV, disrupting resistance mechanisms that render accepted therapeutic paradigms ineffective. Preliminary studies reveal that in twenty-four monkeys treated with the antibody and then infected with HIV, no test subjects progressed to developing symptoms or advanced disease. Beginning in 2018, the tri-specific antibody will be tested in humans. HIV life expectancy is improving. A new study published in The Lancet reports advances in antiretroviral drug treatment (ART) that improve life expectancy for patients living with HIV. ART is the standard treatment regime for HIV patients. While ART cannot cure HIV, a combination of medications help patients live longer and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. ART was first introduced in 1996. One year after ART was introduced, the FDA approved Combivir, a combination drug taken as a single daily tablet, which made taking daily medication HIV patients easier. Since then, ART initiation has improved by leaps and bounds, making medication management easier for patients. Reference: Xu L, Pegu...

5 Ways How E-Learning Can Simplify Your Medical Studies

E-learning has brought about a great revolution in almost all fields of study, and none more so than in the medical fraternity. Learning from online medical courses has opened up new ways of studying, and brought about more opportunities for students to understand the subject material in a completely novel fashion. Traditional education is fraught with multiple limitations; chief amongst them being their shortage of resources at hand to teach a subject, as well as their relative inflexibility. The high cost and busy classrooms of many medical schools forbid effective learning in an aspiring student, killing their enthusiasm and the joy of learning that makes medicine beautiful, but, the rapid advances of digital technology throughout the world has led to a proliferation of services offering replacement, or supplemental, medical courses online. This has rapidly advanced the learning opportunities for medical students around the world and simplified medical studies. The following article lists the various ways in which online medical courses have simplified the task of delivering high-quality medical education to any willing learner. E-Learning gives students guidance Medicine is vast and often students get lost in that vastness without the right learning and guidance. Good e-learning courses offer an effective way out to master the medical program by providing a learning schedule. Moreover, keeping record of the students’ performance and measuring progress is essential to help students mastering the...

This Surgical Hydrogel Can Seal Wounds Without Stitches

Methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin, or MeTro, is an elastic hydrogel compound that can be applied to internal or external wounds during surgery or in emergency situations. Once treated with UV light, MeTro’s sealant properties are activated within seconds, effectively staunching blood flow and quickly closing wounds. The hydrogel can even be fine-tuned to different degrees of elasticity depending on the intensity of UV light exposure. In early phase research, MeTro was successfully tested on the arteries of rodents and lungs of pigs. Human clinical trials are expected to begin in 2018. The collaborating research teams from University of Sydney, Harvard University, and Northeastern University responsible for this compound are confident that MeTro will have a volume of uses beyond wound management. Click here to review the publication in Science Mag. How far have we come from surgery? Just two years ago, we were exploring surgery free cures for appendicitis. Recently, several studies in Europe have re-investigated this treatment option and determined that antibiotics can be used to treat appendicitis instead of appendix removal surgery, reports The New York Times. Of the 1,000 participants, 70% of those who took antibiotics needed no further surgery or treatment. Where antibiotics were not effective, subsequent surgeries were completed without any additional risks. Physicians who participated in the study proposed valuable questions regarding when to offer antibiotics and when is this treatment is most cost-effective. Given these unanswered questions and...

Robot Therapy: Can a Software Program Treat Depression?

Although traditional talk-therapy sessions are conducted face-to-face, advances in smartphone technology and video-calling have significantly altered the age old “therapy couch” model and brought talk therapy into the lives of people who aren’t able to visit a therapist regularly. Further advances in artificial intelligence may mean that someday patients might not need a therapist at all – just a computer program. Image: The Doctor Is In Your Pocket by Juhan Sonin /CC by 2.0 Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston have developed and tested a computer program that directly interacts with patients, in between their regular therapy sessions, that helps to reinforce outcomes from the group therapy and teach techniques to manage stress. Advances in conversational artificial intelligence have enabled computer scientists to develop software programs that interact with patients, either through voice or text, in such a natural way that some patients’ brains respond to these programs the same way they would when talking to a human. These programs are known as “conversational agents,” and they have been particularly successful at psychological evaluations, as studies have shown that patients may be more likely to give open and honest responses when they believe they are speaking to a computer program rather than a human. The researchers at Northeastern found that, when combined with group therapy visits, patients who used the conversational agent along with their group sessions had significantly better...

Robots Are The Future Dentists in China

Scientists from both the Fourth Military Medical University’s Affiliated Stomatology Hospital in Xi’an and Beihang University’s Institute of Robotics in Beijing, China have developed hardware and software capable of autonomously performing dental implant surgeries within a margin of error of 0.2 to 0.3 millimeters — in short, robots have taken over as dentists in China. By supporting this research, the national government is attempting to address China’s shortage of dentists along with the high surgical error rate currently seen in their dental industry. Although medical staff were present during the successful pilot operation, they did not intervene in the one-hour surgery. If being a medical doctor isn’t your thing and want to be a dentist, check out the top medical schools in the world. Dentistry is a great career path and can lead to living a secure life. If you have decided to go with dentistry, you have to consider which school is the best to complete your course. Being part of the medical field, you will have great earning potential. If you like interacting with different people every day, but do not see yourself as a doctor, dentistry might be a great option for you. Before you can become a dentist, you are going to have to consider where to study and this is where I come in. Here is a list of the top dental schools in the...

Pig DNA is Considered Identical to Human DNA

Scientists at Recombinetics are conducting research on pigs in an effort to accelerate cancer cure development and potentially create a sustainable source of genetically-matched human organs for transplantation. While experiments involving farm animals are nothing new in the world of medical research, the pigs at Recombinetics farm in Minnesota are unique because they have been modified to express human traits using TALENs technology. Cancer has been cured in mice models many times, but the same techniques do not seem to translate well in humans. The company believes the 98% similarity between the human genome and the pig genome may help close the gap between successful cures in animal models and resulting efficacious treatments and/or cures for humans. Click here to read more about this company’s research on CNBC. Earlier this year, researchers were able to identify that DNA Bacteria can store information, like 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...

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