A ‘bioelectronic medicine’ that speeds nerve repair

Scientists have developed the first bioelectronic medicine — an implantable, biodegradable wireless device that speeds nerve regeneration and improves the healing of a damaged nerve.

Researchers at the Washington University in the US developed a device that delivers regular pulses of electricity to damaged peripheral nerves in rats after a surgical repair process, accelerating the re-growth of nerves in their legs and enhancing the ultimate recovery of muscle strength and control. The size of a dime and the thickness of a sheet of paper, the wireless device operate for about two weeks before naturally absorbed into the body, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

The technology, called “bioelectronic medicine,” provides therapy and treatment over a clinically relevant period of time and directly at the site where it’s needed, thereby reducing side-effects or risks associated with conventional, permanent implants.

While the device has not been tested in humans, the findings offer promise as a future therapeutic option for nerve injury patients,  researchers said.

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Embryo Transfer Technology

Embryo transfer technology (ETT) has revolutionised the breeding strategies in Bovines as a tool to optimise the genetic improvement in cattle.

Department of Animal husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in co-operation with 12 States has undertaken a Mass Embryo Transfer programme in Indigenous Breeds under the scheme, National Mission on Bovine Productivity.

It has been planned to carry out 440 embryo transfers during October 2-10, 2017 throughout the country. The programme is implemented with the objective of conservation and development of indigenous breeds under Rashtriya Gokul Mission.

Through the use of ETT, (i) a farmer can get a 5-6 fold increase in the number of offsprings, (ii) the calves so born will be of high genetic merit and (iii) the offsprings born will be free from diseases.

The programme has been initiated in 12 ETT centres across the country from 2nd October and will continue till 10th October 2017. Under this programme, embryos of higher genetic merit indigenous bovines are being transferred into surrogate cows.

Embryos of Indigenous breeds such as Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Ongole, Deoni and Vechur have been proposed to be transferred under this programme. On the first day of ET programme held on 2nd October, 35 Nos. of embryos were transferred into recipients.

Remaining will be transferred on different days till 10th of October 2017.The technology now being taken up to the doorstep of the farmers will result in rapid propagation of high genetic merit indigenous cattle

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U.S. Approves First Gene Therapy for Cancer

The United States approved the first gene therapy in the nation — a treatment that uses a patient’s own immune cells to fight childhood leukaemia.

The treatment is made by Novartis and is called Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel).
This type of immunotherapy, known as a CAR-T cell therapy, was known by the term CTL019 until now.

It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for children and young adult patients up to age 25 with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Studies have shown that 83% of patients responded to the treatment, achieving remission within three months.

The treatment is not a pill or a form of chemotherapy. It uses a patient’s own immune cells, called T-cells, along with white blood cells.

These cells are removed from a patient, sent to a lab, and encoded with a viral vector, reprogrammed, and returned to the patient.

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IIT team makes ‘implantable pancreas’

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have successfully created an implantable bioartificial pancreas model grown within a 3D silk scaffold. The pancreas encapsulates insulin-producing cells and is capable of naturally producing insulin in a sustained manner.

Scientists coated the scaffold containing beta cells with a semi-permeable membrane barrier. The membrane allows insulin produced to be released into the bloodstream but does not allow the immune cells to cross the membrane and kill the islet cells.

To ensure that the implant is not rejected by the body’s immune system, drugs that suppress the immune system were embedded in the scaffold.

Studies carried in the lab showed that the beta cells in the scaffold were able to produce an adequate amount of insulin in response to different glucose levels within a few seconds.

If successful in animal and human trials, it can be used for treating people with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes arises when the body’s immune system kills the insulin-producing beta cells. Since type 1 diabetes patients do not have insulin-producing beta cells, the researchers have turned to stem cells to produce beta cells.

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Chemical from turmeric helps treat cancer in children

Scientists in the U.S. have found yet another use for curcumin, the bioactive component of turmeric that is widely used in Indian cuisine, this time to treat cancer in children. Researchers at Nemours Children’s Hospital and the University of Central Florida (UCF) have found that nanoparticles loaded with curcumin can target and destroy neuroblastoma tumour cells. Children aged five or less are most commonly affected.
In their study, the researchers attached curcumin to cerium oxide nanoparticles and tested the nano-curcumin formulation in cell lines of a high-risk form of neuroblastoma.
This formulation induced substantial cell death in neuroblastoma cells while producing no or only minor toxicity in healthy cells,” says the report published in Nanoscale . Curcumin has been shown to have substantial anti-cancer ability, but its low solubility and poor stability have restricted its use in therapeutic applications. The study demonstrates a treatment method “without the toxicity of agressive therapy” and shows that nanoparticles can be “an effective delivery vehicle” for cancer drugs, said a statement from UCF.

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