With alternative treatments for cancer on the rise, we’re also seeing an increase in unusual remedies. If anything from avocado husks to flexible batteries are on the market, using livestock should be no surprise. At least not to engineers in Japan. Researchers are genetically modifying chickens to lay eggs filled with cancer-preventing drugs.
The eggs were developed using genome-editing technology to produce a protein called interferon, which is used to treat hepatitis, multiple sclerosis and malignant skin cancer.
Injecting it into cancer patients three times per week can prevent cancer cells from multiplying, while also boosting T cells to fight tumors.
Conventionally, interferon costs anywhere between $250 to $900. Interferon from chicken eggs, on the other hand, won’t have patients clucking up more than half the price. What remains to be more dangerous than cancer itself is the price tag that comes with therapy.
“Cancer drugs are not a luxury item, like an expensive car, that people can choose to buy or not to buy…. When prices come down, mortality rates will surely follow.” [said Brian Bolwell of the Cleveland Clinic.]
Perhaps, one day we’ll all agree that curing cancer isn’t about the money. Kudos, Mr. Bolwell. Kudos.
With the destigmatization of mental illness in a digital playing field, many are turning to the Internet for treatment. Apps like Koko allow patients to seek help virtually, and now many can use DIY kits to self-diagnose. More alarming cases may call for medication, but a U.K. research team thinks the psychedelic ayahuasca plant may be able to treat depression.
“The psychedelic state induced by ayahuasca often makes users reflect on personal concerns and memories and produces intense emotions,” note Dr. [Will] Lawn and colleagues. “These effects are highly valued by ayahuasca users who characterize the drug experience as similar to a psychotherapeutic intervention.”
The brew does contain addictive compounds but proved in last year’s Global Drug Survey to be psychologically beneficial. Furthermore, users tended not to gravitate towards alcohol.
“Recent research has demonstrated ayahuasca’s potential as a psychiatric medicine,” [Lawn] adds, “and our current study provides further evidence that it may be a safe and promising treatment.”
As a purely observational study, Lawn and his team will have to commit to (possibly years) of additional research about the plant’s potential to treat depression. While their analysis has been the most in-depth to date, controlled trials make for a safe bet. The world could use another upper.
Since “you only live once” became every millennial’s official mantra, people have been on the hunt for the next health craze. Billionaires are sponsoring lab-grown meat experiments, while schools are encouraging students to try vegan lunch menus. Though diet and exercise are key to long living, an Amish community with anti-aging genes may give us some insight.
“For the first time we are seeing a molecular marker of aging (telomere length), a metabolic marker of aging (fasting insulin levels) and a cardiovascular marker of aging (blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness) all tracking in the same direction in that these individuals were generally protected from age-related changes.” [said researcher Douglas Vaughan.]
In short, members of the Amish kindred lacked a protein called PAI-1. Due to Amish locals’ genetic isolation, acquiring the mutation is almost always likely. Scientists are now testing a copycat drug on a control group.
“That was the gateway that could allow us to investigate the impact of a partial PAI-1 deficiency over a lifetime,” says Vaughan.
If the trials are successful, it may see improvements in diabetes research. Sufferers of chronic balding may even grow their hair back.
As new medicine continues to break ground, healthy life hacks are bringing to light the strangest ingredients. From avocado husks to curry powder, the spectrum of power foods seems never-ending. The fact of the matter is — there are no limitations. In a recent study, a team at the Rockefeller University (literally) unearthed a previously undiscovered antibiotic in soil samples.
Tests show the compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA.
With over 700,000 people falling victim to drug-resistant diseases a year, the discovery is a huge sigh of relief. Gene sequencing proved the antidote’s ability to cure skin wounds. However exciting, the wait is going to be a long one.
Dr. [Sean] Brady said: “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic.
“It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.”
In the meantime, stick to moisturizer, people — flower pot dirt won’t do you any good.
There are a rising number of communities learning to address drug addiction as a health issue. All the same, some have yet to remove the stigma (and anyway, 3D printing can repair brain damage). In a perfectly timed series of events, the FDA has approved a device that may encourage other societies to tackle addiction head on. The electronic earpiece inhibits opioid withdrawal symptoms.
“Given the scope of the epidemic of opioid addiction, we need to find innovative new ways to help those currently addicted live lives of sobriety with the assistance of medically assisted treatment,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
The NSS-2 Bridge sends pulses to the cranial nerve, reducing nausea, anxiety, and body aches. Clinical trials showed that 88% of 73 patients experienced an easy segue into medical treatment.
“I’ve never seen it not work for an opioid patient,” [said Innovative Health Solutions president Brian] Carrico… “For us to sit on this technology, from a humanity standpoint, is incredibly irresponsible.”
As with any experimental technology, including the Bridge in addiction treatment costs an arm and a leg (and maybe a lung). So far, patients spend between $600 and $1,500. On the upside, it’s proven to many that it’s never too late to recover.
Yet to conjure up a cure for cancer, researchers are relying mainly on radiation therapy and implant technology to treat patients. Dietitians are even promoting unusual superfoods such as avocados, whose husks can treat harmful diseases. However, a breakthrough by Moderna may soon see individualized vaccines on the market.
With the right combination of letters, Moderna says it can hijack a cell’s protein-making mechanisms to create a drug within the body. If it works, mRNA could have many applications: The company also has programs for infectious diseases, cardiovascular disorders and rare diseases.
Testing the vaccine on a single patient, the research has a lot to prove. Moderna’s current tester vial is a result of meticulous work arranging DNA based on target proteins. While it seems promising, there are still a lot of risks to consider.
“The tumor has all kinds of tricks to fight back,” said Greg Lizee, an associate professor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center who specializes in melanoma. “Cancers can reduce targets on the surface or secrete nasty stuff that’s toxic for the immune system.”
To play it safe, Moderna is experimenting with patients who are already clear of tumors. Though the stakes are high, the research may be worth (literally) a shot.
Due to the scarcity of resources, we’re doing everything we can to minimize food waste. Restaurants in the Gulf Coast are returning empty oyster shells to depleting reefs. Apps are helping restaurants donate excess food to the needy. The current generation is making the most out of avocados — but throwing away its most valuable part. As it turns out, avocado husks are chock-full of beneficial compounds that can treat harmful diseases.
For the study, [chemistry lecturer Debasish] Bandyopadhyay and his researchers ground up 300 dried avocado seed husks into 21 ounces of powder. After undergoing additional processing, they were able to extract three teaspoons of seed husk oil and more than an ounce of seed husk wax from the powder.
The oil compounds were found to be useful in anti-viral drugs and decreasing the risk of stroke. The wax was also a medical jackpot, among other things.
58 per cent of the compounds in the wax are “very good” plasticizers, which are used in industrial products… while the compound heptacosane could be an effective anti-tumor treatment for lung, breast and colorectal cancer.
As amateur home cooks, we ought to leave the husks to professionals. But collecting them in a basket wouldn’t be a bad idea. Millennials do love their avocado toast.
Extreme medical emergencies will often require major procedures. Sometimes, they call for replacement organs, which can now be lab-grown. While they may be effective, they aren’t always practical. Luckily, researchers from Fudan University have created bendable batteries that are implantable in humans.
The team created two flexible design batteries; one being a “2D” belt comprised of electrode films over a steel mesh, and the other being a carbon nanotube fibre weave with nanoparticle electrodes – both of which “showed excellent performance”.
Most lithium-ion batteries used in implants are flammable and pose safety hazards. The new flexible material is completely non-toxic and is safe to use on the brain. It can help restore the mobility of patients with spinal injuries, among other things.
The carbon nanotube in the battery converted dissolved oxygen into hydroxide ions at an accelerated rate which can starve cancerous cells.
Yes, you heard right — the batteries can treat cancer. Electrodes on the mechanism can tackle places that are difficult for injectable drugs to reach. But as with everything experimental, we have to play the waiting game, as the batteries are not yet available. On the bright side, most discoveries are occurring consecutively, which means they could go commercial sooner than we think.
3D printing is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. With it, researchers can produce anything from teeth to functioning hearts — and they’re not stopping there. An Australian public research university has found a way to treat brain diseases by 3D printing brain tissue.
The treatment is based on the 3D printing of tissue from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are stem cells that have the capability of differentiating into any type of adult cell, including brain cells.
With brain illnesses being the most difficult to treat, 3D printing can consider this one of its greatest successes. Anyone can donate iPSCs. Machines use a custom-designed bioink for printing.
“By developing this further we will be able to generate healthy and diseased tissues for research, identifying better drugs for medicine and replacing or repairing damaged tissues or organs due to injury or disease.”
The range of printable neurons can tackle conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. While we cannot yet print entire brains, there is hope for transplantable organs.
“There’s no doubt that sometime in the future engineering tissues by bioprinting iPSCs will be routinely performed for surgical treatments of patients with damaged or diseased tissue,”
The tissue, which can also be used to screen new drugs, is surely a breakthrough for the books.