Researchers at MIT, Draper, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed an ingestible capsule that can be controlled using Bluetooth wireless technology. The capsule, which can be customized to deliver drugs, sense environmental conditions, or both, can reside in the stomach for at least a month, transmitting information and responding to instructions from a user’s smartphone.
In general, women who have had children have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who have never given birth. However, new research has found that moms don’t experience this breast cancer protection until many years later and may face elevated risk for more than 20 years after their last pregnancy.
Researchers at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, have created a noninvasive technology that detects when nerve cells fire based on changes in shape. The method could be used to observe nerve activity in light-accessible parts of the body, such as the eye, which would allow physicians to quantitatively monitor visual function at the cellular level. The study was published in the journal Light: Science and Applications. The work was funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers have discovered that a hormone, fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), is extremely elevated in mice with liver disease that mimics the same condition in patients with methylmalonic academia (MMA), a serious genomic disorder. Based on this finding, medical teams treating patients with MMA will be able to measure FGF21 levels to predict how severely patients’ livers are affected and when to refer patients for liver transplants. The findings also might shed light on more common disorders such as fatty liver disease, obesity and diabetes by uncovering similarities in how MMA and these disorders affect energy metabolism and, more specifically, the function of mitochondria, the cells’ energy powerhouses. The study, conducted by researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, was published Dec. 6 in JCI Insight.
Infants and toddlers in low-income, rural areas may be at higher risk for second- and third-hand smoke than previously reported, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. Approximately 15 percent of children in the study tested positive for cotinine, a byproduct formed when the body breaks down nicotine, at levels comparable to those of adult smokers. About 63 percent of children in the study had detectable levels of cotinine, suggesting widespread exposure to smoke. The study appears in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
An interim analysis of a large phase 3 clinical trial found that the combination of ibrutinib plus rituximab was superior to standard treatment for patients age 70 and younger with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The trial met its primary endpoint of an improvement in progression-free survival (the length of time patients live before their disease worsens). The combination also improved overall survival, the trial’s secondary endpoint. In general, patients in the ibrutinib–rituximab arm were less likely to experience serious side effects than those in the standard treatment arm. Until now, the standard treatment for previously untreated CLL has been a six-month course of FCR, which combines the chemotherapy drugs fludarabine and cyclophosphamide with rituximab.
A scientist from the National Institutes of Health will present promising, early results from a human clinical trial testing a novel gene replacement therapy in people with severe sickle cell disease. Preliminary findings suggest that the approach has an acceptable level of safety and might help patients consistently produce normal red blood cells instead of the sickle-shaped ones that mark this painful, life-threatening disease.
The National Institutes of Health announced that enrollment for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study is now complete and, in early 2019, scientists will have access to baseline data from all ABCD Study participants.
Scientists at the National Eye Institute (NEI) have found that neurons in the superior colliculus, an ancient midbrain structure found in all vertebrates, are key players in allowing us to detect visual objects and events. This structure doesn’t help us recognize what the specific object or event is; instead, it’s the part of the brain that decides something is there at all. By comparing brain activity recorded from the right and left superior colliculi at the same time, the researchers were able to predict whether an animal was seeing an event. The findings were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
National Institutes of Health scientists and their colleagues have found evidence of the infectious agent of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in the eyes of deceased CJD patients. The finding suggests that the eye may be a source for early CJD diagnosis and raises questions about the safety of routine eye exams and corneal transplants. Sporadic CJD, a fatal neurodegenerative prion disease of humans, is untreatable and difficult to diagnose.