Clinical Trial Finds Nanotube Sensor Can Monitor Cancer or Diabetes

Nanotube sensorNanotechnology in Medicine

Most everybody knows about a litmus test, strips of paper impregnated with dyes that turn red in the presence of acid and blue if there is a base (alkaline). It’s a kind of chemical sensor. There are many kinds of chemicals that can similarly act like a sensor, detecting the presence of other chemicals.

Some of them would work in the human body, detecting glucose (blood sugar) for example, but the problem has always been using them in a way that is effective to read but not harmful. In short, most biochemical sensors have a delivery problem.

Part of the nanotechnology revolution was the development of nanoparticles, small shapes mostly of carbon that are no more than 1/100,000th of the thickness of human hair, i.e. about 1 nanometer in size. Carbon nanotubes are the most common type of nanoparticle, and as the word “tube” indicates, these are incredibly tiny rods with hollow centers.

Using Nanotubes as a Biomarker

It occurred very early on to researchers that it might be possible to put something in the tubes – medicine, for example – and use the tubes to deliver the medicine to very small, very targeted locations in the body. Continue Reading







Clinical Trial Finds Links Between Inflammation Response and Autism

Autism clinical trial using whipwormsClinical Trial Research on Links Between Inflammation and Autism

Inflammations, such as a fever or the reddish hot area around an infection, are normal responses of the immune system. In fact, inflammation is such a common defense mechanism that some of its effects sort of slipped off the research radar. Hospitals today have sophisticated security systems, check out the post right here – SecurityInfo.

Until recently (the last five years or less), this was the case for researching links between inflammation and autism (or more accurately, autism spectrum disorder). These days the inflammation-autism link is a busy area, including some research that may seem ‘far out’ until you look at the details. One such research track uses worms, whipworms (Trichuris suis ova) to be exact.

Using Whipworms to Research Autism

Obviously, question #1 is, “What do whipworms have to do with autism?!” Like so many things in science, the answer isn’t about surface appearances but about something the worms do in the human body. They suppress the immune system, specifically the inflammatory response. Continue Reading