Saturday March 23, 2019

New Expanding Pills To Track Ulcers and Stomach Cancer

In the lab, the researchers dunked the pill in various solutions of water and fluid resembling gastric juices.

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Aspirin, Ovarian cancer
New ingestible, expanding pill to track ulcers, stomach cancer.

MIT engineers have designed an ingestible pill that upon reaching the stomach quickly swells to the size of a soft, squishy ping-pong ball and could potentially track ulcers, cancers, and other intestinal conditions.

The inflatable pill is embedded with a sensor that continuously tracks the stomach’s temperature for up to 30 days.

The pill may safely deliver a number of different sensors to the stomach to monitor, for instance, pH levels, or signs of certain bacteria or viruses.

Ulcers, Pill
The combination enables the pill to quickly swell. IANS

“The dream is to have a Jell-O-like smart pill, that once swallowed stays in the stomach and monitors the patient’s health for a long time such as a month,” said Xuanhe Zhao, Associate Professor at MIT.

“With our design, you wouldn’t need to go through a painful process to implant a rigid balloon.

“Maybe you can take a few of these pills instead, to help fill out your stomach, and lose weight. We see many possibilities for this hydrogel device,” Zhao said.

Pills
The inflatable pill is embedded with a sensor. IANS

If the pill needs to be removed from the stomach, a patient can drink a solution of calcium that triggers the pill to quickly shrink to its original size and pass safely out of the body.

The new pill, detailed in Nature Communications journal, is made from two types of hydrogels — mixtures of polymers and water that resemble the consistency of Jell-O.

The combination enables the pill to quickly swell in the stomach while remaining impervious to the stomach’s churning acidic environment.

Also Read: This Biodegradable Plaster can Treat Your Mouth Ulcers

In the lab, the researchers dunked the pill in various solutions of water and fluid resembling gastric juices, and found the pill inflated to 100 times its original size in about 15 minutes – much faster than existing swellable hydrogels.

Once inflated, Zhao noted that the pill is about the softness of tofu or Jell-O, yet surprisingly strong. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Discover Balance of Two Enzymes That May Help Treat Pancreatic Cancer

While still in the earliest stages, Newton hoped this information might one day aid pancreatic diagnostics and treatment

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

A new research has set the stage for clinicians to potentially use levels of a pancreatic cancer patient’s PHLPP1 and PKC enzymes as a prognostic and for researchers to develop new therapeutic drugs that change the balance of the two enzymes as a means to treat the disease.

The study, published on Wednesday in Molecular Cell, was led by Alexandra Newton, professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, and Timothy Baffi, a graduate student in her lab, Xinhua news agency reported.

The new study built on the team’s work in 2015 that found the enzyme PKC, which was believed in previous studies to promote tumour growth, actually suppressed it.

The latest study took the investigation a step further by uncovering how cells regulate PKC activity and discovered that any time an over-active PKC is inadvertently produced, the PHLPP1 “proofreader” tags it for destruction.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

“That means the amount of PHLPP1 in your cells determines your amount of PKC,” Newton said. “And it turns out those enzyme levels are especially important in pancreatic cancer.”

The team observed 105 pancreatic cancer tumours to analyze the enzyme levels in each one. About 50 per cent of patients with low PHLPP1/high PKC lived longer than five-and-a-half years.

Also Read- A Brain Circuit Can Help Reverse Craving for Liquor, Says Study

While still in the earliest stages, Newton hoped this information might one day aid pancreatic diagnostics and treatment.

Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, a large gland in the digestive system. It typically doesn’t show symptoms in the early stages. Sufferers tend to develop signs, such as back pain and jaundice, when it has spread to other organs. (IANS)