Monday September 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

Tiny Bubbles In Body Better Than Chemotherapy, Research Suggests

Researchers have found that tiny bubbles in our body might potentially be used to treat cancer and could fight the disease better than chemotherapy

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Cancer, Treatment, Chemotherapy, Tiny Bubbles, Research
"What we've done is improve a therapeutic approach to delivering enzyme-producing genes that can convert certain drugs into toxic agents and target tumours." Pixabay

Researchers have found that tiny bubbles in our body might potentially be used to treat cancer and could fight the disease better than chemotherapy.

Healthy cells in our body release nano-sized bubbles that transfer genetic material such as DNA and RNA to other cells. It’s your DNA that stores the important information necessary for RNA to produce proteins and make sure they act accordingly.

According to the researchers, these bubbly extracellular vesicles (EV) could become mini treatment transporters, carrying a combination of therapeutic drugs and genes that target cancer cells and kill them.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, focused on breast cancer cells in mice.

“What we’ve done is improve a therapeutic approach to delivering enzyme-producing genes that can convert certain drugs into toxic agents and target tumours,” said the study’s lead author Masamitsu Kanada, Assistant Professor at the Michigan State University.

Cancer, Chemotherapy, Tiny Bubbles, Research, Treatment
A Caucasian female nurse smiles as she administers chemotherapy through a catheter to an African American male patient in a clinical setting. Wikimedia Commons

These drugs or prodrugs start out as inactive compounds. But once they metabolize in the body, they are immediately activated and can get to work on fighting everything from cancer to headaches.

Aspirin is an example of a common prodrug.

In this case, researchers used EVs, to deliver the enzyme-producing genes that could activate a prodrug combination therapy of ganciclovir and CB1954 in breast cancer cells.

Minicircle DNA and regular plasmid – two different gene vectors that act as additional delivery mechanisms for DNA – were loaded into the vesicles to see which was better at helping transport treatment.

This is known as a gene-directed enzyme, prodrug therapy.

ALSO READ: Here’s How Poverty Linked with the Ageing Process

They found that the minicircle DNA was 14 times more effective at delivery and even more successful at killing cancerous tumours.

“Conventional chemotherapy isn’t able to differentiate between tumours and normal tissue, so it attacks it all,” Kanada said.

With EVs, treatment can be targeted and because of their compatibility with the human body, this type of delivery could minimize the risk of unwanted immune responses that can come with other gene therapies.

“If EVs prove to be effective in humans, it would be an ideal platform for gene delivery and it could be used in humans sooner than we expect,” Kanada added. (IANS)