Rutgers Researchers Develop Automated Robotic Device For Faster Blood Testing

The testing used artificial arms with plastic tubes that served as blood vessels

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The findings, published in the journal Diabetologia, were based on data from nearly 2,800 children with a first-degree relative with Type-1 diabetes.
New shoe insole could treat diabetic foot ulcers. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an automated blood drawing and testing device that provides rapid results and allows health care practitioners to spend more time treating patients.

The study, published in the journal TECHNOLOGY, suggests that the device provides highly accurate results from a white blood cell test, using a blood-like fluid spiked with fluorescent microbeads.

It includes an image-guided robot for drawing blood from veins, a sample-handling module and a centrifuge-based blood analyser, researchers said.

The testing used artificial arms with plastic tubes that served as blood vessels.

“This device represents the holy grail in blood testing technology,” said co-author Martin L. Yarmush from the Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“Integrating miniaturised robotic and microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) systems, this technology combines the breadth and accuracy of traditional blood drawing and laboratory testing with the speed and convenience of point-of-care testing,” Yarmush added.

According to researchers, diagnostic blood testing is the most commonly performed clinical procedure in the world, and it influences most of the medical decisions made in hospitals and laboratories.

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But the success rate of manually drawing blood samples depends on clinicians’ skill and patient physiology and nearly all test results come from centralised labs that handle large numbers of samples and use labour-intensive analytical techniques, researchers added.

The device could provide rapid test results at bedsides or in ambulances, emergency rooms, clinics and doctors’ offices. (IANS)

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Having a Child with Cancer Doesn’t Impact Parents’ Separation: Researchers

Being parents to a cancer patient kid doesn't trigger separation, say researchers

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Chldhood cancer may not trigger seperation among parents according to researchers. Pixabay

Contrary to traditional belief, researchers now say that having a child with cancer did not appear to impact parents’ risk of separation or divorce or affect future family planning.

Childhood cancer can cause feelings of fear and uncertainty among parents and burden them with many practical challenges related to caregiving and work-related obligations, according to the study published in the journal Cancer.

For the findings, the research team from the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre examined data from several registries in Denmark, linking information on parents of children diagnosed with cancer in 1982-2014 (7,066 children and 12,418 case parents) with parents of children without cancer (69,993 children and 125,014 comparison parents).

Parents were followed until 10 years after diagnosis, separation or divorce, death, emigration, or the end of 2017, whichever came first.

Overall, parents of children with cancer had a four per cent lower risk of separation and an eight per cent lower risk of divorce compared with parents of children without cancer.

Among parents of children with cancer, those who were younger had less education, and were unemployed had elevated risks for separation and divorce.

The findings showed that risks were also higher among parents of children diagnosed at a younger age.

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Parents of children with cancer had a four per cent lower risk of separation. Pixabay

The investigators also evaluated how the diagnosis of cancer in a child affects parents’ decisions on having another child.

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They expected that parents of a child with cancer would have fewer children than parents of children without cancer and that they would postpone having another child.

This was not the case, however, as the researchers found that the childhood cancer experience did not negatively affect parents’ future family planning in Denmark.

The researchers noted that health care providers should communicate these reassuring and encouraging findings to parents, but that support should be offered if needed to improve family life in the long term. (IANS)

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A Blend of Spices May Help in Lowering Inflammation in the Body: Researchers

Researchers suggest that adding a blend of spices to your meal may help in reducing inflammation

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Adding spices to your meal may increase its health benefits. Pixabay

Adding an array of spices to your meal is a surefire way to make it tastier and a part of Healthy Recipes, but it may increase its health benefits as well, say researchers, suggesting that a blend of spices may help in lowering inflammation in the body.

For the findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, the research team used a blend of basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme and turmeric.

In a randomised, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that when participants ate a meal high in fat and carbohydrates with six grams of a spice blend added, the participants had lower inflammation markers compared to when they ate a meal with less or no spices. “If spices are palatable to you, they might be a way to make a high-fat or high-carb meal more healthful,” said study researcher Connie Rogers, Associate Professor at Penn State University in the US.

According to the researchers, previous research has linked a variety of different spices, like ginger and turmeric, with anti-inflammatory properties. For the current study, the researchers recruited 12 men between the ages of 40 and 65, with overweight or obesity, and at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In random order, each participant ate three versions of a meal high in saturated fat and carbohydrates on three separate days: one with no spices, one with two grams of the spice blend, and one with six grams of the spice blend. The researchers drew blood samples before and then after each meal hourly for four hours to measure inflammatory markers.

oregano spices
the research team used a blend of many spices including oregano. Pixabay

“Additionally, we cultured the white blood cells and stimulated them to get the cells to respond to an inflammatory stimulus, similar to what would happen while your body is fighting an infection,” Rogers said. “We think that’s important because it’s representative of what would happen in the body. Cells would encounter a pathogen and produce inflammatory cytokines,” Rogers added.

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After analysing the data, the findings showed that inflammatory cytokines were reduced following the meal containing six grams of spices compared to the meal containing two grams of spices or no spices.

While the researchers can’t be sure which spice or spices are contributing to the effect, or the precise mechanism in which the effect is created, the results suggest that the spices have anti-inflammatory properties that help offset inflammation caused by the high-carb and high-fat meal. (IANS)

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German Researchers Identify Potential Cell Targets for COVID-19 Treatment

German researchers discovered the potential cell targets for treating SARS-CoV-2

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A team of German researchers identified potential cellular targets for treating COVID-19. Pixabay

A team of German researchers has identified potential cellular targets for treating SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

A team of biochemists and virologists at Goethe University and the Frankfurt University Hospital in Germany tested a series of compounds in laboratory models and found some which slowed down or stopped virus reproduction.

According to the researchers, these results now enable the search for an active substance to be narrowed down to a small number of already approved drugs.

Based on the current findings, published in the journal Nature, a US company said that it is preparing clinical trials. A Canadian company is also starting a clinical study with a different substance.

Using a technique developed at the Institute for Biochemistry II at Goethe University, researchers from both institutions were together able to show how a SARS-CoV-2 infection changes the human host cells.

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The campus of Goethe University in Germany. Wikimedia Commons

They used a particular form of mass spectrometry called the mePROD method, which they had developed only a few months previously. This method makes it possible to determine the amount and synthesis rate of thousands of proteins within a cell.

“Thanks to the mePROD-technology we developed, we were for the first time able to trace the cellular changes upon infection over time and with high detail in our laboratory. We were obviously aware of the potential scope of our findings,” said study lead author Christian Munch from Goethe University.

“However, they are based on a cell culture system and require further testing,” Munch added.

The findings paint a picture of the progression of a SARS-CoV-2 infection: whilst many viruses shut down the host’s protein production to the benefit of viral proteins, SARS-CoV-2 only slightly influences the protein production of the host cell, with the viral proteins appearing to be produced in competition to host cell proteins.

Instead, a SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to an increased protein synthesis machinery in the cell.

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The researchers were able to reduce virus reproduction using translation inhibitors. Pixabay

The researchers suspected this was a weak spot of the virus and were indeed able to significantly reduce virus reproduction using something known as translation inhibitors, which shut down protein production.

Twenty-four hours after infection, the virus causes distinct changes to the composition of the host proteome: while cholesterol metabolism is reduced, activities in carbohydrate metabolism and in the modification of RNA as protein precursors increase.

In line with this, the scientists were successful in stopping virus reproduction in cultivated cells by applying inhibitors of these processes.

Similar success was achieved by using a substance that inhibits the production of building blocks for the viral genome.

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According to the study, among the substances that stopped viral reproduction in the cell culture system was 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose (2-DG), which interferes directly with the carbohydrate metabolism necessary for viral reproduction.

The US company Moleculin Biotech possesses a substance called WP1122, a prodrug similar to 2-DG.

“The successful use of substances that are components of already approved drugs to combat SARS-CoV-2 is a great opportunity in the fight against the virus,” said study researcher Jindrich Cinatl. (IANS)