Cyborg gel implant fights diabetes with light

Light can now be used to heal diabetes in mice. By implanting a transparent gel that contains genetically modified light-sensitive cells, researchers have demonstrated a new type of implant that could one day be used to treat disease and monitor toxins in people.

“Light is a great tool to interface with biological systems, but there is a fundamental problem. It gets scattered when it hits tissue, and at depths much thinner than our skin,” says lead author Myunghwan Choi of Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Choi and his colleagues designed an implantable gel that could get around this, by guiding light under the mouse’s skin. In experiments, the team impregnated the gel with different types of genetically modified cells before implanting it.

To control diabetes, the team shone light into the mouse and at the implanted gel using a fibre optic cable attached to its head. The light triggered cells in the gel to produce a compound that stimulated the secretion of insulin and stabilised blood glucose levels. Separately, the team also showed they could monitor for cadmium poisoning using cells that fluoresced when the mouse was under stress from the toxin.

Cut the cord

Though still at the prototype stage, the ultimate idea is to reduce the need for doctors to perform repeated injections and blood tests to monitor or treat patients.

“The promise is there,” agrees Fiorenzo Omenetto, a biotechnologist at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. But he adds it will have to get a little easier to live with than the current implant. “The tough thing here is the presence of a large implant and a fibre sticking out of your head. Not something I’d want if I were diabetic.”

Choi’s team plans to work on making the gel more user-friendly. For example, he says, “we are thinking of adding a micro-LED with a wireless power receiver [to the gel implant].”

“Genetically modified cells have been engineered for a variety of applications ranging from the treatment of cancer to the prevention of gout,” wrote Warren Chan of the University of Toronto, Canada, in a comment piece published alongside the work. “This suggests that the implantable hydrogel could be used for many biological and clinical applications.”

Journal reference: Nature Photonics, DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2013.278





If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




Have your say

Only subscribers may leave comments on this article. Please log in.

Only personal subscribers may leave comments on this article

Subscribe now to comment.

All comments should respect the New Scientist House Rules. If you think a particular comment breaks these rules then please use the “Report” link in that comment to report it to us.

If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.

Futurity.org – Obesity gene linked to skin cancer risk

Share this article


Print Print

DiggStumbleUponRedditDeliciousTechnorati FavoritesYahoo BookmarksGoogle BookmarksGoogle BuzzYahoo BuzzNewsVineLiveJournalTypePad PostWordPressBlogger PostTumblrPosterousMySpaceLinkedInGoogle ReaderFriendFeedInstapaperEvernoteSlashdotMixxFarkBeboOrkutNetvibes Share 

Republish this article

Creative Commons License

The text of this article by Futurity is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License.

More
Top Stories

Carbs for mom tied to respiratory virus in babies

Carbs for mom tied to respiratory virus in babies

Vortex knot created in lab for first time

Vortex knot created in lab for first time

Economy, not climate, tops global worry list

Economy, not climate, tops global worry list

See the game from a football’s perspective

See the game from a football’s perspective

Tool for biofuel may live in termite guts

Tool for biofuel may live in termite guts

Tanning salons open to 10-year-olds?

Tanning salons open to 10-year-olds?

‘Bracelet’ implant eases chronic heartburn

‘Bracelet’ implant eases chronic heartburn

Artificial ear from 3D printer looks very real

Artificial ear from 3D printer looks very real





New research shows that people with particular variations in a stretch of DNA within the FTO gene, called intron 8, could be at greater risk of developing melanoma.

Variations in a different part of the FTO gene, called intron 1, are already known to be the most important genetic risk factor for obesity and overeating. These variants are linked to Body Mass Index (BMI)—a measure of a person’s shape based on their weight and height.

Straight from the Source

Read the original study

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2571

Having a high BMI can increase the risk of various diseases including type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, womb (endometrial) cancer, and more.

But this research is the first to reveal that the gene affects a disease—melanoma—which isn’t linked to obesity and BMI.

The results, published in Nature Genetics, suggest that FTO has a more wide-ranging role than previously suspected, with different sections of the gene being involved in various diseases.

“This is the first time to our knowledge that this major obesity gene, already linked to multiple illnesses, has been linked to melanoma,” says study author Mark Iles, Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Leeds. “This raises the question whether future research will reveal that the gene has a role in even more diseases?

“When scientists have tried to understand how the FTO gene behaves, so far they’ve only examined its role in metabolism and appetite. But it’s now clear we don’t know enough about what this intriguing gene does.

“This reveals a hot new lead for research into both obesity-related illnesses and skin cancer.”

The researchers examined tumor samples in more than 13,000 melanoma patients and almost 60,000 unaffected people from around the world.

Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK with around 12,800 new cases and around 2,200 deaths each year.

“These are fascinating early findings that, if confirmed in further research, could potentially provide new targets for the development of drugs to treat melanoma,” says Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager.

“Advances in understanding more about the molecules driving skin cancer have already enabled us to develop important new skin cancer drugs that will make a real difference for patients,” continues Sharp.

“But it doesn’t detract from the importance of reducing your risk of the disease by enjoying the sun safely on winter breaks abroad and avoiding sunbeds. Getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma.”

Source: University of Leeds

What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin condition commonly found in babies and small children. The condition is divided into two types:

  • bullous impetigo – this causes large, painless, fluid-filled blisters.
  • non-bullous impetigo – this is more contagious than the former and causes sores that quickly burst to leave a yellowish-brown crust. It is more common than bullous impetigo, accounting for around 70% of all cases.

Impetigo is also classed as either primary, when bacteria enters otherwise healthy skin, or secondary, when the infection is brought on by another underlying cause, such as eczema.

The condition usually affect children because of the close contact they have in schools and nurseries and because their immune systems are not fully developed yet, it can however also affect adults who are living in extremely close proximity of each other, such as in army barracks.

Impetigo often affects babies in the nappy area

What causes it?

Impetigo is caused by infection with staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria. It can invade healthy skin through a cut or insect bite, but is more commonly caused by a secondary infection – i.e. when the skin is already affected by another condition, making it easier for the bacteria to penetrate its defences and establish an infection. Such underlying skin ailments might include eczema, scabies, head lice or nappy rash.

It is spread from person to person through close physical contact or by sharing towels, for example. Because symptoms do not appear until up to 10 days after initial exposure, it is difficult to control trasmission and the disease is often spread unintentionally.

What are the symptoms?

Impetigo does not cause any symptoms until 4 to 10 days after infection. Symptoms of bullous impetigo begin with the appearance of fluid-filled non-painful blisters, usually on the central part of the body above the waist, the arms or legs (but not the head or neck). These blisters eventually burst to leave a yellowish-brown crust, which heal and do not scar. This may be accompanied by:

  • Itching around the blisters
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands

[adsense]Non-bullous impetigo usually begins with the appearance of small red spots on the skin of the face, typically around the mouth and nose area. The neck, hands and other parts of the body might also be affected. In babies, they often appear in the nappy area. These develop into blisters and eventually burst, releasing a yellowish fluid and crusting over. These may be itchy or sore, but usually heal without scarring.

How is it treated?

It is important to take your child to the doctor, if you suspect he or she has impetigo, as antibiotic treatment is needed to get rid of the infection. In mild cases, an antibiotic cream applied locally is all that is needed, but in more severe cases antibiotic tablets or syrup are prescribed.

Once treated, the condition usually clears up within a week, but the child must remain out of school until the blisters crust over and heal to avoid infecting others. To prevent another episode, it is important to keep cuts and grazes clean and properly manage existing skin conditions.

Click here to read about LeAnn Rimes’ battle with eczema.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Sun tan is unachievable and a waste of time, say researchers

According to a new health report published in www.express.co.uk, people who are spending hours in the sun to get a full body tan are actually wasting their time as a full body tan is not possible. A research has brought out the fact that getting a consistent tone is something unachievable.

If you have ‘white bits’ on your body and wish to tan them as well, you might just never be able to do it as some parts of the body are more resistant to tanning. The research has been done by researchers at the Edinburgh University and has been published in the Journal of Experimental Dermatology.

The findings reported on www.bbc.co.uk say that hips are one of the areas that are resistant to tanning and even if they get a bit red when exposed to sun, they do not get as tanned as the other body parts.

Also, people who do not have any freckles are the ones who find it easy to get tanned. The skin of 100 volunteers was analyzed after exposing it six times to the UVB radiation. Buttocks and back were the exposed areas and they were analyzed after seven days to see the color after the redness disappeared.

The study was led by researcher Jonathan Rees and he was of the view that people should take care of their skin against sunburn and said that “One puzzle is why tumor numbers differ so much depending on site. Our work shows we are made up of different units of skin, which respond differently to sun and may afford different degrees of protection.”

Skin cancer is one consequence of lying out unprotected in the sun. Celebrities who have fought skin cancer in some form include Melanie GriffithBob Marley and Elizabeth Taylor.

Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tanning_bed_in_use.jpg, Author: Evil Erin; http://www.sxc.hu/photo/792321

Alicia Keys hurt over acne critique

29-year-old singer and songwriter Alicia Keys is one of the most successful recording artists around at the moment. When she struck it big and landed her first hit ‘Fallin’ in the international charts, she suddenly rose to superstardom. A dream come true for many, and surely for her as well, except that it was a difficult time for her, because of her skin problems.

Alicia had battled acne as a teenager, and while being picked on at school is tough, nothing prepared her for the constant and harsh criticism she had to endure from the world.

“When you’re in high school, somebody might say something (about acne) and hurt your feelings,” ContactMusic quotes her as saying. “Well, imagine the entire world looking at you, constantly scrutinising your face.

“I felt really hurt. I knew that you shouldn’t base your (self-esteem) on your physical appearance, so I tried to convince myself that I shouldn’t worry about it, but inside I felt like everyone was attacking me.

“It wasn’t easy at all, but I finally realized that I’m beautiful on the inside regardless of a couple of bumps here and there. Who cares?”

Too right.

Actress Cameron Diaz and singer Jessica Simpson are known to have battled with acne.

Images: PR Photos; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AliciaKeys.jpg, Author: jusez

Facebook may be cause of syphilis increase

Sexually transmitted disease, syphilis, may be exacerbated by the use of social networking sites such as Facebook, one expert told The Telegraph.

Speaking to the news provider, Professor Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, said:

“There has been a fourfold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected with more young women being affected. I don’t get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites.“

According to research, youngsters in Durham, Sunderland and Teesside are a quarter more likely to log on to sites such as facebook than anywhere else in the UK. The Telegraph states that there have been 30 cases of syphilis recorded in Teesside last year, but the true number is expected to be significantly higher.

“Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex,” Professor Kelly adds.

A spokesperson for Facebook has, however, branded the claim “ridiculous“. In a comment given to the British newspaper, the rep said:

[adsense]

“The assertion that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of syphilis is ridiculous. Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers responsible for bad vision. Today’s reports exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation.

“As Facebook’s more than 400 million users know, our website is not a place to meet people for casual sex – it’s a place for friends, family and co-workers to connect and share.”

The rash symptomatic of secondary syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the spread of a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of the condition are also on the rise in the US. Between 2005 and 2006, the number of cases reported increased 11.8%.

The infection is usually passed on through direct contact with sores, called chancres, which appear in the sufferer’s genital area. However, it can also be transmitted through blood transfusion and from a pregnant woman to her child.

There are three stages of syphilis, including the primary – which is marked by the appearance of chancres –  and secondary – where other symptoms become visible. These may include rashes, hair loss, fever, sore throat, fatigue and headaches.

If left untreated, the disease can progress into its latent stages and cause paralysis, blindness, dementia and even death.

Images: Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Manifestations_of_secondary_syphilis_Treponema_pallidum_6539_lores.jpg, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syphilis_lesions_on_back.jpg

Skin transplants offer new hope to Vitiligo patients

Researchers at the Henry Ford hospital transferred healthy skin cells, taken from normally-pigmented areas of the body, to the damaged area of their skin which had lost color due to the condition. After the surgery, the team followed 32 patients for up to six months and found that the treated area regained on average 52 percent of its natural color. The surgery is known as melanocyte-keratinocyte transplantation (MKTP).
[adsense]
The report, presented at the 68th Annual American Academy of Dermatology meeting in Miami, said that in some patients with specific type of vitiligo, the treated area regained on average 74 percent of its natural skin color.

Senior author of the study and a senior staff physician in Henry Ford’s Department of Dermatology Iltefat Hazavi said, “This surgery offers hope to vitiligo patients. The results achieved in our study were of obvious significance to our patients.”

Maxine Whitton, patron of the Vitiligo Society, said “We need more studies using this technique including well-designed randomized controlled trials comparing this technique with other surgical interventions such as grafting.”

Celebrities who suffer from vitiligo include Michael Jackson.

Other skin diseases celebrities suffer from include acne (Cameron Diaz) and eczema (LeAnn Rimes).

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vitiligo03.jpg; Author: Produnis

The Perricone Diet

Created by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist, this interesting diet concept says that intake of inflammable foods lead to aging. The Perricone Diet is a 28-day program and asks the dieters to forego highly inflammatory food options.

The Perricone Diet stands for some features like decreased inflammation in various organs, improved metabolism, improved bone density, clear and healthy skin, decreased risk of cancer and rejuvenated immune system. There are three basic categories of the Perricone Diet plan including:

  • Diet: Perricone Diet recommends five meals each day of breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. It suggests you to eat protein before consuming any kinds of carbohydrate.
  • Supplements: Perricone also recommends the consumption of more than 25 supplements along with breakfast and lunch.
  • Skin care products: Perricone also offers a wide range of skin care products with anti-aging agents to tone and moisturise your skin in order to give you a fresh and beautiful look.

Exercising for 20-30 minutes per day is a must along with the Perricone Diet. It recommends a bouquet of foods that can be eaten under this program including eggs, turkey, yoghurt, fish, green leafy vegetables, berries, apples, pears, nuts, green tea, beans, whole barley, olives and salmon. In order to get the desired weight loss and wrinkle free skin, the dieters need to compromise on alcohol, breads, pasta, pizza, rice, beef, fruit juice, coffee, cheese and sugar.

The basic aspect of the Perricone Diet is to reduce the intake of food items that cause inflammation. It helps in fighting skin problems like acne, wrinkles and other. Following this diet will enhance your looks in just three days along with weight loss. It is a short three-day program that makes you feel more energized. This diet is specially designed for women to bring back their lost metabolism and triggers off cell rejuvenation.

Celebrities who have enjoyed the bonuses of losing weight while rejuvenating their skin include Kim Cattrall, Heidi Klum and Julia Roberts.

Image:  http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1196128

Eczema

Eczema may be defined as a type of dermatitis, which is essentially a swelling or irritated skin. Eczema may produce rashes and other uncomfortable symptoms. A startling 10 to 20 percent of infants reportedly have eczema, although in most cases it will dissipate by the time the child is five years old.
[adsense]

It is estimated that about 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from eczema.

Typical symptoms of eczema include the following:

  • dryness
  • rashes
  • itching
  • flaking
  • bleeding
  • swelling
  • redness of the skin

The treatment of eczema make take many forms. Corticosteroids are commonly used. While they do no cure the skin disorder, they do downplay many of its symptoms. Many different types of steroids may be administered to suppress the symtoms of eczema. Antibiotics may also be prescribed as they will kill the bacteria causing the infection in the skin. Antihistamines may be prescribed to suppress the symptoms of extreme itching.

What you can do to avoid eczema:
The most important thing to do is to moisturize the skin. Skin that is adequately moisturized will not dry out as easily, and will prevent an onset of eczema. An important thing to consider here is to not use strong soaps, as these strip the skin of natural oils and will leave it dry. Doctor’s suggestions include using a soap-free cleanser for the skin, and soap that has a fat or oil base.

Some other tips to avoid getting eczema include:

  • avoiding sweating and overheating
  • avoiding sudden severe temperature changes as this may irritate the skin
  • avoid entities that may trigger your allergies (cat hair, pollen, mites, etc)
  • avoid materials that may irritate the skin, like for example wool
  • avoid foods that you have found to trigger an onset of eczema
  • avoiding stress

To read more about eczema, click here.

Celebrities who suffer from eczema include LeAnn Rimes.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eczema-arms.jpg

LeAnn Rimes’ daily battle with eczema

LeAnn Rimes shot onto the country music scene at a very young age, after her parents, who recognized her talent, signed her up for dancing and singing classes at the age of two. Her big breakthrough came with her hit “Blue”, which was her debut single from her debut album. At the age of 14 she suddenly became a country star. Her career transitioned into pop as she became older, and delivered hits like “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” for the ‘Coyote Ugly’ soundtrack. Her career was on the up and up, culminating in her being on the most talented and recognized singer in the United States. She has won numerous awards including Grammys and Country Music Awards.

[adsense]

But her childhood wasn’t always as easy. LeAnn Rimes has suffered from severe extreme eczema, a disorder that sees the skin swell up, go red and itch, for most of her life. Rimes says she recalls being bullied in her childhood for her eczema, saying: “Having eczema as a child was incredibly difficult. I’d come home crying from kids calling me “the scaly girl” or thinking I was contagious”. She says would sit out of fun activities other kids participated in, and wouldn’t even go swimming during summer so she wouldn’t have to show her eczema. “I’d have it on very visible parts of my body – in the summertime it would be on my neck and arms, and I’d wear turtlenecks to try to cover it up,” she says.

Rimes claims it is important to her to reach out and let other eczema sufferers know they are not alone. “For me, at this point in my life, it’s to spread the word that you’re not alone,” she says.

“That’s why I really wanted to come out and talk about it. I feel I have it under control right now, but hopefully children, young women, young men who feel they have nobody to relate to, will finally see otherwise because of my speaking on the subject.”

She says she went from doctor to doctor and tried out various treatments, all of which failed to completely suppress the symptoms. However she says she has her symptoms under control in which she takes lukewarm (not hot) showers and baths, moisturizes frequently, wears cotton fabrics, washes clothes with a mild detergent before wearing them for the first time, and keeps her fingernails short, in order to not irritate the affected skin further in case she scratches.

Click to read more about eczema.

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LeAnn_Rimes_Ramstein_3.JPG