Remotely controlled magnetic nanoparticles stimulate stem cells to regenerate bones

This looks promising... Wish it existed seven years ago.

Remotely controlled magnetic nanoparticles stimulate stem cells to regenerate bones

24 November 2014 Keele University
Researchers in bone tissue regeneration believe they have made a significant breakthrough for sufferers of bone trauma, disease or defects such as osteoporosis. 
Medical researchers from Keele University and Nottingham University have found that magnetic nanoparticles coated with targeting proteins can stimulate stem cells to regenerate bone. Researchers were also able to deliver the cells directly to the injured area, remotely controlling the nanoparticles to generate mechanical forces and maintain the regeneration process through staged releases of a protein growth stimulant. 
The current method for repairing bone that can’t heal itself is through a graft taken from the patient. Unfortunately, this can be a painful, invasive procedure, and when the area that needs repair is too large or the patient has a skeletal disorder such as there can sometimes be a lack of healthy bone for grafting.
For this reason, spurring the growth of new bone through injected stem cells is an area of great interest to medical researchers. Much progress has been made, but a major hurdle remains – finding an appropriate means to stimulate the differentiation of the stem cells so they become the quality of bone tissue needed in a quantity large enough to treat patients effectively.
James Henstock, PhD led the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded study, alongside Professor Alicia El Haj, and colleagues at Keele University’s Research Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, as well as Kevin Shakesheff, PhD, from the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy.
James Henstock said: “Injectable therapies for regenerative medicine show great potential as a minimally invasive route for introducing therapeutic stem cells, drug delivery vehicles and biomaterials efficiently to wound sites.”
“In our investigation we coated magnetic nanoparticles with specific targeting proteins then controlled them remotely with an external magnetic field to simulate exercise. We wanted to learn how this might affect the injected stem cells and their ability to restore functional bone.”
The team of researchers conducted their test using two models: chicken foetal femurs and tissue-engineered collagen hydrogels. In both instances the results showed an increase in bone formation and density without causing any mechanical stress to the construct or surrounding tissue.

“This work demonstrates that providing the appropriate mechanical cues in conjunction with controlled release of growth factors to these injectable cell therapies can have a significant impact on improving bone growth. It also could potentially improve tissue engineering approaches for translational medicine” Dr Henstock said.

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No idea what to do with it, but I am on

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What can not be sustained, will not be sustained...

Remember - these schemes ALWAYS run out of money.  There is never enough resources to give away free stuff...

National Health Service bosses have launched a campaign to persuade patients to stay away from hospitals and general practitioners (GPs) this Christmas, and use privately-run pharmacists instead. The NHS's medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, said the NHS is unable to cope with the "unprecedented" demand on it.

The NHS is one of the world's largest employers and has a budget of around £110,000,000,000 (£110bn) a year. However, staff are asking people who are feeling unwell to go to privately run pharmacists instead of using public sector facilities. Professor Keogh said that a lot of the 'strain' on the public sector facilities could be relieved if people went to said pharmacists.
He told the Daily Mail: "Many of these [chemists] have private consultation rooms where you can get quite good advice". He also said that pharmacies do not generally have long queues, in contrast to NHS hospitals. Keogh said: "You don’t have to wait in a pharmacy... You can generally see someone in a matter of minutes. They can either recommend off-the-shelf treatment or, if appropriate, send you to your GP or to attend A&E."
"Are things going to go on like this? Are we going to have to keep putting more and more sums into the NHS? The answer is it is not sustainable in the long run to say all the extra pressure in the NHS has to be borne by the A&E department."
The government has given the NHS an extra £300m to get over the winter period. Despite the money many hospitals are running at unsafe levels, causing concerns that patients may be put at risk unless demand can be quelled.
One idea being floated is forcing people to pay to use their doctor, despite having already paid for the service through taxation.

Faster please - Scientists Pursue Novel Blood Tests for Cancer

Scientists Pursue Novel Blood Tests for Cancer

The inventor of a breakthrough DNA test for Down syndrome says the technology can be used to screen people for cancer.

By Antonio Regalado on October 31, 2014

The Hong Kong scientist who invented a simple blood test to show pregnant women if their babies have Down syndrome is now testing a similar technology for cancer.

Yuk Ming “Dennis” Lo says screening for signs of cancer from a simple blood draw could cost as little as $1,000. The test works by studying DNA released into a person’s bloodstream by dying tumor cells.

The idea is to create a cheap screening test that people might get annually at a doctor’s office to spot a tumor at its earliest stage, when it’s more easily treated. “It took 13 years to develop the prenatal tests, but the path was untrodden,” says Lo, who is based at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Cancer will take a shorter time.”

The prenatal tests work by searching for fetal DNA present in a pregnant woman’s blood. Decoding that DNA can determine whether the baby has too many or too few chromosomes, problems that cause birth defects (see “Too Much Information”).

Both Lo and scientists at Johns Hopkins (see “Spotting Cancer in a Vial of Blood”) recently used a technique nearly identical to the one used in the prenatal tests to demonstrate that they could scan a person’s blood for evidence of genes that are duplicated, missing, or rearranged, something that is a hallmark of cancer cells.

But the testing strategy is very expensive. Tumor DNA is often present in tiny quantities if the cancer is at an early stage. It may account for just 0.01 percent of the DNA fragments in a blood sample. That means scientists end up decoding 9,999 bits of normal DNA for every stretch of cancer DNA they encounter. The result: building up a rough snapshot of the tumor’s genome using sequencing machines can cost $10,000 or more.

“It’s doable, but very expensive,” says Andre Marziali, chief scientific officer of Boreal Genomics, a startup developing cancer tests. “There is a trade-off between the breadth and the cost.”

Lo says he’s now developing a different way to measure DNA that could cut the cost of the cancer test by about 90 percent.

The new method looks for changes in methylation—a chemical modification to DNA that controls gene activity. The genes of cancer cells widely lose their methylation marks, a feature that Lo says can be reliably spotted using less sequencing.

Other scientists say Lo’s approach is not yet highly accurate and could incorrectly diagnose many healthy people as having cancer. Victor Velculescu, a genome scientist at Johns Hopkins, says such false positives are a problem for many screening tests. “Although the approach used by Dr. Lo is an excellent application of this technology, it would have the same hurdle to overcome,” he says.

Lo says he is testing his technique in Hong Kong by following 20,000 people at risk for cancer as part of a $4 million study paid for by the Hong Kong government. Many are infected with hepatitis B, a virus that can cause liver cancer and is carried by about 10 percent of the Chinese population.

Currently, Hong Kong residents infected with hepatitis B get ultrasound exams, which can also spot tumors fairly early. Lo says he hopes to determine if a DNA blood test is a better option.

Most scientists believe the path to an all-purpose cancer test isn’t yet clear, but the technology is evolving so quickly it seems certain it will be possible. “To make these tests something that anyone can have in the doctor’s office could be 20 years away, but that day is coming for sure,” says Marziali.

Lo licensed his patents on prenatal testing to a California company, Sequenom, which launched a pregnancy test in 2011. He says he hasn’t decided how to commercialize the cancer test yet.