August 26, 2015

Discovering what causes mutations within cells that lead to cancer has been called the holy grail of medical research.

A team from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology may have found at least one of the reasons.

The researchers studied a protein called fibroblast growth factor (FGF) that communicates between cells. They discovered that errors in the way FGF is transmitted and received by cells can activate stem cells within an organ that previously had been dormant. One major theory about the development of cancer is that it is caused by those dormant stem cells.

August 24, 2015

The company with the name that became a verb and the one bringing you the driverless car may soon be helping correct your vision and track your blood sugar, too.

Google has worked out an agreement with pharmaceutical giant Novartis to bring two new types of contact lenses to the market.

One, announced by Google last year, will allow you to track your blood glucose levels in real time, thanks to a senor and a wireless chip. It will marketed to people with diabetes through Novartis’ Alcon eyewear division.

The other kind would give you “autofocus” powers like those found in digital cameras. Most corrective lenses improve either close-up or far-away vision, but not both. Autofocus corrective lenses, in theory, could correct both.

August 18, 2015

One of the many benefits of donating blood is that you get to find out your blood type.

But what exactly determines your type?

There are more than 20 blood group systems known today, but blood centers typically use the ABO and Rh systems to differentiate blood types. In those systems, your blood type can be A, B, AB or O, and either Rh positive or Rh negative.

The ABO types are determined by antigens and antibodies. Antigens are located on the surface of red blood cells and antibodies are in the blood plasma, the liquid that carries blood cells around the body:

August 10, 2015

A New York-based bioscience research company has received a grant to investigate the use of stem cells for treating the leading cause of blindness among older people in this country.

Caladrius Biosciences Inc. will conduct a three-year study of ways to use stem cells to treat macular degeneration, which affects more than 10 million people in the United States.

Macular degeneration is the gradual loss of vision caused by deterioration of a part of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for sharp, central vision.

There is no outright cure for macular degeneration, which is most likely to occur in people 55 and older.

August 5, 2015

From inspecting the far reaches of cornfields to delivering your latest electronics, researchers and businesses seem to be finding new uses for drones every day.

And now, medical science has taken flight with the use of what are known officially as “unmanned aerial systems.”

Researchers in the United States and in Uganda looked into the feasibility of using a drone to transport diagnostic lab specimens from remote areas to laboratories for testing.

They collected blood samples, then packed half of them and flew them in drones under normal flight conditions, including rough takeoffs and landings.

They then took all the samples to a laboratory for testing. The result: There was no appreciable difference between the samples that had been airborne and those that had not.