Every few weeks we try to bring you the top five most compelling stories in recent medical news. Keep reading to learn about how a colonoscopy foiled the plan of a diamond thief, customizable bacteriophages, and more!
1. Colonoscopy Reveals 6-Carat Diamond Thief
A reluctant woman in Bangkok recently submitted to a colonoscopy to have a 6-carat diamond removed from her intestine after having been accused of stealing the $278,000 gemstone from a jewelry fair. The suspect had originally denied involvement in the crime, but an x-ray revealed a large diamond-like object in her abdomen, at which point she confessed to having stolen and swallowed the jewel to smuggle it. Nature nor laxatives were able to get the diamond out of her system, so she submitted to a delicate procedure involving a colonoscopy and "medical pliers" to have the object removed, whereupon the diamond’s owner positively identified the stone. [Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weird-news/colonoscope-helps-thai-police-recover-stolen-6-carat-diamond-n426616]
2. Silver-Coated Biofilm Reduces Infection
While implanted devices have improved the quality of life and prolonged activity for countless individuals, such medical implants also carry the risks of microbial infection and bodily rejection of the foreign object. A new biofilm developed by researchers at Strasbourg University can be used to cover titanium implants, such as artificial hips and prostheses, pacemakers, and even catheters. The team has performed a series of trials with the new antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal biofilm and discovered that the technology reduced inflammation overall and prevented the most common microbial infections. Infections related to implanted devices are usually treated with antibiotics, which is becoming less effective with the rise of antibiotic resistance microbes. This revolutionary new biofilm has the potential to provide a great alternative to antibiotics in implanted devices. [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299963.php]
Image courtesy of khuruzero from freedigitalphotos.net
3. Customizing Virus Genomes to Target Bacteria
A new team of biological engineers from MIT has created a new system to tweak the genomes of bacteria-killing viruses to fight specific disease-causing bacteria. While the idea of using viruses to attack bacteria is not novel, the process of customizing them to attack specific bacteria has been a complex and expensive. These engineers have created a basic genomic scaffold of a standard bacteriophage, and the technology would work by “mixing and matching” genes in and out of the scaffold to create a customizable virus to attack any pathogenic bacteria. [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299962.php]
4. 3D Printing Technology Used To Regenerate Nerve System
A new study published in Advanced Functional Materials has reported of a new technology in 3D printing that is capable of regenerating complex nerve systems, including both sensory and motor functions of the nerves. In the past, re-growth of linear nerves has been proven possible, but this is the first time 3D printing has been used to regenerate a complex nerve system. The researchers developed the new technology by combining 3D imaging and 3D printing to create a custom silicone guide with biochemical cues implanted throughout for complex nerve regeneration. Nerve regeneration is a very complex process, and nerve damage is frequently irreversible—this new technique has the potential to help over 200,000 people with nerve damage. [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299698.php] [
3D nerve regenerator.
Image credit: University of Minnesota
5. Malaria Shown To Cause Cognitive Defects During Pregnancy
A new study has given evidence for a causal link between malaria in pregnancy and birth defects in the offspring, as well as identifying the mechanisms by which the disease affects the unborn fetus. With an annual 125 million pregnancies at risk for malaria, researchers examined how malaria during a pregnancy leads to neurocognitive defects in the offspring, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine deficiencies. The team found that these deficiencies are linked to overproduction of the potent inflammatory peptide C5a—by inhibiting C5a production in pregnancy, these birth defects can be eliminated. These results, according to the researchers, "highlight a novel mechanism by which malaria in pregnancy may alter the neurocognitive development of millions of children prior to birth." [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299883.php]