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Scientists Develop Nanomachines Capable of Killing Cancer Cells

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Nanomachines

A few weeks ago, I talked about the A.I. capable of detecting Cancer with incredible accuracy results. Now, we are going to talk about how humanity is getting one step closer to becoming Solid Snake from Metal Gear. Nanomachines which can drill into cancer cells, killing them in just 60 seconds, have been developed by scientists.

The tiny spinning molecules are driven by light, and spin so quickly that they can burrow their way through cell linings when activated. In one test conducted at Durham University the nanomachines took between one and three minutes to break through the outer membrane of prostate cancer cell, killing it instantly.

This is an amazing development for the scientific community. Dr Robert Pal of Durham University said: “We are moving towards realising our ambition to be able to use light-activated nanomachines to target cancer cells such as those in breast tumours and skin melanomas, including those that are resistant to existing chemotherapy.”

This effort is done to provide a potential step change in non-invasive cancer treatment and greatly improve survival rates and patient welfare globally. It’s just incredible to see such development that has us stepping closer and closer to remove Cancer from our lives once and for all.

So, how do these nanomachines work? I mentioned that they are driven by light, but there are also important aspects on their structure to take into account. The ‘motor’ is a rotor-like chain of atoms that can be prompted to move in one direction, causing the molecule to rotate at high speed. You can look at this video for further information:

Dr James Tour, a member of the international team from Rice University in Houston, US, said: “These nanomachines are so small that we could park 50,000 of them across the diameter of a human hair, yet they have the targeting and actuating components combined in that diminutive package to make molecular machines a reality for treating disease.”

I always wanted to be a journalist who listens. The Voice of the Unspoken and someone heavily involved in the gaming community. From playing as a leader of a competitive multi-branch team to organizing tournaments for the competitive scene to being involved in a lot of gaming communities. I want to keep moving forward as a journalist.

Medicine and Health

Vaccine Breakthrough Could Mean Future-Proof Shots Without Boosters

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A novel vaccine platform could eliminate boosters for some diseases since one dose could cover all future viral strains. It’s only been tried in mice, but researchers are optimistic.

“This could be the universal vaccine that we have been looking for,” said UC Riverside virologist Rong Hai.

The vaccination contains live, attenuated virus. Many vaccines, including MMR and chickenpox, use a similar mechanism. Unlike them, the new vaccines won’t require the immune system to respond to the infection. RNA interference (RNAi) will be activated instead.

Though it sounds like COVID-19’s mRNA vaccines, it operates differently.

As an immunological response to viral infection, hosts—people, mice, and others—produce short interfering RNAs. “These RNAi knock down the virus,” said lead author Shouwei Ding, renowned microbiology professor.

By generating proteins that prevent RNAi, viruses can avoid this response, but weakening them first solves the problem. It can replicate, but the host RNAi response wins. This weakened virus can be utilized as a vaccination to improve our RNAi immune system, Ding said.

Mutating won’t help either. “Viruses may mutate in vaccine-untargeted areas. We target their entire genome with thousands of tiny RNAs, Hai said. “They cannot escape this.”

The idea that RNAi can help people fight viral infections has been controversial, but over the last decade, several researchers have begun studying RNAi-based treatments.

The novel vaccine platform has another major benefit. Since it doesn’t require B and T cells, it could be utilized in very young babies or persons with immunological problems who can’t receive live vaccines.

The researchers designed a Nodamura mouse virus vaccination to test this. Mice genetically engineered to eliminate B and T immune cells received one shot. That one shot protected them from the Nodamura virus for at least three months, a considerable period considering mice typically live two to three years.

Since newborn mice can manufacture short RNAs, the vaccine worked in them, making it suitable for babies too young to receive immunizations.

A previous study suggests that flu infection triggers the RNAi system; therefore, that’s their next target. To reduce needle anxiety, they want to create a nasal spray vaccine.

We’ll apply this idea to create a flu vaccination for infants next. If we succeed, they won’t need their moms’ antibodies, added Ding.

It’s still early, but if it works, applying the method to other infections should be easy.

Ding said, “Dengue, SARS, and COVID are well-known human pathogens. They share viral functions. For easy knowledge transfer, this should apply to these viruses.”

The paper appears in PNAS.

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Medicine and Health

UK Vote: People born after 2009 will never be able to buy tobacco again

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In a vote on Tuesday, April 16, most politicians in the UK agreed with a law that would make it illegal for anyone born after 2009 to ever legally buy tobacco in the country. “The first smoke-free generation” is what the UK government wants to make happen. What will happen next? How will the ban work?

How does the new law in the UK work?
According to the BBC, the new law will raise the age limit for buying tobacco products in the UK by one year every year. The government wants to make the law effective by 2027. It comes after similar efforts in places like New Zealand, which just recently got rid of its own groundbreaking ban.

In real life, this means that people born after 2009 will never be old enough to buy cigarettes because they will never reach the legal age limit. There will be no changes for people who are already over the age limit (18), and smoking will still be legal.

The Cigarettes and Vapes Bill also wants to stop young people who have never smoked from starting to vape instead. The UK as a whole will follow through on a plan to ban disposable vapes. There will be a new tax, and companies that make vapes will have to change the flavors and packaging of their products to make them less appealing to kids.

These nicotine pouches have been getting a lot of attention in politics lately. Young people will not be able to use them either.

What do people think about the bill?
Everyone in the UK agrees with the bill, and it was expected to easily pass on Tuesday, when it did by 383 votes to 67. A statement from Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said that the bill “will save thousands of lives, ease the strain on our NHS and improve the UK’s productivity.”

But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t caused some trouble. A number of Conservative MPs either didn’t vote or voted against the bill.

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss referred to those who supported the bill as “finger-wagging nannying control freaks.” Others have questioned whether the ban can be enforced or even whether it will work to stop people from smoking.

There is, however, broad agreement among health experts that the law will be a good step forward.

“The prime minister’s promise to raise the age at which people can buy cigarettes would really change the health of the next generation,” said Professor Stephen Holgate, an expert in immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton. “What a great legacy it would be to put the health of the nation’s future ahead of all other concerns.”

Prof. John Iredale of the University of Bristol agreed, saying, “We owe it to our kids and teens to stop letting them be around tobacco.” As a junior doctor, I saw over and over how smoking-related illnesses and deaths hurt people, especially breadwinners, people who worked, and their families.

“A chance that will never come up again.”
More than 8 million people die every year from smoking, according to the World Health Organization. In addition to the well-known link to cancer, cigarettes have been linked to a number of other diseases, both in people who smoke them and in people who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Nicotine in tobacco products is very addicting, which makes it hard to stop. That’s why health officials work so hard to get people not to smoke in the first place.

It took a few years to get the UK to ban it. People who support it will likely feel good about their latest political win, even though there are still more problems to solve before it is fully put into place.

Some commentators have talked about the fact that the country is likely to have a new government later this year. However, the path ahead looks pretty clear since this bill has support from both sides of the aisle.

Expert scientists like Professor Ann McNeill of King’s College London are very happy about this: “We have known for decades how uniquely deadly smoking is, but we have not done anything about it.” The Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a one-time chance to make things right and stop people from smoking in a generation.

“We should all work together to support it.”

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Medicine and Health

The number of global hepatitis deaths is increasing, posing a threat to the goal of eliminating the disease

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According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the incidence of viral hepatitis-related mortality is rising globally. Approximately 3,500 individuals perish from the disease on a daily basis, positioning it as the second most prevalent infectious cause of death in 2022, with a mortality rate equivalent to that of tuberculosis.

The 2024 Global Hepatitis Report, unveiled during the recent World Hepatitis Summit, presents novel data from 187 countries, marking the highest number of countries ever encompassed in the report. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of fatalities caused by viral hepatitis has risen from 1.1 million in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2022. On a daily basis, around 6,000 individuals get new infections.

What is viral hepatitis?

A viral infection leads to liver inflammation, which is known as viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis is a comprehensive term used to describe an illness that results in inflammation and harm to the liver. Viral hepatitis is classified into five primary groups, namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. If physicians are uncertain about the etiology of an individual’s infection, they may label it as hepatitis X or non-A-E hepatitis.

The primary focus of the WHO report is on hepatitis B, which is responsible for 83 percent of newly acquired infections, and hepatitis C, which accounts for the remaining 17 percent. Usually, each of these viruses results in persistent infections that eventually cause cancer, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

The illness is also common in younger populations: people between the ages of 30 and 54 account for 50% of chronic hepatitis B and C infections, while children under the age of 18 account for 12% of cases.

What is causing the increase in mortality rates due to hepatitis?
Untreated hepatitis can lead to serious consequences, but our capacity to fight these diseases has significantly improved with early detection.

Hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted during childbirth, but there are safe and effective immunizations available to prevent it. Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with contaminated blood, typically as a result of unsafe injection practices or, less commonly, unprotected sexual activity. Although a vaccine has not been developed yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that over 95 percent of individuals can achieve complete recovery if they are able to obtain antiviral medicine.

However, it is where the trouble resides. The recent research emphasizes that a limited proportion of individuals affected by hepatitis B and C are being promptly recognized and provided with treatment, aligning with the objectives set by the World Health Organization.

For instance, in the WHO African area, where 63 percent of new hepatitis B infections originate, the vaccination rate for infants is barely 18 percent. On a global scale, the percentage of individuals with hepatitis C who have undergone curative therapy is only 20 percent, which falls significantly short of the targeted 80 percent.

The paper suggests that the reason for this is the differences in pricing, which prevent many lower-income countries from being able to afford antiviral treatments, including generic pharmaceuticals that are no longer protected by patents. Similarly, individuals residing in numerous nations may be compelled to bear the cost of testing and treatment services, which may be unaffordable for certain individuals.

What measures can be taken to mitigate the issue?
The report includes several recommendations that, if promptly executed, will help us regain momentum in attaining the World Health Organization’s objective of eradicating the hepatitis epidemic by 2030.

The WHO emphasizes the need to expand access to diagnostic tests, enhance preventative strategies, and accelerate research in order to discover a potential cure for hepatitis B. However, the organization warns that the current level of worldwide financing for these initiatives is inadequate.

“The report reveals a concerning situation: although there has been global advancement in preventing hepatitis infections, the number of deaths is increasing due to a lack of diagnosis and treatment for a significant number of individuals with hepatitis,” stated Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The World Health Organization (WHO) is dedicated to assisting countries in utilizing all available resources, at affordable prices, to prevent loss of life and reverse this pattern.”

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