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Fri Oct 20 08:02:43 PDT 2023

Medgadget (Medical Technology) Daily Digest (Unofficial)


( Lateral Flow Test for Gingivitis
Oct 19th 2023, 13:49

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed a lateral flow assay that can detect bacterial toxins from Porphyromonas gingivalis, the causative bacteria for gingivitis. The technology could make it easier and faster to identify early-stage gingivitis, which can lead to periodontitis and eventual tooth loss, as well as contributing to a variety of other diseases such as stroke and heart disease. The lateral flow assay requires a small saliva sample, and can provide results very quickly, but does require the saliva sample to be pre-treated with potato starch to deactivate salivary amylase, an enzyme that can interfere with the assay.

The humble lateral flow assay grew in prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic as a quick at-home method to check your COVID status, but this technology was already a staple of such applications as pregnancy testing. Now, researchers are increasingly aware of its utility as a rapid point-of-care diagnostic technology and are beginning to apply it to the detection of other diseases. In this instance, these researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed a lateral flow assay to detect the bacteria responsible for gingivitis.

Gingivitis is caused by P. gingivalis, which typically starts as mild gum inflammation. However, this can spread to other parts of the periodontal tissue, causing damage to soft tissue and bone that stabilize our teeth. This damage can eventually lead to tooth loss. Moreover, researchers have also linked P. gingivalis to other conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.  

There are lab-based tests available to detect P. gingivalis, but compared with a lateral flow test, they are complex, slow, expensive, and lack portability. If a diagnostic technique is too expensive, time consuming and inconvenient, then patients or clinicians will only tend to seek it out or recommend it if symptoms have already developed. However, for routine testing and health screening, a convenient, rapid, and point-of-care test is much preferred. A lateral flow test for gingivitis, for example, could be administered by a dentist every time someone undergoes a routine dental checkup.   

The assay detects a bacterial endotoxin released into the saliva by P. gingivalis through a simple immunoassay, whereby antibodies capture and identify the toxin. An enzyme present in saliva called amylase can interfere with this, so the assay requires the saliva to be pretreated with potato starch to deactivate this enzyme. In the future, you may be able to use such lateral flow assays to conveniently detect a wide variety of pathogens and biomarkers, and you can thank SARS-CoV-2 for the privilege.  

Study in journal Sensors & Diagnostics: ( Salivary endotoxin detection using combined mono/polyclonal antibody-based sandwich-type lateral flow immunoassay device

Via: ( University of Cincinnati 

( Sensor Monitors Transplanted Organs for Signs of Rejection
Oct 19th 2023, 12:49

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a sensor that can monitor transplanted organs for signs of rejection. Patients who receive transplants require immunosuppressive medication to ensure that their body does not reject the transplanted tissue, but this can still happen, sometimes years after the initial transplant. Current methods to monitor for immune rejection involve taking biopsies or monitoring blood markers, but these techniques are invasive and blood markers may not show up until the rejection has already progressed somewhat. This new sensor is thin and flexible and is designed to sit on the surface of the transplanted organ, where it monitors changes in temperature very sensitively. A small increase in organ temperature, as detected by the sensors, was found to precede blood biomarkers by as much as three weeks in revealing the emergence of organ rejection.

Implanted device on a rat kidney.

Organ transplants are a new lease of life for recipients, but this doesn’t mean that they are a walk in the park. Immune rejection is an ever present risk, and can occur months or even years after the initial transplant procedure. “I have noticed many of my patients feel constant anxiety — not knowing if their body is rejecting their transplanted organ or not,” said Lorenzo Gallon, a researcher involved in the study. “They may have waited years for a transplant and then finally received one from a loved one or deceased donor. Then, they spend the rest of their lives worrying about the health of that organ. Our new device could offer some protection, and continuous monitoring could provide reassurance and peace of mind.”

In the case of kidney transplants, which this first iteration of the sensor is designed to monitor, the current procedure with regard to rejection monitoring involves blood draws to monitor for levels of creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels. These markers serve to illustrate kidney function, but they can become distorted for other unrelated reasons, muddying the water. A biopsy can also be used to assess organ health, but this is highly invasive, takes a while to produce results, and is not something you would wish to perform regularly.

The new sensor is anticipated as a high-tech alternative that a surgeon could install during the transplant procedure. The ultrathin construct is just 200 microns thick and is designed to be slipped under the renal capsule, which keeps it in place and in close contact with the organ surface. It measures temperature very sensitively, with small increases in organ temperature occurring during the inflammation associated with early rejection. The sensor uses Bluetooth wireless connectivity to then alert clinicians.

In tests with rodents with kidney transplants, the device indicated impending kidney rejection as long as three weeks before creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels increased. This suggests that the system could act as a highly sensitive early warning system for organ rejection.

See a video about the technology below.

Study in journal Science: ( Implantable bioelectronic systems for early detection of kidney transplant rejection

Via: ( Northwestern University

( miRNA Therapy Slows Cancer Growth
Oct 19th 2023, 12:18

Scientists at Purdue University have developed a microRNA therapy designed to slow tumor growth. The technology takes advantage of the tendency of several cancer types to express an excess of surface receptors that bind folate (vitamin B9) and draw it into the cell interior. By attaching the microRNA strand to a folate molecule, the researchers could target it to cancer cells. This targeting specificity is advantageous in reducing the potential for side-effects elsewhere in the body, and in reducing the required dose to achieve a tangible anti-cancer effect. The researchers hope that the treatment will expand the therapeutic arsenal available to oncologists when they are treating cancer.

MicroRNAs (shortened to miRNAs) are another RNA-based therapeutic, but unlike their recently famous cousin, messenger RNA, they typically block or otherwise modulate protein expression instead of coding for a protein themselves. In this case, these researchers have created an anti-cancer miRNA therapy that interferes with a series of genes that are important in cancer growth and are even involved in treatment resistance in certain tumors.

However, this was a challenge, as typically miRNAs are not stable enough to last for long in the body. The researchers were able to stabilize the miRNA strand using chemical modifications such that it is now stable and active for at least 120 hours within the body. The miRNA in question is called microRNA-34a, and it is normally found in relatively high levels in healthy cells, but is typically present at much lower levels in cancer cells, which ties in with their uncontrolled proliferation and cell division.

Restoring levels of microRNA-34a in cancer cells can help to reduce their growth and division, providing a brake on tumor activity. The researchers were also clever about targeting the treatment to cancer cells. They exploited the tendency of some tumors to overexpress folate receptors by binding a folate molecule to the miRNA. Cancer cells will bring the folate inside the cell interior using small vesicles, but in this instance, the miRNA therapy is also smuggled into the cell inadvertently.  

So far, in a mouse study, the therapy was stable and active for at least 120 hours and stopped the growth of tumors over the space of 21 days, in contrast with control mice who showed tumor growth over this period. “When we acquired the data, I was ecstatic. I am confident that this approach is better than the current standard of treatment and that there are patients who will benefit from this,” said Andrea Kasinski, a researcher involved in the study.

Study in journal Oncogene: ( A first-in-class fully modified version of miR-34a with outstanding stability, activity, and anti-tumor efficacy

Via: ( Purdue University 

( Ball Changes Shape with Breath for Mental Health Management
Oct 19th 2023, 11:55

Researchers at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom have developed a shape-shifting ball that can inflate and deflate in response to someone’s breath. The idea is an advancement of many techniques designed to help people de-stress and manage their mental health, which all focus on awareness of the breath. For instance, mindfulness meditation often requires people to focus on their own breath, which can help to reduce anxiety and stress, but maintaining this focus is difficult. The ball, which the researchers call the Physical Artefact for Well-being Support (PAWS), is designed to be held in the hands, and sensors placed on the body monitor the user’s breathing, which the ball then reflects with its movements. The idea is that the technology makes it easier to maintain focus on the breath, with the goal of better mental health outcomes.

“Just focus on your breath” is the basic mantra behind many techniques designed to help with stress and anxiety, but this is easier said than done. However, reducing stress and anxiety is important in maintaining good mental and physical health or in improving things when we have a period of poor mental health. Many techniques designed to improve mental health involve mindful breathing, including mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

The goal of this technology is to provide a tangible representation of the breath outside of our own heads, with the aim of improving our focus and experience of our breath. “By giving breath physical form, the ball enhances self-awareness and engagement, fostering positive mental health outcomes,” said Alexz Farrall, a researcher involved in the study. “I hope this device will be part of the solution for many people with problems relating to their mental wellbeing.”  

The ball works by mirroring someone’s breathing. Sensors on the user’s body transmit data about their breathing patterns to the ball, which then mirrors these movements. So far, this is achieved through a tethered connection, but the researchers have plans to upgrade this to a wireless Bluetooth one. In tests so far, the researchers found that the system enhanced users’ focus on their breath and an accompanying guided meditation recording.

“The beauty of PAWS is that the concept is so simple — letting someone ‘feel’ their breath — yet it has the potential to revolutionize the delivery and outcomes of mental health support not only in the UK but worldwide,” added Jason Alexander, another researcher involved in the study.

See a video about the technology below.

Study presented at CHI ’23: Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: ( Manifesting Breath: Empirical Evidence for the Integration of Shape-changing Biofeedback-based Artefacts within Digital Mental Health Interventions

Via: ( University of Bath

Forwarded by:
Michael Reeder LCPC
Baltimore, MD

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