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Gizmorama - July 18, 2018

Good Morning,

The University of Illinois has developed a wearable devices that's designed to help seniors predict the risks for injury. That could help so many seniors avoid falls that can result in devastating trauma, fractures, and injuries.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Magnetized wire may help detect blood-based cancer --*

Researchers have developed a magnetic wire as a quick and effective way to detect cancer early, according to a recent study with pigs.

The researchers report that the wire could be more effective than standard methods to catch hard-to-find cancer cells in the blood stream.

"We estimate that it would take about 80 tubes of blood to match what the wire is able to sample in 20 minutes," Dr. Sam Gambhir, chairman of radiology and director of the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection, said in a press release.

The research was published Monday in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

The wire is inserted through a standard intravenous catheter and attracts special magnetic nanoparticles engineered to attach onto tumor cells roaming the bloodstream, and uses them as an indication of a tumor somewhere in the body. By magnetizing the tumor cells, the researchers say the wire can lure the cells out of the bloodstream.

The technique attracts from 10 to 80 times more tumor cells than in a 5 milliliter blood draw, and 500 to 5,000 times using the commercially available wire-based detection method, Gilupi CellCollector.

Gambhir said doctors, based on the information, could evaluate a patient's response to particular cancer treatments.

And it can be used for other diseases, he said.

"It could be useful in any other disease in which there are cells or molecules of interest in the blood," Gambhir said. "For example, let's say you're checking for a bacterial infection, circulating tumor DNA or rare cells that are responsible for inflammation in any of these scenarios, the wire and nanoparticles help to enrich the signal, and therefore detect the disease or infection."

Cells can serve as cancer biomarkers for the disease, but these circulating tumor cells are often scarce. With only a few milliliters of the total blood volume from the total body, the amount of tumors detected would be minuscule.

"These circulating tumor cells are so few that if you just take a regular blood sample, those test tubes likely won't even have a single circulating tumor cell in them," Gambhir said. "So doctors end up saying, 'Okay, nothing's there.'"

The researchers are awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing in humans.

In the meantime, the researchers are conducting toxicity ttests in mice, studying what happens to leftover nanoparticles that don't bind. So far, the researchers have found no signs of toxicity, and nanoparticles left over in decay over a few weeks.

Gambhir said the technique could also be used in places that are hard to find in a biopsy or to provide information about the efficacy of a cancer treatments.

"So, we're hoping this approach will enrich our detection capability and give us better insight into just how rare these circulating tumor cells are, and how early on they exist once the cancer is present," Gambhir said.

*-- Wearable devices could predict risk for senior falls --*

Wearable devices with motion sensors can predict older participants' risk of falling, according to a study.

Researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign found that measuring unsteadiness in standing and walking can predict the most common injury among adults 65 and older. Their findings were published Wednesday in npj Digital Medicine.

Three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes at least 300,000 older people hospitalized for hip fractures, of which 95 percent are caused by falling.

Older and young people fall for different reasons. Younger people misjudge something, such as a slippery surface, and older adults are unstable, and lose balance when walking or when standing up and sitting down.

"Our prediction showed that we could very accurately tell the difference between people that were really stable and people that were unstable in some way," Dr. Bruce Schatz, head of the Department of Medical Information Science in the School of Medicine, said in a press release.

Schatz analyzed data from a pilot study that is part of the National Institute of Health's Women's Health Initiative.

Sixty-seven women, all over the age of 60, were asked about the number of falls they had experienced in the previous year and had their walking ability tested. Participants wore a small wearable device with motion sensors, called an accelerometer, that measured their walking patterns for one week.

Data extracted automatically from the devices predicted falls with an average of 73.7 percent accuracy and 81.1 percent for precision, the researchers report, noting that accelerometer-based measures of gait are potentially useful in screening older women for fall risk.

Schatz envisions everyone over 60 having a phone app that constantly records their motion. The app could notify the user or their doctor if walking becomes unstable. Then, they could undergo preventive exercises, he added.

"I work a lot with primary care physicians, and they love this [idea], because they only see people after they start falling," Schatz said. "At that point, it's already sort of too late."

He predicts older adults' quality of life improves with predictive medicine. But patients need to learn about the advantages.

"There is a solution which is completely workable and isn't very expensive, but requires different behavior," Schatz said. "That message is not getting out."


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