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April 10, 2019

Good Morning,

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And, get this... wearable tech has been sewn into clothes. That's right, gas-detection threads in your close could sensor specific pollutants, gases, and more.

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

Until Next Time,
Erin


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*-- New gas-detecting threads can be sewn into clothes --*

Spring 2019Engineers at Tufts University have developed threads that change colors when they detect specific gases. The threads can be sewn into clothing, making gas detection technology wearable.

"Current methods to monitor pollution or harmful gases require dedicated sensors and equipment," Sameer Sonkusale, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts, told UPI. "In my mind, the power of our new approach is our sensor platform can be integrated into something you would already be wearing, such as a lab coat or even a t-shirt."

For the proof-of-concept study, Sonkusale and his research partner, Rachel Owyeung, an engineering grad student at Tufts, soaked threads in gas-detecting dyes, including manganese-based dye, MnTPP, methyl red and bromothymol blue. The MnTPP and bromothymol blue dyes react to ammonia, while methyl red detects hydrogen chloride.

After dying the threads, scientists treated them with acetic acid, which causes the threads to swell, increasing the dyed surface area, increasing the odds of the thread reacting with target gas molecules. Finally, the threads were treated with polydimethylsiloxane, which is gas permeable but repels water and prevents the dye from leeching during washing.

Scientists used dyes that change color when they react to gas molecules with specific chemical properties. The color change reflected the strength of the target gas concentration.

In addition to aiding scientific observations, the new technology could help keep people safe from dangerous gases.

"You don't have to be cognizant of a hazardous environment before you've exposed yourself to dangerous levels," Sonkusale said. "The sensor is already there with you and working."

The dyes tested are sensitive to a variety of air pollution gases, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and acetylaldehyde.

"It is just a matter of choosing a proper suite of optical dyes for distinguishing power of these chemicals," Sonkusale said. "One benefit of our entrapment method is that it can be used on different dye types, which is helpful for creating the sensor diversity needed for this distinguishing power."

Researchers hope to integrate their gas-detection threads with other technologies to create smart clothes.

"Our lab has recently explored many possible avenues where sensing threads can be used such as electrochemical sensors, microfluidics, and drug delivery, to name a few," Sonkusale said. "These could be integrated with the optical threads presented here."

Scientists described the new gas-detection threads in a paper published this month in the journal Scientific Reports. For future studies, researchers plan to target a wide array of gases and test the technology in a variety of environments.

*-- Wearable device may take place of biopsy for blood colllection --*

Researchers may have developed a new alternative to an old way of detecting cancer.

A new device is capable of screening blood that captures 3.5 times the number of cancer cells as the current method, according to new findings published Monday in Nature Communications. This new device, which was tested in lab animals, may be able to better diagnose and treat humans with cancer.

"Nobody wants to have a biopsy. If we could get enough cancer cells from the blood, we could use them to learn about the tumor biology and direct care for the patients. That's the excitement of why we're doing this," Daniel F. Hayes, a breast cancer researcher at the University of Michigan and study senior author, said in a news release.

In a single minute, it's possible for tumors to release more than 1,000 cancer cells into the bloodstream. Right now, taking cancer cells from patients requires them to have up to a tablespoon of blood taken in one draw.

That method has limitations because sometimes blood is drawn that contains no cancer cells, even if a patient has advanced cancer. A typical blood sample may contain a total of 10 cancer cells, making the device's potential even greater.

"It's the difference between having a security camera that takes a snapshot of a door every five minutes or takes a video. If an intruder enters between the snapshots, you wouldn't know about it," said Sunitha Nagrath, a researcher at University of Michigan and lead developer of the device.

The new device continuously screens blood over the course of a few hours, straight from a person's vein. This will allow more of their blood to be tested, which will increase the chances of catching cancer cells.

"This is the epitome of precision medicine, which is so exciting in the field of oncology right now," Hayes said.

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