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Scientists In The UK Working On A Bra That Can Detect And Monitor Breast Cancer 

Scientists in the UK are currently developing a device that would fit inside of a bra to monitor whether or not a breast cancer tumor is growing. 

The researchers behind the device are hoping that the device will ideally provide a new non-invasive method of detecting tumor growth so patients can get the information in their own home. 

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The device itself is being developed by Nottingham Trent University’s medical technologies innovation facility. According to the Guardian, the device will use an electrical current to “scan and detect tiny changes in fluids inside and outside cells in the breast.”

Tumor tissues are more dense than healthy tissue, and they contain less water. This is why the device will be able to measure changes in the growth of the tumor in real time, and can detect tumors as little as 2 millimeters. 

The researchers are also stating that the device could be inserted into a patient’s bra that they already own. Additionally, they’re developing a new bra that would have the device already incorporated into it. The device will be able to record and send data to the individual wearing it and their medical team via smartphone. 

Researchers are hoping to get the device in a clinical trial within the next few years. 

“The technology would measure changes in breast tissue and help improve a patient’s chance of survival. Breast cancer can grow so quickly; it could be 1mm in six months or 2mm in six weeks. This would be an additional measure to see how fast the tumor grows.” said Dr Yang Wei, an expert in electronic engineering at NTU. 

“We are opening the door to the investigation of an alternative breast cancer detection that could be done in the comfort of a patient’s home, conserving essential hospital resources whilst still providing a viable solution to detect early signs of cancer.”

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Cancer Research UK released data that showed there are more than 55,000 new cases of breast cancer in the UK alone every year, and more than 11,000 deaths. Of all those new cases, about 23% are completely preventable. 

The research team is hoping that the device will improve the vitals work of monitoring tumors. MRI scans in breast cancer patients can sometimes occur months apart from each other, which could lead to significant growth in the tumor itself. The device will ideally simplify this process and give the patient the opportunity to monitor their cancer themselves. 

Dr Simon Vincent, the director of research, said this “research on improved detection and treatment of breast cancer is urgently needed.”

“While this new technology could offer a new way to monitor the growth of breast cancer tumors and we look forward to seeing the final results, the device has not yet been tested on people and there’s a lot more we need to understand before we can consider whether or not it could be used in medical settings,” he said.

“Anyone affected by breast cancer can speak to Breast Cancer Now’s expert nurses by calling our free helpline on 0808 800 6000 for information and support.”

mrna

Success Of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccines Is ‘Just A Glimpse Of Their Full Potential’

According to a new Perspective published in the Medical Journal Of Australia, the success of mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 shows “just a glimpse of their full potential.” 

Isabella Overmars is a research coordinator at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and her and her colleagues are responsible for the published Perspective in which they explained why mRNA vaccines are so successful. The mRNA contains a code for a specific antigen that is transferred into a host cell where it is then translated into a coded protein. 

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“This typically leads to the host cell displaying the protein on its surface to promote cell-mediated immunity, and the host cell releases proteins outside of the cell which are taken up and presented by other antigen-presenting cells to promote antibody-mediated immunity,” they wrote.

mRNA vaccines are being held in such high regard for a multitude of reasons, including their low toxicity, and the fact that “there is no possibility for an infection to occur from the vaccine itself”.

“mRNA vaccines do not rely on non or mildly pathogenic viral vectors as a delivery method, which in some cases can cause issues of immune-based clotting disorders, such as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), and antivector immunity,” Overmars wrote.

“The manufacturing process also has several benefits, including in vitro development and use of synthetic materials, which improves manufacturing consistency. Moreover, mRNA vaccines can be rapidly synthesized after the required sequence is known, and modifications can be expedited, which is advantageous in responding to emerging immune-evasive variants.”

The biggest “limitation” to mRNA technology is the fact that it can be easily destroyed, which is why the vaccines need to be stored at cold temperatures.

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“mRNA vaccine development will continue to accelerate, spurred on by the success of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and further improvements to the technology may mitigate some of the current limitations and facilitate broader reach.”

“For example, strategies to make the mRNA vaccines self-amplify, meaning the mRNA delivered in the vaccine encodes not only the antigen of interest but also the replication machinery that amplifies the mRNA, will reduce the amount of mRNA needed in each vaccine. Moderna is already in phase 1 with a seasonal influenza quadrivalent product, and is developing other combination vaccines, including one for human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza virus,” wrote Overmars and colleagues.

“Existing challenges need to be addressed to ensure equitable access and expansion. To do this, manufacturing facilities with advanced mRNA technology may be required in multiple locations globally,” they explained. 

“Testing of different additives, adjuvants and delivery mechanisms will be important to increase the stability of mRNA vaccines at higher temperatures and to therefore facilitate equitable access.”

“mRNA technology has progressed rapidly over the past 2 years in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, revealing new and exciting avenues for prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine development,” they concluded.