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Subspecialties Oncology, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Neurology, Training and education

Quick Hits

Diagnostic Tests Triple

The use of diagnostic tests in the UK has increased rapidly over recent years – an average of five tests per person, per year, three times more than 15 years ago. From 2000 to 2016, there has been an 8.5 percent increase in diagnostic test usage each year, which researchers suggest may reflect a greater expectation among patients to participate in decisions about their care (1).

Building an Organ

A three-dimensional “organ on a chip” that allows continuous, real-time monitoring of cells has opened up new opportunities for understanding disease. The device accurately mimics the growth of cells within the body and can be modified to generate multiple organ types that can help simulate the efficacy of different treatments. The biomimetic platform, which has been used to grow epithelial and fibroblast cells that form tissue-like architectures, uses a sponge electrode to provide a natural environment for cells (2).

Tracing Tumors

A new radiotracer that targets the c-Met receptor – a signaling pathway that contributes to tumorigenesis in non-small cell lung cancer – could improve diagnosis of the disease. The 99mTc-HYNIC-cMBP tracer showed much higher uptake in tumor cells with high c-Met expression than in those with low c-Met expression, and revealed the tumors on nuclear imaging scans within half an hour. This, coupled with reduced radiation exposure because the tracer is more quickly eliminated from the body, makes it more promising than current tracers (3).

Behind the slides

As the UK celebrated its 10th annual National Pathology Week in November, Robert Gordon University in Scotland marked the occasion by opening its doors to around 50 children from schools across the region. Budding scientists aged 14 to 17 attended “Science Secrets of the Hospital Lab” educational sessions that exposed them to histology, microbiology, and hematology as they attempted to solve a clinical puzzle.

Mapping the Hippocampus

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – a common occurrence in domestic sports – often results in hippocampal dysfunction that ultimately leads to cognitive decline and the escalation of other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. New research to map out the hippocampus in its first cell “atlas” has found that TBI affects a range of previously undefined cell populations and alters gene co-expression across different types of cells. These results indicate the presence of new therapeutic target pathways and hidden pathogenic mechanisms (4).

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  1. JW O’Sullivan et al., “Temporal trends in use of tests in UK primary care, 2000-15: retrospective analysis of 250 million tests”, BMJ, [Epub ahead of print] (2018).
  2. C Pitsalidis et al., “Transistor in a tube: A route to three-dimensional bioelectronics”, Sci Adv, [Epub ahead of print] (2018). PMID: 30397642.
  3. Z Han et al., “Development of a SPECT tracer to image c-Met expression in a xenograft model of non–small cell lung cancer”, J Nucl Med, 59, 1686-1691 (2018). PMID: 29777004.
  4. D Arneson et al., “Single cell molecular alterations reveal target cells and pathways of concussive brain injury”, Nat Commun, [Epub ahead of print] (2018). PMID: 30254269.

About the Author

Luke Turner

While completing my undergraduate degree in Biology, I soon discovered that my passion and strength was for writing about science rather than working in the lab. My master’s degree in Science Communication allowed me to develop my science writing skills and I was lucky enough to come to Texere Publishing straight from University. Here I am given the opportunity to write about cutting edge research and engage with leading scientists, while also being part of a fantastic team!

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