International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Is On May 12, 2018
Thomas Hennessy, Jr., selected May 12th to be our international awareness day back in 1992. He knew that May 12th had also been the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was the English army nurse who helped to found the Red Cross as well as the first school of nursing in the world.
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Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Ema, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

    Midwest USA

    Posted by Sonia Fernandez-UCSB on January 22, 2014

    A new device, which can monitor the levels of specific drugs as they flow through the bloodstream, may soon take the guesswork out of drug dosing and allow physicians to tailor prescriptions to their patients’ specific biology.

    Doctors and pharmaceutical companies can generally determine reasonable drug doses for most patients through batteries of tests and trials. However, the efficacy of a drug treatment relies on maintaining therapeutic levels of the drug in the body, a feat not so easily accomplished.

    “Current dosing regimens are really quite primitive,” says Kevin Plaxco, professor of chemistry and of biomolecular science and engineering at University of California, Santa Barbara. They rely on a patient’s age or body weight and are unable to account for specific responses over time. Drug levels may be influenced by individual patients’ metabolisms, or even by the foods they eat or other drugs they might be taking.

    When coupled with the primitive state of current dosing algorithms, this variability can be quite dangerous for drugs that have narrow therapeutic ranges. That in turn requires both doctor and patient to balance on the fine line between effectiveness and toxicity.

    Scientists could be one giant step closer to dispelling the uncertainty around patients’ biological responses as they receive these drugs with a device that is only a bit longer than a jumbo paperclip.

    Called MEDIC (Microfluidic Electrochemical Detector for In vivo Concentrations), the instrument can determine—continuously and in real time—concentrations of specific molecules in tiny amounts of whole blood. The kind of information it can provide could lead to truly personalized medicine.

    “The easier and faster your doctor can detect specific molecules—drug molecules, proteins that are diagnostic of a specific disease—the faster your doctor can diagnose disease and monitor treatment,” says Plaxco.

    This work is the result of a multiyear collaboration among the research labs of Plaxco; Tom Soh, professor of mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and materials; and Tod Kippin from the department of psychological and brain sciences.

    The MEDIC device consists of a microfluidic chamber lined with gold electrodes from which drug-recognizing biomolecules—in this case artificial DNA strands called aptamers—extend. When the target molecule comes in contact with an aptamer, the strand recognizes it and wraps around the molecule, delivering electrons from its tip to the electrode at the aptamer’s base. The tiny jolt of current signals the presence of the molecule.

    “For the first time, we can see how the body is processing specific molecules,” says Scott Ferguson, a postdoctoral researcher in the Soh lab and the lead author of the study. Ferguson invented the central technology for continuously monitoring drug levels in whole blood, an element of time that is necessary to provide a full picture of how an individual responds to a certain drug.

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