New Therapy Could Deliver Anti-Cancer Medicine Directly to the Brain

Scientists at a Canadian research center will soon test their theory of how to overcome the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a biological feature which protects the brain from toxins in the blood but also prevents beneficial medicines from reaching the brain.

What's the Latest?


Scientists at a Canadian research center will soon test their theory of how to overcome the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a biological feature which protects the brain from toxins in the blood but also prevents beneficial medicines from reaching the brain. The solution may rest in microbubbles, tiny gas-filled pockets of air that will expand and contract about 200,000 times a second, forcing apart the specialized cells that form the BBB. "The idea is that this will allow the chemotherapy drug in the bloodstream to sneak through the gaps in the barrier and into any nearby tumor cells."

What's the Big Idea?

The experiment, to be carried out at Toronto's Sunnybrook Research Institute, will involve 10 patients suffering from cancerous brain tumors. "First, the volunteers will be given a chemotherapy drug that does not usually cross the BBB. They will then receive an injection of microbubbles, which will spread throughout the body, including into the blood vessels that serve the brain." Researchers believe that if the trial runs are successful, a similar method cold be used to combat Alzheimer's, using micro bubbles to deliver antibodies shown to wipe out protein plaques characteristic of the disease. 

Read more at New Scientist

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Trusting your instincts is lazy: Poker pro Liv Boeree on Big Think Edge

International poker champion Liv Boeree teaches decision-making for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to make decisions with the clarity of a World Series Poker Champion.
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Yamagata et al.
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An MIT study predicts when artificial intelligence will take over for humans in different occupations.

Photo credit: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / AFP / Getty Images
Surprising Science

While technology develops at exponential speed, transforming how we go about our everyday tasks and extending our lives, it also offers much to worry about. In particular, many top minds think that automation will cost humans their employment, with up to 47% of all jobs gone in the next 25 years. And chances are, this number could be even higher and the massive job loss will come earlier.

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Horseshoe crabs are captured for their blue blood. That practice will soon be over.

The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.

An Atlantic horseshoe crab in an aquarium. Photo: Domdomegg via Wikimedia Commons.
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