Lab-grown tissues to improve reliability of safety tests for drugs, chemicals

This human liver organoid gives researchers hope that animal-based studies about drug safety will be a method of the past one day.

by Natalie Grover Testing the safety of medicines and chemicals on organ-like structures developed from various types of stem cells could reduce the reliance on animal testing and streamline chemical and drug development, according to scientists in the Netherlands who are in the early stages of developing such technology.  Tissues such as the intestine and … Read more

Europe’s silent opioid epidemic

Codeine addiction is a widespread problem which can be hard to diagnose, study says.

As opiate addiction continues to grip the United States – killing more than 100 people per day in 2016 – researchers are trying to get a handle on the scale of the problem in Europe. The US is grappling with a major crisis driven by dependency on opioid painkillers such as fentanyl. These highly addictive prescription drugs are … Read more

Omics, sweet omics – curing the incurable, one disease at a time

In recent years, the genetic defects behind about 5,000 of the estimated 7,000-8,000 rare diseases have been discovered, largely thanks to omics.

There are many rare genetic diseases that strike perhaps only one in a million people. Often incurable, they can be profoundly debilitating and frequently life-threatening. Though each particular disease is rare, they number in the thousands – which means that together they affect about 30 million Europeans or around 7% of us. Treating these diseases is challenging … Read more

Simple blood test could reveal epilepsy risk

It is difficult for doctors to diagnose epilepsy as they usually do not observe the symptoms in a patient, but a blood test could overcome this challenge.

A finger-prick blood test to diagnose epilepsy could be available within five years, according to scientists who are using tell-tale molecules called biomarkers to overcome current diagnostic problems and guide treatment. More than 50 million people are affected by epilepsy worldwide. However, diagnosing the disease remains challenging and treatments are often unsuccessful: only 70% of patients taking … Read more

Fighting cancer with nanobodies and computer simulations

Researchers in the Netherlands are hoping to move vaccine therapy from the lab to inside the body.

Stimulating or enhancing someone’s own immune system to fight cancer is not a new concept but scientists are taking it one step further by using nanoscience and computer simulations to improve existing treatments. Immunotherapy drugs are specifically designed to help the immune system respond to cancerous cells, something that it doesn’t naturally do. That’s because cancer cells … Read more