Scientists at Aston University and Russells Hall Hospital have discovered that an extract from a common plant in Pakistan may help cure breast cancer.
The plant, Fagonia cretica, and known as Virgon’s Mantlem, is commonly used in herbal tea. It has been traditionally used to treat women in rural Pakistan who have breast cancer, but up until now this treatment has been regarded as something of a folklore remedy. However, patients in Pakistan who have taken the plant extract have reported that it does not appear to generate any of the serious common side effects associated with other cancer treatments, such as loss of hair, drop in blood count or diarrhoea.
Now, scientists at Aston University in Birmingham and Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley have undertaken tests of the plant extract and proved that it kills cancer cells without damage to normal breast cells in laboratory conditions.
Professor Helen Griffith and Professor Amutul R Carmichael who lead the study are now aiming to identify which element or elements of the plant are responsible for killing the cancer cells with a view to eventually begin trails with human cancer patients.
Doubling the amount of fat removed
Nanodiamonds, pieces of carbon less than ten-thousandths the diameter of a human hair, have been found to help loosen crystallized fat from surfaces in a project led by research chemists at the University of Warwick that transforms the ability of washing powders to shift dirt in eco friendly low temperature laundry cycles.
These new findings tackle a problem that forces consumers to wash some of their laundry at between 60 and 90 degrees centigrade more than 80 times a year.
Even with modern biological washing powders, some fats and dirt cannot be removed at the lower temperatures many prefer to use for their weekly wash.
A desire to reduce the significant energy burden of regular high temperature washes, and understand the behaviour of these new materials, brought University of Warwick scientists and colleagues at Aston University together in a project funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and P&G plc.
This “Cold Water Cleaning Initiative” funded a group of chemists, physicists and engineers led by Dr Andrew Marsh in the University of Warwick’s Department of Chemistry to explore how new forms of carbon might work together with detergents in everyday household products.
Dr Andrew Marsh said: “We found that the 5 nanometre diamonds changed the way detergents behaved at 25 degrees centigrade, doubling the amount of fat removed when using one particular commercial detergent molecule.
“Even at temperatures as low as 15 degrees centigrade, otherwise hard-to-remove fat could be solubilised from a test surface.
Needs to be changed only once a week
South African pharmaceutical company, Cipla Medpro, in conjunction with the Microbiology Department at theUniversity of Stellenbosch, has announced the development of what is being touted as a breakthrough in wound dressing.
The team behind the Wound Dressing Project recently received a prestigious NSTF-BHP Billiton Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Contribution to SETI through Research leading to Innovation. Team leader, Professor Leon Dicks – Department of Microbiology, University of Stellenbosch – describes the product as a nanofibre wound dressing with controlled release of antimicrobial peptides for patients with burn wounds.
Designed specifically for tasks that require heavy lifting, such as commerce or nursing
Researchers from the Tokyo University of Science in Japan are now developing a light exoskeleton concept that can carry items as heavy as 40 kilograms with little to no difficulty. Created by professor Hiroshi Kobayashiand his team of experts, the exoskeleton is affixed to the hips and shoulders by straps and a padded waistband, while its A-shaped frame is equipped with four pneumatic artificial muscles (lightweight rubber blades encased in mesh) that contract when pressurized air is pumped in and can exert up to 30 kilograms of instant support for extra strenuous tasks. The frame is specially designed to augment the functions of the arms and back specifically in tasks that require heavy lifting, such as commerce or nursing.