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Posted at: Jun 9, 2018, 1:06 AM; last updated: Jun 9, 2018, 1:06 AM (IST)HEALTH CAPSULES

It matters how you target cancer

A targeting strategy can improve cancer drug delivery. A study says bioengineers may be able to use the unique mechanical properties of diseased cells, such as metastatic cancer cells, to help improve delivery of drug treatments to the targeted cells. Many labs around the world are developing nanoparticle-based, drug delivery systems to selectively target tumours. They rely on a key-and-lock system in which protein keys on the surface of the nanoparticle click into the locks of a highly expressed protein on the surface of the cancer cell. The cell membrane then wraps around the nanoparticle and ingests it. If enough of the nanoparticles and their drug cargo are ingested, the cancer cell will die. The adhesive force of the lock and key is what drives the nanoparticle into the cell. Until now, bioengineers only considered the driving force and designed nanoparticles to optimise the chemical interactions, a targeting strategy called 'chemotargeting.' This study says bioengineers should also take into account the mechanics of the cells to design nanoparticles to achieve enhanced targeting, which forms a new targeting strategy called 'mechanotargeting.' These two targeting strategies are complementary; experts should combine chemotargeting and mechanotargeting to achieve the full potential of nanoparticle-based diagnostic and therapeutic agents. The study appears in the journal Advanced Materials.

Proper sleep is important for diabetics   

Poor sleep can be detrimental for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes, says a new research. It says people with diabetes and pre-diabetes who have lower sleep efficiency — a measure of how much time in bed is actually spent sleeping — have poorer cognitive function than those with better sleep efficiency. In previous studies, diabetes has been linked to cognitive impairment and an increased risk for dementia. Other studies have found that sleep disturbances, common in diabetics, are also linked to cognitive impairment. Researchers investigated the relationship between sleep and cognitive function in patients with abnormal and impaired glucose tolerance, indicative of prediabetes as well diabetics. A total of 162 participants, with average age of 54.8 years, were involved in the study. Sleep duration and sleep efficiency (an important indicator of sleep quality) were obtained for each participant. Cognitive function was assessed using a questionnaire called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. They found that the average sleep duration was six hours per night, and the average sleep efficiency was 82.7 per cent (i.e 82.7 per cent of time spent in bed was spent in sleep). They found better sleep efficiency was associated with better cognitive function scores for participants with diabetes and prediabetes. They also found that having diabetes was associated with lower cognitive function scores. The study appears in the journal Acta Diabetologica. 

Too much studying can leave you short-sighted   

A study says spending more years in full-time education is associated with a greater risk of developing short-sightedness (myopia). It is a leading cause of visual impairment worldwide. Currently, 30-50 per cent of adults in the US and Europe are myopic, with levels of 80-90 per cent reported in school leavers in some East Asian countries. Based on existing trends, the number of myopics worldwide is expected to increase from 1.4 billion to 5 billion by 2050, affecting about half of the world's population. Almost 10 per cent of these people will have high myopia, which carries a greater risk of blindness.  Many studies have reported strong links between education and myopia. The new study suggested that every additional year of education was associated with more myopia. The study appears in the journal The BMJ. 

— Agencies

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