New technique allows viewing of cells and tissues under skin

New York, March 20 (IANS) A team of US researchers has developed a new imaging technique for viewing cells and tissues in three dimensions under the skin, which may one day allow doctors to evaluate how cancer cells are responding to treatment.

The technique, called MOZART, was developed by researchers at the Stanford University in California, which shows intricate real-time details in three dimensions of the lymph and blood vessels in a living animal.

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“We’ve been trying to look into the living body and see information at the level of the single cell,” said Adam de la Zerda, assistant professor at Stanford and senior author of the study. “Until now there has been no way do that,” he added.

The research, according to the university, could one day allow scientists to detect tumours in the skin, colon or esophagus, or even to see the abnormal blood vessels that appear in the earliest stages of macular degeneration – a leading cause of blindness.

A technique exists for peeking into a live tissue several millimetres under the skin, revealing a landscape of cells, tissues and vessels. But that technique, called optical coherence tomography (OCT), isn’t sensitive or specific enough to see the individual cells or the molecules that the cells are producing.

The new technique, tested in a living mouse, uses tiny particles called gold nanorods and sensitive algorithms to detect specific structures in three-dimensional images of living tissues.

It may allow doctors to monitor how an otherwise invisible tumour under the skin is responding to treatment, or to understand how individual cells break free from a tumour and travel to distant sites.

Bouncing back after rough patch may take time

New York, March 20 (IANS) Bouncing back when someone goes through a rough period in life — say a divorce or losing a job, people can struggle considerably and take much longer time to recover back to previous levels of functioning, says a new study.

The new research finds that natural resilience may not be as common as once thought and that when confronted with a major life-altering event many people can struggle considerably and for longer periods of time.

“Give the person time to heal” has been the common mantra. This often meant that when these people struggled, they would be left to deal with their situation largely on their own.

“We show that contrary to an extensive body of research, when individuals are confronted with major life stressors, such as spousal loss, divorce or unemployment, they are likely to show substantial declines in well-being and these declines can linger for several years,” said co-author of the new study Frank Infurna from Arizona State University in the US.

“Whereas when we test these assumptions more thoroughly, we find that most individuals are deeply affected and it can take several years for them to recover and get back to previous levels of functioning,” Infurna added in the paper published in the journal of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Most psychological studies have supported the idea of a person’s innate resilience to the struggles of life.

The new research questions prior claims that resilience is the “usual” response to major life stressors by looking at longitudinal data in a more nuanced way and making less generalisation about the human response to such dramatic events.

The team used existing longitudinal data from Germany (the German socioeconomic panel study), which is an on going survey that began in 1984 and annually assesses participants over a wide range of measures.

The outcome that they focused on was life satisfaction, which assesses how satisfied individuals are with their lives, all things considered, as they pass through years of their lives.

The previous research postulated that most people, anywhere from 50 to 70 percent, would show a trajectory characterised by no change.

“We found that it usually took people much longer, several years, to return to their previous levels of functioning,” Infurna said.

A finding that means giving a person time alone to deal with the stressor might not be the best approach to getting them back to full functionality, Infurna said.

“It provides some evidence that if most people are affected then interventions certainly should be utilized in terms of helping these individuals in response to these events.”

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