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Music May Reduce Anxiety Before Super-Stressful Eye Surgery

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If you knew that somebody were about to stab you in the face, you’d probably find it pretty hard to chill. Yet researchers say that they were able to take people in that exact situation—patients about to undergo eye surgery while awake—and get them to relax by playing them music. They will present their findings [PDF] during the Euroanaesthesia 2016 conference in London this weekend.

Music as a relaxation tool is certainly nothing new. Decades of research have found that the right tune can decrease blood pressure, slow heart rate, and even curb anxiety. But none of these studies had been conducted on people waiting for their eyeballs to be punctured.

Researchers at Cochin University Hospital in Paris recruited 62 eye surgery patients. On the day of their surgery, the patients filled out questionnaires about their state of mind and their level of fear.

All the patients were told to sit quietly with high-quality headphones on during the 20 minutes before their cataract surgery. For half of those patients, the headphones blocked external sound. The other half listened to music. But it wasn’t just any music. Patients were able to choose from 16 different musical styles, all provided by a company that creates strategically relaxing music.

Here’s a little sample:

Then all the patients underwent the 15-minute surgery. Afterward, they filled out another survey about their feelings and their surgical experience.

The patients who got to listen to music were significantly better off. On average, they rated their anxiety at about 23 out of 100. Members of the control group gave their anxiety about a 65. During the operation, only 16 percent of the music group needed sedation, compared to 32 percent of the non-music group. And afterward, music listeners gave their experience a mean score of 71 points out of 100, while non-listeners averaged a 55.

Gilles Guerrier was the lead researcher on the project. "Music listening may be considered as an inexpensive, non-invasive, non-pharmacological method to reduce anxiety for patients undergoing elective eye surgery under local anaesthesia,” he said in a press statement.

Guerrier hopes to build on this study’s success. "The objective is to provide music to all patients before eye surgery,” he said. “We intend to assess the procedure in other type of surgeries, including orthopaedics where regional anaesthesia is common. Moreover, post-operative pain may be reduced by decreasing pre-operative anxiety, which is another study we intend to perform."

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Medicine
New Cancer-Fighting Nanobots Can Track Down Tumors and Cut Off Their Blood Supply
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Scientists have developed a new way to cut off the blood flow to cancerous tumors, causing them to eventually shrivel up and die. As Business Insider reports, the new treatment uses a design inspired by origami to infiltrate crucial blood vessels while leaving the rest of the body unharmed.

A team of molecular chemists from Arizona State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences describe their method in the journal Nature Biotechnology. First, they constructed robots that are 1000 times smaller than a human hair from strands of DNA. These tiny devices contain enzymes called thrombin that encourage blood clotting, and they're rolled up tightly enough to keep the substance contained.

Next, researchers injected the robots into the bloodstreams of mice and small pigs sick with different types of cancer. The DNA sought the tumor in the body while leaving healthy cells alone. The robot knew when it reached the tumor and responded by unfurling and releasing the thrombin into the blood vessel that fed it. A clot started to form, eventually blocking off the tumor's blood supply and causing the cancerous tissues to die.

The treatment has been tested on dozen of animals with breast, lung, skin, and ovarian cancers. In mice, the average life expectancy doubled, and in three of the skin cancer cases tumors regressed completely.

Researchers are optimistic about the therapy's effectiveness on cancers throughout the body. There's not much variation between the blood vessels that supply tumors, whether they're in an ovary in or a prostate. So if triggering a blood clot causes one type of tumor to waste away, the same method holds promise for other cancers.

But before the scientists think too far ahead, they'll need to test the treatments on human patients. Nanobots have been an appealing cancer-fighting option to researchers for years. If effective, the machines can target cancer at the microscopic level without causing harm to healthy cells. But if something goes wrong, the bots could end up attacking the wrong tissue and leave the patient worse off. Study co-author Hao Yan believes this latest method may be the one that gets it right. He said in a statement, "I think we are much closer to real, practical medical applications of the technology."

[h/t Business Insider]

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New Peanut Allergy Patch Could Be Coming to Pharmacies This Year
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About 6 million people in the U.S. and Europe have severe peanut allergies, including more than 2 million children. Now, French biotechnology company DBV Technologies SA has secured an FDA review for its peanut allergy patch, Bloomberg reports.

If approved, the company aims to start selling the Viaskin patch to children afflicted with peanut allergies in the second half of 2018. The FDA's decision comes in spite of the patch's disappointing study results last year, which found the product to be less effective than DBV hoped (though it did receive high marks for safety). The FDA has also granted Viaskin breakthrough-therapy and fast-track designations, which means a faster review process.

DBV's potentially life-saving product is a small disc that is placed on the arm or between the shoulder blades. It works like a vaccine, exposing the wearer's immune system to micro-doses of peanut protein to increase tolerance. It's intended to reduce the chances of having a severe allergic reaction to accidental exposure.

The patch might have competition: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., which specializes in food allergy treatments, and the drug company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are working together to develop a cure for peanut allergies.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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