August 26, 2016

Cancer-Melting Drugs, Drone Disaster Relief & More

By Chelsea Follett
Cancer-melting drug approved for human use

A cancer-melting tablet invented in Australia has gained approval for human use in the United States. An American doctor can now prescribe the drug, venetoclax , to anyone suffering from chronic lymphotic leukemia. The drug works by overpowering a protein that is vital to a cancer cell’s survival, causing the cell to melt. In medical trials, 80 out of 116 cancer patients who took venetoclax showed improvement, and about 20 percent of patients had their cancer melt away entirely. One patient was told he had only three weeks to live before he joined a venetoclax clinical trial. Today he is healthy after a two-year period of taking the drug. Australia, the drug’s country of origin, has not yet approved its use outside of medical trials, but researchers are confident that will soon change.

Drones save lives after Italy disaster

In the wake of a devastating 6.2 magnitude Earthquake that killed at least 267 people in Italy and
destroyed ancient villages, rescuers are still searching through the rubble for survivors. Over 1,000 aftershocks have occurred so far, endangering the disaster responders. Fortunately, drone technology is helping to make rescue operations safer. Drones are able to quickly survey the extent of damage to an area by providing live video footage, while helicopters can identify and retrieve survivors. Drones are quickly becoming common in rescue and recovery missions around the world, although they are sometimes hampered by negative public perceptions associating drones with war, as well as the complexity of obtaining government flight permits.

Compound mines gold from old electronics

What if you could mine gold from your old, discarded cell phone? A team of British and American researchers have discovered an uncomplicated and nontoxic compound that would allow you to do just that. The compound – composed of hydrochloric acid leaching solution, a primary amide and a hydrocarbon solvent that smells like perfume – separates and selectively extracts gold from the array of metals present in discarded cell phones. The extraction process is low-cost, produces no environmental waste and is more efficient than previous extraction methods. Using this compound, the researchers were able to fully extract about 80 percent of the gold from old cell phones and other discarded electronics.