A Hot New Pain Reliever
Dr. Dottie Brown, assistant professor of surgery at Penn’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital, is working with the National Institutes of Health to test the analgesic properties of resiniferatoxin (RTX), a spicy extract of the Moroccan version of the chili pepper. NIH scientists studying cancer-related pain in humans found that the spinal-nerve cells which carry pain messages to the brain could be killed when filled with calciumand that those calcium channels could be opened by exposure to RTX.
Brown’s work with cancer-stricken dogs made her a prime research partner because the results from her studies could potentially provide ample data to determine whether or not RTX might work for humans.
Brown compiled a sample of dogs with such severe cancer-related pain that they were unable to walk. After
A Matter of Trust
Distrust was more prevalent among African Americans in the study who received medical care outside of a physician’s office, in a health clinic or emergency room, for example. Among the white participants in the study, those without health insurance or annual health-care visits were most likely to report distrust.
Metamaterials to Marvel Over
The H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering proposes that a metamateriala “composite material that can be engineered to exhibit properties … that are unconventional and that may not be readily and easily found in natural materials”covered in a special “plasmonic” shield will reduce the scattering of light. Because we see objects when light bounces off of them, he explains, “the covered object becomes ‘transparent’ to the observer; in other words, it becomes less detectable.”
Because the frequency of the light beam and the shield need to correspond in order to be effective and the wavelength of light hitting the object must be approximately the same size as the object itself, the prospect of “invisibility cloaks” for large objects like cars or humans is slim. However, Engheta’s research could prove useful for reducing glare, especially from cars or metallic mirrored buildings. In addition, it may one day be used to shield large objects in space, such as satellites, from long wave-length telescopes. Engheta says his research holds promise for a number of different practical applications, not just “cloaking.” He is also studying miniaturized nanocircuits, which could have applications in power-efficient optoelectronics and biotechnology.
Jennifer Nath C’08
GAZETTEER : News & Sports
Inspiration from Ben and Emimem at 250th Commencement
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Last modified 06/28/06