These weird nanorobots could make chemotherapy treatment easier.

"Chemotherapy is brutal. The goal is pretty much to kill everything in your body without killing you."

That's what Rashida Jones said in Oprah Magazine back in 2009 while discussing her mother's cancer.

Jones at the 2010 Stand Up to Cancer event. Jones has been an outspoken advocate for supporting cancer treatment. Photo by Handout/Getty Images.


And it's true. While chemotherapy has been one of our greatest weapons in fighting cancer, it can be merciless to the person who has to go through it. Side effects include hair loss, pain, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and stomach issues. It can even sometimes cause long-term damage to your heart, lungs, or other organs.

That's why researchers have devoted a ton of time to trying to create better, more precise, less-like-dropping-a-bomb-into-your-veins treatments.

And researchers in Canada, led by professor Sylvain Martell of the Polytechnique Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory, might have just created something amazing – a kind of remote-controlled anti-cancer nanorobot. They published their findings in a paper titled "Magneto-gerotactic Bacteria Deliver Drug-containing Nanoliposomes to Tumour Hypoxic Regions."

Yeah, it's a mouthful, but the science behind it is pretty cool and not actually that hard to understand. Here's how it works:

Imagine your body's blood vessels like a gigantic hamster maze.

Hamsters are big fans of similes. Photo from iStock.

I know, kind of a weird metaphor, but stick with me here. Now, there are over 60,000 miles of blood vessels in our body all stitched together, so this is a pretty big maze. And somewhere in there, connected to the system, is our target – the tumor. But how do we get to it?

Standard chemotherapy is kind of like taking a big old bottle of chemicals and trying to just flood everything.

If the tube maze is full up to the top with chemicals, that tumor's definitely going to get treated, but so will, you know, everything else connected to that maze.

So as most chemo is trying to stop cancer's runaway growth, there tends to be a good amount of noncancer collateral damage to other growing cells (that's why chemo patients tend to lose their hair).

That's the (very simplified) standard chemo scenario.

This new technique, however, is like dropping the hamster into that maze, then leading it directly to the tumor with a carrot.

Only in this case, the hamster is actually tiny ocean-going bacteria called magnetococcus. Magnetococcus is special because it has a kind of built-in compass that it uses to orient itself in the big, wide ocean. If it ever gets lost, it can use that compass to wiggle its way back home.

What the researchers figured out they can do is take some of those bacteria, load them up with special, cancer-fighting chemicals, then inject them into the patient. Then, by using computer-controlled magnets outside the patient's body, they can tweak all those mini-compasses and lead the cancer-fighting bacteria straight to the tumor, like a hamster following its nose.

The scientists did not say if the bacteria got similarly adorable treats afterwards. Photo from iStock.

It's worth noting that a few other places have experimented with other kinds of nano-delivery schemes, but they weren't as precise partly because they didn't use things that could move on their own like these bacteria can.

There's some other cool things about this particular technique as well, like how the bacteria can naturally seek out hard-to-reach areas of the tumor that don't get a lot of oxygen and how they might be able to penetrate the brain's security-system-esque blood-brain barrier.

It's still in testing, but if this works, it could make chemotherapy far less brutal.

The nanorobotics lab. Photo by Polytechnique Montréal.

So far they've tested it in mice, and the researchers have obtained funding to try to put together a fully-equipped, human-sized setup. The government of Quebec even kicked in $1.85 million.

Chemotherapy is a life-saving invention, and it'd be hard for me to overstate how much it's changed cancer treatment. But anyone who's taken it or anyone who's watched a loved one go through it can tell you it's rough. Thanks to researchers like these, treating cancer one day might be a heck of a lot easier.

Courtesy of Back on My Feet
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Having graduated in the top 10% of Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) cadets nationwide in 2012, Pat Robinson was ready to take on a career in the Air Force full speed ahead.

Despite her stellar performance in the classroom and training grounds, Robinson feared other habits she'd picked up at Ohio University had sent her down the wrong tracks.

First stationed near Panama City, Florida, Robinson became reliant on alcohol while serving as an air battle manager student. After barnstorming through Atlanta's nightclubs on New Year's Eve, Robinson failed a drug test and lied to her commanding officer about the results.

Eleven months later, she was dismissed. Feeling ashamed and directionless, Robinson briefly returned home to Cleveland before venturing west to look for work in San Francisco.

After a brief stint working at a paint store, Robinson found herself without a source of income and was relegated to living in her car. Robinson's garbage can soon became littered with parking tickets and her car was towed. Golden Gate Park's cool grass soon replaced her bed.

"My substance abuse spiraled very quickly," Robinson said. "You name it, I probably used it. Very quickly I contracted HIV and Hepatitis C. I was arrested again and again and was finally charged and sentenced to substance abuse treatment."

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

DiMezzo is clear about why she ran—to show how "clueless the average voter is" and to prove that "the system is utterly and hopelessly broken"—stances that her win only serves to reinforce.

In a blog post published on Friday, DiMezzo explained how she had never tried to hide who she was and that anyone could have looked her up to see what she was about, in addition to pointing out that those who are angry with her have no one to blame but themselves:

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Maybe before the events of 2020, you were taking your toilet paper for granted. But chances are, you aren't anymore. But aside from the shortages earlier in the year, there are larger problems with traditional TP. Specifically, it's pretty bad for the environment. That said, thanks to a company called Reel, it doesn't have to be. That's because their toilet paper is made from bamboo stalks and designed with environmental sustainability in mind.

If you've had any experience with environmentally friendly toilet paper in the past, you might be tempted to stop reading. But contrary to the prevailing stereotypes about eco-conscious TP, Reel is renowned for its quality and comfort -- so much so that the brand has sold more than a million rolls of the stuff and counting. And it's done so without contributing to the monstrous devastation of forests that's associated with the traditional toilet paper industry.

Every roll of Reel toilet paper is made from 100-percent bamboo, and 0 trees. But that's not where the brand's environmental consciousness ends. It even extends to the packaging, which is plastic-free, right down to the tape. No dead trees, no environment-choking plastic, no inks, no dyes, and none of the infamous synthetic compound bisphenol A. Best of all, if you use it, there's no TP-related guilt about the damage your daily bathroom habits might bring to the planet.

Why is using bamboo to make toilet paper better than using trees? For starters, it's the fastest-growing plant in existence, and can grow as much as three feet in just 24 hours. It's harvested once a year and never needs replanting, making it an essentially infinite resource compared to trees, while also using up 30-percent less water. And as you'll feel for yourself once you give Reel a try, bamboo paper is much softer than other papers made from recycled paper or wood fiber, while also retaining bamboo's natural tensile strength, which is said to be even stronger than some types of steel.

Reel Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper

Reel

Reel even has ply-counters covered, too. If you were worried that bamboo toilet paper doesn't give you the thickness and quality you're accustomed to in TP, think again, because each role is generally proportioned with three ply for extra softness. In other words: you're not having to sacrifice comfort for the good of the planet, at least not as far as your toilet paper is concerned.

And Reel's environmental friendliness isn't the only good reason to make the switch. The brand also cuts off a slice of their profits for the funding of sanitation projects in developing nations, so you're helping that important cause with each roll you buy (in addition to helping reduce deforestation and pollution).

Each 24-roll box of Reel premium bamboo toilet paper costs $29.99, but if you're paranoid about running out, they also offer a subscription service that sends a new box to your door automatically every four weeks, eight weeks, or 12 weeks, depending on how often you usually buy. Customers have also reported that each roll of Reel lasts longer than regular toilet paper since it gets the job done with fewer sheets -- another point in favor of bamboo paper..

Your toilet paper doesn't have to kill trees or choke the environment with bulky plastic packaging. There is a better way. To find out more, check out Reel at its official site, and say hello to a new era of environmentally friendly toilet paper that's also comfortable, durable, and a pleasure to have around.

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