+

"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.

Pop Culture

She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75

Lynch is part of a growing line of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory

Upon first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

You can find that exact same dress on Revolve for $220. Lynch bought it for only $3.75.
Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.