Pratt Research

'Shock' Engineers for Better Medical Treatment
Pei Zhong’s tireless efforts to technologically fine-tune the shock wave therapy used to pulverize kidney stones are not only leading to better treatment for that painful condition but also opening up surprising new avenues for medical advances, such as by manipulating genes and unleashing genetic assaults against tumors.

Cutting Tropical Deforestation to Avert Global Warming Cheaply
Slowing tropical deforestation is an essential and cost-effective way to avert severe climate change, according to a new study published in the May 10 Science Express, an advanced online publication of the journal Science. An international team of 11 top forest and climate researchers, including civil and environmental engineer Roni Avissar of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, found that cutting deforestation rates in half by mid-century would amount to 12 percent of the emissions reductions needed to keep concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere at relatively safe levels.

Clinical Activity for Celsion's ThermoDox Reported
Early results from a Phase I clinical study of ThermoDox for treating patients with recurrent breast cancer on the chest wall revealed that after only two cycles of a low-dose, six-cycle regimen, six patients showed early signs of clinically meaningful activity, according to a release issued by Celsion Corp. ThermoDox is Celsion’s proprietary heat-sensitive liposomal encapsulation of doxorubicin, an approved and frequently used anti-cancer drug used in the treatment of various forms of the disease, including breast cancer. Localized mild hyperthermia (40-42 degrees Celsius) releases the entrapped doxorubicin from the liposome. This delivery technology-- invented in 1996 by David Needham, a professor in the mechanical engineering and materials science department at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering--enables high concentrations of doxorubicin to be deposited preferentially in a targeted tumor.

Making 'Smarter' Use of 'Smart' Gels
Once considered something of a laboratory novelty, "smart’ gels" -- synthesized from polymers that can undergo dramatic transformations in response to changes in their surroundings -- are now poised to become integral mechanical components and sensors in the increasingly tiny devices of the future. Through a combination of computational and experimental efforts, an interdisciplinary Pratt team including John Dolbow and Stefan Zauscher aims to make the process of smart gel engineering even smarter.

How Brain Pacemakers Erase Diseased Messages
Brain "pacemakers" that have helped ease symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders seem to work by drowning out the electrical signals of their diseased brains, biomedical engineer Warren Grill reports.