Weekly News Bites: Catching DNA, our bumpy Earth, and healthy teeth for a healthier heart

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a way to avoid biopsies by catching free-floating DNA, a large dip in the Earth’s surface under the Indian Ocean, and how people who brush their teeth before bed seem to have healthier hearts.

Diagnosing brain cancer can be an invasive process involving biopsies that require surgery. To avoid this, Nagoya University scientists have developed a way to ‘catch’ free floating DNA in urine and look for mutations that are common in brain tumors. The nanowires capture the DNA which is then washed out and analyzed for mutations that could indicate a type of brain tumor called a glioma.

Also avoiding invasive processes in medicine, the National University of Singapore has developed a new way of administering medicine through a thin film that dissolves in a patient’s mouth. Since the drugs on the film pass through the membranes in the cheek, bypassing digestion, this method could be useful for patients that have difficulty swallowing, have vomiting or gut absorption problems.

Contrary to the pictures we see of our planet, the Earth is not a perfect sphere and has dips and bumps in its surface. A large dip under the Indian Ocean has intrigued scientists for decades. Indian Institute of Science (IISC) researchers detail their theory on why it exists in their new paper which may have involved flowing magma and the sinking seafloor of an ancient ocean.

By studying over 100 000 people in over 35 countries, Kyoto University, Waseda University, and Harvard University scientists reverse the theory that retirement leads to an increased risk of heart disease. If everyone retired in their 60s the number of heart disease patients could drop dramatically, say the researchers.  

In other heart health news, your oral hygiene may have an effect on your heart. A study by Osaka University found that people who did not brush their teeth before bed fared worse when hospitalized for cardiac problems and people who brushed their teeth twice a day had higher survival rates. So the researchers suggest brushing your teeth often to help prevent heart disease!