The National Institutes of Health is supporting efforts to broaden biomedical scientists’ access to cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), the Nobel Prize-winning imaging method that is revolutionizing structural biology. The Transformative High Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy program is creating three national cryo-EM service centers to provide access to the technology and is supporting the development of cryo-EM training curricula to build a skilled workforce. The awards are anticipated to total $129.5 million, pending the availability of funds, and the centers are expected to offer limited services by late 2018 as they build to full capacity.

There are several procedures available to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, including a relatively new treatment that uses steam to reduce the size of the prostate and ease symptoms. This treatment has been shown to effectively eliminate excess prostate tissue, while carrying a low risk of side effects.

A new discovery shows that opioids used to treat pain, such as morphine and oxycodone, produce their effects by binding to receptors inside neurons, contrary to conventional wisdom that they acted only on the same surface receptors as endogenous opioids, which are produced naturally in the brain. However, when researchers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) used a novel molecular probe to test that common assumption, they discovered that medically used opioids also bind to receptors that are not a target for the naturally occurring opioids. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

A new procedural skills lab in the Mayo Clinic J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Simulation Center at Mayo Clinic in Florida will help staff learn and perfect various clinical procedures, including joint arthroscopy, spinal taps and kidney removal. In addition, participants in the lab will experiment, learn and refine new procedures on tissue from cadavers.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) did not cross the species barrier to infect cynomolgus macaque monkeys during a lengthy investigation by National Institutes of Health scientists exploring risks to humans.

Using 3-D-printed models to prepare and plan for surgery is becoming more common. These life-size, patient-specific models can be valuable tools for surgeons as they decide what approach and techniques will be best for a specific surgery. The models are particularly helpful for procedures that may be new, uncommon or complex. These 3-D models also play an important role in education.