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Cajun Country

Regional Reports From Across the State

A hand-woven, hand-dyed silk scarf

Magnetic medicine
A University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor was recently awarded a patent for visionary research that could prove to be a potent weapon in the fight against cancer. Devesh Misra, director of the Center for Structural and Functional Materials and Stuller Endowed Chair and professor of chemical engineering at ULL, is on a mission to use nanotechnology –– the handling of material on a molecular or atomic level –– to deliver medicine directly to a tumor.
Misra explained his research in a ULL press release: “Using nanotechnology, we can get the drugs right inside the cells. With this method, we can deliver high concentration of medicines to the appropriate area without the medicine having to travel all over the body.”
According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, Misra’s work involves the use of nanocrystals that are biodegradable, nontoxic and human-friendly. A magnetic field is established outside of the patient’s body and inside around the tumor. Coated with a binding agent that aids in attaching the medicine to the tumor, the nanocrystals travel directly to the cancerous growth. After the magnetic field is released, the nanocrystals are naturally flushed from the body.
“The medicine wouldn’t have to go all over the body and possibly kill healthy cells,” says Misra. “The payoff for the doctors and patients include lower drug toxicity, effective treatment and reduced costs.”
Ramesh Kolluru, assistant vice president for research and graduate studies, is proud of the 10 patents, either current or pending,  bestowed on the university.
“We have professors doing valuable research that is then patented and commercialized, generating revenues for the university and its researchers,” states Kolluru. “This research is an investment in our future – as a university and as a society.”
Misra’s research has another health benefit when it comes to wounds.
“Magnetic nanoparticles can be encapsulated with a sprayable catalyst like titania that not only can keep wounds clean of bacteria but also be easily removed with a magnet after treatment,” he claims, something that would greatly reduce the additional risk of infection.


Loom abloom
Amidst the spice of Cajun Country with its rollicking music, one woman quietly indulges in a pastime that has always been mesmerizing to watch. From her home in Lafayette, Lynn Langhoff weaves yarns of the nonverbal variety on a Macomber 12 harness loom that she operates with the artistry of a pipe organ master. Before she begins to weave a creation, she has to have a definite vision of what the finished result will look like.
“You’ve got to know what it’s going to end up being before you start,” this self-taught weaver told the Baton Rouge Advocate in its Acadiana section feature. “Everything has to be planned exactly.”
It’s all a matter of heddles, pedals, loops, bobbins, reeds and spools and a penchant for creativity combined with the patience of a saint. In the case of Langhoff, who worked as an interior designer, the end results of her work are exquisite patterns of silk that she dyes herself and that sell very well at fairs and craft shows. She was the recipient of grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts that helped her buy the Macomber loom.
According to Langhoff, she places yarn on a spool that’s 5 feet behind the loom and sets a tension box. The yarn travels through the tension box onto pegs that are in groups of four. The yarn is then tied to cords and rolled 1 inch at a time onto a sectional warp beam. A crank has to be turned the same amount of times for each inch before the thread is through the heddles. Before she can begin the rhythmic movement that results in such beauty, she must make certain the heddles are properly set on the harness and tie up any loose ends. Then, there’s the footwork.
“The harness is tied to foot pedals,” says Langhoff, who is a board member of the Louisiana Crafts Guild. “The order that you move the pedals in and the way the harnesses are tied up to the pedals make the pattern. You could get pretty complex. It’s done in sock feet.”
 The pedals are 18 feet long. Watching weavers work their magic is like seeing someone conduct a symphony as they simultaneously play an organ.
She has most of the pedal patterns memorized and makes shawls, purses, scarves, bags and jackets.
According to Langhoff, setting up a loom is a daylong process and dyeing the yarns takes at least a week. “I stay full-time busy with this, especially with the dyeing.”

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