First Prototype Bioartificial Kidney Successful: Man-Made Organ May Solve Medical Problems, Giving Hope to Dialysis Patients

By Ron Jefferson 

The first bioartificial kidney developed by The Kidney Project earned a $650,000 prize from the KidneyX’s Artificial Kidney Prize. The man-made kidney technology is expected to be among the most promising solutions in today’s medical advancements that could end challenging kidney problems. Among the key interests of the bioartificial kidney is to implant the device on patients instead of treating them through dialysis machines and decrease the patients on the waiting lists of transplant procedures. The Kidney Project was led by UC San Francisco and Vanderbilt University Medical Center experts Shuvo Roy and William Fissel.

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The future of personalized medicine: Technion team built blood tree from scratch

Currently, transplanted grafts need to be implanted into a healthy part of the body so that the patient can generate new blood vessels to support it.

By HADAS LABRISCH  

Engineered blood vessels in Technion study. Vascular structures in the scaffold lumen (brown) communicate with vessels located in the surrounding hydrogel (green).(photo credit: Courtesy)AdvertisementSkin flaps, bone grafts, implanted tissue – recent advancements in medicine have changed the face of surgery in terms of autologous – meaning self – transplantations.While extensive damage to organs once meant a nearly sure amputation or need for an external transplant, today’s science focuses on harvesting cells and tissue from a person’s own body to complete the injured pieces of the puzzle, using grafts and flaps to repair skin, vessels, tubes and bones.Yet, ask any surgeon attempting to insert a flap and they would tell you that the most important – and restrictive – component of a graft’s success is ample blood supply.

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Fully synthetic proteins make tailored medicines

The company was founded to commercialise a peptide ligation reaction developed by Jeffrey Bode’s research group

BY VANESSA ZAINZINGER

Bright Peak Therapeutics makes modified protein drugs from scratch.

Jeffrey Bode from ETH Zurich in Switzerland has a fitting analogy for why synthetic proteins are a compelling next step for the development of therapeutic molecules. ‘Almost all modern antibiotics have been found or produced in nature, but were then modified with synthetic chemistry to make a better drug,’ he says. ‘In the same way, natural proteins often have fantastic biological activity but limitations in terms of, for example, toxicity. They can be made better and safer by using synthetic chemistry.’

Bode is a co-founder of Bright Peak Therapeutics, a privately held biotechnology company based in San Diego, US, and Basel, Switzerland, that is commercialising fully synthetic proteins for use in cancer immunotherapy and autoimmune diseases.

The company’s most advanced product is a synthetic version of cytokine signalling protein interleukin-2 called BPT-143. It is currently in chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) manufacturing – an integral part of any pharmaceutical product application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in which the manufacturing process, testing regimes and and product characteristics are developed to ensure they are consistent across batches. ‘As far as we know, no one has brought such a sophisticated synthetic molecule so far along clinical development,’ Bode says.

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Researchers develop a prototype of electronic nose

By University of Notre Dame 

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

But how does one measure that smell?

There’s no energy in a smell to help estimate how potent the coffee might be. Instead, it’s the gases emitted from brewed coffee that contribute to the invigorating scent.

The human nose captures those gases in a way that Nosang Vincent Myung, the Bernard Keating Crawford Professor of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, is working to duplicate in a device with sensors.

He and his team have developed a prototype of an electronic nose, using nanoengineered materials to tune the sensitivity and selectivity to mimic the performance and capabilities of a human nose.

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Nanoparticle-based disinfectant could be a powerful weapon against pathogenic viruses

Reviewed by Emily Henderson

University of Central Florida researchers have developed a nanoparticle-based disinfectant that can continuously kill viruses on a surface for up to seven days – a discovery that could be a powerful weapon against COVID-19 and other emerging pathogenic viruses.

The findings, by a multidisciplinary team of the university’s virus and engineering experts and the leader of an Orlando technology firm, were published this week in ACS Nano, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

Christina Drake, a UCF alumna and founder of Kismet Technologies, was inspired to develop the disinfectant after making a trip to the grocery store in the early days of the pandemic. There she saw a worker spraying disinfectant on a refrigerator handle, then wiping off the spray immediately.

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New gene therapies may soon treat dozens of rare diseases, but million-dollar price tags will put them out of reach for many

Zolgensma – which treats spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that damages nerve cells, leading to muscle decay – is currently the most expensive drug in the world. A one-time treatment of the life-saving drug for a young child costs US$2.1 million.

While Zolgensma’s exorbitant price is an outlier today, by the end of the decade there’ll be dozens of cell and gene therapies, costing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for a single dose. The Food and Drug Administration predicts that by 2025 it will be approving 10 to 20 cell and gene therapies every year.

I’m a biotechnology and policy expert focused on improving access to cell and gene therapies. While these forthcoming treatments have the potential to save many lives and ease much suffering, health care systems around the world aren’t equipped to handle them. Creative new payment systems will be necessary to ensure everyone has equal access to these therapies. 

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FIRST SUCCESSFUL TRANSPLANT OF A ROBOTIC HEART

Every 10 minutes someone is added to the organ transplant waiting list in the US. 

As of May 2021, there were over 100,000 people waiting for replacement organs across the country. 

And countless more people in need of “spare parts” never even make it onto the waiting list. On average, 17 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of US deaths could be prevented or postponed with access to organ replacements. 

That’s why the recent announcement of the first successful human transplant of an artificial heart in a US patient is such a big development. 

The artificial heart used in the transplant was created by medical technology company Carmat, which won FDA approval for human trials just last year. Discussing the latest developments in biotech—using biology as technology—is a key focus of my year-round coaching program Abundance360.

In today’s blog, we’ll discuss how Carmat’s artificial heart works and how it fits into the broader objective of regenerative medicine. 

Let’s dive in… 

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Fecal Transplants Could Be New Tool in Fight Against Age-Related Decline

By Brandon May

Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an innovative procedure studied in several conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease. Recent animal research reportedin Nature Aging on Monday suggests fecal transplants may actually reverse the signs of brain aging.

The study transplanted gut microbes from the feces of young mice into older mice to reverse age-related declines of the brain. Intestinal bacteria have been shown to play a role in a variety physiological processes and also influence different dimensions of overall health.

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Personalized regenerative medicine company developing implanted cell pouches to treat chronic disease

In response to emailed questions, Encellin CEO offered an overview of the company’s device that functions like a pouch to help implanted cells survive in the body. 

By STEPHANIE BAUM

Crystal Nyitray, Ph.D., the CEO and Co-founder of Encellin provided an overview of the company’s emerging cell tech to treat chronic endocrine disorders hypoglycemia and hypocalcemia.

Why did you start this company?

Encellin was founded because we have unique opportunity to help millions of patients. The technology developed at UCSF needed a way to move forward, so we created Encellin. Also starting a company gives you the chance a create a specialized team of people dedicated to advancing a therapy forward. We get to create a culture that cares about helping patients, and has the courage to try new ways of thinking.  

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Artificial stomach provides deeper understanding of how physical forces influence food digestion

In efforts to fight obesity and enhance drug absorption, scientists have extensively studied how gastric juices in the stomach break down ingested food and other substances. However, less is known about how the complex flow patterns and mechanical stresses produced in the stomach contribute to digestion.

Researchers from France, Michigan, and Switzerland built a prototype of an artificial antrum, or lower stomach, to present a deeper understanding of how physical forces influence food digestion based on fluid dynamics. In Physics of Fluids, by AIP Publishing, they reveal a classifying effect based on the breakup of liquid drops combined with transport phenomena derived from complementary computer simulations.

The relevant parts of the stomach are the corpus, where food is stored; the antrum, where food is ground; and the pylorus, or pyloric sphincter, the tissue valve that connects to the small intestine. Slow-wave muscle contractions begin in the corpus, with wave speed and amplitude increasing to form the antral contraction waves (ACWs) as they propagate toward the pylorus.

The researchers’ antrum device consists of a cylinder, capped at one end to imitate a closed pylorus, and a hollow piston that moves inside the cylinder to replicate ACWs. As verified through computer simulations and experimental measurements, the protype produces the characteristics of retropulsive jet flow that exist in the antrum.

Food disintegration is quantified by determining the breakup of liquid drops in flow fields produced by ACWs. The researchers studied different model fluid systems with various viscosity to account for the broad physical properties of digested food. The drop size and other parameters resemble conditions in a real stomach.

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Artificial pancreas and smartphone app could revolutionise type 2 diabetes treatment

Artificial pancreas helps patients with type 2 diabetes manage blood sugar levels © University of Cambridge

The wearable ‘pancreas’ connects to a patient’s smartphone, using an algorithm to monitor blood glucose levels and automatically give insulin as needed.

By Amy Barrett

Patients with type 2 diabetes benefit from wearing an ‘artificial pancreas’ run by a computer algorithm, a new study has found.

The device helped people monitor how much sugar was in their blood and automatically administered the exact amount of insulin needed to bring high sugar levels down. It even learned their eating habits to find patterns in glucose intake.

After 20 days with the artificial pancreas, patients had a more consistently safe blood glucose level and had reduced their risk of lengthy ‘hypos’ – serious symptoms that occur when a person has dangerously low sugar levels.

The study focussed on patients living with type 2 diabetes and kidney failure, a ‘particularly vulnerable group’ according to Dr Charlotte Boughton from the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge, who led the research.

“Managing their condition – trying to prevent potentially dangerous highs or lows of blood sugar levels – can be a challenge,” she said.

“There’s a real unmet need for new approaches to help them manage their condition safely and effectively.”

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Insulin-Producing Implant Created for Type 1 Diabetes

Rice University bioengineers are designing a vascularized, insulin-producing implant for Type 1 diabetes. Graduate student Madison Royse demonstrates a laboratory setup for testing blood flow through 3D-printed hydrogels that can be turned into living tissue.

Rice University bioengineers are using 3D printing and smart biomaterials to create an insulin-producing implant for Type 1 diabetics.

The three-year project is a partnership between the laboratories of Omid Veiseh and Jordan Miller that’s supported by a grant from JDRF, the leading global funder of diabetes research. Veiseh and Miller will use insulin-producing beta cells made from human stem cells to create an implant that senses and regulates blood glucose levels by responding with the correct amount of insulin at a given time.

Veiseh, an assistant professor of bioengineering, has spent more than a decade developing biomaterials that protect implanted cell therapies from the immune system. Miller, an associate professor of bioengineering, has spent more than 15 years researching techniques to 3D print tissues with vasculature, or networks of blood vessels.

“If we really want to recapitulate what the pancreas normally does, we need vasculature,” Veiseh said. “And that’s the purpose of this grant with JDRF. The pancreas naturally has all these blood vessels, and cells are organized in particular ways in the pancreas. Jordan and I want to print in the same orientation that exists in nature.”

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