Neural network trained to control anesthetic doses, keep patients under during surgery

To define how the world should look, neural networks are making up their own rules

 Researchers demonstrate how deep learning could eventually replace traditional anesthetic practices.

Academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Massachusetts General Hospital have demonstrated how neural networks can be trained to administer anesthetic during surgery.

Over the past decade, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and deep learning algorithms have been developed and applied to a range of sectors and applications, including in the medical field.

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Experimental cancer treatment destroys cancer cells without using any drugs

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One of the latest methods pioneered by scientists to treat cancer uses a Trojan horse sneak attack to prompt cancer cells to self-destruct – all without using any drugs.

Key to the technique is the use of a nanoparticle coated in a specific amino acid called L-phenylalanine, one of several such acids that cancer cells rely on to grow. L-phenylalanine isn’t made by the body, but absorbed from meat and dairy products.

In tests on mice, the nanoparticle – called Nano-pPAAM or Nanoscopic phenylalanine Porous Amino Acid Mimic – killed cancer cells specifically and effectively, posing as a friendly amino acid before causing the cells to destroy themselves.

The self-destruction mode is triggered as the nanoparticle puts production of certain chemicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) into overdrive. It’s enough to bring down the cancer cells while leaving neighbouring, healthy cells intact.

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3-D bioprinting constructs for cartilage regeneration

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Schematic presentation of the study design and scaffold construction. (A) Schematic Illustration of the study design with 3D bioprinted dual-factor releasing and gradient-structured MSC-laden constructs for articular cartilage regeneration in rabbits. Schematic diagram of construction of the anisotropic cartilage scaffold and study design. (B) A computer-aided design (CAD) model was used to design the four-layer gradient PCL scaffolding structure to offer BMS for anisotropic chondrogenic differentiation and nutrient supply in deep layers (left). Gradient anisotropic cartilage scaffold was constructed by one-step 3D bioprinting gradient polymeric scaffolding structure and dual protein-releasing composite hydrogels with bioinks encapsulating BMSCs with BMP4 or TGFβ3 μS as BCS for chondrogenesis (middle). The anisotropic cartilage construct provides structural support and sustained release of BMSCs and differentiative proteins for biomimetic regeneration of the anisotropic articular cartilage when transplanted in the animal model (right). Different components in the diagram are depicted at the bottom. HA, hyaluronic acid.

 

Cartilage injury is a common cause of joint dysfunction and existing joint prostheses cannot remodel with host joint tissue. However, it is challenging to develop large-scale biomimetic anisotropic constructs that structurally mimic native cartilage. In a new report on Science Advances, Ye Sun and a team of scientists in orthopedics, translational research and polymer science in China, detailed anisotropic cartilage regeneration using three-dimensional (3-D) bioprinting dual-factor releasing gradient-structured constructs. The team used the dual-growth-factor releasing mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-laden hydrogels for chondrogenic differentiation (cartilage development). The 3-D bioprinted cartilage constructs showed whole-layer integrity, lubrication of superficial layers and nutrient supply into deeper layers. The scientists tested the cartilage tissue in the lab and in animal models to show tissue maturation and organization for translation to humans after sufficient experimental studies. The one-step, 3-D printed dual-factor releasing gradient-structured cartilage constructs can assist regeneration of MSC- and 3-D bioprinted therapy for injured or degenerative joints.

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Researchers create bioink that delivers oxygen to 3D printed tissue cells

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Tissue engineering or regeneration is the process of improving upon or replacing biological tissues by combining cells and other materials with the optimal chemical and physiological conditions in order to build scaffolds upon which new viable tissue can form. We’ve seen many examples of 3D printing being used to accomplish this task. The potential to engineer new tissues this way provides an answer to organ transplant shortages and applications in drug discovery.

However, to become viable tissues, these cells need oxygen delivered to them via blood vessels, which, in transplanted tissue, can take several days to grow. But a collaborative group of researchers is working on a solution: an oxygen-releasing bioink that can deliver this all-important element to the cells in 3D bioprinted tissues. This allows the cells to survive while they’re waiting for blood vessels to finish growing.

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How CRISPR is tackling the troubling immune response that’s plagued gene therapy until now

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One of the major challenges facing gene therapy — a way to treat disease by replacing a patient’s defective genes with healthy ones — is that it is difficult to safely deliver therapeutic genes to patients without the immune system destroying the gene, and the vehicle carrying it, which can trigger life-threatening widespread inflammation.

Three decades ago researchers thought that gene therapy would be the ultimate treatment for genetically inherited diseases like hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, and genetic diseases of metabolism. But the technology couldn’t dodge the immune response.

Since then, researchers have been looking for ways to perfect the technology and control immune responses to the gene or the vehicle. However, many of the strategies tested so far have not been completely successful in overcoming this hurdle.

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To repair a damaged heart, three cells are better than one

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Cell therapy for cardiac regeneration, while promising, has been hampered by issues with long-term survival of the transplanted cells. Now, a technique that combines three different types of cells in a 3-D cluster could improve its efficacy in reducing scar tissue and improving cardiac function after a heart attack.

Called CardioCluster, the bioengineering technique was developed by Megan Monsanto, a recent doctoral candidate who worked with Mark Sussman, distinguished professor of biology at the San Diego State University Heart Institute. They found there is strength in numbers, even in cell therapy.

Their research shows the cell clusters improve heart function because they have much better retention rates compared to single cell injections—the clusters persisted inside the heart walls of mice models for as long as five months after transplantation, a significant advancement.

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Cryogenic 3Dprinting improves bioprinting for bone regeneration

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Researchers from China continue in the quest to improve methods for bone regeneration, publishing their findings in “Cryogenic 3D printing of dual-delivery scaffolds for improved bone regeneration with enhanced vascularization.”

A wide range of projects have emerged regarding new techniques for bone regeneration—especially in the last five years as 3D printing has become more entrenched in the mainstream and bioprinting has continued to evolve. Bone regeneration is consistently challenging, and while bioprinting is still relatively new as a field, much impressive progress has been made due to experimentation with new materials, nanotubes, and innovative structures.

Cell viability is usually the biggest problem. Tissue engineering, while becoming much more successful these days, is still an extremely delicate process as cells must not only be grown but sustained in the lab too. For this reason, scientists are always working to improve structures like scaffolds, as they are responsible in most cases for supporting the cells being printed. In this study, the authors emphasize the need for both “excellent osteogenesis and vascularization” in bone regeneration.

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This tiny robot tank could one day help doctors explore your intestine

With a bulky, armored appearance, heavy duty treads for gripping, and a claw arm on the front, the Endoculus robot vehicle looks like it belongs on the battlefield. In fact, it’s just 3 cm wide, 2.3 cm tall, and designed for an entirely different kind of inhospitable environment: Your intestine.

“[This] robotic capsule endoscope, Endoculus, is a tethered robot designed for colonoscopy applications,” Mark Rentschler, a mechanical engineering professor in the Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory at the University of Colorado, told Digital Trends. “The goals are twofold: design a platform for a robot endoscope in the gastrointestinal tract, and enable autonomous capabilities to assist physicians with disease diagnosis and treatment during these procedures.”

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Rejuvenating old organs could increase donor pool

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Despite the limited supply of organs available for patients on waitlists for transplantation, organs from older, deceased donors are frequently discarded or not utilized.

Available older organs have the potential to close the gap between demand and supply that is responsible for the very long wait-times that lead to many patients not surviving the time it takes for an organ to become available.

Older organs can also often provoke a stronger immune response and may put patients at greater risk of adverse outcomes and transplant rejection. But, as the world population ages, organs from older, deceased donors represent an untapped and growing resource for patients in need. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital are leading efforts to breathe new life into older organs by leveraging a new class of drugs known as senolytics, which target and eliminate old cells.

Using clinical and experimental studies, the team presents evidence that senolytic drugs may help rejuvenate older organs, which could lead to better outcomes and a wider pool of organs eligible for donation. Results are published in Nature Communications.

“Older organs are available and have the potential to contribute to mitigating the current demand for organ transplantation,” said corresponding author Stefan G. Tullius, MD, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery at the Brigham. “If we can utilize older organs in a safe way with outcomes that are comparable, we will take a substantial step forward for helping patients.”

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Body fat transformed by CRISPR gene editing helps mice keep weight off

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A 3D illustration of brown fat cells, which both burn and store energy

 White fat cells can be turned into energy-burning brown fat using CRISPR gene-editing technology. These engineered cells have helped mice avoid weight gain and diabetes when on a high-fat diet, and could eventually be used to treat obesity-related disorders, say the researchers behind the work.

Human adults have plenty of white fat, the cells filled with lipid that make up fatty deposits. But we have much smaller reserves of brown fat cells, which burn energy as well as storing it. People typically lose brown fat as they age or put on weight. While brown fat seems to be stimulated when we are exposed to cold temperatures, there are no established methods of building up brown fat in the body.

Yu-Hua Tseng at Harvard University and her colleagues have developed a workaround. The researchers have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to give human white fat cells the properties of brown fat.

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Cashew shell compound appears to mend damaged nerves

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Summary: Anacardic acid, a compound found in cashew shells, promotes the repair of myelin. The findings could have positive implications for the treatment of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, that are characterized by demyelination.

Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center

In laboratory experiments, a chemical compound found in the shell of the cashew nut promotes the repair of myelin, a team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Scientists inspired by Star Wars develop artificial skin capable of recreating sense of touch

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A researcher at the NUS demonstrates the self-healing abilities of an artificial, transparent skin

ACES, or Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin, comprises up to 100 small sensors to replicate a sense of feeling.

  • Researchers say it can process information faster than the nervous system
  • The skin is able to recognise 20 to 30 different textures
  • The technology is still in the experimental stage

Singapore researchers have developed “electronic skin” capable of recreating a sense of touch, an innovation they hope will allow people with prosthetic limbs to detect objects, as well as feel texture, or even temperature and pain.

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