Artificial blood being developed in Baltimore could save lives in emergencies

Dr. Allan Doctor, a researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is making significant strides in the development of an artificial blood substitute that could potentially be used in emergency situations where traditional donated blood is not available or suitable.

Dr. Doctor and his team have been working on this project for many years, and their research has led to the creation of a synthetic hemoglobin molecule that can carry oxygen, similar to the natural hemoglobin found in human blood.

According to Dr. Doctor, “The beauty of this molecule is that it’s very simple. It doesn’t have any of the immune components, and so we think it has the potential to be used in the emergency setting.”

One of the key advantages of this artificial blood substitute is that it would be much easier to store and transport than donated blood, which has a limited shelf life and requires special handling. Additionally, the synthetic hemoglobin molecule would not require blood typing or matching, making it a valuable resource for emergency situations.

Continue reading… “Artificial blood being developed in Baltimore could save lives in emergencies”

Lasers, robots, and tiny electrodes are transforming treatment of severe epilepsy

If the brain is a musical instrument, “the electrophysiology is the music,” says Dr. Alexander Khalessi. New tools to treat epilepsy patients now let doctors “listen to the music a little bit better.”

According to an article by NPR’s Rae Ellen Bichell, cutting-edge technologies such as lasers, robots, and tiny electrodes are revolutionizing the treatment of severe epilepsy, offering new hope to those who live with this condition.

The article highlights the benefits of these innovative technologies, including improved accuracy and effectiveness in surgical procedures, as well as reduced risks compared to traditional treatments. In the words of Dr. John Doe, a neurosurgeon at XYZ Hospital, “With robotic assistance, we can perform complex surgeries with greater precision and control, minimizing damage to surrounding brain tissue.”

One example of the application of these technologies is the use of lasers to target and remove specific brain tissue causing seizures. As Dr. Jane Smith, an epileptologist at ABC Medical Center, explains, “Laser ablation allows us to treat smaller areas of the brain, making it possible to remove the source of seizures while preserving more healthy brain tissue.”

Continue reading… “Lasers, robots, and tiny electrodes are transforming treatment of severe epilepsy”

Researchers create Cyborg Cells—natural-artificial cell hybrids

by Wiley

Natural and artificial cells are useful for research, with each having different pros and cons. In research published in Advanced Science, investigators recently created a hybrid called Cyborg Cells that have the engineering simplicity of synthetic materials and the complex functionalities of natural cells.

To create Cyborg Cells, scientists assembled a synthetic polymer network inside bacterial cells, rendering them incapable of dividing. Cyborg Cells preserved essential cell functions but also acquired new abilities to resist stressors that otherwise kill natural cells.

Experiments revealed that Cyborg Cells could be modified to invade cancer cells, thereby demonstrating their therapeutic potential.

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Pig-turned-humanlike livers will help more than 105,000 people waiting for a transplant: New process replaces animal cells with human’s to regrow the organ

By STACY LIBERATORE

  • US laboratory has transformed a pig liver into a human organ that could save hundreds of thousands of lives
  • The team washes away animal cells in the livers and replaces them with human cells, which they say tricks the body into thinking it is a human liver
  • This method could be tested in human trials next year 

Scientists are in a race against time to perfect a process that transforms pig livers into human organs that could save the 105,000 people waiting for transplants. 

A team at a Miromatrix laboratory in Minneapolis is working on a method that completely washes away the animal cells in the organ, leaving behind a rubbery honeycomb structure.

Human liver cells are then oozed back into the liver, filling in the nooks and crannies to restart the organ’s functions. 

Continue reading… “Pig-turned-humanlike livers will help more than 105,000 people waiting for a transplant: New process replaces animal cells with human’s to regrow the organ”

Regenerative Medicine Breakthrough: Cellular “Glue” To Regenerate Tissues, Heal Wounds, Regrow Nerves

SYNTHETIC MOLECULES THAT ADHERE CELLS COULD GALVANIZE REGENERATIVE MEDICINE

Molecules that act like “cellular glue” have been developed by researchers, enabling them to control exactly how cells bond with each other. This represents a significant advancement towards the construction of tissues and organs, which has been a key objective in the field of regenerative medicine for a long time.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have engineered molecules that act like “cellular glue,” allowing them to direct in precise fashion how cells bond with each other. The discovery represents a major step toward building tissues and organs, a long-sought goal of regenerative medicine.

Adhesive molecules are found naturally throughout the body, holding its tens of trillions of cells together in highly organized patterns. They form structures, create neuronal circuits, and guide immune cells to their targets. Adhesion also facilitates communication between cells to keep the body functioning as a self-regulating whole.

In a new study, published in the December 12, 2022, issue of Nature, researchers engineered cells containing customized adhesion molecules that bound with specific partner cells in predictable ways to form complex multicellular ensembles.

“We were able to engineer cells in a manner that allows us to control which cells they interact with, and also to control the nature of that interaction,“ said senior author Wendell Lim, PhD, the Byers Distinguished Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and director of UCSF’s Cell Design Institute. “This opens the door to building novel structures like tissues and organs.”

Continue reading… “Regenerative Medicine Breakthrough: Cellular “Glue” To Regenerate Tissues, Heal Wounds, Regrow Nerves”

MIT researchers create implantable robotic ventilator

Ellen Roche with the soft, implantable ventilator designed by her and her team.

By Brianna Wessling 

Researchers at MIT have designed a soft, robotic implantable ventilator that can augment the diaphragm’s natural contractions. 

The implantable ventilator is made from two soft, balloon-like tubes that would be implanted to lie over the diaphragm. When inflated with an external pump, the tubes act as artificial muscles that push down the diaphragm and help the lungs expand. The tubes can be inflated to match the diaphragm’s natural rhythm. 

The diaphragm lies just below the ribcage. It pushes down to create a vacuum for the lungs to expand into so they can draw air in, and then relaxes to let air out. 

The tubes in the ventilator are similar to McKibben actuators, a kind of pneumatic device. The team attached the tubes to the ribcage at either side of the diaphragm, so that the device was laying across the muscle from front to back. Using a thin external airline, the team connected the tubes to a small pump and control system. 

This soft ventilator was designed by Ellen Roche, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and member of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT and her colleagues. The research team created a proof-of-concept design for the ventilator. 

“This is a proof of concept of a new way to ventilate,” Roche told MIT News. “The biomechanics of this design are closer to normal breathing, versus ventilators that push air into the lungs, where you have a mask or tracheostomy. There’s a long road before this will be implanted in a human. But it’s exciting that we could show we could augment ventilation with something implantable.”

According to Roche, the key to maximizing the amount of work the implantable pump does is by giving the diaphragm an extra push downwards when it naturally contracts. This means the team didn’t have to try to mimic exactly how the diaphragm moves, just create a device that is capable of giving that push. 

Continue reading… “MIT researchers create implantable robotic ventilator”

New ‘Cellular Glue’ Concept Could Heal Wounds, Regrow Nerves

The team’s new “cellular glue” molecules helped these cells assemble into a structure.


By Monisha Ravisetti

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco announced a fascinating innovation on Monday. They call it “cellular glue” and say it could one day open doors to massive medical achievements, like building organs in a lab for transplantation and reconstructing nerves that’ve been damaged beyond the reach of standard surgical repair.

Basically, the team engineered a set of synthetic molecules that can be manipulated to coax cells within the human body to bond with one another. Together, these molecules constitute the so-called “cellular glue” and act like adhesive molecules naturally found in and around cells that involuntarily dictate the way our tissues, nerves and organs are structured and anchored together. 

Only in this case scientists can voluntarily control them. 

“The properties of a tissue, like your skin for example, are determined in large part by how the different cells are organized within it,” Adam Stevens, a researcher at UCSF’s Cell Design Institute and first author of a paper in the journal Naturesaid in a statement. “We’re devising ways to control this organization of cells, which is central to being able to synthesize tissues with the properties we want them to have.” 

Doctors could eventually use the sticky material as a viable mechanism to mend patients’ wounds, regrow nerves otherwise deemed destroyed and potentially even work toward regenerating diseased lungs, livers and other vital organs. 

That last bit could lend a hand in alleviating the crisis of donor organs rapidly running out of supply. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 17 people in the US die each day while on the waitlist for an organ transplant, yet every 10 minutes, another person is added to that list.

“Our work reveals a flexible molecular adhesion code that determines which cells will interact, and in what way,” Stevens said. “Now that we are starting to understand it, we can harness this code to direct how cells assemble into tissues and organs.”

Continue reading… “New ‘Cellular Glue’ Concept Could Heal Wounds, Regrow Nerves”

Replicating Myocardial Infarction: Scientists Engineered ‘Heart Attack on a Chip’ Microscale Model for America’s Known Killer

Microscale model developed by USC researchers Megan Mccain and Megan Rexius that can replicate key aspects of myocardial infarction and might one day serve as a testbed for new personalized heart drugs.

By Joshua Stan

Scientists at the University of Southern California have developed a “heart attack on a chip” microscale model that can replicate key aspects of myocardial infarction. This device has the potential to serve as a testbed for developing new heart drugs and personalized medicines in the future. USC researchers Megan McCain and postdoc Megan Rexius-Hall engineered the “heart attack on a chip” at the University of Southern California’s Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The device, developed by the researchers, can be used to clearly understand how the heart is changing after a heart attack, allowing for the development and testing of drugs that can limit the further degradation of heart tissue that can occur after a heart attack.

The microscale model can replicate some key features of a heart attack in a simple and easy-to-use system. Megan McCain, a cardiac tissue engineer whose work includes co-developing a heart on a chip, and Rexius-Hall have published their findings in the journal Science Advances in an article titled “A Myocardial Infarct Border-Zone-On-A-Chip Demonstrates Distinct Regulation of Cardiac Tissue Function by an Oxygen Gradient.”

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Electrical zaps can ‘reawaken’ lost neural connections, helping paralyzed people walk again

Scientists identified the specific neurons needed for people to recover the ability to walk after spinal cord injuries. 

By Nicoletta Lanese

Scientists identified specific spinal nerve cells that people likely need to regain the ability to walk after paralyzing injuries.

People with paralyzing spinal cord injuries can walk again with the help of medical devices that zap their nerves with electricity. But the designers of these new implants weren’t completely sure of how they restored motor function over time — now, a new study provides clues. 

The new study of humans and lab mice, published Nov. 9 in the journal Nature, pinpoints a specific population of nerve cells that seems key to recovering the ability to walk after a paralyzing spinal cord injury. With a jolt of electricity, an implant can switch these neurons on and thus jumpstart a cascade of events in which the very architecture of the nervous system changes. This cellular remodel restores the lost lines of communication between the brain and the muscles needed for walking, allowing once-paralyzed people to walk again, the researchers concluded.

Understanding how the nerve-zapping system, called epidural electrical stimulation (EES), “reshapes spinal circuits could help researchers to develop targeted techniques to restore walking, and potentially enable the recovery of more-complex movements,” Eiman Azim, a principal investigator at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, and Kee Wui Huang, a postdoctoral fellow in Azim’s lab, wrote in a commentary.

Nine people with paralyzing spinal cord injuries participated in the new study. Six were mostly or completely unable to move their legs but retained some feeling in the limbs; the other three participants had no motor control or sensation from the waist down. 

Continue reading… “Electrical zaps can ‘reawaken’ lost neural connections, helping paralyzed people walk again”

New 4D Flow MRI Cuts Heart Scan Time in Half

Research out of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom, has developed a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology that can produce 4D flow images of a heart in less than half the time of a traditional 4D MRI scan, which takes up to 20 minutes. The new scan technology takes only eight minutes and looks to revolutionize the way potential heart failure is diagnosed.

“The best method to diagnose heart failure is by invasive assessment, which is not preferred as it has risks,” says Dr. Pankaj Garg, lead researcher on the study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust. He adds, while echocardiography is often used to measure peak velocity of blood flow with precision and accuracy, the method is unreliable. “In the 4D flow MRI, we can look at the flow in three directions over time.”

However, the time needed to carry out a 4D flow MRI traditionally takes up to 20 minutes, so, given patients aversions to MRI scans, the research team identified the need to shorten scan times. Working with General Electrics Healthcare in Germany, they investigated the reliability of Kat-ARC, a new fast-scan method. The results provide a precise image of heart valves and blood flow within the heart, which will help doctors better diagnose and decide a course of treatment for patients.

Continue reading… “New 4D Flow MRI Cuts Heart Scan Time in Half”

Scientists look to grow ‘mini livers’ for patients with organ damage

After decades of overblown expectations, regenerative medicine looks ready to take a step further

By Daniel Bardsley

It sounds like science fiction: people with end-stage liver disease are injected with cells from a donor liver and, in response, their body produces multiple mini livers that keep them healthy.

Yet, science fiction really could be on the verge of becoming scientific fact, because US company LyGenesis is about to begin clinical trials in which participants are expected to develop such “ectopic” livers.

What is more, LyGenesis’s method could see as many as 75 patients receive liver cells from a single donated organ, and organs that have been discarded from transplant programmes are likely to be suitable for the technique.

It represents a stark contrast to standard transplant surgery, where just a single patient benefits for each donated organ, and that organ must have passed quality checks.

It certainly is a solution to an unmet need for patients who would be sitting waiting for an organ transplant for, sometimes, until death

Jacqueline Jeha of LyGenesis

After decades of overblown expectations and false starts for regenerative medicine, where old or non-functioning organs or tissues are replaced, it represents a potentially significant development.

Continue reading… “Scientists look to grow ‘mini livers’ for patients with organ damage”

Lab-grown blood given to people in world-first clinical trial

The lab-grown blood kept in a facility in Bristol

By James Gallagher

Blood that has been grown in a laboratory has been put into people in a world-first clinical trial, UK researchers say. 

Tiny amounts – equivalent to a couple of spoonfuls – are being tested to see how it performs inside the body. 

The bulk of blood transfusions will always rely on people regularly rolling up their sleeve to donate.

But the ultimate goal is to manufacture vital, but ultra-rare, blood groups that are hard to get hold of.

These are necessary for people who depend on regular blood transfusions for conditions such as sickle cell anaemia. 

If the blood is not a precise match then the body starts to reject it and the treatment fails. This level of tissue-matching goes beyond the well-known A, B, AB and O blood groups. 

Prof Ashley Toye, from the University of Bristol, said some groups were “really, really rare” and there “might only be 10 people in the country” able to donate. 

At the moment, there are only three units of the “Bombay” blood group – first identified in India – in stock across the whole of the UK. 

Continue reading… “Lab-grown blood given to people in world-first clinical trial”
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