Novel Tissue Model May Help Harness the Liver’s Regenerative Abilities

If up to 70% of the liver is removed, the remaining tissue can regrow a full-sized liver within a couple of months. MIT engineers sought to take advantage of this regenerative ability to help treat chronic liver disease. The team reported that they have created a novel liver tissue model that allows them to trace the steps involved in regeneration more precisely than seen before.

Their findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS) in an article titled, “A vascularized model of the human liver mimics regenerative responses.”

“The new model can yield information that couldn’t be gleaned from studies of mice or other animals, whose biology is not identical to that of humans,” explained Sangeeta Bhatia, MD, PhD, the leader of the research team.

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New Technology Can Repair Heart Muscles After an Attack, Say Researchers

In a groundbreaking finding, researchers have developed a technology that can help effectively treat heart diseases in humans. The technology repairs heart muscles in mice after a heart attack and also successfully regenerates them. Researchers, from the University of Houston, have used a synthetic messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) to deliver mutated transcription factors to the heart of the mouse. The transcription factors are the proteins that control the conversion of DNA into RNA.

In their study, published in The Journal of Cardiovascular Aging, the team conducted an experiment to show that two mutated transcription factors, Stemin and YAP5SA, work closely to increase the replication of heart muscle cells or cardiomyocytes in mice.

“What we are trying to do is dedifferentiate the cardiomyocyte into a more stem cell-like state so that they can regenerate and proliferate,” said Siyu Xiao, Ph.D graduate and co-author of the study. According to another co-author Dinakar Iyer, Stemin transcription proved to be a game-changer in their experiment. While Stemin triggers stem-like properties in cardiomyocytes, YAP5SA works on organ growth resulting in more replication of the myocytes.

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Could an electronic tattoo revolutionise blood pressure monitoring?

Researchers have developed an electronic tattoo that delivers continuous blood pressure monitoring at high accuracy.

Blood pressure is the most vital indicator of heart health, and although there is a range of monitoring devices, it remains difficult to reliably measure outside of a clinical setting. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have developed an electronic tattoo that could change the face of blood pressure monitoring forever.

“Blood pressure is the most important vital sign you can measure, but the methods to do it outside of the clinic passively, without a cuff, are very limited,” said Deji Akinwande, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT Austin and one of the co-leaders of the project.

The findings are published in Nature Nanotechnology.

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New study could help fight bacterial infections without antibiotics

When the bacteria were exposed to an alternating magnetic field, there was a rapid rise in temperature, high enough to destroy them

Researchers at Mohali’s Institute of Nanoscience and Technology have found a novel way to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections — by inducing self-destruction in the bacteria.

Although many potent antibiotics are available in the market, our indiscriminate use has rendered them useless in treating several common bacterial infections. The bacteria have mutated and developed smart techniques to beat the effect of the drugs. Scientists are now actively researching alternative methods to combat drug-resistant bacterial strains, one among them being the nanotechnology-based approach.

Researchers at the Institute of Nanoscience and Technology (INST), Mohali, have found a novel way to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections: By inducing self-destruction in the bacteria.

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Creating human organs in space: How a Winston-Salem company is revolutionizing regenerative medicine

by: Michael Hennessey

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — The frontline of regenerative medicine has stood in Winston-Salem for decades. Today, with the leadership that’s been in place over that period of time, that technology is headed out of this world. 

“We started this work over 30 years ago, actually,” said Dr. Anthony Atala, Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine director. “So, a long time ago.” 

As Atala explains, the institute creates tissues and organs, as well as therapies to help treat patients. At the start, he explained, the greatest challenge was trying to get cells to grow. Now, they can grow every major cell type. 

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A world first: Human liver was treated in a machine and then successfully transplanted

Prof. Pierre-Alain Clavien and Prof. Philipp Dutkowski during the transplantation of the liver treated in the machine.

The Liver4Life research has developed a perfusion machine that makes it possible to implant a human organ into a patient after a storage period of three days outside a body. The machine mimics the human body as accurately as possible, in order to provide ideal conditions for human livers. A pump serves as a replacement heart, an oxygenator replaces the lungs and a dialysis unit performs the functions of the kidneys. In addition, numerous hormone and nutrient infusions perform the functions of the intestine and pancreas.

Like the diaphragm in the human body, the machine also moves the liver to the rhythm of human breathing. In January 2020, the multidisciplinary Zurich research team—involving the collaboration of University Hospital Zurich (USZ), ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich (UZH)—demonstrated for the first time that perfusion technology makes it possible to store a liver outside the body for several days.

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Scientists May Have Found a Way to Inject Oxygen Into The Bloodstream Intravenously

By DAVID NIELD

There are many illnesses and injuries, including COVID-19, where the body struggles to get the amount of oxygen into the lungs necessary for survival.

In severe cases, patients are put on a ventilator, but these machines are often scarce and can cause problems of their own, including infection and injury to the lungs.

Scientists may have now found a breakthrough, and it’s one that that could significantly impact how ventilators are used. 

In addition to traditional mechanical ventilation, there’s another technique called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), where blood is carried outside the body so that oxygen can be added and carbon dioxide can be removed.

Thanks to a new discovery, oxygen may now be able to be added directly, and the patient’s blood can stay where it is. With a condition like refractory hypoxemia, which can be brought on by being on a ventilator, having this approach available could save lives.

“If successful, the described technology may help to avoid or decrease the incidence of ventilator-related lung injury from refractory hypoxemia,” the researchers write in their new paper.

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Scientists grow cells on a robot skeleton (but don’t know what to do with them yet) 

The cells were placed in a replica shoulder joint that was moved around to stimulate growth.

By James Vincent

A new method of tissue engineering is only a proof of concept for now.

The science of tissue engineering — or growing human cells for use in medicine — is very much in its infancy, with only the simplest lab-grown cells able to be used in experimental treatments today. But researchers say a new method of tissue engineering could potentially improve the quality of this work: growing the cells on a moving robot skeleton. 

Typically, cells used in this sort of regenerative medicine are grown in static environments. Think: petri dishes and miniature 3D scaffolds. A few experiments in the past have shown that cells can be grown on moving structures like hinges, but these have only stretched or bent the tissue in a single direction. But researchers from the University of Oxford and robotics firm Devanthro thought that, if you want to grow matter designed to move and flex like tendons or muscles, it’d be better to recreate their natural growing environment as accurately as possible. So they decided to approximate a mobile human body. THE THEORY IS THAT MOVING CELLS AS THEY WOULD IN YOUR BODY WILL HELP THEM GROW

Growing cells in an actual person creates all sorts of difficulties, of course, so the cross-disciplinary team decided to approximate the human musculoskeletal system as best they could using a robot. As described in a paper published in Communications Engineering, they adapted an open-source robot skeleton designed by the engineers at Devanthro and created a custom growing environment for the cells that can be fitted into the skeleton to bend and flex as required. (Such growing environments are known as bioreactors.) 

The site they choose for this tissue agriculture was the robot’s shoulder joint, which had to be upgraded to more accurately approximate our own movements. Then, they created a bioreactor that could be fitted into the robot’s shoulder, consisting of strings of biodegradable filaments stretched between two anchor points, like a hank of hair, with the entire structure enclosed within a balloon-like outer membrane.

Continue reading… “Scientists grow cells on a robot skeleton (but don’t know what to do with them yet) “

Smaller than a pinhead: New 3D printed micro device provides breakthrough for IVF and regenerative medicine

Researchers have developed a tiny, 3D-printed cell “cradle” to boost IVF success, with the treatment of cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and spinal cord injury also advanced by the invention.

By Lynne Minion

A tiny new medical device has been developed by Australian researchers that will transform the only fertility treatment procedure available for men with low sperm counts, with implications for the success of IVF and beyond into regenerative medicine.

A research team led by the University of Adelaide, in partnership with medical technology company Fertilis, has created the groundbreaking technology that allows injection of a single sperm into an egg for fertilisation with greater ease and accuracy, according to an article in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.

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Designer Neurons Offer New Hope for Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

Summary: Researchers have designed a new method of converting non-neural cells into functioning neurons that are able to form synapses, dispense dopamine, and restore the function of neurons undermined by Parkinson’s associated destruction of dopaminergic cells.

Neurodegenerative diseases damage and destroy neurons, ravaging both mental and physical health. Parkinson’s disease, which affects over 10 million people worldwide, is no exception. The most obvious symptoms of Parkinson’s disease arise after the illness damages a specific class of neuron located in the midbrain. The effect is to rob the brain of dopamine—a key neurotransmitter produced by the affected neurons.

In new research, Jeffrey Kordower and his colleagues describe a process for converting non-neuronal cells into functioning neurons able to take up residence in the brain, send out their fibrous branches across neural tissue, form synapses, dispense dopamine and restore capacities undermined by Parkinson’s destruction of dopaminergic cells.

The current proof-of-concept study reveals that one group of experimentally engineered cells performs optimally in terms of survival, growth, neural connectivity, and dopamine production, when implanted in the brains of rats.

The study demonstrates that the result of such neural grafts is to effectively reverse motor symptoms due to Parkinson’s disease.

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Scientists Reverse Ageing In Old Mice Using Brain Fluid From Younger Mice

By Bharat Sharma

Scientists recently “rejuvenated” old mice using injections containing brain fluid sourced from younger mice. According to a new study that was published in the journal Nature, memory problems associated with old age (in mice) can be reversed by taking cerebrospinal fluid from young mice. The study essentially examined the link between memory and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the composition of which changes with age

Scientists recently “rejuvenated” old mice using injections containing brain fluid sourced from younger mice. According to a new study that was published in the journal Nature, memory problems associated with old age (in mice) can be reversed by taking cerebrospinal fluid from young mice.

The study essentially examined the link between memory and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the composition of which changes with age. 

Continue reading… “Scientists Reverse Ageing In Old Mice Using Brain Fluid From Younger Mice”

How patient-on-a-chip tech could be the future of drug discovery

By Ben Hargreaves

Testing drug compounds on a chip designed to mimic human organs sounds closer to science fiction than reality, yet the technology already exists and is already being put to use. Ben Hargreaves discovers how the technology could provide more accurate safety predictions and even discover new treatments.

The limits of animal models in drug discovery are well known. If you are reading this then you are likely not a mouse, and as a result, will react to drug compounds differently. In testing new treatments, what is promising in animal models may not transfer particularly well to humans, which helps to explain why there is a 90% failure rate during clinical development. The low rate of success is one of the contributors to the high cost and the slow R&D process that takes promising compounds through early testing and into the clinic. Moreover, there is the question of the ethics of using animals, numbering in the millions each year, in clinical trials, which sees most euthanized at the end of the process.

The challenge that the pharma industry faces is the lack of better alternatives to animal models. There are existing alternatives, with one being human cell culture systems, which provide an environment that is closer to that which will eventually receive treatment but do not contain the complexity of a complete organism. An organoid system approach takes self-organising clusters of cells that grow in three dimensions, closely resembling real tissue and organs. Despite the potential, there are limiting factors such as the need to provide optimal culturing conditions for different types of organoid, with each potentially containing a range of cells types. An alternative to these systems is one that is growing in popularity and commercial application, a technology referred to as ‘organ-on-a-chip’.

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