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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Scientists Discover a Powerful Natural Immune-Regulating Molecule

cells behind a microscope lens

Immunofluorescence of a lymph node shows lymphatic endothelial cells contain the enzyme (labeled in green) that generates 3HKA. Image courtesy of Dr. Laura Santambrogio.

A powerful immune-suppressing molecule produced by the body may hold the key to better treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as for some cancers, according to a study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine and the University of Perugia.

In the study, published July 21 in Nature Communications, the researchers described the properties of the newly discovered molecule, called 3-HKA. They showed that in immune cells called dendritic cells 3-HKA is produced from the amino acid tryptophan and can protect against inflammation in animal models of the skin disorder psoriasis and a degenerative kidney condition called nephrotoxic nephritis.

“Right now, there is an acute need for new ways to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and we are very excited by the possibilities opened up by the discovery of this potent molecule,” said study co-senior author Dr. Laura Santambrogio, who is professor of radiation oncology and of physiology and biophysics and associate director for precision immunology at the Caryl and Israel Englander Institute for Precision Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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AngelMed announces first commercial implantation of real-time heart attack warning system

Angel Medical Systems, Inc., (dba AngelMed) a proactive diagnostics company focused on the advancement of long-term management of high-risk coronary disease, announced today the first commercial implantation and U.S. launch of its flagship product, The Guardian™ device.

The procedure marks The Guardian’s first use following its recent FDA approval. Indicated for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) events, including silent heart attacks, The Guardian System is the first implantable cardiac detection monitor and patient-warning system. 

The outpatient procedure was successfully performed by cardiac electrophysiologist and cardiologist Dr. Andrew J. Kaplan of Cardiovascular Associates of Mesa in Mesa, Arizona.

Dr. Kaplan is a pioneer of new cardiac technologies and has played a significant role in The Guardian’s commercialization. He is a clinical trial investigator and serves on AngelMed’s medical advisory board. 

“The first commercial implant of The Guardian marks a pivotal advancement in cardiac care. The device detects impending ACS events, including silent heart attacks, and leads to earlier patient treatment,” said Dr. Andrew Kaplan. “Given the device’s clinical success, the cardiovascular community can feel confident in this new, first-in-kind technology. The Guardian fills a true unmet need in high-risk ACS patients.” 

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Regeneron’s latest genetics discovery hooks AstraZeneca — now all-in on developing small molecules for obesity

By John Carroll
Editor & Founder
Just weeks after its widely lauded genetics research arm tagged a promising new target for obesity, Regeneron has signed up an industry heavyweight to collaborate with on developing new drugs that can potentially act as a game-changer in what has proven to be a tough field for developers.

The Regeneron Genetics Center published a paper in Science at the beginning of this month highlighting how their work sequencing the genomes of 650,000 people highlighted how people with at least 1 inactive copy of the GPR75 gene weighed on average 12 pounds less than the rest of the population with a 54% reduction in risk of obesity.

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Israeli Company’s ‘Spiderman’ Technology Spins New Artificial Skin for Patients

by Yafit Ovadia

Ctech – Company: Nanomedic

Product: Spincare System

Raised: Undisclosed

Founded: 2018

Founders: Spinoff company of Nicast with no specific founders

Treating burns, wounds, and scars presents both psychological and physical hindrances. This treatment also becomes complex, costly, and can deprive a patient of the use of that limb or area. Yet one biotech company, Nanomedic Technologies, has engineered an artificial skin that is 3D-printed, is affixed directly onto a patient’s skin, and after 24-48 hours allows patients to use that area as they normally would, explained Gary Sagiv, VP of Marketing & Sales at Nanomedic.

“We have leveraged our electrospinning technology to develop a commercialized franchise handheld device for wound care that prints a nanofiber matrix directly onto a patient’s wound, via 3D printing, and treats three specific areas, primarily burns, trauma, and wound care,” Sagiv said, adding: “People quip our technology is reminiscent of Spiderman.”

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Healing wounds and regrowing bones: Duke faculty develop futuristic biomaterial implants

By Ayra Charania

Imagine a metal, scaffold-shaped implant that could support the regrowth of a shattered bone. All that would be needed would be an initial CT scan, a virtual construction of the implant and a metal printer to produce the final product. Devastating outcomes like amputation or loss of the ability to walk could be prevented. 

While this type of innovation may seem outside the realm of modern technology, several Duke professors have made such futuristic biomaterial implants a reality, including Ken Gall, professor in the department of mechanical engineering and materials science; Shyni Varghese, professor of orthopaedic surgery and Matthew Becker, Hugo L. Blomquist distinguished professor of chemistry.

Gall’s research focuses on the use of 3D printed metals and polymers, including the aforementioned metal scaffold, using synthetic hydrogels for cartilage replacement and other related explorations. He also has initiated a new project investigating the types of structures that can be printed and is looking into utilizing machine learning or other algorithms to predict how these structures will behave.

While Gall’s research spans a large breadth of biomaterials, the common link among these implants is their ability to perform some structural function, he said. 

“We try to figure out how [to] make these materials integrate with the body so they survive there,” Gall said. “Our approach has always been [to] put something in that is actually better than what you started with.”

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Latest ‘organ-on-a-chip’ is a new way to study cancer-related muscle wasting

Studying drug effects on human muscles just got easier thanks to a new “muscle-on-a-chip,” developed by a team of researchers from Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Inha University in Incheon, Korea.

Muscle tissue is essential to almost all of the body’s organs, however, diseases such as cancer and diabetes can cause muscle tissue degradation or “wasting,” severely decreasing organ function and quality of life. Traditional drug testing for treatment and prevention of muscle wasting is limited through animal studies, which do not capture the complexity of the human physiology, and human clinical trials, which are too time consuming to help current patients.

An “organ-on-a-chip” approach can solve these problems. By growing real human cells within microfabricated devices, an organ-on-a-chip provides a way for scientists to study replicas of human organs outside of the body.

Using their new muscle-on-a-chip, the researchers can safely run muscle injury experiments on human tissue, test targeted cancer drugs and supplements, and determine the best preventative treatment for muscle wasting.

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Genetically Engineered Pigs Might Be the Answer for One of the World’s Costliest Diseases

In the U.S. and Europe alone, the disease causes $2.5bn in lost revenue annually.

By  Chris Young  

Researchers at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute are genetically engineering pigs to be more resistant to one of the deadliest animal diseases out there, a report by the BBC explains.

The disease in question, called Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), was first recognized in the US in 1987. Symptoms include reproductive failure, pneumonia, and increased susceptibility to secondary bacterial infection, and it can cause pregnant sows to lose their litter.

The disease is responsible for approximately $560 million in lost revenue for farmers in the US each year, according to OiE. According to a press release from the University of Edinburgh, combined with losses in Europe, that number rises to $2.5bn in lost revenue annually. 

The same statement also says that vaccines have so far proven to be largely ineffective against the disease, which is endemic in most pig-producing countries.

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Scientists devise a battery-free pacemaker that can be absorbed by the body

By Kevin Lin 

Scientists have designed a temporary, battery-free pacemaker that can be broken down by the patient’s body when its work is done, the latest advance in the emerging field of bioelectronics.

In a paper published this week in Nature Biotechnology, researchers report that the device reliably kept the heart’s pace in check in tests on mice, rats, and other animals, as well as in human heart tissue in a dish. And while the research is still in the early stages, the scientists say the pacemaker was able to overcome key limitations of existing devices.

“There are about 1 million people a year who receive pacemaker implantations worldwide. It’s a huge, huge medical field, but mostly pacemakers are permanent,” said Igor Efimov, a biomedical engineer and professor at George Washington University and co-author of the new paper.

Unlike traditional pacemakers, which are left inside a patient for the rest of their life or until the battery dies, a traditional temporary pacemaker is implanted and later removed. The devices are typically for children with congenital heart defects or adults who have had a coronary artery bypass graft, who may need a temporary pacemaker to correct a slowed heart rhythm for only a few days or weeks.

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He Inherited A Devastating Disease. A CRISPR Gene-Editing Breakthrough Stopped It

Patrick Doherty volunteered for a new medical intervention of gene-editor infusions for the treatment of genetically-based diseases.Patrick Doherty

Patrick Doherty had always been very active. He trekked the Himalayas and hiked trails in Spain.

But about a year and a half ago, he noticed pins and needles in his fingers and toes. His feet got cold. And then he started getting out of breath any time he walked his dog up the hills of County Donegal in Ireland where he lives.

“I noticed on some of the larger hill climbs I was getting a bit breathless,” says Doherty, 65. “So I realized something was wrong.”

Doherty found out he had a rare, but devastating inherited disease — known as transthyretin amyloidosis — that had killed his father. A misshapen protein was building up in his body, destroying important tissues, such as nerves in his hands and feet and his heart.

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