April 16, 2014
PET Scans Offer Clues on Vegetative States
(New York Times) – A new study has found that PET scans may help answer these wrenching questions. It found that a significant number of people labeled vegetative had received an incorrect diagnosis and actually had some degree of consciousness and the potential to improve. Previous studies using electroencephalogram machines and M.R.I. scanners have also found signs of consciousness in supposedly vegetative patients.
Researchers Transplant Regenerated Oesophagus
(Medical News Today) – The new method has been developed by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, within an international collaboration lead by Professor Paolo Macchiarini. The technique to grow human tissues and organs, so called tissue engineering, has been employed so far to produce urinary bladder, trachea and blood vessels, which have also been used clinically. However, despite several attempts, it has been proven difficult to grow tissue to replace a damaged oesophagus.
April 15, 2014
3-D printing is revolutionizing surgery
(Crain’s) Reaching into a beat-up, red-and-white cooler lined with a white terry-cloth towel, Dr. Matthew Bramlet pulls out a replica of an infant’s heart. The size of a small pear and chalky to the touch, the model was made in a 3-D printer. Last spring, Dr. Bramlet, 38, a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, commissioned it from the hospital’s new innovation lab while planning surgery for a girl with a congenital heart defect.
April 14, 2014
Pure Samples of Individual Amino Acids Successfully Identified through Recognizing Tunneling
(A to Z Nanotechnology) – Some three billion base pairs make up the human genome – the floorplan of life. In 2003, the Human Genome Project announced the successful decryption of this code, a tour de force that continues to supply a stream of insights relevant to human health and disease. Nevertheless, the primary actors in virtually all life processes are the proteins coded for by DNA sequences known as genes.
April 11, 2014
Medical First as Noses Are ‘Regrown’
(The Telegraph) – Surgeons have rebuilt the noses of five skin cancer patients by growing the nasal tissue. They successfully rebuilt their nostrils with a revolutionary technique in which cells were taken from their nasal septum, the cartilage partition which runs down the middle of the nose. A year afterwards, all recipients were satisfied with their ability to breathe as well as the cosmetic appearance, and did not report any side effects.
Scientists Grow Viable Vaginas from Girls’ Own Cells
(Reuters) – Four young women born with abnormal or missing vaginas were implanted with lab-grown versions made from their own cells, the latest success in creating replacement organs that have so far included tracheas, bladders and urethras. Follow-up tests show the new vaginas are indistinguishable from the women’s own tissue and have grown in size as the young women, who got the implants as teens, matured.
April 9, 2014
Researchers Engineer Reconstructive Tissue for Transplant
(Medical Xpress) – A breakthrough by Israeli researchers could speed recovery and limit scarring and disfigurement for patients who have suffered large soft tissue trauma – as often occurs with serious injury or cancer surgery. By biomedically engineering a muscle flap that includes a patient’s own blood vessels, the team has created tissue that could one day be transferred to other parts of the body along with the patient’s blood supply, speeding recovery and limiting scarring for patients who have suffered serious tissue trauma.
Posted by Bioethics Pundit
Posted in Biotech
April 8, 2014
UK Scientists Make Body Parts in Lab
(Associated Press) – In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes – researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world’s first nose made partly from stem cells.
Scientists Progress in Quest to Grow Muscle Tissues in Labs
(The Wall Street Journal) – Duke University researchers and other scientists are making strides in growing muscle in the lab that not only repairs itself but exhibits strength similar to that of normal muscle. Using lab-grown muscle could one day help people with certain muscle injuries, including accident victims with big gashes that lead to significant scar tissue. Engineering muscle that works like natural tissue could also accelerate the testing of new drugs: Scientists could use this tissue in place of animals.
April 7, 2014
Amino Acid Fingerprints Revealed in New Study
(Phys.org) – Now, Stuart Lindsay and his colleagues at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute have taken a major step in this direction, demonstrating the accurate identification of amino acids, by briefly pinning each in a narrow junction between a pair of flanking electrodes and measuring a characteristic chain of current spikes passing through successive amino acid molecules.
Blood Test Could Provide Rapid, Accurate Method of Detecting Solid Cancers
(Medical Xpress) – A blood sample could one day be enough to diagnose many types of solid cancers, or to monitor the amount of cancer in a patient’s body and responses to treatment. Previous versions of the approach, which relies on monitoring levels of tumor DNA circulating in the blood, have required cumbersome and time-consuming steps to customize it to each patient or have not been sufficiently sensitive.
April 4, 2014
Fighting Cancer with Lasers and Nanoballoons that Pop
(Phys.org) – Chemotherapeutic drugs excel at fighting cancer, but they’re not so efficient at getting where they need to go. They often interact with blood, bone marrow and other healthy bodily systems. This dilutes the drugs and causes unwanted side effects. Now, researchers are developing a better delivery method by encapsulating the drugs in nanoballoons – which are tiny modified liposomes that, upon being struck by a red laser, pop open and deliver concentrated doses of medicine.
April 1, 2014
Scientists Grow Self-Healing Muscles which Could Replace Real Ones
(The Telegraph) – Scientists have created living muscles which can heal themselves in an animal for the first time. They hope that the lab-grown muscle is an important step towards using it to treat injury damage in humans. Engineers measured its strength by stimulating it with electric pulses, which showed that it was more than 10 times stronger than any previous engineered muscles.
March 31, 2014
Major Breakthrough in Stem Cell Manufacturing Technology
(Phys.org) – Now a multi-disciplinary team of researchers at Nottingham has created a new stem cell micro-environment which they have found has allowed both the self-renewal of cells and then their evolution into cardiomyocyte (heart) cells. The material is a hydrogel containing two polymers—an alginate-rich environment which allows proliferation of cells with a simple chemical switch to render the environment collagen-rich when the cell population is large enough. This change triggers the next stage of cell growth when cells develop a specific purpose.
March 28, 2014
Scientists Move Closer to Inventing Artificial Life
(National Geographic) – In a biological first, an international team has inserted a man-made chromosome into brewer’s yeast, producing a life form that thrives and successfully passes the designer genes on to its offspring. The “synthetic” biology advance—the first synthesis of a working artificial chromosome in an organism more complex than a bacterium—opens the door wider to man-made microbes that may someday be designed to manufacture better fuels, food, and medicines.
Researchers Claim Stem Cell Advance
(Los Angeles Times) – In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers said they had successfully generated embryonic stem cells using fertilized mouse embryos — a feat that many scientists had thought was impossible. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers said they had successfully generated embryonic stem cells using fertilized mouse embryos — a feat that many scientists had thought was impossible.
Blood Test Could Predict Obesity in Children
(UPI) – Obesity is often the product environmental factors: a poor diet and not enough exercise. But people are also — to varying degrees — predisposed to obesity. Recently, researchers at the Universities of Southampton, Plymouth and Exeter figured out a way to test for obesity. A simple blood test can measure the levels of epigenetic switches in the PGC1a gene — the gene that governs the body’s fat storage.
Gene Therapy’s Big Comeback
(Forbes) – The once abandoned gene therapy field has become a hotbed, with 11 different companies raising at least $618 million from venture capitalists and the public markets since the beginning of 2013, and one more, AGTC, plans a $50 million initial public offering soon. Top venture capital firms are among their backers, and some of the industry’s top talent is being attracted to what was once seen as a lost cause. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index is up 65% in 12 months.
March 27, 2014
How Your Brain Makes Moral Judgments
(CNN) – Researchers interested in the neuroscience of morality are investigating which brain networks are involved in such decisions, and what might account for people’s individual differences in judgments. Studies on the topic often involve small samples of people — functional magnetic resonance imaging is time-intensive and expensive — but patterns are emerging as more results come in.
Leading Surgeons Warn against Media Hype about Tracheal Regeneration
(Medical News Today) – Reports of the two earliest tissue-engineered whole organ transplants using a windpipe, or trachea, created using the patient’s own stem cells, were hailed as a breakthrough for regenerative medicine and widely publicized in the press. However, two leading transplant surgeons in Belgium warn of the dangers of media attention, and urge that tracheal bioengineering be demonstrated as both effective and safe before further transplants take place.
Team Issues State-of-the-State on Genetic-Based Testing and Treatment for Breast cancer
(Medical Xpress) – Dartmouth researchers at its Norris Cotton Cancer Center have compiled a review of the role that information gathered through genetic testing plays in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The paper entitled “Personalized Therapy for Breast Cancer” was accepted on March 17, 2014, for publication in Clinical Genetics. The paper discusses targeted therapies, new biomarkers, and the quality of commercially available testing methods.