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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


New Diabetes Treatment Using Smart Artificial Beta Cells

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Researchers from University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University developed a patient friendly option that treats type 1 diabetes and in some cases type two diabetes by using “artificial beta cells, AβCs” to release insulin automatically into the bloodstream when glucose levels rise. These artificial beta cells mimic functions of the body’s natural glucose controllers, the insulin secreting beta cells of the pancreas. The AβCs could be subcutaneously implanted into patients, which would be replaced every few days or by a disposable skin patch. According to the principal investigator, Zhen Gu, PhD at joint UNC/NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering, they plan to optimize the procedure to develop a skin patch delivery system and test diabetes in patients.
Currently, the major problem with the insulin diabetes treatment is that they can’t be delivered efficiently in a pill and the only option is either by injection or a mechanical pump. Delivering the insulin treatments via transplants of pancreatic cells can solve that problem in some cases. Nevertheless, such cell transplants are expensive, require donor cells that are in short supply, require immune-suppressing drugs and fail due to the destruction of the transplanted cells.
Gu’s AβCs are built with a basic version of a normal cell’s two-layered lipid membrane and show a rapid receptiveness to excess glucose levels in lab dish test and diabetic mice without beta cells. The key novelty is what these cells contain insulin-stuffed vesicles. An increase in blood glucose levels leads to chemical changes in the vesicle coating, producing the vesicles to start fusing with the AβC’s outer membrane thus releasing the insulin.

SOURCE

https://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2017/october/smart-artificial-beta-cells-could-lead-to-new-diabetes-treatment

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Ferritin Cage Enzyme Encapsulation as a New Platform for Nanotechnology

 Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

In bionanotechnology, biological systems such as viruses, protein complexes, lipid vesicles and artificial cells, are being developed for applications in medicine and materials science.  However, the paper published by Stephan Tetter and Donald Hilvert in Angewandte Chemie International Edition show that it is possible to encapsulate proteins such as ferritin by manipulating electrostatic interactions with the negatively charged interior of the cage.The primary role of ferritin is to protect cells from the damage caused by the Fenton reaction; where, in oxidizing conditions, free Fe(II) produces harmful reactive oxygen species that can damage the cellular machinery.

The ferritin family proteins are protein nanocages that evolved to safely store iron in an oxidizing world. Since ferritin family proteins are able to mineralize and store metal ions, they have been the focus of much research for the production of metal nanoparticles and as prototypes for semiconductor production. The ferritin cage itself is highly symmetrical, and is made up of 24 subunits arranged in an octahedral symmetry. Ferritins are smaller than other protein used for protein   encapsulation.   Their  outer  diameter is only 12 nm, whereas engineered lumazine synthase variants form cages with diameters ranging from about 20 to 60 nm.The ferritin cage displays remarkable thermal and chemical stability it is likely to modify the surface of the ferritin cage through the addition of peptide and protein tags. These characteristics have made ferritins attractive vectors for the delivery of drug molecules and as scaffolds for vaccine design.

In summary, the paper published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition is the first example of protein incorporation by a ferritin.  Dr. Donald Hilvert and colleagues have shown that AfFtn not only complexes positively charged guest proteins within its naturally negatively charged luminal cavity, but that the in vitro mixing technique can be extended to the encapsulation and protection of other functional  fusion proteins.

Hence, the recent discovery of encapsulated ferritins has identified an exciting new platform for use in bio nanotechnology. The use of synthetic biology tools will allow their rapid implementation in materials science, bio-nanotechnology and medical applications.

SOURCE

https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/28902449/enzyme-encapsulation-by-a-ferritin-cage

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Development of 3D Human Tissue Models Awarded NIH Grants Worth $15M

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

NIH has awarded $15 million for Tissue Chip for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing to develop 3D human tissue models. The 3D platforms, also called tissue chips support living cells and human tissues, it mimics the complex biological functions of organs/tissues and at the same time provide a new way to test potential drugs and their effectiveness. The awards will allow scientists to study and understand diseases mechanism and forecast how patients respond and is part of the first phase of a five-year program.  According to NCATS Director, Dr. Christopher P. Austin “these tissue chips to provide more accurate platforms to understand diseases, and to be more predictive of the human response to drugs than current research models, thereby improving the success rate of candidate drugs in human clinical trials”.

The awards will be used to study common and rare diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, influenza A, kidney disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, and hemorrhagic telangiectasia. Award recipients are Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Columbia University, Duke University, Harvard University, Northwestern University, University of California Davis, University of California Irvine, University of Pittsburgh, University of Rochester, University of Washington Seattle and Vanderbilt University.

SOURCE

https://www.mdtmag.com/news/2017/09/nih-grants-15m-development-3d-human-tissue-models

 

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Brain Surgeons Use 3D printing to Practice

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Mechanical thrombectomy is a hopeful new modality of interventional stroke treatment. The countless devices on the market differ with regard to where they apply force on the thrombus, taking a proximal approach such as aspiration devices or a distal approach such as basket-like devices. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mechanical thrombectomy – using a wire to pull clots out of the brains of stroke victims. At the end of the wire a trap exists which is like a noose that that captures the clot. Considering that the mechanical thrombectomy is a very risky procedure, interventional radiologists and neurosurgeons need to train extensively before they work on a real person.

Because of the procedure is very risky, a UConn Health radiologist and medical physicist made it easier for surgeons to practice first before the actual procedure. The team made a life size model of the arteries that the wire must pass through using brain scans and a 3D printer. The life size model will allow the surgeon to be more confident when guiding the wire and will give them the basic techniques on how to move the catheter. Holding the life size model of arteries, brings home how small they are even in an adult man. According to Dr. Ketan Bulsara, this life size model will be used a training model to learn mechanical thrombectomy and being able to model the tumor in advance could personalize and advance patient care.

SOURCE

https://www.mdtmag.com/news/2017/09/uconn-healths-new-3-d-printed-model-allows-brain-surgeons-practice

 

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Winners of 2017 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

presented by to Life Sciences Laureate

 

NEW YORK – June 27, 2017 – The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences today announced the 2017 Laureates of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. Starting with a pool of 308 nominees – the most promising scientific researchers aged 42 years and younger nominated by America’s top academic and research institutions – a distinguished jury first narrowed their selections to 30 Finalists, and then to three outstanding Laureates, one each from the disciplines of Life Sciences, Chemistry and Physical Sciences & Engineering. Each Laureate will receive $250,000 – the largest unrestricted award of its kind for early career scientists and engineers. This year’s Blavatnik National Laureates are:

  • Feng Zhang, PhD, Core Member, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, MIT; Robertson Investigator, New York Stem Cell Foundation; James and Patricia Poitras ’63 Professor in Neuroscience, McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.Dr. Zhang is being recognized for his role in developing the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system and demonstrating pioneering uses in mammalian cells, and for his development of revolutionary technologies in neuroscience.
  • Melanie S. Sanford, PhD, Moses Gomberg Distinguished University Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, University of Michigan. Dr. Sanford is being celebrated for developing simpler chemical approaches – with less environmental impact – to the synthesis of molecules that have applications ranging from carbon dioxide recycling to drug discovery.
  • Yi Cui, PhD, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Photon Science and Chemistry, Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Dr. Cui is being honored for his technological innovations in the use of nanomaterials for environmental protection and the development of sustainable energy sources.

“The work of these three brilliant Laureates demonstrates the exceptional science being performed at America’s premiere research institutions and the discoveries that will make the lives of future generations immeasurably better,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and an Academy Board Governor.

“Each of our 2017 National Laureates is shifting paradigms in areas that profoundly affect the way we tackle the health of our population and our planet — improved ways to store energy, “greener” drug and fuel production, and novel tools to correct disease-causing genetic mutations,” said Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the Academy and Chair of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council. “Recognition programs like the Blavatnik Awards provide incentives and resources for rising stars, and help them to continue their important work. We look forward to learning where their innovations and future discoveries will take us in the years ahead.”

The annual Blavatnik Awards, established in 2007 by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, recognize exceptional young researchers who will drive the next generation of innovation by answering today’s most complex and intriguing scientific questions.

SOURCE

http://blavatnikawards.org/news/items/winners-2017-blavatnik-national-awards-young-scientists-include-pioneering-bioengineer-chemist-and-nanoscientist-will-receive-250000-prizes/

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Novel Blood Substitute – ErythroMer

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

For years, scientists have tried ineffectively to create an artificial molecule that emulates the oxygen-carrying function of human red blood cell but the efforts failed because of oxygen delivery and safety issues. Now, a group of researchers led by Dr. Alan Doctor at Washington University in Saint Louis, are trying to resuscitate blood substitutes with a new nanotechnology-based, artificial red blood cell may overcome the problems that killed products designed by a team of companies such as BiopureAlliance PharmaceuticalsNorthfield Labs and even Baxter. Dr. Alan Doctor’s new company, Kalocyte is advancing the development of the

The donut-shaped artificial cells, ErythroMer are one-fiftieth the size of human red blood cells. ErythroMer is a novel blood substitute composed of a patented nanobialys nanoparticle. A special lining and control system tied to changes in blood Ph allows Erythromer to grab onto oxygen in the lungs and then dispense the oxygen in tissues where it is needed. The new artificial cells are intended to sidestep problems with vasoconstriction or narrowing of blood vessels.

Erythromer is stored freeze dried and reconstituted with water when needed but it can also be stored at room temperature which makes it for military and civilian trauma.

Trials have been successful in rats, mice, and rabbits, and human trials are planned. However, moving Erythromer into human clinical trials is still 8-10 years away.

SOURCE

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13913099/1/human-blood-substitutes-once-dead-now-resuscitated.html

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First 3D Printed Tibia Replacement

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Current advances have allowed 3D printing of biocompatible materials, cells and supporting components into complex 3D functional living tissues. 3D bioprinting has already been used for the generation and transplantation of several tissues, including multilayered skin, bone, vascular grafts, tracheal splints, heart tissue and cartilaginous structures. Thanks to 3D printing, an Australian man got to keep his leg. The man, Reuben Lichter nearly lost his leg above the knee due to a bacterial infection. Doctors told him that he had osteomyelitis which infected his entire bone. Lichter’s bacterial disease of osteomyelitis affects 2 in every 10,000 people in the United States. He had two choices: an experimental procedure using the 3D printed bone or lose his leg. For Lichter, the choice was easy.

Michael Wagels who served as the lead surgeon performed the world’s first-ever transplant surgery using a 3D printed bone. The scaffold was initially modeled at Queensland University of Technology. Biomedical engineers designed the scaffold to promote bone growth around it and then slowly dissolve over time. To have the body successfully grow around the scaffold, the team introduced tissue and blood vessels from both of Lichter’s legs to the scaffold. The surgery itself happened over five operations at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital.

However, the next major challenge for biomedical engineers is how to successfully 3D print organs.

SOURCE

https://interestingengineering.com/australian-man-gets-worlds-first-3d-printed-tibia-replacement

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