Space technology company builds a functioning artificial heart.


Space technology company builds a functioning artificial heart

Space technology company builds a functioning artificial heart

An artificial heart that took 15 years to develop has been approved for human trials. The device, which was fashioned from biological tissue and parts of miniature satellite equipment, combines the latest advances in medicine, biology, electronics, and materials science.

It’s built by the Paris-based company Carmat and it’s the brainchild of French cardiac surgeon Alain Carpentier. The state-of-the-art device is the result of a collaboration with aerospace giant Astrium, the space subsidiary of EADS, along with support from the French government.

In order for it to qualify for human trials, the developers had to create a heart that could withstand the demanding conditions of the body’s circulatory system. It has to pump 35 million times per year for at least five years — and without fail. This is why Carpentier’s team turned to space technology, which is known for its resilience and compact size.

“Space and the inside of your body have a lot in common,” said Astrium’s Matthieu Dollon in an ESA statement. “They both present harsh and inaccessible environments.”

Indeed, Telecom satellites have similar demands placed upon them; they have to last for at least 15 years and function 36,000 km above Earth.

“Failure in space is not an option,” he added. “Nor is onsite maintenance. If a part breaks down, we cannot simply go and fix it. It’s the same inside the body.”

Space technology company builds a functioning artificial heart

In addition to space-tech, the artificial heart combines synthetic and biological materials as well as sensors and software to detect a patient’s level of exertion and adjust output accordingly. MIT‘s Technology Review explains more:

In Carmat’s design, two chambers are each divided by a membrane that holds hydraulic fluid on one side. A motorized pump moves hydraulic fluid in and out of the chambers, and that fluid causes the membrane to move; blood flows through the other side of each membrane. The blood-facing side of the membrane is made of tissue obtained from a sac that surrounds a cow’s heart, to make the device more biocompatible. “The idea was to develop an artificial heart in which the moving parts that are in contact with blood are made of tissue that is [better suited] for the biological environment,” says Piet Jansen, chief medical officer of Carmat.

That could make patients less reliant on anti-coagulation medications. The Carmat device also uses valves made from cow heart tissue and has sensors to detect increased pressure within the device. That information is sent to an internal control system that can adjust the flow rate in response to increased demand, such as when a patient is exercising.

 

Gene Used In Embryogenesis Can Repair Adult Tissue.


There are some amazing genes and cellular processes active during embryonic development that are never seen again later in life. Though some insects and amphibians are able to carry those traits into adulthood, mammals have a dramatic decrease in the ability to regenerate tissue after birth. A new study has shown that one embryonic protein can be used to help regenerate adult tissue in a living organism, not just in a dish.

The protein Lin28a typically only contributes to processes during embryogenesis, affecting things like metabolism and the pluripotency of stem cells. A study published Nov. 7 in Cell has shown that these proteins can actually be used in adult tissue and help in the regeneration of cartilage, hair follicles, bone, and mesenchyme, a type of undifferentiated connective tissue. It works by binding microRNA in the cell’s nucleus to inhibit let7. Let7 encourages cells to mature and lose the regenerative abilities.

Mice that had been genetically altered to produce Lin28a throughout life had outstanding regenerative power. Though regular mice typically stop producing new hair at around 10 weeks, those with a continued presence of Lin28a kept growing fur throughout their lives. Lin28a also boosted regeneration of limbs. During development, Lin28a is commonly found in the limb buds, but is hardly expressed in those regions after birth. For the mice over expressing Lin28a, some digits that were amputated early in life grew back nearly completely. This ability was diminished as the mouse approached adulthood. Because cardiac tissue also wasn’t regenerated by the presence of Lin28a, there could be other unknown proteins that regulate body aging.

Lin28a was also shown to promote prompt healing of damaged ears, increase metabolism, and contribute to cell proliferation and migration, which are necessary for tissue repair. Unfortunately, some of these attributes can also lead to tumorigenesis, which has been the focus of a great deal of recent cancer research.

This discovery is a long way off from having clinical significance as a miracle “fountain of youth” treatment. Because Lin28a binds to RNA, not the surface of the cell, current drug delivery systems would be very ineffective. Also, because the protein affects so many different tissues in the body, it would be incredibly difficult to target only the desired area. In the future, however, this could be used as a treatment for diseases like alopecia and for tissues that have been injured or are degenerating.

Women’s breasts age faster than the rest of their body.


Breasts typically age more quickly than the rest of the female body. So suggests a system that may be the most accurate way yet of identifying a person’s age from a blood or tissue sample.

As we age, the pattern of chemical markings on our DNA changes. Each gene becomes more or less methylated, that is, they have methyl chemical groups added or removed. This generally increases or decreases gene expression. The whole process is known as epigenetics.

The question "how old are you?" just became a lot harder to answer <i>(Image: REX/Cultura)</i>

Steve Horvath at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his colleagues have used these changes to estimate a person’s age. To do so, they first performed a detailed statistical analysis of methylation patterns in 7844 healthy tissue samples from 51 different types of tissue. The tissue covered a range of ages – from fetuses to people 101 years old.

Universal ageing

The analysis allowed the team to weed out methylation patterns that varied between tissues, leaving just those that are common to all tissues. This enabled them to identify a subset of 353 specific regions of the genome that became either more or less methylated with age in almost all types of tissue.

By measuring the total amount of methylation in these regions, the team was able to create an algorithm that identified the age of the tissue.

The team validated the algorithm against thousands more samples of known age. Horvath says the method is twice as accurate as the next best method of ageing tissue, which is based on the length of telomeres – tips of chromosomes that “burn down” with age like candle wicks. He says that his method has a 96 per cent chance of accurately identifying someone’s age to within 3.6 years compared with around 53 per cent for telomeres.

“What’s unique about this study is the idea that there’s a signature of ageing common across tissues in spite of the significant tissue specificity of DNA methylation patterns,” comments Moshe Szyf, who studies methylation at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. “The data point to the possibility that DNA methylation signatures could be used as robust markers of biological ageing.”

Young at heart

Horvath says that, remarkably, their analysis shows that some parts of the body age at different rates. When they used their algorithm on healthy breast tissue from a group of women of average age 46, for example, it churned out a result that was on average two to three years older than the woman’s actual age. Whereas in two groups aged 55 and 60 across both sexes, heart tissue appeared nine years younger than true age.

If it is known where the sample comes from, it is still possible to accurately predict age after some straightforward adjustment, says Horvath. However, in general, the algorithm is most accurate for samples from people under 30 years of age. “The older one gets, the less accurate it becomes,” he says.

Horvath thinks that breast tissue ages more quickly because of its constant exposure to hormones. Heart tissue may remain younger, by contrast, because it is constantly regenerated by stem cells.

Cancerous tissue also appeared to age prematurely, coming out at 36 years older than the person’s actual age on average across 20 cancers from 20 different organs.

Because ageing is a risk factor for all cancers, Horvath suggests that the premature ageing of breast tissue might explain why it is the most common cancer in women. “It could be so prevalent because that part of the female body is older,” he says.

Blood work

Because the method also works on blood it might have the potential to be used forensically, to reveal the age of a murder suspect, suggests Horvath. It might also be used to diagnose cancer, by revealing accelerated ageing in tissue biopsies.

“The data raises questions about whether these DNA methylation changes play a causal role in ageing and, if so, whether epigenetic interventions could reverse these and therefore slow down ageing,” says Szyf. “The chemical robustness of DNA methylation and the ability to accurately measure it make it a very attractive tool to study ageing, which could well be superior to measuring telomere length, which is the current practice.”

Horvath says that further studies comparing telomere and epigenetic ageingcould be useful, and hopes the two can be complementary. He also says that the software for his algorithm is openly available so that other researchers can try validating it on their own tissue samples.

Journal reference: Genome Biology, DOI: 10.1186/gb-2013-14-10r115

UCLA scientist uncovers biological clock able to measure age of most human tissues.


Study finds women’s breast tissue ages faster than the rest of the body.

Everyone grows older, but scientists don’t really understand why. Now a UCLA study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process.
Published in the Oct. 21 edition of the journal Genome Biology, the findings could offer valuable insights to benefit cancer and stem cell research.
Biological clock
While earlier biological clocks have been linked tosalivahormones and telomeres, the new research is the first to result in the development of an age-predictive tool that uses a previously unknown time-keeping mechanism in the body to accurately gauge the age of diverse human organs, tissues and cell types. Unexpectedly, this new tool demonstrated that some parts of the anatomy, like a woman’s breast tissue, age faster than the rest of the body.
“To fight aging, we first need an objective way of measuring it. Pinpointing a set of biomarkers that keeps time throughout the body has been a four-year challenge,” said Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor ofbiostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “My goal in inventing this age-predictive tool is to help scientists improve their understanding of what speeds up and slows down the human aging process.”
To create his age predictor, Horvath focused on a naturally occurring process called methylation, a chemical modification of one of the four building blocks that make up our DNA. He sifted through 121 sets of data collected previously by researchers who had studied methylation in both healthy and cancerous human tissue.
Gleaning information from nearly 8,000 samples of 51 types of tissue and cells taken from throughout the body, Horvath charted how age affects DNA methylation levels from pre-birth through 101 years. For the age predictor, he zeroed in on 353 markers linked to methylation that change with age and are present throughout the body.
Horvath tested the predictive tool’s effectiveness by comparing a tissue’s biological age to its chronological age. When the tool repeatedly proved accurate in matching biological to  chronological age, he was thrilled — and a little stunned.
“It’s surprising that one could develop a predictive tool that reliably keeps time across the human anatomy,” he said. “My approach really compared apples and oranges, or in this case, very different parts of the body — including brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidney and cartilage.”
While most samples’ biological ages matched their chronological ages, some diverged significantly. For example, Horvath discovered that a woman’s breast tissue ages faster than the rest of her body.
“Healthy breast tissue is about two to three years older than the rest of a woman’s body,” he said. “If a woman has breast cancer, the healthy tissue next to the tumor is an average of 12 years older than the rest of her body.”
The results may explain why breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Given that the clock ranked tumor tissue an average of 36 years older than healthy tissue, it could also explain why age is a major risk factor for many cancers in both genders.
Horvath next looked at induced pluripotent stem cells, adult cells that have been reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell–like state, enabling them to form any type of cell in the body and continue dividing indefinitely.
“My research shows that all stem cells are newborns,” he said. “More importantly, the process of transforming a person’s cells into pluripotent stem cells resets the cells’ clock to zero.”
In principle, the discovery proves that scientists can rewind the body’s biological clock and restore it to zero.
“The big question is whether the underlying biological clock controls a process that leads to aging,” Horvath said. “If so, the clock will become an important biomarker for studying new therapeutic approaches to keeping us young.”
Finally, Horvath discovered that the clock’s rate speeds up or slows down depending on a person’s age.
“The clock’s ticking rate isn’t constant,” he explained. “It ticks much faster when we’re born and growing from children into teenagers, then slows to a constant rate when we reach 20.”
In an unexpected finding, the cells of children with progeria, a genetic disorder that causes premature aging, appeared normal and reflected their true chronological age.
Horvath noted that it will take additional research to dissect the precise molecular or biochemical mechanism in the body that makes his age predictor possible.
UCLA has filed a provisional patent on Horvath’s age-predictive tool. His next studies will examine whether stopping the body’s clock halts the aging process and whether a similar clock exists in mice.

Scientists succeed in growing human brain tissue in ‘test tubes’.


Complex human brain tissue has been successfully developed in a three-dimensional culture system established in an Austrian laboratory. The method described in the current issue of Nature allows pluripotent stem cells to develop into cerebral organoids – or “mini brains” – that consist of several discrete brain regions. Instead of using so-called patterning growth factors to achieve this, scientists at the renowned Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) fine-tuned growth conditions and provided a conducive environment. As a result, intrinsic cues from the stem cells guided the development towards different interdependent brain tissues. Using the “mini brains”, the scientists were also able to model the development of a human neuronal disorder and identify its origin – opening up routes to long hoped-for model systems of the human brain.

1-brainsondema

The development of the human brain remains one of the greatest mysteries in biology. Derived from a simple tissue, it develops into the most complex natural structure known to man. Studies of the human brain’s development and associated human disorders are extremely difficult, as no scientist has thus far successfully established a three-dimensional culture model of the developing brain as a whole. Now, a research group lead by Dr. Jürgen Knoblich at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) has changed just that.

 

Brain size matters

Starting with established human embryonic stem cell lines and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, the group identified growth conditions that aided the differentiation of the stem cells into several brain tissues. While using media for neuronal induction and differentiation, the group was able to avoid the use of patterning growth factor conditions, which are usually applied in order to generate specific cell identities from stem cells. Dr. Knoblich explains the new method: “We modified an established approach to generate so-called neuroectoderm, a cell layer from which the nervous system derives. Fragments of this tissue were then maintained in a 3D-culture and embedded in droplets of a specific gel that provided a scaffold for complex tissue growth. In order to enhance nutrient absorption, we later transferred the gel droplets to a spinning bioreactor. Within three to four weeks defined brain regions were formed.”

Already after 15 – 20 days, so-called “cerebral organoids” formed which consisted of continuous tissue (neuroepithelia) surrounding a fluid-filled cavity that was reminiscent of a cerebral ventricle. After 20 – 30 days, defined brain regions, including a cerebral cortex, retina, meninges as well as choroid plexus, developed. After two months, the mini brains reached a maximum size, but they could survive indefinitely (currently up to 10 months) in the spinning bioreactor. Further growth, however, was not achieved, most likely due to the lack of a circulation system and hence a lack of nutrients and oxygen at the core of the mini brains.

 

Microcephaly in mini brains

The new method also offers great potential for establishing model systems for human brain disorders. Such models are urgently needed, as the commonly used animal models are of considerably lower complexity, and often do not adequately recapitulate the human disease. Knoblich’s group has now demonstrated that the mini brains offer great potential as a human model system by analysing the onset of microcephaly, a human genetic disorder in which brain size is significantly reduced. By generating iPS cells from skin tissue of a microcephaly patient, the scientists were able to grow mini brains affected by this disorder. As expected, the patient derived organoids grew to a lesser size. Further analysis led to a surprising finding: while the neuroepithilial tissue was smaller than in mini brains unaffected by the disorder, increased neuronal outgrowth could be observed. This lead to the hypothesis that, during brain development of patients with microcephaly, the neural differentiation happens prematurely at the expense of stem and progenitor cells which would otherwise contribute to a more pronounced growth in brain size. Further experiments also revealed that a change in the direction in which the stem cells divide might be causal for the disorder.

“In addition to the potential for new insights into the development of human brain disorders, mini brains will also be of great interest to the pharmaceutical and chemical industry,” explains Dr. Madeline A. Lancaster, team member and first author of the publication. “They allow for the testing of therapies against brain defects and other neuronal disorders. Furthermore, they will enable the analysis of the effects that specific chemicals have on brain development.”

 

Source: http://medicalxpress.com/Nature.

Cells of the future: making living tissue from dead bodies.


At the Pasteur Institute in Paris, a scientist opens a standard kitchen refrigerator and pulls out a clear plastic vial filled with cherry-colored liquid. A small, soft, fleshy lump sits on the bottom. It is a piece of muscle, taken from a deceased 44-year-old Frenchman. The laboratory will use its stem cells to grow a brand new strip of living muscle in the hopes that — one day — post-mortem stem cells can provide sick or injured people with a whole new source of body parts.

sp-pasteur-institute-0701131

The near-miraculous properties of stem cells have intrigued medical researchers for years. With their ability to divide repeatedly and fabricate other cells, they are ideal for reconstructing or repairing tissue. Embryonic stem cells can give rise to any organ, while most adult stem cells are limited to their own origin — neural stem cells make neurons, those from the skin form skin, and so on. Adult stem cells are constantly regenerating our blood and skin, and they also mend tissue that has been damaged by injury or disease.

Now a group of French researchers from the Pasteur Institute have discovered another awe-inspiring property: stem cells can survive without oxygen. This means that even when the body is dead, the stem cells continue living, in a state of reduced metabolism.

The team was led by Dr. Fabrice Chrétien, a histologist and neuropathologist who made a curious observation about five years ago while performing autopsies. Even after a corpse’s muscle tissue had started to atrophy, he saw healthy-looking cells that resembled stem cells, with a normal nucleus and intact DNA. One day he ran a test on the corpse of a young adult, taking a muscle tissue biopsy and putting it into a container with culture. His suspicions were confirmed when the stem cells started to multiply. “Honestly, I was a little shocked,” he recalled. “Shocked because I had done a biopsy on an individual who had been dead for four days, and in the box of culture the cells proliferated, becoming more numerous every day. They were alive — and yet the person was undeniably dead. It makes you think twice about the definition of death.”

In a living person, certain stem cells spend long periods of time in a quiescent state, not doing much of anything until they are activated due to stress, disease or injury. This quiescence permits them to survive and maintain their potency even under hostile conditions, whether radiation treatment for cancer or a workout at the gym. Once the onslaught has passed, they reawaken and multiply to repair the injured body part.

What Chrétien’s team discovered is that they can resist anoxia, or total oxygen deprivation. He explained that inside all our cells we have little organs called mitochondria that convert oxygen into energy. When there is no oxygen, the mitochondria produce toxins that destroy the cells. “We were stupefied to see that when we removed oxygen from the environment, stem cells got rid of their mitochondria,” he said. “As a result, their DNA was not damaged.” The stem cells stopped breathing and went into a dormant state.

The Pasteur team has tested human muscle from the arm, leg and abdomen, as well as bone marrow from mice. They only work with adult stem cells. (Aside from the controversy of sacrificing embryos for research or medical purposes, Chrétien said that fetal cells that proliferate endlessly can lead to cancer.) They’ve procured viable stem cells from human bodies up to 17 days after death — the oldest corpses they have access to — and from mice up to 14 days post-mortem.

On a recent spring day, Chrétien’s colleague, Dr. Pierre Rocheteau, walked me around the lab in a new building on the campus of the venerable Pasteur Institute. He explained that the piece of muscle tissue I saw would be “digested” by enzymes, then put through a machine that discards everything but the dormant stem cells. These would go into a plastic box with culture (glucose, serum and the like) at 37 degrees Celsius, and after three weeks, a thin, whitish layer of muscle would cover the bottom of the box.

I peered into a microscope at a sample after two weeks in culture and saw a number of little spots, all different shapes and sizes. Each stem cell had a black dot of DNA in the center. Rocheteau said they were moving a lot, but the motion was not visible to the naked eye. Then he showed me a time-lapse video of post-mortem stem cells zipping around erratically, stretching out until they split in two, multiplying exponentially, colliding and fusing. Another video displayed the final result, a strip of gently throbbing muscle.

Pasteur Institute policy forbids journalists from seeing the lab mice, but Chrétien told me the team has performed several transplants, injecting bone marrow from a 4-day-old mouse corpse into living specimens that had been irradiated to destroy their own marrow. “It worked magnificently,” he said. “All the mice survived.” This augurs well for his belief that one day human corpses can provide an additional source of stem cells for medical purposes, such as repairing muscle withered by muscular dystrophy or transplanting bone marrow for leukemia patients. He said that corpses can also be a useful source of stem cells for molecular screening in the pharmacological industry.

Is corpse harvesting necessary?

After meeting with Chrétien, I spoke with Dr. Vijay Gorantla, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, who has been studying the possibilities of using cadaveric bone marrow to improve hand and face transplants. There is an important linguistic difference here — Gorantla procures his marrow from brain-dead “cadavers” whose hearts are still beating, as opposed to “corpses” who are dead in every sense of the term. His team’s research involves retrieving vertebral bone marrow at the same time as a donated body part and injecting it into a transplant recipient. The idea is to trick the body into accepting the hand and its foreign DNA without needing a lifetime of immunosuppressive drugs.

In the course of these experiments, he, too, was struck by the resiliency of stem cells. A colleague, Dr. Albert Donnenberg, developed a protocol for sterilizing pieces of vertebral bone with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Despite the harshness of this chemical treatment, the stem cells maintained their counts and viability. Not only that, he found he could hold the vertebral bodies on ice for up to 72 hours before extracting the stem cells, and they were still just fine. “There’s something in them that prevents them from dying or offers them this capacity to survive,” Gorantla said. He was intrigued by Chrétien’s findings, and imagined that one day, after further screening for infection, there could be a worldwide registry connecting patients with deceased bone marrow donors.

Other people I spoke with were more skeptical about the utility of corpses for bone marrow transplants. Dr. Willis Navarro, medical director of transplant services for the National Marrow Donor Program in Minneapolis, said that source is not a major issue. The chance of an American patient finding a living match who is willing and able to donate bone marrow is 66 to 93 percent, and umbilical cords from newborn babies can also be harvested for embryonic-like stem cells.

Chrétien believes this still isn’t enough. He said an adult patient generally needs more than one umbilical cord. And in many parts of the world — including the United States but not France, where it’s illegal –parents can privately bank their own offspring’s cord blood in case the child needs it later, making it unavailable to the general public.

In any case, much research remains to be done regarding sterility before any human receives injections of post-mortem cells. The slightest risk of infection from bacteria in a corpse would prove fatal for a leukemia patient with a destroyed immune system. Chrétien estimates it will take at least five more years of study before corpses can be viable sources. “And you shouldn’t really wait 17 days post-mortem. We did that to prove it could be done, but it’s but not ideal. I think within 48 hours after death you can have a good quantity of very effective stem cells without any problems of sterility.”

Maintaining cells’ “stem-ness”

In the meantime, his team’s discovery also offers better ways to isolate and store stem cells. Storage can be problematic because as soon as stem cells are dissociated from tissue they start to proliferate like mad, eventually exhausting their capacity to multiply, or their “stem-ness.” But when they are deprived of oxygen and kept at 4 degrees Celsius, they hibernate for up to a month. This dormancy is reversible: the cells awaken and resume their normal activity after being put in culture or transplanted into a living body.

Currently, Chrétien’s team is studying the possible repercussions of their discovery on cancer treatments that consist of cutting off a tumor’s blood supply and starving it of oxygen. He said it would be catastrophic if cancer stem cells didn’t die with the rest of the tumor but instead went to sleep, only to wake up later and make new tumors. “We don’t want an upsurge of metastasis in a few years,” he explained. Though the research is in its early stages, he has found that cancer stem cells are in fact sensitive to oxygen deprivation in vitro. However, he cannot say if that is the case inside an actual person.

Indeed, it seems that not all of the body’s stem cells react the same way to different aggressors. Researchers at the McKnight Brain Institute in Gainesville, Fla., led a collaboration with investigators at the Kennedy Space Center, looking at the effects of cosmic rays on the brain. Surprisingly, they found that quiescent stem cells in the brain are extremely sensitive to cosmic radiation — a simulated mission to Mars showed up to 65 percent of them at risk of dying. According to Dr. Dennis Steindler, who directed the McKnight Brain Institute (and the study), this result contradicts the assumption that cancer tumors return after chemotherapy or radiotherapy because quiescence protects their stem cells.

Steindler said that understanding the metabolic requirements of different kinds of stem cells and how they behave under stress will provide scientists with valuable insight “extremely relevant to cancer research.” This knowledge can shine a light on other diseases, too. As Chrétien noted, “We are starting to see that the quantity of oxygen varies widely in different tissues of the body, and it’s not just chance — it plays a very particular role in cell fate.”

Stem cell research heralds a revolution in medical care. Cellular therapy can turn doctors into engineers of the human body, reconstructing tissue or building new organs without surgery. The fact that some stem cells have superhuman qualities makes the range of possibilities even larger. It is true that stem cells play a small role in practical medicine today. But, Chrétien predicted, “they will be enormously important tomorrow.”

Source: Smart Planet

 

 

Heart attack drug may reduce tissue damage.


heart attack

A new drug that could help reduce damage to the body after a heart attack, stroke or major surgery has been developed by UK scientists.

Tests in mice suggest the compound protects the heart when blood flow is restored suddenly after a period when tissue has been starved of oxygen.

MitoSNO has yet to be tested on humans, but could lead to a whole new class of medicines.

The research is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

One of the problems after a heart attack is the damage caused to heart tissue when blood flow is restored suddenly after a prolonged period without oxygen.

Blood flowing back into the tissues triggers production of harmful molecules, called free radicals, which are generated inside mitochondria – the powerhouses of the cell.

The new drug works by temporarily “switching off” the mitochondria for a few minutes to prevent a build-up of free radicals.

In the study, researchers tested the compound in a mouse model of heart attack.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

It could potentially treat people immediately after a heart attack when blood flow to the heart is restored as part of routine treatment”

Shannon AmoilsBritish Heart Foundation

There were marked reductions in the total area of damaged heart tissue in mice given the drug compared with controls.

The researchers now hope to test their new compound in early human trials.

“MitoSNO effectively flicks a switch in the mitochondria, slowing down reactivation during those critical first minutes when blood flow returns and protecting the heart tissue from further damage,” said Dr Mike Murphy from the Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit, who led the study.

“We think a similar process happens in other situations where tissue is starved of oxygen for a prolonged period, for example after a stroke or during surgery where major arteries are clamped to prevent blood loss.

“We are hopeful that if human trials of MitoSNO are successful it could eventually be used in many other areas of medicine.”

Commenting on the study, the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said the drug appeared promising.

“It could potentially treat people immediately after a heart attack when blood flow to the heart is restored as part of routine treatment,” said research adviser Shannon Amoils.

“This could mean fewer heart attack survivors go on to live with the burden of heart failure, which for many is a debilitating and distressing condition.”

Source: BBC

First Ultrasound Imaging System Approved for Dense Breast Tissue .


The FDA approved the first ultrasound system for imaging dense breast tissue on Tuesday. The somo-v Automated Breast Ultrasound System (ABUS) is intended for use in women with dense tissue who’ve had a negative mammogram and no symptoms of breast cancer.

In a clinical study of some 200 women with dense breast tissue, cancer was detected significantly more often when board-certified radiologists reviewed mammograms along with somo-v ABUS images than when they reviewed mammograms alone.

Source: FDA

Printing a human kidney.


Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala’s young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage. Talk recorded 3 March 2011.

About the Speaker

Anthony Atala asks, “Can we grow organs instead of transplanting them?” His lab at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is doing just that – engineering over 30 tissues and whole organs. Anthony Atala is the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where his work focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs. His team engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human – a bladder – and is developing experimental fabrication technology that can “print” human tissue on demand.

In 2007, Atala and a team of Harvard University researchers showed that stem cells can be harvested from the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. This and other breakthroughs in the development of smart bio-materials and tissue fabrication technology promises to revolutionize the practice of medicine.

Source: BBC.