My heart no longer beats

Tom James @ 30-09-2009

HeartMateIIPhysicians have successfully implanted an artificial heart that does not beat:

Salina Mohamed So’ot has no pulse. But she is very much alive.

The 30-year-old administrative assistant is the first recipient here to get a new artificial heart that pumps blood continuously, the reason why there are no beats on her wrist.

An interesting development. I wonder if the efficiency and reliability of such artificial hearts will ever be such that people elect to replace their existing hearts with them even before their biological hearts wear out?

[via Slashdot, from The Straits Times][image from on Technology Review]


New resin for growing flesh

Tom James @ 09-06-2009

biodegradable_resinResearchers at the University of Twente have developed a biodegradable resin that can be used to create precise replicas of forms within the body around which new tissues can be grown:

The resin can be given different properties depending on where in the body it is to be used. Cells can be sown and cultured on these models, so that the tissues grown are, in fact, produced by the body itself. The new resin has been developed by Ferry Melchels and Prof. Dirk Grijpma of the UT’s Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials research group. An article on this breakthrough will be appearing in the authoritative specialist journal, Biomaterials

The method used to recreate the specific forms is called stereolithography, the improvement in this system is that the resins have hitherto not been biodegradable. This means:

If, for example, a child has a heart valve disorder, a 3D digital image of the heart valve can be created using a CT scanner. The model in the stereolithograph can be copied exactly with the new resin. If the structure is made porous, the child’s own cells can be placed on it. This porosity also gives nutrients access to the cells. Ultimately, after the carrier structure has broken down, only the natural tissue remains.

Which is a rather wonderful development.

[from Physorg]


Bionic eye breakthrough

Tom James @ 04-03-2009

eye_closeUS company Second Sight have developed a bionic eye system that allows a man who has been blind for 30 years to see flashes of light:

He says he can now follow white lines on the road, and even sort socks, using the bionic eye, known as Argus II. It uses a camera and video processor mounted on sunglasses to send captured images wirelessly to a tiny receiver on the outside of the eye.

The Argus II is designed to help sufferers of retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition.

[article form the BBC][image from Mazintosh – Fotogranada on flickr]


Using salmonella to administer vaccines

Tom Marcinko @ 17-07-2008

salmonellaA team of researchers has engineered a live form of salmonella that can deliver a vaccine. The modified bacterium eliminates all the things you don’t want in salmonella, the leading cause of food-borne illness. It’s also designed to destroy itself so that it’s not released into the environment. In the petri-dish experiment,


Of Mice, Men, Women, Children, and Bacteria: Are Microbiota Linked to Obesity?

Tom Marcinko @ 18-06-2008

fatmouseThis isn’t likely to let us off the hook for diet and exercise. But reseachers at Mayo Clinic Arizona and Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute say the trillions of bacteria in your gut may play a role in regulating your weight. Mice that lack certain bugs tend to be fatter than their germ-free laboratory counterparts, and exposing lab mice to the germs makes them fatter. How much they eat, and how often they hit the exercise wheel, don’t seem to have an impact.

What about people? One study of children from birth to age 7 found:

The children who were normal weight at age 7 had distinctly different bacteria in their [stool] samples than those collected from overweight-obese children, suggesting that differences in the composition of the gut microbiota precede overweight-obesity.

The usual caveats apply: The bacteria/obesity connection has yet to be proved, and more research is needed before this leads to obesity treatments. SFnal scenarios about genetic engineering, nanotech, weight regulation, or gypsy curses are good to go.

[Illustration: deletem3]


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