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Heart attacks cause parts of the heart's tissue to die, reducing its capacity to eject blood. There's been recent evidence that the heart does indeed grow new cells after early childhood development, but the source of these new cells has been an intriguing mystery. In order to identify where new cardiomyocytes come from, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) used fluorescent colored proteins to track their origin. The big mystery is whether new cardiomyoctyes originate from adult cardiomyoctyes that divide for some reason, or whether cardiac progenitor stem cells are...
Access Vascular, a company based in Bedford, MA that makes a novel material for preventing the clogging up of catheters, won FDA clearance for its HydroPICC catheter. The company's "bulk-hydrophilic" material is rich in water and carries a neutral surface charge, which helps to prevent proteins and other biomaterials from sticking. According to the company, the material "demonstrated through testing not to initiate the thrombosis cascade and therefore does not trigger the body's thrombotic response". The cleared peripherally inserted central catheter can be used for long periods of time, and like...
Scientists at Stanford University have created a way to produce thin, stretchable electronic circuits that feature incredibly sensitive pressure sensors. These electronics can one day be wrapped around prosthetic hands to provide a sense of touch or to create wearable electronics for long term body sensing, among many other possible applications. The team's devices are so sensitive that they can detect the footsteps of a ladybug as it crawls across them. The team also developed a mass production method, which involves an inkjet printer to draw out the circuits, to...
Scientists at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University have developed an injectable polymer hydrogel that breaks down in response to reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by tumor cells. During its controlled degradation, the hydrogel releases a chemotherapeutic drug and an immunotherapy to kill surrounding tumor cells. Cancer immunotherapies have shown significant promise in treating a variety of cancer types. However, some cancers lack the characteristics that make immunotherapies effective, and these are called low-immunogenic tumors. One way to make immunotherapies more effective involves treating tumors with...
Paragonix Technologies, based in Braintree, Massachusetts, won European approval to introduce its SherpaPak and SherpaPerfusion cardiac transport systems. The devices are intended for maintaining hearts while they're being transported from harvest in preparation for transplantation. The SherpaPak device relies on hypothermic static preservation to transport donor hearts, while the SherpaPerfusion uses hypothermic oxygenated perfusion preservation for the same task. Both systems are single-use and disposable. The company hopes to replace the use of conventional coolers, essentially the same that one takes to soccer and baseball games, with its SherpaPak that provides better...
Force cytometry, or measurement of strength of cells, can be a useful indicator for assessing how specific drugs affect cell function. Rapidly performing thousands of force cytometry tests can help speed up drug testing, particularly for compounds intended to treat blood pressure, stroke, muscular dystrophy, and asthma. Scientists at UCLA and Rutgers University have now reported in journal Nature Biomedical Engineering on a new device that can perform force cytometry tests 100 times faster than existing technologies. The team's device is named fluorescently labeled elastomeric contractible surfaces (FLECS) and it relies...
Modern smartphones feature incredible image sensors that are much better than professional equipment from only a few years ago. They're great for microscopy and simple attachments in front of the lens can give great views of blood, cells, and other specimens. The only problem is that the sample has to be illuminated and having LEDs inside of smartphone clip-on microscopes made them quite large. Now engineers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics in Australia have developed a clip-on dongle that uses the phone's built-in light, or even...
Our regular readers might have noted that the development of organ-on-a-chip devices has become a popular research trend. Tiny living parts of real human organs can be sustained for long periods of time inside of specially designed chambers that feed the organoids and provide researchers a window to examine them under a microscope. All sorts of processes that are nearly impossible to study in living animals and humans can be observed and manipulated using organoids. The brain, in particular, is little known about and difficult to access, so researchers at...
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a microfluidic chip that mimics the placental barrier. Their device paves the way for drug screening to determine which drugs can cross the placental barrier, allowing researchers to assess drug safety for pregnant women. Pharmacological treatment for pregnant women can be risky, as some drugs can cross the placental barrier and could potentially affect the fetus. Researchers don’t yet fully understand how the placenta permits some molecules to pass through it, and blocks the passage of others. Because of this risk to...
Keeping up to date on the latest academic journal articles and publications can be challenging for researchers focused on bringing their own innovations and projects to life. With many different journals publishing articles daily, research article aggregators like PubMed have become the go-to solution. Recognizing the limited bandwidth and increasing mobility of researchers, Case, a new app available today on iOS and Android, is seeking to take the next step by creating a mobile solution for research article searching and sharing. The Case mobile app is designed to both consolidate...
Electronics that keep working even when repeatedly stretched and flexed have improved significantly in the last few years to the point that now they're finally being introduced into real wearable medical devices. At Northwestern University, John Rogers, the scientist responsible for many achievements in the field of flexible electronics (see flashbacks below), has developed new sensors that stick directly to the skin on the throat and measure vibrations produced by the vocal chords. They are also able to help assess how patients swallow and aid in identifying unusual speech characteristics...

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