medical-advances

You’re looking at lungs that scientists created in a lab. This creepy sci-fi creation comes from a team of researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch who made a functional lung from donated lungs too damaged to transplant.

The scientists first created a sort of skeleton for the lung by removing the cells from a damaged lung — leaving behind natural scaffolding to host their engineered tissue (made from a donated lung that could not be transplanted but still had viable cells).

Learn more about how it works »

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A beautiful thing happened today

Cancer-killing cells grown by Japanese scientists in major breakthrough; the white blood cell known as a cytotoxic T-cell is produced in small numbers in the body and could be reinjected to fight off cancer

Cancer-killing cells have been grown in a lab by Japanese researchers, possibly a major breakthrough in treatments for the illness.

The white blood cell known as a cytotoxic T-cell is produced in small numbers in the body and could possibly be reinjected to fight off cancer. Researchers at the RIKEN Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology were able to grow the cells in the lab and hope then to put them into a patient to bolster the immune system.

Prior research into creating the killer T lymphocytes has been fruitless. Previous efforts have not been able to create long-lasting cells, which has limited their use as an effective treatment.

The Daily Mail reported that the new research takes these cytotoxic (killer - in a good way) immune cells and uses a technique called “induced pluripotent stem-cell” to make them grow and divide. These cells then can revert back to their original form after becoming stem cells (which can multiply) but in much larger numbers.

BBC reported that so far the scientists have only been able to create these cells. It is still unclear whether the cells can be reinjected or if they will attack the right diseased cells.

"The next step will be to test whether these T-cells can selectively kill tumour cells, but not other cells in the body," said study co-author Hiroshi Kawamoto, according to BBC.

"If they do, these cells might be directly injected into patients for therapy. This could be realized in the not-so-distant future."

The findings were published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

BY ANDREW VILLAGOMEZ

Photo via Flickr

Announced on Sunday, a child from Mississippi—whose name and gender were not released to protect his or her identity—has been effectively cured of HIV. Now two-and-half years old, the toddler no longer needs medication for the AIDS virus, and doctors believe he or she has a normal life expectancy and is highly unlikely to be infectious to others. This is the first time such a case has been documented, and though medical staff and scientists are uncertain why the treatment was effective, the success raises hope that the therapy might ultimately help doctors cure the virus among newborns and small children—especially in Africa where there is an estimated 3.4 million children living with HIV at the end of 2011, 91% of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Hannah Gay, who cared for the child at the University of Mississippi medical center, told the Guardian the case amounted to the first “functional cure” of an HIV-infected child. “Now, after at least one year of taking no medicine, this child’s blood remains free of virus even on the most sensitive tests available,” she said. Dr. Gay gave the baby faster and stronger treatment than is usual, starting a three-drug infusion within 30 hours of birth, according to the Huffington Post. That was before tests confirmed the baby was infected and not just at risk from a mother whose HIV wasn’t diagnosed until she was in labor. “I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk, and deserved our best shot,” Gay added.

"You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we’ve seen," said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health to The Associated Press. No one should stop anti-AIDS drugs as a result of this case, he cautioned. However, he added that "it opens up a lot of doors" to research if other children can be helped. "It makes perfect sense what happened," he said.

Insulin monitors and pumps are getting better, but a person with diabetes will tell you they’re far from ideal. Potential solutions include one that delivers two hormones to control blood sugar.

This is why it’s so important that technology keeps advancing! Between regenerative medicine and bionics, we might one day be able to eliminate the need for conventional medication in treating chronic illnesses.

Billionaire Bill Gates says he is ready to use up his entire fortune to rid the world of polio.

The Microsoft co-founder, said to be worth £41bn ($65bn), says he has no need for money any more as he is “well taken care of” for food and clothes.

Instead, he and wife Melinda want to change the lives of the poorest people in the world and see an end to the disease that paralyses 1,000 children a year. So far Gates and his wife have given away $28bn of their fortune through their charitable foundation, with more than $8?billion of it to improving global health.

The college dropout, 57, has committed another $1.8bn to fighting polio over the next six years by giving children in infected regions just three vaccination drops.

Gates said: “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”

The second richest man in the world, Gates will deliver the BBC’s Dimbleby Lecture later this month, using the value of young human life as his central theme. In that speech he is expected to talk about his dream of every child having the right to a healthy and productive life. He will also explain how technology and innovation can help the world reach his goal.

Gates says he wants to give back to the world that has given him so much. The dad-of-three said: “My wife and I had a long dialogue about how we were going to take the wealth that we’re lucky enough to have and give it back in a way that’s most impactful to the world.

“Both of us worked at Microsoft and saw that if you take innovation and smart people, the ability to measure what’s working, that you can pull together some pretty dramatic things.

“We’re focused on the help of the poorest in the world, which really drives you into vaccination. You can actually take a disease and get rid of it altogether, like we are doing with polio. Polio’s pretty special because once you get an eradication you no longer have to spend money on it; it’s just there as a gift for the rest of time.”

When polio is beaten, Gates said, he will turn his attention to combating malaria and measles.

Even with his charity, he admits he will still be able to leave his children with “a billion or so” each.

anonymous asked:

I asked Cultureshift multiple times if they were for or against scientific discoveries that would make abortion obsolete - like cryostasis or artificial wombs. They did not answer, so I am asking you, are you for or agains, and do you think pro-lifers actually don't want abortion obsolete so they can still make money off their agenda?

I am sorry that it took me so long to get to your ask. I have been very busy with real-life obligations today and I also wanted to take some time to think this one through.

I will begin with a disclaimer that I am in no way an expert on these advanced medical procedures/devices, so please, correct me if I make a statement that is blatantly incorrect. That said, I will first state that I don’t believe the pro-life movement’s main goal is to make money; their main goals are to regulate sex and force conservative Christian values on others. Here is a terrific article, written by a former pro-lifer, that details many of the things that are wrong with the movement and its ulterior motives for fighting to “save the babies”. With that said, I would not be remotely surprised if the pro-‘life’ movement opposed procedures that would allow for the relocation or indefinite ‘storage’ of an unwanted embryo/fetus, because that would mean that women would still have a way to ‘avoid responsibility’ for their actions. It is absolutely fascinating how the other side will refer to children as blessings one moment and punishments the next.

If an already-developing fetus could be moved into an artificial womb, I think that would be a wonderful option for women who want children but would have extremely dangerous or potentially fatal pregnancies, as well as couples who are unable to naturally conceive. I do worry about what the availability of such procedures would do to the number of children in foster care, though. Would infertile people be less likely to adopt because they had a way to create their own children? Would unwanted pregnancies be incubated in artificial wombs just so that the child could be dumped straight into foster care? I see a lot of great things that could come out of this procedure, but I also see a lot of potential issues.

Additionally, such medical procedures would not make abortion ‘obsolete’, though they would likely reduce the number of abortions considerably. As I have previously mentioned, moving a fetus to an artificial womb or preserving it indefinitely could potentially create a lot more ethical issues than it would solve, in my opinion. What about a woman who does not want to be pregnant or raise a child, even if it can be incubated somewhere else? What about a woman who is not comfortable with the idea of creating an orphan, regardless of where it develops? What if a fetus was to be kept in stasis until its parent eventually wanted it, and they decide they do not ever want it? I fear that the pro-life movement would simply branch out into protesting for the ‘rights’ of the ‘frozen’ children and complaining about the fact that artificial wombs are ‘unnatural’, in addition to continuing to protest abortion, as it would most likely still occur. They would be angry because even though not all unwanted fetuses would have to ‘die’, their parents would still not have to ‘suffer the consequences’ of creating them, and the pro-‘life’ movement certainly would not condone that.

Despite the concerns I have voiced, I, personally, would be in favor of the development of these scientific advancements. They would offer people with uteri more choices in regards to their reproductive health and family planning, and the procedures would have other applications besides providing an alternative to abortion. Scientific progress is wonderful and I feel that it should be encouraged, but the ethical issues that accompany it are not always so great.

I believe that is all I can really say until these breakthroughs really start happening. It really leaves you with a lot to think about, doesn’t it? I, too, would be interested to hear Cultureshift’s opinion on the matter, but I think we can all be fairly certain that it will never be voiced.

Thank you for your very interesting question, and I would welcome any feedback (or corrections) from other readers, if you have something to add. Thank you all for promoting a culture of choice.

Fake Windpipe Saves Life!

A patient in Sweden who was supposed to die has been saved by a man-made trachea - the first accomplishment of its kind. It was created using stem cell’s extracted from the patient’s own bone marrow.

This has huge implications for anyone who suffers for tracheal cancer, but it also could point to other developments in organ implant technology.  However, the doctor behind this man-made windpipe cautioned that while this might work for hollow organs like the windpipe, it may be a much bigger challenge to build a more complex organ like the heart which has much thicker tissue. 

Still - yay doctors! 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304793504576432093996469056.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Swansea Biopharm Leech Farm

There is a farm in Wales that believes the leech will make a comeback due to its medical benefits. The medical leech farming business is worth 1 million pounds per year and still provides 60,000 leeches a year to hospitals throughout Europe.

Biopharm has created the first leech farm of its kind. The Biopharm farm is really an extremely sterile medical lab. Biopharm uses advanced technology for processes such as reverse osmosis and foam fractionating to farm leeches. (Source)

Transplant Organs From Aborted Babies - Controversy Over Lifesaving Research

There is some exciting news for people in desperate need of organ transplants, as researchers have successfully grown a fully-functioning human kidney in the body of a lab rat. However, like many major medical advancements, this one comes with a pretty controversial catch.

According to a study recently published in the American Journal of Transplantation, the organs of aborted human babies can be salvaged by transplanting them into rats. In this way, they can then be grown and developed and later reclaimed for human use.

The study details how researchers have so far only managed to grow organs a fraction of the size of what would be needed for human use, but intensive analyses have revealed that these kidneys are still fully functioning - and most importantly - fully human. This, of course, reduces the chances that an organ recipient’s body will reject the kidney - a problem that occurs even with donor organs transplanted directly from one human to another.

Study co-author Eugene Gu, a medical student at Duke University and the founder and CEO of Ganogen, Inc., a biotech company in Redwood City, Calif., recently told Live Science that the ultimate aim of this work is to “end the human donor shortage” - a line repeated again and again on his company’s website.

(Photo : Eugene Gu et al. - American Journal of Transplantation, 2015)
A fetal kidney developing in a lab rat. Gu and his colleagues achieved this stunning feat by restricting how much blood flows in the the organ at what pressure, ensuring no  hemorrhaging occurs - a consequence often seen in animal transplants.

Scientists discover how the body can destroy cancerous tumours itself - without the need for drugs 

Scientists have made a key breakthrough in discovering how the body can destroy cancerous tumours itself. 

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have identified a molecule, known as TIC10, which activates a protein that helps fight the disease.

The protein, called TRAIL, suppresses tumour development during immune surveillance, the immune system’s process of patrolling the body for cancer cells. 

This process is lost during cancer progression, which leads to uncontrolled growth and spread of tumours.

The key benefit of using TRAIL (tumour-necrosis-factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) as a way to fight cancer is that it is already part of the immune system so it is not toxic to the body like chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Furthermore, the small size of TIC10 also makes it more effective than past discoveries because it can cross the blood-brain barrier, which separates the main circulatory system from the brain.

This barrier can prevent cancer treatments from entering the brain, thereby hindering the action of drugs for brain tumours. 

'We didn’t actually anticipate that this molecule would be able to treat brain tumours - that was a pleasant surprise,' said lead researcher Wafik El-Deiry, an oncologist at Pennsylvania State University. 

Another positive is that TIC10 does not just activate the TRAIL gene in cancerous cells, but also in healthy ones. This is known as the ‘bystander effect’ - i.e. where cells near cancerous cells are also killed.

Nearby healthy cells are also given a boost to increase the number of cancer-killing TRAIL receptors on their cell surface. 

Although the study was limited to mice, Dr El-Deiry is confident that a similar approach would work in humans.

He added: ‘I was surprised and impressed that we were able to do this.

'Using a small molecule to significantly boost and overcome limitations of the TRAIL pathway appears to be a promising way to address difficult to treat cancers using a safe mechanism already used in those with a normal effective immune system.

'The TRAIL pathway is a powerful way to suppress tumors but current approaches have limitations that we have been trying to overcome to unleash an effective and selective cancer therapy,' he added.

The success of TRAIL to trigger cancer cell death has led to ongoing clinical trials with artificially created versions, and early trials have shown that giving the protein in drug form is safe.

The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

A health worker tests a child’s blood for malaria at a free clinic in Mali. A new study has raised cautious optimism that an effective vaccine might finally become available. [Getty Images]

Maverick malaria vaccine achieves 100% protection using parasites from irradiated mosquitoes

A malaria vaccine has become the first to provide 100% protection against the disease, confounding critics and far surpassing any other experimental malaria vaccine tested. It will now be tested further in clinical trials in Africa.

The results are important because they demonstrate for the first time the concept that a malaria vaccine can provide a high level of protection, says Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, adding that the findings are cause for “cautious optimism”.

No effective malaria vaccine is available at present. The World Health Organization has set a target to develop a malaria vaccine with 80% efficacy by 2025, but until now, says Fauci, “we have not even gotten anywhere near that level of efficacy.”

Scientists had previously been sceptical of the vaccine because producing it required overcoming massive logistical hurdles. The vaccine — called PfSPZ because it is made from sporozoites (SPZ), a stage in the life cycle of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) — uses a weakened form of the whole parasite to invoke an immune response.

Read more.

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The First Ever Animated Cranquis Mail Reply!

Dr. Cranquis-
I’ve browsed your enormous blog, which has provided much insight and humor, yet have a couple questions I don’t believe you’ve previously covered. I hope you don’t mind my combining both questions into one message… =)
1) What are your thoughts/critiques on being a registered organ donor? I have yet to hear the opinion from a physician on this topic…
2) On a similar note, what’s your opinion regarding post-mortem body donation?
Thank you for your time! 

— determined4medschool 

Excellent questions, Mr (or Ms) Determined. Um, perhaps I will just call you Hun Determined? [HEY! A Cranquis-Nym! When’s the last time I handed out one of those?!]

Anyways, first of all, I think I speak for 99 percent of all physicians and patients when I say, please please register yourself as an organ donor. People die every day for lack of an organ, while other people die with perfectly good organs which are then buried, cremated, or eaten by sharks. (Well, I suppose that being eaten by a shark is a good excuse not to donate your organs… and there are other legitimate medical and religious reasons to not donate organs, too). But overall, it’s one of the best things you can do with your (hopefully none-too-soon) death.

(And yes, I am a registered organ donor myself. Mrs. Cranquis is also an organ donor. Actually, we are both registered as full body donors. Once we die, we want our bodies to be used in whatever way could best bring healing or life to someone else. And we are certain that our families would be glad to know that some portions of our physical selves still live on and serve a purpose in another person.)

Now as to your question about post mortem body donation: I suppose you are asking about situations when a person dies without leaving any instructions about organ donation, and the family is asked to consider donating the body for organ harvesting or medical research? Obviously, that type of situation is very emotional and sensitive, and forces the family to make decisions at a time when they are still trying to grasp the enormity of their loved ones death. I think it’s an important option for the healthcare providers to present to the grieving family, but I also think it’s even more important to try to avoid putting your own family into that situation. So do the smart thing: Plan ahead! Make an advance directive, and also register with your state or country’s organ donation database. [OH! And discuss your end of life desires with your family! Here’s one reader’s story of how her mother’s death was made easier by her mother’s prior preparations.]

This will save your family a lot of stress at the time of your demise. (Unless you get eaten by sharks — because sharks are notoriously bad at following advance directives, or cooperating with organ donation organizations.)

(Cranquis Mail box is still closed. I have 4 more ancient CM’s to reply to, but I am freshly motivated to create replies using this new (free!) animation software from xtranormal.com — so hopefully I can get those other replies done within the next few weeks.)

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A team of researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago demonstrated a type of peripheral interface called targeted muscle re-innervation. By rewiring nerves from amputated limbs, new interfaces allow for prosthetic control with existing muscles. Former Army Staff Sgt. Glen Lehman, injured in Iraq, recently demonstrated improved TMR technology. In this video, Lehman demonstrates simultaneous joint control of a prosthetic arm made possible by support from the RE-NET program.