Researchers at the University of Vermont have discovered two new proteins on red blood cells that confirm the testable existence of two new blood types. It's an important discovery, one that'll greatly reduce the risk of incompatible blood transfusions among tens of thousands of people. But what we were more struck by in this press release was the fact that these two new blood types--named Junior and Langereis--bring the total number of recognized blood types up to 32. 32!
Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Oxford have pioneered a new technique to see exactly how our body's "natural killer" white blood cells actually do their dirty work. It's the first time we've ever been able to see how this element of the body's natural defenses actually works.
A new DNA-based cell-transformation method could be a simpler, safer way to convert cells into beating heart cells, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. It involves no viruses and is a foolproof method to create cardiac cells that beat, they say.
Blood cells are great for transporting materials through the body as the entire circulatory system evolved to facilitate their movement. For 50 years, scientists have tried to take advantage of that mobility by creating artificial red blood cells. And for 50 years, scientists had failed, until a team at UC Santa Barbara finally solved the problem.
It ain't just for fetus-watching anymore. Engineers from the University of Washington have devised a way to use ultrasound to seal lung punctures. Typically, wounded lungs can be healed when enough pressure is applied to staunch the bleeding. Occasionally doctors have to suction out blood and air from the surrounding area. But in about one-tenth of the cases, extremely invasive operations are needed: ribs have to be separated, long incisions are necessary, the damaged portion is either sewn up or removed. With ultrasound, however, doctors can direct a high-intensity beam at the wound to seal up the fissure [using the hand held device at left]. The heat bonds blood cells even while tissue separating the wound and device stay cool.
Thus far, the treatment has been tested only on pigs' lungs where no more than a couple of minutes were needed to stabilize the "patient." But previously, it's been successful in closing human blood vessels and stemming bleeding spleens. Doctors hope the treatment could have a range of applications in the future, possibly revolutionizing internal medicine altogether. Sounds promising. Till then, presumably, be prepared to don a curly tail if you want the treatment.—Abby Seiff