Russian authorities have approved the first xenotransplantation treatment – the implanting of animal cells into the human body – for sale in that country, marking the first time such a treatment has been appoved anywhere. The type 1 diabetes treatment involves inserting insulin-producing pig cells coated in seaweed into the human pancreas to replace native cells that have been depleted there.
Earlier this month, scientists shared a tale of a desperate man whose daring effort to cure himself may have led to a new, albeit odd, medical treatment: swallowing worm eggs. But worm man is far from the first to take desperate measures in the name of progress. There's a long line of heroes who have knowingly and willingly exposed themselves to discomfort, danger or even death for science's sake.
A huge story with implications that aren’t all immediately clear is emerging in Berlin this week: doctors treating an HIV-infected with leukemia believe they have, in a roundabout way, cured his HIV infection via a stem cell transplant containing cells that happened to be impervious to HIV infection. And while the story by no means indicates that a cure for HIV has been discovered, the unexpected finding certainly opens the door to further review and great optimism in a frustrating battle that has now spanned several decades.
Roboticists have put a lot of time and effort into creating machines that function like living things, but what about living things that function like computers? Synthetic biologists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have taken a rather large step in that direction by creating genetically modified cells that communicate with each other as though they were electronic circuits.
If it wouldn’t be completely ironic to do so, we could write at length about the value of elegance in simplicity. Instead, we offer by way of example this tentacle-like prosthesis designed by recent U. of Washington industrial design grad Kaylene Kau. It’s simple, both aesthetically and mechanically, and it solves a problem smartly.
A new kind of biomedical imaging developed at Harvard is allowing researchers to capture video at scales never before seen, allowing for streaming footage at the subcellular level. The new technique, based on stimulated Raman scattering (SRS), can capture video of red blood cells squeezing through capillaries.
Autism disorders affect one in 110 children in the U.S.--or perhaps more--but the method of diagnosing the condition, which is characterized by difficulties socializing and communicating, among other behavioral and emotional problems, is largely subjective. Now, researchers may have finally found a way to objectively and scientifically diagnose the condition early, with 94 percent accuracy, using simple MRI brain scans.
And to think we once thought spray-on bandages were revolutionary. Doctors at the University of Utah’s Burn Care Center are reporting success in their pilot project testing stem cell solutions sprayed directly onto burns.
Harvard scientists may be a step closer to a medical fountain of youth after figuring out how to reverse the aging process in mice. The breakthrough could lead to a way to slow the aging process in humans which in turn could extend quality of life by reducing the impact of age-related ailments like heart disease or dementia. That is, if it doesn’t kill them first.