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Navi Mumbai, India

News Article
Site: http://phys.org/chemistry-news/

This inexpensive technology could save time and money while effectively sterilising medical implants, does not require extensive training and produces no waste products Scientists from the University of Bath's Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology and Centre for Regenerative Medicine and from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of São Paulo, Brazil, showed that ozone gas, obtained by passing electricity through oxygen, effectively sterilises one of the most common types of polymer used in medical implants. Polymer implants, such as screws, pins and stents, are commonly used in surgical treatments, and there is an increasing use of implantable polymers in fields such as drug delivery, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. These materials must be sterile before use, but some methods of sterilisation alter their physical or chemical properties, potentially reducing performance. The researchers showed that exposing the implants to as few as two controlled 'pulses' of ozone gas could sterilise the polymer, called poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), killing spores of the Geobacillus stearothermophilus bacteria, the most common biological indicator used for validation of sterilisation processes. Ozone treatment caused no changes in the PLGA and no loss of function, with cells still able to grow on the polymer scaffold, as they would in treatments. This contrasts to methods such as gamma or electron beam radiation which are expensive and can damage the polymer. Other techniques also include risks to the polymer due to the heat, pressure and toxicity involved. Ozone is cheap, safe and environmentally friendly because its only by-product is atmospheric oxygen, and is able to kill viruses, bacteria and fungi. Dr Paul De Bank, Lecturer in Pharmaceutics at the University of Bath, said: "A significant worldwide effort is being made to create implantable polymeric matrices for a number of medical and surgical applications. "Maintaining sterile manufacturing facilities is extremely costly, so the ideal scenario is to sterilise the matrix post-manufacture. Unfortunately, many sterilisation techniques adversely affect the physical or chemical properties of the materials used in the scaffolds, and this can alter their overall performance. "We decided to investigate pulsed ozone gas as an alternative sterilisation method and chose PLGA as it's perhaps the most widely used implantable polymer. "We decided to look at nanofibers specifically as they are extremely fine and allowed us to easily determine if the sterilisation treatment affected the scaffold's structure. The fact that ozone performed so well suggests it could be routinely used to sterilise not only PLGA, but a wide range of materials used in clinical implants." Carolina Rediguieri, a PhD student from São Paulo who carried out the work during a six month visit to Dr De Bank's laboratory in Bath, said: "Sterility is a critical attribute of implantable materials that needs to be met in order to be applied in vivo. Our findings suggest that sterilisation by ozone gas is very likely to work for other implantable polymers as well, especially other polyesters." The study Ozone Gas as a Benign Sterilization Treatment for PLGA Nanofiber Scaffolds is published in the journal Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods. The research was funded by University of Bath Global Partner Research Scholarship Scheme, National Council of Technological and Scientific Development of Brazil and the University of São Paulo. Explore further: Coatings to help medical implants connect with neurons


News Article
Site: http://www.rdmag.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

More than 25 percent of the people on the national US waiting list for a heart will die before receiving one. Despite this discouraging figure, heart transplants are still on the rise. There just hasn't been an alternative. Until now. The "cyborg heart patch," a new engineering innovation from Tel Aviv University, may single-handedly change the field of cardiac research. The bionic heart patch combines organic and engineered parts. In fact, its capabilities surpass those of human tissue alone. The patch contracts and expands like human heart tissue but regulates itself like a machine. The invention is the brainchild of Prof. Tal Dvir and PhD student Ron Feiner of TAU's Department of Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Their study was published today in the journal Nature Materials. "With this heart patch, we have integrated electronics and living tissue," Dr. Dvir said. "It's very science fiction, but it's already here, and we expect it to move cardiac research forward in a big way. "Until now, we could only engineer organic cardiac tissue, with mixed results. Now we have produced viable bionic tissue, which ensures that the heart tissue will function properly." Prof. Dvir's Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Lab at TAU has been at the forefront of cardiac research for the last five years, harnessing sophisticated nanotechnological tools to develop functional substitutes for tissue permanently damaged by heart attacks and cardiac disease. The new cyborg cardiac patch not only replaces organic tissue but also ensures its sound functioning through remote monitoring. "We first ensured that the cells would contract in the patch, which explains the need for organic material," said Dr. Dvir. "But, just as importantly, we needed to verify what was happening in the patch and regulate its function. We also wanted to be able to release drugs from the patch directly onto the heart to improve its integration with the host body." For the new bionic patch, Dr. Dvir and his team engineered thick bionic tissue suitable for transplantation. The engineered tissue features electronics that sense tissue function and accordingly provide electrical stimulation. In addition, electroactive polymers are integrated with the electronics. Upon activation, these polymers are able to release medication, such as growth factors or small molecules on demand. "Imagine that a patient is just sitting at home, not feeling well," Dr. Dvir said. "His physician will be able to log onto his computer and this patient's file -- in real time. He can view data sent remotely from sensors embedded in the engineered tissue and assess exactly how his patient is doing. He can intervene to properly pace the heart and activate drugs to regenerate tissue from afar. "The longer-term goal is for the cardiac patch to be able to regulate its own welfare. In other words, if it senses inflammation, it will release an anti-inflammatory drug. If it senses a lack of oxygen, it will release molecules that recruit blood-vessel-forming cells to the heart." Dr. Dvir is currently examining how his proof of concept could apply to the brain and spinal cord to treat neurological conditions. "This is a breakthrough, to be sure," Dr. Dvir said. "But I would not suggest binging on cheeseburgers or quitting sports just yet. The practical realization of the technology may take some time. Meanwhile, a healthy lifestyle is still the best way to keep your heart healthy."


News Article | January 18, 2012
Site: gigaom.com

The potential of open access to energy data has drawn U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra to the West Coast. On Wednesday morning Chopra and half a dozen utilities plan to announce the official launch of the Green Button initiative at an event in Santa Clara, Calif., which will enable utility customers to easily download their energy consumption data with one click in an easy-to-read format on utilities’ and third parties’ websites. California utilities PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric will announce on Wednesday that the feature is available now, presumably via a green button on the utilities’ websites. Other utilities including Southern California Edison, Glendale Power & Light, Oncor and Pepco Holdings will announce that they will offer the feature later this year. The project is important because it is a broad-based plan to take energy data and standardize the format of it, open it up (while also providing security) and make it readily available to consumers. Data is commonly treated this way on the Internet, but for other sectors, open access to data isn’t as prevalent. Standardizing and freeing the data can create an ecosystem for developers to use that data to create apps that can deliver new services and products. The Internet has thrived because of open data and standardized information systems. Delivering that energy data directly back to consumers is also important because it can lead to energy-efficiency measures and can help change a consumers’ energy-consumption behavior. Chopra first introduced the idea of the Green Button initiative back in Sept. 2011 and challenged the utility sector to quickly work at offering customers standardized and easy access to their own energy information. California utilities are moving first on this partly because last year the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered the state’s big three utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — to follow its proposed ruling on privacy, security and access to energy data. That meant offering up consumers easy and secure access to their data. A score of startups, utilities and government officials will be at the event on Wednesday looking to discuss the implications of energy data.


News Article
Site: http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

Australian scientists have developed a new method for harvesting stem cells, which is less invasive and reduces side effects for donors. For bone marrow transplantation, stem cells are routinely harvested from healthy donors and used to treat patients with cancers including leukemia. Current harvesting methods take a long time and require injections of a growth factor to boost stem cell numbers. This often leads to side effects. The discovery, published today in Nature Communications, reduces the time required to obtain adequate numbers of stem cells, without the need for a growth factor. The method, developed by a team of CSIRO researchers working within the manufacturing arm of CSIRO with the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash, combines a newly discovered molecule (known as BOP), with an existing type of molecule (AMD3100) to mobilise the stem cells found in bone marrow out into the blood stream. CSIRO researcher Dr. Susie Nilsson said her team was able to demonstrate that combining the two molecules directly impacts stem cells so they can be seen in the blood stream within an hour of a single dosage. "Current treatment requires the patient to have growth factor injections for several days leading up to the procedure," Dr Nilsson said. "Using the new method eliminates the need for this, meaning a procedure that once took days can be reduced to around an hour." Until now AMD3100 has only been effective in increasing stem cell numbers when combined with the growth factor. "But the growth factor can cause unpleasant side effects like bone pain and spleen enlargement for some patients," Dr Nilsson said. "Other patients simply don't respond well, and their stem cell count never gets high enough for a successful transplant." The scientists found that combining the two small molecules not only eliminates the need for the growth factor, but when the harvested cells are transplanted they can replenish the entire bone marrow system, and there are no known side effects. Professor Peter Currie, ARMI Director, said a major benefit of the discovery is that harvesting stem cells will become more efficient and effective, considerably reducing the stress for donors. "We're looking forward to seeing patients benefit from this discovery," Professor Currie said. So far successful pre-clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the treatment. The next step is a phase 1 clinical trial assessing the combination of BOP molecule with the growth factor, prior to the eventual successful combination of the two small molecules BOP and AMD3100.


News Article
Site: http://www.cemag.us/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

More than 25 percent of the people on the national U.S. waiting list for a heart will die before receiving one. Despite this discouraging figure, heart transplants are still on the rise. There just hasn't been an alternative. Until now. The "cyborg heart patch," a new engineering innovation from Tel Aviv University, may single-handedly change the field of cardiac research. The bionic heart patch combines organic and engineered parts. In fact, its capabilities surpass those of human tissue alone. The patch contracts and expands like human heart tissue but regulates itself like a machine. The invention is the brainchild of Professor Tal Dvir and PhD student Ron Feiner of TAU's Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Their study was published this week in the journal Nature Materials. "With this heart patch, we have integrated electronics and living tissue," Dvir says. "It's very science fiction, but it's already here, and we expect it to move cardiac research forward in a big way. "Until now, we could only engineer organic cardiac tissue, with mixed results. Now we have produced viable bionic tissue, which ensures that the heart tissue will function properly." Dvir's Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Lab at TAU has been at the forefront of cardiac research for the last five years, harnessing sophisticated nanotechnological tools to develop functional substitutes for tissue permanently damaged by heart attacks and cardiac disease. The new cyborg cardiac patch not only replaces organic tissue but also ensures its sound functioning through remote monitoring. "We first ensured that the cells would contract in the patch, which explains the need for organic material," says Dvir. "But, just as importantly, we needed to verify what was happening in the patch and regulate its function. We also wanted to be able to release drugs from the patch directly onto the heart to improve its integration with the host body." For the new bionic patch, Dvir and his team engineered thick bionic tissue suitable for transplantation. The engineered tissue features electronics that sense tissue function and accordingly provide electrical stimulation. In addition, electroactive polymers are integrated with the electronics. Upon activation, these polymers are able to release medication, such as growth factors or small molecules on demand. "Imagine that a patient is just sitting at home, not feeling well," Dvir says. "His physician will be able to log onto his computer and this patient's file — in real time. He can view data sent remotely from sensors embedded in the engineered tissue and assess exactly how his patient is doing. He can intervene to properly pace the heart and activate drugs to regenerate tissue from afar. "The longer-term goal is for the cardiac patch to be able to regulate its own welfare. In other words, if it senses inflammation, it will release an anti-inflammatory drug. If it senses a lack of oxygen, it will release molecules that recruit blood-vessel-forming cells to the heart." Dvir is currently examining how his proof of concept could apply to the brain and spinal cord to treat neurological conditions. "This is a breakthrough, to be sure," Dvir says. "But I would not suggest binging on cheeseburgers or quitting sports just yet. The practical realization of the technology may take some time. Meanwhile, a healthy lifestyle is still the best way to keep your heart healthy."

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