Lab-on-a-Chip to Improve Clinical Diagnostics

The new method, which uses beads and microfluidics can change the way we study mixed populations of cells, such as those of tumors. Image: EPFL

The new method, which uses beads and microfluidics can change the way we study mixed populations of cells, such as those of tumors.
Image: EPFL

Scientist have developed a process that has the potential to make the study of tumor cells significantly more efficient.

They call it a “lab-on-a-chip,” and it’s allowing scientist to isolate single cells for study. The key here is in the difficulty that scientists typically face when attempting to study a single cell in a population. Due to factors such as variation of the isolated cell’s biochemistry and function, and technological and physical limitation dealing with size and fragility of the cells, studying at the single-cell level has always proven to be difficult.

In order to combat this issue, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) scientists have combined affinity beads with microfluidics to produce an integrated, highly sensitive method for studying single cells – which has the potential to be adopted into clinical diagnostics.

(more…)

3D Printing Organs for Transplant

A two-part water-based gel made of synthetic DNA and peptide could bring the inventors of a 3D bioprinter closer to being able to print organs for transplant, or to replace animal testing.Image:Angewandte Chemie

A two-part water-based gel made of synthetic DNA and peptide could bring the inventors of a 3D bioprinter closer to being able to print organs for transplant, or to replace animal testing.
Image: Angewandte Chemie

Need a new pancreas? These scientists will print one right up for you.

Thanks to the development of a two-part water-based gel made out of synthetic DNA from Heriot Watt University, the 3D bio-printer is one step closer to reality.

The team from Heriot-Watt that engineered this developed is led by Prof. Rory Duncan and Dr.Will Shu of the University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics, and Bioengineering.

“The first challenge was that if we used a normal gel it was not possible to mix live cells with it for 3D printing. Colleagues at Tsinghua University in Beijing have developed a gel which, like some proprietary glues, comes as two separate liquids into which cells can be added. These do not turn into a gel until the two liquids are actually mixed together during the printing process,” said Prof. Duncan in a release.

(more…)

Recognizing Advances in the Biomedical Sciences

A mouse brain before and after it's been made transparent using CLARITY.Image: Kwanghun Chung and Karl Deisseroth, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Stanford University

A mouse brain before and after it’s been made transparent using CLARITY.
Image: Kwanghun Chung and Karl Deisseroth, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Stanford University

Researchers in the biomedical sciences, such as bioelectrochemistry and biomedical engineering, work every day to create new processes and technology that will better the lives of all. The scientific community is recognizing one expert – Karl Diesseroth – for his two innovative techniques that are now widely used to study Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and other brain disorders.

Disseroth has just been awarded the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences for his achievements in the advancement of brain research technology. Disseroth is the pioneer behind a process called CLARITY and the technique called optogenics. In case you missed them, here’s a brief recap:

(more…)

Cochlear implants have been the go-to tool for those with significant hearing loss. However, in order to implant a cochlear device, one must be willing to go under the knife and dish out a substantial amount of money.

That’s why researchers from Colorado State University started looking for a more practical solution, which caused them to turn to an unlikely organ: the tongue.

Colorado State University researchers John William, Leslie Stone-Roy, and JJ Moritz have developed a Bluetooth-enabled microphone earpiece in conjunction with a smart retainer that fits on a person’s tongue to strengthen the hearing of partially deaf people.

Of course, you can’t organically hear though your tongue. Instead, the device works to reprogram areas of the brain in order to help partially deaf people interpret various sensations on the tongue as certain words. The tongue is the perfect organ for this application due to its hypersensitive ability to discern between tactile sensations.

(more…)

Sticky Sensors for Internal Organs

sensor_adhesive

This gel-based adhesive for sticking sensors on the body can measure strain and electrical activity.
Image: Nature Communications

Sensors can go almost anywhere and do almost anything – and soon, sensors may be making their way to your internal organs.

Researchers have developed an electronic sensor, of which they will attach to a newly designed sticky sheet in order to attach to the body’s organs.

This from Popular Science:

A team of researchers based at several Japanese universities made prototype sticky sensors that they’ve now tested on the still-beating hearts of living rats. The sensors measured strain and electrical activity, both of which are created when a heart beats. In a test, the sensors maintained good contact with the rats’ heart for three hours.

(more…)

Man Controls Prosthetic Arms with His Mind

While others have been able to control robotic limbs with their mind, the technique is new enough that dual-control has never been tried before.Credit: Johns Hopkins

While others have been able to control robotic limbs with their minds, the technique is new enough that dual-control has never been tried before.
Credit: Johns Hopkins

History was made when the first bilateral shoulder-level amputee was able to wear and simultaneously control two prosthetic limbs. The amazing part? He was able to operate the system by simply thinking about moving his limbs.

The groundbreaking event took place at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where they’ve been working to develop Modular Prosthetic Limbs as part of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program over the past decade.

Les Baugh was the man who made the limbs come to life. Baugh lost both arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago and until now, did not think having two functional, mind-controlled prosthetic limbs was in the realm of possibility.

(more…)

Adequate Sanitation Is a Basic Human Right

The lack of adequate sanitation facilities accounts for 4,100 preventable deaths every day.Credit: Kofi Opoku, West Virginia University

The lack of adequate sanitation facilities accounts for 4,100 preventable deaths every day.
Credit: Kofi Opoku, West Virginia University

With our Energy and Water Summit right around the corner, we’ve only got one thing on our mind: poop.

Forty percent of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people – practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities, and the consequences can be devastating for human health as well as the environment.

The Electrochemical Society and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation know there is no easy solution to this problem, but we are dedicated to finding and funding innovative research to reinvent the sanitation infrastructure.

In Francis de los Reyes’ TEDTalk entitled, “Sanitation is a basic human right,” the environmental engineer and sanitation activist makes his case for the total reinvention of the sanitation landscape as we know it.

“For the past 14-years, I’ve been teaching crap,” Reyes says.

And that he has. Reyes has dedicated his time to studying and researching human waste. The problem is especially relevant in India, where open deification is putting citizens at major health risks.


This from Reuters:

Less than a third of India’s 1.2 billion people have access to sanitation and more than 186,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, according to the charity WaterAid.

The United Nations said in May half of India’s people defecate outside – putting people at risk of cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid.

Read the full article here.

With India accounting for 818 million of the 2.5 billion people who lack adequate sanitation, most of the country’s rivers and lakes are polluted with sewage and industrial effluents.

So why can’t we just build western style flush-toilets in countries such as India?

“It’s just not possible,” Reyes says.

In these developing worlds, there is often time not enough water or energy to take on such a feat. Also, laying out sewer lines would cost governments tens of trillions of dollars.

Through our partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we hope to help solve these issues.

  • Page 2 of 2
    • 1
    • 2