A Breakthrough Method For Creating 3D Printed Organs

Harvard researchers have created a new method of 3D printing human tissue. This new method called SWIFT (sacrificial writing into functional tissue), may one day be the key to 3D printed artificial human organs.

SWIFT overcomes one major hurdle of 3D printing organs by printing vascular channels into living matrices composed of stem cell-derived organ building blocks (OBBs).  Read the full article to learn more.


First Long-Distance Heart Surgery

The first long-distance heart surgery has been successfully performed in India on a patient that was 20 miles away. Dr. Tejas Patel of the Apex Heart Institute in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, operated using the CorPath GRX robot — developed by Corindus to insert a stent to open blood vessels in the heart. In an interview with ZDNet Patel said, “I am honored to have been a part of this medical milestone.”

This shows the potential of telemedicine, it can bring specialized care that may not otherwise be possible.

A Wearable Sensor That Can Analyze Your Sweat

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley are currently developing wearable skin sensors that can detect what’s in your sweat. The sensors are designed to monitor sweat rate, electrolytes, and metabolites in the sweat. These sensors contain a spiraling microscopic tube that wicks sweat from the skin and can measure the sweat rate based on how fast it moves through this microscopic tube. Inside the microscopic tube, there are chemical sensors that can detect concentrations of potassium, lactate, sodium, and glucose.

These sensors are manufactured using roll-to-roll processing technique similar to screen printing. This process allows high volume production at a low cost.

For now, athletes will have the greatest benefits from these new sensors since they can indicate overall liquid loss during there workout. This will help the athletes know if they are pushing themselves too hard. There had been high hopes that the sensors could replace blood-based measurements for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes. Unfortunately, the scientists found that there isn’t a simple, universal correlation between sweat and blood glucose levels.

A Contact Lens That Gives A Person The Ability To Zoom In

Researchers from the University of California San Diego have designed contact lenses that use naturally produced electrooculographic signals from our eyes to perform tasks like zooming in and out. The contacts use electrodes spread across the lens to act as muscles and are designed to expand when they receive an electrical signal from the eye.

When expanded the result is zoomed vision. This zoomed vision gives a person approximately 32 percent increased focal length. To de-activate the zoom all the person has to do is double blink.

The researchers are hopeful they can further expand this technology to one day create a fully functioning prosthetic eye.

A New Material Uses Sunlight to Purify Water

A new photocatalyst material, a ultra thin sheet of graphitic carbon nitride is able to purify enough drinking water for a family of four in one hour. Materials scientist Guoxiu Wang of the University of Technology Sydney and colleagues created this new photocatalyst material by taking sheets of graphitic carbon nitride and adding acids and ketones which help to attract electrons to the sheets. The electrons then jump onto oxygen atoms in water to form microbe-dissolving chemicals. In testing, this material was able to kill 99.9999 percent of bacteria and was able to do it faster than conventional photocatalyst materials.

When compared to today’s most effective photocatalyst, this new material has a couple of advantages. One is that it doesn’t leech metals that can become toxic pollutants into the water. The other is that this new material is far more efficient, reducing the time it takes to purify the water by over 50%. According to Wang, the motive was to create an efficient and inexpensive way to purify water for undeveloped or remote regions. The next step for the researchers is to work with engineers to make it available for commercial use.

A Tattoo That Can Save Your Life

Engineers from the University of Texas at Austin have designed a wearable electronic tattoo also known as an “e-tattoo”. This e-tattoo is able to monitor a persons cardiac health. And because you wear it for most of the day it gives you a very accurate picture of your heart’s health.

The device is made from thermoplastic polyvinylidene fluoride and graphene, which makes it ultra thin, flexible, and impermeable to liquids. Other benefits to device are that it is wirelessly monitored via your smartphone and compared to traditional ECG systems, e-tattoos are much cheaper to produce.

The Future of Colon Cancer Detection

London scientists have created a robotic capsule that can take images inside the colon. This device known as Sonopill could eventually replace the invasive procedure of endoscopy to detect cancer.

The Sonopill is the culmination of a decade of research by an international consortium of engineers and scientist. Based on the principle that magnets can attract and repel one another, a robotic arm passes over the patient and interacts with a magnet inside the capsule, guiding it through the colon. An AI system makes sure the capsule is positioned correctly against the gut wall to get the best quality images. The advantage to this system is, it’s harmless to the patient and doesn’t require a physical connection between the robotic arm and the capsule.  Read the full article to learn more.

Micro-Submarines Could Bring Medicine to the Body Without Surgery

Engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia have developed micro-submarines powered by nano-motors that can navigate through the human body to deliver medicine to diseased organs without surgery.

These micro-submarines navigate in a unique way according to Dr. Kang Liang, of both the School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW, “we designed nano-motors that no longer rely on external manipulation to navigate to a specific location. Instead, they take advantage of variations in biological environments to automatically navigate themselves.”

Once the micro-submarines reach the specific site in the body, it then enters the cells releasing drug-loaded particles in a very targeted and efficient way.  Read the full article to learn more.

New Laser Microscope Can Diagnose and Treat Disease

An interesting type of microscope has been developed at the University of British Columbia. The device is a specialized type of multiphoton excitation microscope that can diagnose diseases such as skin cancer, with the added benefit of treating the disease without cutting the skin.

Since the microscope is so accurate and allows medical professionals to target the exact location of a malformation. It could be used to treat any structure of the body that is reached by light and that requires extremely precise treatment, including nerves or blood vessels in the skin, eye, brain or other vital structures.  Read the full article.

Gene-editing tool used to create an antidote for the world’s most venomous animal

A team of researchers has created a new way to block the venom of the most deadly jellyfish using a powerful gene-editing tool, known as CRISPR. The team tested box jellyfish venom in human cells grown in the lab. Using CRISPR, which can make precise DNA edits, the team were able to create human cells with specific genes turned off. If they then applied the jellyfish venom to the cells, they could see which cells lived or died and determine which genes were important for keeping the cell alive.

In the end, the researchers were able to determine which human genes caused the jellyfish venom to be so deadly and which pathway the venom used to destroy cells. Using this information along with currently available drugs that block these pathways the team decided to see how those drugs work in preventing the venom from acting on human cells. According to the team leader Greg Neely, the drugs worked and amazingly blocked the venom even 15 minutes after toxins were delivered.  Read the full article.