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Major drug company to market implantable microchips that deliver drugs inside the body

"Artificial gland" replaces injections and pills now needed to treat chronic diseases
July 6, 2015

Microchip-based drug delivery device (credit: Robert Farra et al./Science Translational Medicine)

MIT spinoff Microchips Biotech has partnered with Teva Pharmaceutical, the world’s largest producer of generic drugs, to commercialize its wirelessly controlled, implantable, microchip-based devices that store and release drugs inside the body over a period of years.

Invented by Microchips Biotech co-founders Michael Cima, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, the… read more

Pulsed electric field technology may rejuvenate skin function and appearance

June 30, 2015

electrodes used for PEF-ft

A team of Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School researchers has devised a novel non-invasive tissue-stimulation technique using pulsed electric fields (PEF) to generate new skin tissue growth.

The technique produces scarless skin rejuvenation and may revolutionize the treatment of degenerative skin diseases, according to research team leader Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical… read more

‘Microswimmer’ robots to drill through blocked arteries within four years

Controlled by an external magnetic field, nanoscale bacteria-like chains could replace stents and angioplasty balloons
June 30, 2015

spiral-shaped microswimmer-ft

Swarms of microscopic, magnetic, robotic beads could be used within five years by vascular surgeons to clear blocked arteries. These minimally invasive microrobots, which look and move like corkscrew-shaped bacteria, are being developed by an $18-million, 11-institution research initiative headed by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technologies (KEIT).

These “microswimmers” are driven and controlled by external magnetic fields, similar to how nanowires from … read more

Nanowire implants for remote-controlled drug delivery

June 25, 2015

polyprrole-nanowires-ft

Purdue researchers have created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled. The nanowires respond to an electromagnetic field generated by a separate device, which can be used to control the release of a preloaded drug.

The system eliminates the tubes and wires required by other implantable devices that can lead to infection and other complications, said team leader Richard Borgens,… read more

Cocktail of chemicals may trigger cancer

Fifty chemicals the public is exposed to on a daily basis may trigger cancer when combined, according to new research by global task force of 174 scientists
June 23, 2015

acquired-hallmark phenotypes-ft

A global task force of 174 scientists from leading research centers in 28 countries has studied the link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. The open-access study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to humans and found 50 of them actually supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today.

According to co-author cancer Biologist Hemad Yasaei from… read more

Micro-tentacles for tiny robots can handle delicate objects like blood vessels

June 23, 2015

A micro-tentacle developed by Iowa State engineers spirals around an ant (credit: Jaeyoun (Jay) Kim/Iowa State University)

Iowa State University engineers have developed microrobotic tentacles that could allow small robots to safely handle delicate objects.

As described in an open-access research paper in the journal Scientific Reports, the tentacles are microtubes just a third of an inch long and less than a hundredth of an inch wide. They’re made from PDMS, a transparent elastomer that can be a liquid or a soft,… read more

How to make instant carbon nanoparticles at home for cool biomedical uses

Molasses: check. Honey: check. Pig: um, check.
June 19, 2015

controlled drug-delivery ft

How would you like to produce carbon nanoparticles small enough to evade the body’s immune system, that reflect light in the near-infrared range for easy detection in the body, and even carry payloads of pharmaceutical drugs to targeted tissues — all in the privacy of your own home?

If so, well, University of Illinois bioengineering professors Dipanjan Pan and Rohit Bhargava have a DIY recipe for you.… read more

Magnetically controlled ‘nanoswimmer’ could deliver drugs via bloodstream

June 17, 2015

Schematic of 3-link nanoswimmer with undulation motion driven by oscillating magnetic field  (credit: Bumjin Jang et al./Nano Letters)

ETH Zurich and Technion researchers have developed an elastic “nanoswimmer” polypyrrole (Ppy) nanowire about 15 micrometers (millionths of a meter) long and 200 nanometers thick that can move through biological fluid environments at almost 15 micrometers per second. To propel the nanowire “tail,” two hinged ferromagnetic nickel sections of the wire undulate, controlled by an oscillating magnetic field, causing the tail to allow also undulate and move forward.

The nanoswimmers… read more

3-D printing tough biogel structures for tissue engineering or soft robots

New stretchable, biocompatible materials with complex patterning could be used for creating a human nose or ear
June 5, 2015

3-D printing tough, biocompatible PEG–alginate–nanoclay hydrogels into ear and nose shapes (credit: Sungmin Hong et al./ Advanced Materials)

Researchers at three universities have developed a new way of making tough — but soft and wet — biocompatible hydrogel materials into complex and intricately patterned shapes. The process might lead to scaffolds for repair or replacement of load-bearing tissues, such as cartilage. It could also allow for tough but flexible actuators for future robots, the researchers say.

The new process is described in a paper in the… read more

Building and transplanting a bioengineered forelimb

Experimental technique used to create whole organs appears feasible for creation of complex tissues
June 5, 2015

A suspension of muscle progenitor cells is injected into the cell-free matrix of a decellularized rat limb, which provides shape and structure onto which regenerated tissue can grow. (credit: Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine)

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has made the first steps towards developing bioartificial replacement limbs suitable for transplantation.

In a Biomaterials journal report, the researchers describe using an experimental approach previously used to build bioartificial organs to engineer rat forelimbs with functioning vascular and muscle tissue. They also provided evidence that the same approach could be applied to the limbs of primates.

“The… read more

First multi-organ transplant that includes skull and scalp

June 5, 2015

James Boyson (credit: KPRC TV)

James Boysen, a 55-year-old software developer from Austin, Texas has become the first patient to receive a scalp and skull transplant while receiving kidney and pancreas transplants.

More than 50 health care professionals from Houston Methodist Hospital and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center assisted with or supported the double surgery over a period of more than 24 hours.

“This was a… read more

Medical ‘millirobots’ could replace invasive surgery

Using a “Gauss gun” principle, an MRI machine drives a “millirobot” through a hypodermic needle into your spinal cord and guides it into your brain to release life-threatening fluid buildup ...
May 28, 2015

Millirobot components (credit: Aaron T. Becker et al./Proceedings of the IEEE)

University of Houston researchers have developed a concept for MRI-powered millimeter-size “millirobots” that could one day perform unprecedented minimally invasive medical treatments.

This technology could be used to treat hydrocephalus, for example. Current treatments require drilling through the skull to implant pressure-relieving shunts, said Aaron T. Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston.

But MRI scanners alone don’t produce enough force to… read more

A chip implanted under the skin allows for precise, real-time medical monitoring

May 27, 2015

Under-the-skin chip (credit: EPFL)

A tiny (one-centimeter-square) biosensor chip developed at EPFL is designed to be implanted under your skin to continuously monitor concentrations of pH, temperature, and metabolism-related molecules like glucose, lactate and cholesterol, as well as some drugs.

The chip would replace blood work, which may take  hours — or even days — for analysis and is a limited snapshot of conditions at the moment the blood is drawn.

Developer… read more

Fly-catching robot speeds biomedical research

Good news for overworked graduate students and for researchers of human aging, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases
May 25, 2015

A fruit fly hangs unharmed at the end of the robot's suction tube. The robot uses machine vision to inspect and analyze the captured fly. (credit: Stanforf Bio-X)

Stanford Bio-X scientists have created a robot that speeds and extends biomedical research with a common laboratory organism — fruit flies (Drosophila).

The robot can visually inspect awake flies and carry out behavioral experiments that were impossible with anesthetized flies. The work is described today (May 25) in the journal Nature Methods.

“Robotic technology offers a new prospect for automated experiments and enables fly researchers to do… read more

Converting blood stem cells to sensory neural cells to predict and treat pain

Allows for discovering new pain drugs and predicting effects for individual patients
May 25, 2015

stem cell to neuron

Stem-cell scientists at McMaster University have developed a way to directly convert adult human blood cells to sensory neurons, providing the first objective measure of how patients may feel things like pain, temperature, and pressure, the researchers reveal in an open-access paper in the journal Cell Reports.

Currently, scientists and physicians have a limited understanding of the complex issue of pain and how to treat it. “The problem is that… read more

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