Friday, June 04, 2010
Miracles and wonders
In the near future, wounds may be treated with a flash of light. A process called photochemical tissue bonding can replace conventional stitches, staples and glues in repairing skin wounds and even reconnecting nerves and blood vessels.
Setpoint Medical, a startup based in Boston, is developing a nerve stimulator designed to dampen the out-of-control immune system that triggers autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment has not yet been tested in patients, but based on animal research, scientists hope it will provide an alternative treatment that is more effective and have fewer side effects than existing drugs.
An immunologist at Cleveland Clinic says he believes he has discovered a vaccine that could prevent breast cancer. Dr. Vincent Tuohy, who led the research, says 10 months of tests on genetically engineered mice predisposed to breast cancer found that 100% of those not immunized had breast tumors and none of the mice immunized had any. If tests on humans go well, Tuohy says, he hopes a vaccine for women over 40 could be available in 10 years.
UC Irvine scientists have created an eight-layer, early stage retina from human embryonic stem cells, the first three-dimensional tissue structure to be made from stem cells. It also marks the first step toward the development of transplant-ready retinas to treat eye disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration that affect millions.
A technique pioneered at Columbia University Medical Center can orchestrate stem cells to migrate to a three-dimensional scaffold infused with growth factor, holding the potential to yield an anatomically correct tooth in as soon as nine weeks once implanted.
Heart failure is the fastest-growing cause of hospitalization in the United States, but a tiny, high-tech implant may change the way doctors treat the problem and offer huge potential to save lives and money. The device is no bigger than a paper clip, but it could have an enormous impact for the 1.1 million Americans hospitalized each year with heart failure.