Archive for March, 2012


Tuesday, March 27th, 2012


Paw Paw fruit  has lots of beneficial natural ingredients useful for the body. Not only fruit that can be exploited, but most of all parts of the papaya tree can be put to use. Beginning from the root, stem, leaf, fruit, bark and  sap even has properties that are useful for the body. Papaya fruit is also rich in essential ingredients such as carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, iron, & fibre.

Benefits of papaya fruit:

  1. Gastrointestinal drugs, protein degrading enzymes of papaya, can assist digestion in the body. In addition to helping expenditure in the intestinal tract & pancreas, papaya sap also heps the stomach to break down protein & starch. So after eating this fruit, the body’s digestive system has an easier time of it.
  2. Antibodies, papaya contains carotene & vitamin C.Papaya introduces antioxidants into the body. In addition, the papaya can improve the bodies natural functions & neutralize the toxins that enter. So it can prevent & treat definite viruses such as pneumonia or acute inflammation of the lungs.
  3. Burn treatment, the sap of the papaya fruit will kill bacteria in burns. Thus, the content of oxygen or nitrogen due to bacterial proliferation can be inhibited. So it can speed up the wound healing process
  4. Tightening breast tissue is another stated benefit. Papaya fruit since our early ancestors first believed to be the fruit that can firm up your breasts. Enzymes in papaya can help breast growth. Papaya is also enriched with vitamin A hormone fasteners,which secretes hormones & stimulate the ovaries of females. Of these hormones, the mammary gland will be smooth & asist in forming shapely breast.
  5. Slimming food. Papaya is also efficient in assisting weight loss programmes. Diligently taking papaya enzyme can generate some marked results in weight reduction. Tersebutlah enzymes from papaya act as fat decomposers  in our bodies. These enzymes break down proteins & are also better in helping to remove excess weight.
  6. Youthfullnes. levels of vitamin C in papaya is 48 times that of apples. Papaya is also active as a detoxing agent so it can refresh the skin from within. Papaya can also promote the skin metabolism processes. Papaya fruit also melt the layers of flaking and used skin as well as aging substances arising in the pores, making skin firmer & brighter.
  7. Therefore, from now on be diligent in applying often a facial mask of papaya fruit.
Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, March 26th, 2012
Medicinal Uses of the Mangrove tree
Cross-section of red mangrove branch

Cross-section of red mangrove branch

Numerous mangrove plants are used in folklore medicine. Extracts from mangroves and mangrove-dependent species have proven effective against human, animal and plant pathogens, but only limited investigations have been carried out to identify the metabolites responsible for their bioactivities.Skin disorders and sores – including leprosy – may be treated with ashes or bark infusions of certain species of mangrove. Reported to be an astringent, emmenagogue, expectorant, hemostat, styptic and tonic, red mangrove is a folk remedy for angina, asthma, backache, boils, constipation, convulsions, diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia, elephantiasis, eye ailments, fever, fungal infections, headaches, hemorrhage, inflammation, jaundice, kidney stones, lesions, malaria, malignancies, rheumatism, snakebites, sores, sore throat, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, ulcers and wounds.

A cure for throat cancer by gargling with extract of mangrove bark has been reported by a Cali, Colombia doctor.

More information on the chemical constituents of these plants is needed, not only for the discovery of new drugs, but because such information may be of use to those interested in “deciphering” the value of folklore remedies.

Souirced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Haemochromatosis. What are the symptoms? How do you know if you have it?

Sample chart only

The following are symptoms and serious consequences of iron accumulation in various parts of the body, sometimes these symptoms may take many years to present themselves, other times, they can surface at a very young age.  Remember, if anyone in the family has haemochromatosis or is a carrier, the whole family should be tested.  Not all symptoms may appear and sometimes symptoms and damage is mild, but if undetected, haemochromatosis can cause catastrophic damage to organs, heart, liver, pancreas, brain.  If you have liver disease or raised liver enzymes, always be careful in taking any medication eg: pain relief medication for symptoms such as arthritis.  It is our recommendation that you check with your doctor first.

Fatigue and lethargy.

Arthritis and joint pain particularly common in the knuckle and first joint of the first two fingers.

Diabetes (often called “bronze diabetes” when it is known that iron overload is the cause).

Liver abnormalities, cirrhosis, fibrosis, liver enlargement.

Heart disease such as cardiomyopathy.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are common misdiagnoses.

Loss of Body Hair /Partial loss of body hair eg. on lower legs.

Discoloration of skin, slate grey appearance or bronze discoloration often similar to a suntan.

Loss of sex drive, impotence, infertility, early menopause, scanty or absent menstruation.

Has been attributed to causing Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease in some people.

Abdominal pain

Liver Cancer and other cancers.

Sometimes setting off metal detectors!!

What Symptoms can be reversed by Phlebotomy?

will stop iron accumulating in the tissues and iron stores will be reduced to normal. Unfortunately, some serious clinical conditions such as liver cirrhosis or diabetes will not be cured if they are already present before hand. Early diagnosis is extremely important.

Fatigue, lethargy and abdominal pain should decrease.

Bronze discolouration of the skin should fade.

 Cardiomyopathy should improve unless cardiac damage is severe. In severe cases iron chelation treatment can reverse congestive heart failure.

Liver Cirrhosis will stay the same.

Sexual dysfunction and arthritis do not usually improve.

Most people can expect a normal life expectancy provided their iron overload has not been extremely high for a long period of time when the treatment is started.

Remember, everyone is an individual, just because one person did not have a particular symptom reversed does not necessary mean that it cannot happen! Try to keep a positive attitude and focus on YOU and work with your doctor to get the best results you can, whether by decreasing your symptoms or preventing symptoms and the very destructive effects of haemochromatosis, take control and reduce your iron to safe levels through regular phlebotomies



Saturday, March 10th, 2012


Acai is a berry that has gained immense popularity as a so-called “superfood.”

Proponents of acai berry claim that the fruit provides health benefits for various conditions, including weight loss, prevention against the signs of aging and as a cancer-inhibiting food. Although acai may have some properties that can help lower your risk of cancer, more work needs to be done to determine the effects of acai on your body.


Acai is a purple berry that comes from the acai palm tree, which is native to tropical areas of Central and South America, including the Amazon rainforest. The acai berry is related to blueberries and cranberries. Acai berries can be eaten raw and are often juiced and sold commercially as beverages. Some of the compounds in acai berries, including chemicals known as anthocyanins may be extracted and added to acai supplements.


Acai and Antioxidants

The acai berry is rich in special molecules known as antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the body from molecules known as reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species, sometimes called free radicals, are substances that can damage DNA and other structures in your body. DNA damage may cause genetic mutations to occur that change normal cells into cancerous ones. In theory, acai berry may help protect against cancer by virtue of its antioxidant content.

Other Anti-Cancer Effects

Acai extract has also been tested for specific anti-cancer features, aside from its antioxidant content. A 2006 article in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that administering an extract from acai berries to human leukemia cell cultures caused the cancerous cells to stop growing and die via a process known as apoptosis, or “cell death.” It is thought that this activity may be due to acai’s ability to send chemical signals to cancer cells that cause them to die. It is not known if these effects also occur in humans, however.


Although acai may reduce your risk of some forms of cancer, its effects in humans still needs study before definitive conclusions can be reached. Acai products are usually expensive and may not provide any benefit. In addition, there is the risk that consuming acai while receiving certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, might inhibit the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Souced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Tuesday, March 6th, 2012


On this day in 1899, the Berlin Imperial Patent Office registers Aspirin, the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, on behalf of the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co.

Now the most common drug in household medicine cabinets, acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical found in the bark of willow trees. In its primitive form, the active ingredient, salicin, was used for centuries in folk medicine, beginning in ancient Greece when Hippocrates used it to relieve pain and fever. Known to doctors since the mid-19th century, it was used sparingly due to its unpleasant taste and tendency to damage the lining of your stomach.

In 1897, Bayer employee Felix Hoffman found a way to create a stable form of the drug that was easier and more pleasant to take. (Some evidence shows that Hoffman’s work was really done by a Jewish chemist, Arthur Eichengrun, whose contributions were covered up during the Nazi era.) After obtaining the patent rights, Bayer began distributing aspirin in powder form to physicians to give to their patients one gram at a time. The brand name came from “a” for acetyl, “spir” from the spirea plant (a source of salicin) and the suffix “in,” commonly used for medications. It quickly became the number-one drug worldwide.

Aspirin was made available in tablet form and without a prescription in 1915. Two years later, when Bayer’s patent expired during the First World War, the company lost the trademark rights to aspirin in various countries. After the United States entered the war against Germany in April 1917, the Alien Property Custodian, a government agency that administers foreign property, seized Bayer’s U.S. assets. Two years later, the Bayer company name and trademarks for the United States and Canada were auctioned off and purchased by Sterling Products Company, later Sterling Winthrop, for $5.3 million.

Bayer became part of IG Farben, the conglomerate of German chemical industries that formed the financial heart of the Nazi regime. After World War II, the Allies split apart IG Farben, and Bayer again emerged as an individual company. Its purchase of Miles Laboratories in 1978 gave it a product line including Alka-Seltzer and Flintstones and One-A-Day Vitamins. In 1994, Bayer bought Sterling Winthrop’s over-the-counter business, gaining back rights to the Bayer name and logo and allowing the company once again to profit from American sales of its most famous world renown product.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, March 5th, 2012

Doctors are being turned into drug suppliers for many sections of society.

Doctors and drug experts admit Western Australia’s illicit drug market has become flooded with opiate-based prescription painkillers, sold everywhere from schools to nightclubs.

Users and dealers are exploiting general practitioners into prescribing legal pain killers like Oxycontin and benzodiazapines such as Valium, reserved for those who suffer from chronic pain, to either satisfy their cravings or make a quick buck.

One former addict, who did not want to be named, was 17 years old when he began “doctor-shopping” – making the rounds of Perth doctors trying to get his hands on the drugs.

Generic pic of vitamin pills.Prescription medications are helping fuel the new wave of designer drugs.

“I’d usually go in there and I’d either say that ‘I’m coming off the heroin and I just needed something to sleep’, or make an excuse,” he said.

“Sometimes I’d say I had a plane trip and I couldn’t fly so I needed to sleep on the plane. You find there’s a lot of doctors around Perth that are very easy-going and it’s sort of more about finding the group of those doctors and then doing the rounds with them.”

He said he was first prescribed Valium after a family tragedy and when he became addicted he quickly lined up a few “sympathetic” doctors who would continuously renew his prescription.

By the time his habit was well entrenched, he had progressed to breaking down Oxycontin and MSContin pills to inject when he couldn’t get his hands on heroin.

“Because you’ve got so many doctors you might have only one appointment a fortnight, so you get your pills, and then by the time you’ve run out of them you’ve got another doctor’s appointment,” he said.

“After you’ve been there four or five times they know what you’re doing. For instance I had one doctor, I’d just walk in, he’d say ‘just the normal’ I’d say ‘yep’ and I’d walk out. I’d be in there for one minute for him to print my script out.”

The highly-addictive drugs have been the subject of warnings from doctors and drug researchers alike.

Doctors sound the alarm

Australian Medical Association (WA) vice president Steve Wilson, who has a medical practice in Bassendean, said the problem was increasing in a growing population, as more people dealt with the chronic pain of arthritis, injury and trauma.

“They are getting (the drugs) usually on a Health Care Card for $5 for 60 tablets and they’re selling those tablets for between $20 and $100 each at nightclubs or at schools and places like that. There is a huge illicit market for that sort of thing,” Dr Wilson said.

“I’ve seen them as young as their teens and I’ve seen them in their 60s and sometimes even older.”

Allan Quigley, the director of clinical services for Next Step Drug and Alcohol Services, backed the claim, saying the rehabilitation centre helped a large number of people addicted to prescription opiates.

Only alcohol surpassed opiate addiction in terms of the number of patients treated.

“There’s been a very significant increase in opiate prescribing in general practice and the drug and alcohol services are seeing people with problems with drugs like the long-acting oral morphine preparations’,” Dr Quigley said.

“There are also a large number of people who have presented to GPs with health problems and persuaded them that prescribing these drugs is reasonable, but they might have had much longer-standing problems with amphetamine or opiate use.”

Spotting an addict

Detecting an opiate addict could be especially tricky for GPs, Dr Wilson said, because they spun elaborate stories and shared information such as which doctors were “soft touches”.

“They often flock around a practice once they hear amongst themselves, and they tell each other that ‘there’s a new registrar down at that practice’, for example,” he said.

“They’ve often got well-constructed stories, often letters from previous specialists, maybe interstate or within the state and then they say, ‘I need some more of this medication’ and it’s very easy to be sucked in by them.”

But the former addict said he and his friends would usually steer clear of registrars because they tended to adhere to rules more strictly than their more experienced colleagues.

“Having said that, I have come across some (registrars) that have no idea and you end up walking away with a lot more than you probably would have expected,” he said.

Although GPs can notify the WA Health Department’s pharmaceutical services branch if they believe a patient has become addicted to their medication, Dr Wilson said the outcome wasn’t always satisfactory.

“I have been advised by an anonymous telephone call that a patient of mine who is receiving such drugs is actually selling them and making an income from them but that person would not come forward,” Dr Wilson said.

“When I reported this to the Health Department they said it was a police matter and when I spoke to the police at the relevant area, in this case Mirrabooka, they said ‘not interested doc, we’ve got bigger fish to fry than someone selling prescription drugs to kids’.

“So the police aren’t interested (and) the Health Department neither has the punitive capacity to pursue that patient in many regards or can’t be bothered. But I’m the one that gets the snippy letter saying ‘please explain why this patient’s getting more than their usual quantity that they should and advise us why we shouldn’t revoke your schedule A prescribing licence’.”

A WA Health Department spokeswoman said patients reported as addicts or suspected dealers by their doctors were noted on a database and any further prescriptions had to be authorised by the department.

She said those suspected of dealing prescription medication should be reported to the police.

Doctors prescribing ‘excessively’

In its latest annual report, Medicare’s fraud watchdog – the Professional Services Review – listed the inappropriate prescribing of narcotic and benzodiazepine drugs as one of the main issues it dealt with in 2009/10.

PSR director Tony Webber referred 17 medical practitioners across Australia to their state’s medical boards, most commonly for the excessive prescribing of such drugs.

One doctor, known as “Dr D”, was flagged by Medicare after handing out 1598 prescriptions for benzodiazepines and opiates, well above the number most other doctors had prescribed in a year.

The review found the doctor gave drugs without adequately inquiring about the patient’s symptoms or attempting to manage drug dependence. A third of the medical records related to those prescriptions included no detailed history or notes about patient examinations.

“During the review, Dr D stated that the prescribing practice was probably reprehensible; however, the doctor would also have difficulty changing this practice due to a large cohort of drug-addicted patients and the lack of treatment facilities in the region,” the report stated.

The doctor was disqualified from prescribing medicine for three years and forced to pay $17,958 back to Medicare.

The WA Health Department recommended GPs have patients sign an opiate agreement, which states that lost, misplaced or stolen medicines will not be replaced, and early prescriptions will not be provided.

A danger for doctors

Assault or the threat of being subject to violence also convinces some doctors to get out their prescription pad, Dr Wilson said.

“Especially for female GPs, where they feel threatened by patients and the easiest thing to do is acquiesce,” he said.

“I’ve been assaulted, I’ve never reported it but I was pushed by a patient, I was threatened… I’ve been called all things on the planet in front of a waiting room full of patients, because you’re basically denying them the ability to put their hands in the lolly jar any time they want to.”

Dr Wilson said doctors should give patches instead of pills where possible because they were difficult to abuse and on-sell.

“It can lead quite rapidly to addiction, particularly the quick-acting form,” he said.

“The quicker the onset of the drug and the quicker the offset the more likely they are to lead to addiction issues.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, March 5th, 2012


Infectious diseases these days seem to have gotten a lot of attention, with media hype and threats of pandemics often being portrayed in apocalyptic sci-fi movies. We all know that several types of these diseases can spread rapidly, and it is absolutely crucial that doctors be able to identify them quickly in order to prevent an epidemic. Unfortunately, current testing procedures can take hours and even days, delaying the process of adequate prevention. It should then ease your mind to hear that researchers at the University of Tennessee have invented a mobile device that can rapidly detect these unwanted afflictions.

“Time is of the essence in treating infectious diseases,” said Jayne Wu, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Tennessee. “This device has the potential to save a lot of lives by saving time in detection. It also saves a lot of money as it is cheaper to detect diseases than the system that is currently being used since we do not have to send them to a lab and have the sample be scrutinized by technicians.”

The portable device developed by the University of Tennessee researchers can be used onsite to detect infectious diseases, pathogens and physiological conditions in people and animals. Furthermore, it has been designed to be easily used by any health care professional in any location. A droplet of blood is simply placed onto a microchip which is slotted into the device. The microchip is then treated with disease-specific antigens and can quickly identify if these disease-specific antibodies are present in the blood sample. If the antigens and antibodies match, then the device automatically informs the health care provider that the patient is infected. This all occurs in the space of minutes. To date, the device has been used to detect tuberculosis in humans and wild animals, and Johne’s disease in cattle.

“Johne’s disease is highly prevalent in this country and is causing more than $200 million of annual losses to the U.S. dairy industry,” said Shigetoshi Eda, associate professor of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at the UT Institute of Agriculture Center for Wildlife Health. “Since there is no practical treatment for the disease, early diagnosis is critically important for disease control in dairy farms. This, in turn, helps farmers’ business and the milk supply.”

The researchers hope to further develop the device so it can detect a broader range of diseases and physiological conditions. In the future, it is envisioned that the device could diagnose cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and even detect pathogens in food materials.

Source: University of Tennessee

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, March 4th, 2012


A new approach to stroke treatment initially developed by Dr. Jeffrey Saver’s group at the UCLA Stroke Center combines the ability to restore circulation and remove clots using only a single device … and it’s showing significant promise in trials. In a study comparing the Covidien Solitaire FR Revascularization Device with the FDA-approved Merci Retriever, the device successfully and safely treated roughly 60 percent of stroke patients, compared to roughly 30 percent when the Merci Retriever was used.

Such treatment is intended to minimize brain damage due to lack of oxygen and/or glucose in patients presenting with blockage of large intracranial blood vessels – particularly those for whom the use of clot-dissolving drugs is not advisable.

Roughly speaking, there are four main steps in the operation:

1. Poke a hole in the clot with a microcatheter (roughly 2.5 mm/0.1-inch in diameter).

2. Slide the Solitaire device through the microcatheter until it extends on either side of the clot.

3. Slide the microcatheter back so that the Solitaire device expands and traps the clot.

4. Pull the Solitaire device back to the end of the microcatheter, and use suction to remove the clot from the blood vessel.

Various stages in the revascularization and clot removal procedure are shown in the picture gallery.

The Solitaire With the Intention For Thrombectomy (SWIFT) study was designed to compare the results of using the Solitaire on acute stroke patients with the FDA-approved Merci Retriever. The Merci Retriever functions like a corkscrew that snares and removes a clot, but has a tendency to uncoil and lose the clot.

The SWIFT study was ended prematurely because of the remarkable effectiveness of the Solitaire device. One hundred and forty-four patients with acute ischemic stroke who either were not candidates for clot-busting drugs or in whom they had been ineffective were chosen for the study. Patients were a mixed lot, but both treatment groups were very similar. The patients were randomly assigned to be treated with the Solitaire or with the Merci devices.

The results:

    • Reestablishment of blood flow occurred in 83% of the Solitaire treatments versus 48.1% of the Merci treatments
    • Reestablishment of blood flow without symptoms due to intracranial hemorrhage occurred in 60.7% of the Solitaire treatments versus 24.1% of the Merci group

The Solitaire group had lower mortality at 3 months: 17.2% versus 38.2% for the Merci treated patients

  • Good mental/motor functioning was restored within 90 days in 58.2% of Solitaire patients as compared to 33.3% of Merci patients

“Initial treatment with Solitaire rather than Merci is associated with more frequent reperfusion, less symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, reduced mortality, and increased good neurologic outcomes,” says Dr. Saver. More simply put, the Solitaire device does its job more effectively and causes fewer problems while doing it.

The Solitaire is now approved for use in the Interventional Management of Stroke trial study. This is a stage III clinical trial, started in 2006, whose purpose is to examine if a combination of clot-busting drugs and intra-arterial therapy is more effective than clot-busting drugs alone. Among the intra-arterial therapies is the Merci Retriever. Even though over 675 of the 900 patients participating in the trial have already been studied, it has been expanded to include the Solitaire as an intra-arterial treatment for the remainder of the study.

Inclusion in the IMS clinical trial study reflects the enthusiastic response of the neurological medical community for the results of the SWIFT study. Hopefully the FDA will put Solitaire on the fast track as well.

Sources: UCLA, Covidien

Published by Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, March 4th, 2012


With the wait still on for a miniaturization ray to allow some Fantastic Voyage-style medical procedures by doctors in submarines, tiny electronic implants capable of traveling in the bloodstream show much more promise. While the miniaturization of electronic and mechanical components now makes such devices feasible, the lack of a comparable reduction in battery size has held things back. Now engineers at Stanford University have demonstrated a tiny, self-propelled medical device that would be wirelessly powered from outside the body, enabling devices small enough to move through the bloodstream.

While the benefits of medical implants have already been realized with devices such as artificial pacemakers and cochlear implants, which are stationary within the body, energy storage continues to limit such devices. With half of the volume of implants often consumed by the battery, the locations in which they can be placed are limited. Additionally, batteries also need to be periodically replaced, which generally requires a surgical procedure.

Developing implants capable of traveling through the bloodstream not only requires an energy source to power the device’s medical functions, but also its propulsion system – something that today’s batteries are unable to deliver in a form factor that is small enough to fit inside arteries.

The obvious approach would be to remove the battery from the device altogether and look to wireless electromagnetic power delivery. This is just what many scientists have been working on for fifty years. While such wireless power transmission technology has recently entered the mainstream through wireless chargers for consumer devices such as mobile phones, it wasn’t believed the technology could be made small enough to be compatible with tiny implantable devices.

The problem is that, according to mathematical models, high frequency waves that would require antennas small enough to be used in such devices were believed to dissipate quickly in human tissue, fading exponentially the deeper they go. At the same time, antennas to harness enough power from low-frequency signals, which are able to penetrate the human body well, would need to be a few centimeters in diameter, making them OK for larger devices, but too large to fit in all but the biggest arteries.

However, when electrical engineer Ada Poon looked at the models more closely she realized they were calculated assuming that human muscle, fat and bone were generally good conductors of electricity. Realizing that human tissue is actually a poor conductor of electricity but that radio waves could still move through it, Poon decided to redo the models with human tissue as a type of insulator called a dielectric. Her new calculations revealed that high-frequency waves travel much farther in human tissue than previously thought.

“When we extended things to higher frequencies using a simple model of tissue we realized that the optimal frequency for wireless powering is actually around one gigahertz,” said Poon, “about 100 times higher than previously thought.”

This meant that antennae inside the body could be 100 times smaller while delivering the same amount of power. This finding enabled Poon to create an antenna of coiled wire small enough to be placed inside the body and receive power from a radio transmitter outside the body. The transmitter and the antenna are magnetically coupled so that any change in current flow in the transmitter induces a voltage in the coiled wire.

Poon has created two types of wirelessly powered devices that are able to propel themselves through the bloodstream. One creates a directional force by driving an electrical current directly through the blood to push itself forward at a velocity of just over half a centimeter (0.2 inches) a second. The second type switches current back-and-forth in a wire loop to produce a swishing motion to propel the device forward.

Poon’s research could finally enable the development of medical implants capable of traveling through the bloodstream to deliver drugs to a specific area, perform analyses, and maybe even zap blood clots or remove plaque from arteries.

“There is considerable room for improvement and much work remains before these devices are ready for medical applications,” said Poon. “But for the first time in decades the possibility seems closer than ever.”

Poon recently demonstrated one of her tiny, wirelessly powered, self-propelled devices at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). The animation below produced by Carlos Suarez at StrongBox3d shows how such a device might move through the bloodstream.

Source: Stanford University

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, March 4th, 2012


Universities and scientific organizations all over the world are currently looking into ways of growing functioning heart cells on the heart, to replace the tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. As things currently stand, the body replaces that tissue with non-beating scar tissue, leaving the heart permanently weakened. Most of the experimental techniques for generating new tissue involve introducing some sort of micro-scaffolding to the affected area, providing a framework for new cells to grow on. That scaffolding has consisted of materials such as carbon nanofibers and gold nanowires, which would have to be surgically applied to the heart, sort of like a Band-Aid. Now, however, researchers from the University of California, San Diego are reporting success in animal trials, using an injectable hydrogel.

The team is being led by Karen Christman, a professor in UCSD’s Department of Bioengineering.

They started by obtaining cardiac connective tissue, then used a cleansing process to remove its muscle cells, freeze-dried it, milled it into a powder, and used an enzyme to liquefy it. When injected into the hearts of pigs with cardiac damage, the liquid turned into a porous, semi-solid gel upon reaching body temperature. That gel subsequently provided a scaffold for new tissue growth, and the pigs’ condition improved.

Besides acting as a scaffold, it is suspected that the gel might also provide biochemical signals, which prevent the surrounding heart tissue from deteriorating

Christman believes that the liquid could be injected using a catheter, so surgery and general anesthesia would not be required. While other scientists have developed heart-repairing hydrogels before, she notes that those substances would not work with catheters, as they would gel too quickly.

When injected into rats, the gel wasn’t rejected and didn’t cause arrhythmic heart beating – an indication that it could also be biocompatible with humans. A spin-off company, Ventrix, is planning clinical trials sometime next year.

Details on the hydrogel’s production process can be seen in the video below.

Source: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Published by Henry Sapiecha