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The First Stem Cell-Derived Organ Transplant: A Rat’s Tooth


The individual in the photo is not displaying his newly acquired gold tooth bling, but rather something more precious: the first fully functioning 3D organ derived from stem cells, described in PNAS as “a successful fully functioning tooth replacement in an adult mouse achieved through the transplantation of bioengineered tooth germ into the alveolar bone in the lost tooth region.”

More from The Wall Street Journal:

Researchers used stem cells to grow a replacement tooth for an adult mouse, the first time scientists have developed a fully functioning three-dimensional organ replacement, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers at the Tokyo University of Science created a set of cells that contained genetic instructions to build a tooth, and then implanted this “tooth germ” into the mouse’s empty tooth socket. The tooth grew out of the socket and through the gums, as a natural tooth would. Once the engineered tooth matured, after 11 weeks, it had a similar shape, hardness and response to pain or stress as a natural tooth, and worked equally well for chewing. The researchers suggested that using similar techniques in humans could restore function to patients with organ failure.

Press release from the Tokyo University of Science (in Japanese)…

Full story in WSJ: From Stem Cells to Tooth In the Mouth of a Mouse…

Takashi Tsuji Lab…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

The Leather Band-Aid: J&J’s Competition?


Scott Amron from Amron Experimental has a new idea for our gilded age, the leather bandage. Three of these will cost you $15, but will look very appropriate next to your Armani jacket.

Product page: Hurt Couture

(hat tip: Interior design room)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Blue Dye Turns Rats Into Cute Animals: Might Improve Their Spinal Cord Injuries?


Researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center injected mice that had spinal cord injury with a derivative of food coloring Blue Number One. The Brilliant Blue G (BBG) dye, which helps control the activity of ATP by blocking its activation of P2X7 receptors, was shown to help repair the injured spinal cords when treated animals even started moving their previously paralyzed limbs. Interestingly, it was recently discovered that excessive release of ATP, a compound typically known as a biological power source, augments tissue injury by activating these high-affinity P2X7 receptors.

University of Rochester explains:

“While we achieved great results when oxidized ATP was injected directly into the spinal cord, this method would not be practical for use with spinal cord-injured patients,” said lead researcher Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “First, no one wants to put a needle into a spinal cord that has just been severely injured, so we knew we needed to find another way to quickly deliver an agent that would stop ATP from killing healthy motor neurons. Second, the compound we initially used, oxidized ATP, cannot be injected into the bloodstream because of its dangerous side effects.”

Neurons in the spinal cord are so susceptible to ATP because of a molecule known as “the death receptor.” Scientists know that the receptor – called P2X7 – plays a role in regulating the deaths of immune cells such as macrophages, but in 2004, Nedergaard’s team discovered that P2X7 also is carried in abundance by neurons in the spinal cord. P2X7 allows ATP to latch onto motor neurons and send them the flood of signals that cause their deaths, worsening the spinal cord injury and resulting paralysis.

So the team set its sights on finding a compound that not only would prevent ATP from attaching to P2X7, but could be delivered intravenously. In a fluke, Nedergaard discovered that BBG, a known P2X7R antagonist, is both structurally and functionally equivalent to the commonly used FD&C blue dye No. 1. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a food additive in 1982, more than 1 million pounds of this dye are consumed yearly in the U.S.; each day, the average American ingests 16 mgs. of FD&C blue dye No. 1.

“Because BBG is so similar to this commonly used blue food dye, we felt that if it had the same potency in stopping the secondary injury as oxidized ATP, but with none of its side effects, then it might be great potential treatment for cord injury,” Nedergaard said.

The team was not disappointed. An intravenous injection of BBG proved to significantly reduce secondary injury in spinal cord-injured rats, who improved to the point of being able to walk, though with a limp. Rats that had not received the BBG solution never regained the ability to walk. There was one side effect: Rats who were injected with BBG temporarily had a blue tinge to their skin.

More from National Geographic

Abstract in PNAS: Systemic administration of an antagonist of the ATP-sensitive receptor P2X7 improves recovery after spinal cord injury

Press release: Common Food Dye May Hold Promise in Treating Spinal Cord Injury

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

The Curious Case Of A Child With Half A Brain

media_125675_en.jpgThe scans presented here are of a ten year-old German girl who was discovered to be missing the right hemisphere of her brain. Incredibly, she is perfectly normal, except for a history of seizures and a slight weakness on her left side. Attending school with others of her age, it is reported that she is able to study and play sports, just like other kids around her. Of course, the mystery is how is this all possible? To answer the question, University of Glasgow scientists used an fMRI to see where the left eye’s vision is processed. Turns out that the brain’s visual area responsible for the right eye offered up some space for the left.

Normally, the left and right fields of vision are processed and mapped by opposite sides of the brain, but scans on the German girl showed that retinal nerve fibres that should go to the right hemisphere of the brain diverted to the left.

Further, the researchers found that within the visual cortex of the left hemisphere, which creates an internal map of the right field of vision, ‘islands’ had been formed within it to specifically deal with, and map out, the left visual field in the absence of the right hemisphere.

Dr Lars Muckli of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in the Department of Psychology, who led the study, said: “This study has revealed the surprising flexibility of the brain when it comes to self-organising mechanisms for forming visual maps.

“The brain has amazing plasticity but we were quite astonished to see just how well the single hemisphere of the brain in this girl has adapted to compensate for the missing half.

“Despite lacking one hemisphere, the girl has normal psychological function and is perfectly capable of living a normal and fulfilling life. She is witty, charming and intelligent.”

The girl’s underdeveloped brain was discovered when, aged three, she underwent an MRI scan after suffering seizures of brief involuntary twitching on her left side.

The scientists believe the right hemisphere of the girl’s brain stopped developing early in the womb and that when the developing optic nerves reached the optic chiasma, the chemical cues that would normally guide the left eye nasal retinal nerve to the right hemisphere were no longer present and so the nerve was drawn to the left.

This implies that there are no molecular repressors to prevent nasal retinal nerve fibres from entering the same hemisphere.

Dr Muckli added: “If we could understand the powerful algorithms the brain uses to rewire itself and extract those algorithms together with the general algorithms that the brain uses to process information, they could be applied to computers and could result in a huge advance in artificial intelligence.”

Press release: Scientists reveal secret of girl with ‘all seeing eye’…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Continuing Medical Education (CME) Credits On Your iPhone

The Center for Biomedical Continuing Education (CBCE) recently launched a continuing medical education (CME) oncology application for the iPhone that lets a physician quickly access clinical news, treatment updates, and conference highlights. The free application pulls in accredited content from the CBCE and allows a medical provider to take quizzes and earn CME credits on the go. Unlike ReachMD, which has a similar application, the CBBE app supports more than just audio – it can handle text, slides, and video as well.

From the CBCE press release:

Through the leveraging of Apple mobile technology, the CBCE CME app allows for fully accredited treatment updates, conference highlights, and CME tests to be used by healthcare professionals in a convenient format. Content includes coverage of both solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.

This continually updated application draws from select CME content found on www.thecbce.com. CME programs will be available in a variety of media formats, including podcasts, Webcasts, slides, and text. This application takes advantage of the best functionality these devices have to offer and contains the following features:

  • Free content and application
  • Fully accredited CME programs and posttests
  • Available on demand, 24/7, wherever Wi-Fi or 3G networks are accessible
  • Easy-to-use, multimedia CME
  • Automatic program updates
  • Bookmarks to quickly return to designated programs
  • Keyword search for relevant, easy-to-find CME programs
  • Press release: CBCE Launches Oncology-Focused CME App for the iPhone and iPod Touch…

    Product page: The Center for Biomedical Continuing Education…

    *This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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