… Scientists successfully transplanted an artificial lab-grown kidney into a rat.
Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have published ground-breaking work in the field of tissue engineering by successfully synthesizing a rat kidney in vitro.
The team, led by Dr. Harald Ott, built upon their approach of taking key structural proteins and seeding them with other tissue cells that regenerate the rest of the organ. In the past, the team was also able to synthesize artificial lungs and heart.
The main advantage of this technique is that the cells used to regenerate the organ are from the recipient so there is no risk of incurring graft-versus-host disease wherein the transplanted organ would be rejected.
The limitation of this technique that will require further refinement is that the artificial organs do not perform quite as well as their natural counterparts. The study was published in Nature Medicine.
… IBM shows off their atomic manipulation techniques by creating stop-motion film on a nano-scale.
Out of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA, researchers have produced a stop-motion film entitled “A Boy And His Atom” by moving around atoms into patterns.
The technology used to both image the atomic “canvas” as well as manipulate the spherical carbon monoxide molecules that produce the features is the scanning tunneling microscope.
This invention, created two decades ago, uses a fine conductive tip with a running current to essentially feel out the electron density of a surface – think of it as an atomic braille reader.
“The Boy And His Atom” earned the lab the Guinness World Records achievement of The World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film, an unusual albeit welcome recognition of scientific achievement.
The same technology the lab employs was able to create the world’s smallest “bit” of information, storing a “1” or “0” in only 12 atoms, as compared to the nearly one million of current high-density data storage technologies.
… Scientists reverse the effects of aging in mice by inhibiting specific brain chemicals.
Although not quite the fabled fountain of youth, scientists have discovered a key player in systemic aging: proteins in the brain.
Transcription factors are proteins that regulate gene expression, and as investigators at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have found, some of these biomolecules play a key role in mediating age-related physical and cognitive decline throughout the organism.
These findings were discovered by tracking the activity of two molecules, NF-κB and IKK-β, in the area of the brain traditionally associated with learning and memory, the hippocampus. As mice aged, the activity of these molecules appeared to increase.
Further study demonstrated that these molecules competed with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a hormone critical for promoting brain growth and upkeep of reproductive processes. The intuition is that as individuals age, these molecules signal the body to stop reproducing, an evolutionary adaptation to prevent aging-related reproductive issues.
After making these observations, scientists took the next step and were able to increase median lifespan in mice by 22 percent by inhibiting the actions of these proteins.
Even more promising is the finding that this protective effect was exhibited even when the inhibition treatment was administered to middle-aged mice, showing great promise for potential therapies for humans already at an advanced age.
The study was published this week in Nature.