Tag Archives: Alpert Medical School

Coming soon, the Hips and Knees that will Never Wear Out

Replacement body parts that never wear out could become a reality within a few years as the  scientists say.

Dodgy knees and hips will be repaired using tissue engineering, while donor heart valves from animals are being specially treated to last indefinitely.
Longer-lasting artificial joints are already being tested in a bid to ensure people will be able to enjoy another 50 active years.

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X-ray of female pelvix with total hips replacement

Scientists at the University of Leeds Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering have launched a £50million research initiative focused on areas of the body most affected by ageing, including joints, spine, teeth, heart and circulation.

Unlike studies involving stem cells and growing ‘spare parts’ in a lab, the programme uses the body’s own regenerative systems. The Leeds scientists have developed a chemical wash that strips cells away from donated cartilage, heart valves, blood vessels and other tissue before they are put into a human body.
Research shows they become repopulated with cells within about six months. Some 40 patients have already been treated with modified heart valves in a study in Brazil.

Professor John Fisher, director of the institute and one of the world’s leading researchers into artificial joints, said research so far had shown the valves did not deteriorate and were not rejected by the body, because ‘foreign’ donor cells had all been stripped away.
The unique method of removing living cells from human and animal tissue creates a biological ‘scaffold’ that can be regenerated within the body, at the site which needs repairing.

Worn-out ligaments and cartilage in knees can be replaced with a scaffold that will eventually attract cells to make the joint last longer.

Other areas targeted for treatment are the spine  –  where discs can be replaced  –  elbow and shoulder tissues and parts of the knee. Vascular patches are being devised that seal the holes made in arteries when surgeons clear a blockage.

The technique is not suitjointsable for whole organs, however. Professor Fisher has also designed a ceramic-on-metal hip joint that reduces ten-fold the wear and tear on artificial joints.

As a result people should be able to get spare parts at an earlier age, when they are less disabled, and they could last up to 50 years, he said.

The professor added: ‘Hip have been used for nearly 50 years but nowadays people want to cycle, play tennis, even go skiing, so they have to last longer.’
He said a scaffolding transplant would cost only around £1,000 a time. It was much more expensive to grow cells outside the body, and there was a higher infection risk.

Professor Eileen Ingham, deputy director of the Institute, said stem cells were not the answer to structural replacement of wornout bits of the body such as heart valves.

She said: ‘We are working with the NHS National Blood & Transplant Tissue Services to apply it to human donor valves. Once a patient has one, it should last a lifetime.’

Professor Christina Doyle, chief executive of Xeno Medical, predicted that in 20-30 years there would be techniques capable of regenerating human tissue off-the-shelf for use in operations.

She said: ‘It will be a case of the surgeon dialling up for spare parts to be delivered in a sterilised plastic bag.’

Source:Mail Online, 20th. Oct.’09

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The Real Cause of Influenza Epidemics

flu, influenza, cold, flu shot, vaccination, inoculation, vitamin D, sunshine, sunlight

Influenza does not follow the predicted patterns for infectious diseases. In fact, there are several conundrums associated with influenza epidemics, such as:

1. Why is influenza both seasonal and ubiquitous — and where is the virus between epidemics?

2. Why are influenza epidemics so explosive?

3. Why do epidemics end so abruptly?

4. What explains the frequent coincidental timing of epidemics in countries of similar latitudes?

5. Why did epidemics in previous ages spread so rapidly, despite the lack of modern transport?

A theory gaining weight in the scientific community explains influenza epidemics as a result of a dormant disease, which become active in response to vitamin D deficiency. This theory provides answers for many of the above questions. A disease that remains dormant until vitamin D-producing sunlight exposure is reduced by a winter or rainy season would explain a widespread seasonal disease with a rapid onset and decline.

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There is compelling epidemiological evidence that indicates vitamin D deficiency is just such a “seasonal stimulus.”Recent evidence confirms that lower respiratory tract infections are more frequent, sometimes dramatically so, in those with low levels of vitamin D. Researchers have also found that 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day abolished the seasonality of influenza, and dramatically reduced its self-reported incidence.

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Exercise During Pregnancy Means a Healthier Heart for Both Mom and Baby

Exercise is good not only for mothers-to-be, but also for their developing babies, according to a new study by researchers from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

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Maternal exercise during pregnancy may have a beneficial effect on fetal cardiac programming by reducing fetal heart rate and increasing heart rate variability. Researchers studied fetal heart rates with magnetocardiography (MCG), a safe, non-invasive method used to record the magnetic field surrounding the electrical currents generated by the fetal heart and nervous system.

There were significantly lower heart rates among fetuses that had been exposed to maternal exercise. The heart rates among non-exposed fetuses were higher, regardless of the fetal activity or the gestational age.

The researchers concluded that exercising during pregnancy can benefit a mother’s own heart and her developing baby’s heart as well.
Sources:
Science Daily April 10, 2008
121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society April 5-9, 2008, San Diego, CA