News on Health & Science

An Artificial Skin

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Skin from a factory has long been the dream of dermatologists. Now, scientists are on track to develop what they claim is the “artificial  skin”.

A team from four Fraunhofer institutes in Germany is developing the first fully automatic production system for two-layer “skin models” — an almost perfect copy of human skin or artificial skin.

“Our engineers and biologists are the only ones who have succeeded in fully automating the entire process chain for manufacturing two-layer skin models,” said leader Jörg Saxler of Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT.

According to the scientists, in a multi-stage process, first small pieces of skin are sterilized. Then they are cut into small pieces, modified with specific enzymes, and isolated into two cell fractions, which are then propagated separately on cell culture surfaces.

The next step in the process combines the two cell types into a two-layer model, with collagen added to the cells that are to form the flexible lower layer, or dermis. This gives the tissue natural elasticity, they said.

In a humid incubator kept at body temperature, it takes the cell fractions less than three weeks to grow together and form a finished skin model with a diameter of roughly one centimetre.

The technique has already proven its use in practice, but until now it has been too expensive and complicated for mass production, according to the scientists.

“The production is associated with a great deal of manual work, and this reduces the method’s efficiency,” Prof Heike Mertsching, a team member of Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, said.

The team is now handling the development of the biological fundamentals and validation of the machine and its sub-modules, taking care of prototype development, automation and integration of the machine into a complete system.

“At the beginning, our greatest challenge was to overcome existing barriers, because each discipline had its own very different approach.

“Meanwhile, the four institutes are working together very smoothly. Everyone knows progress is impossible without input from others. Our goal is a monthly production of 5,000 skin models with perfect quality,” Saxler said.

Sources:The Times Of India

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News on Health & Science

Linseed Food to Keep Cancer at Bay

Illustration of flaxImage via Wikipedia

Linseed is believed to protect against cancer, but the taste is a real turn-off for most people.

Researchers have now isolated the valuable components of linseed (flax seeds), which when mixed with bread, cakes or dressings, don’t leave an unpleasant aftertaste


Cakes that can ward off cancer or noodles that lower the cholesterol level could soon be a reality. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising (Germany) have isolated valuable components of linseed and lupin seeds.

They have experimentally incorporated them in various foodstuffs: the linseed in cakes, bread, dressings and sauces, the lupins in bread, rolls and pasta. The result is not only delicious, but healthy as well.

“Flax is not only high in soluble fibre, but also contains lignans. These substances are phytoestrogens, so they have a similar effect to that of the isoflavones that we know from soya beans,” said IVV project manager Katrin Hasenkopf.

“According to literature, they protect the organism against hormone-dependent forms of cancer – that is, breast and prostate cancer,” added Hasenkopf. “The lupins, on the other hand, contain substances that our studies have found to have a positive impact on the cholesterol level.”

But how do the researchers isolate the valuable components? “We make use of the differing solubility of the various constituents: If the pH value is acidic, the unwanted bitter substances are the first to dissolve.

pH value is a way of expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The neutral point is pH value 7.0, with acids having lower values and alkalis having higher values.

“If the pH value is then set back to neutral, you get the valuable proteins – without the bitter taste. We are also able to separate large components from small ones by a series of filtration steps,” explained Hasenkopf.

“The healthy effects of linseed and lupin seeds are already known from literature, but so far there is a lack of conclusive scientific investigations on the subject. These substances undoubtedly have very high potential,” she said.

In about three years, the new cholesterol-lowering foodstuffs are expected to be available on supermarket shelves – maybe even including cakes, bread rolls and sauces enriched with the valuable substances obtained from flax seeds.

The researchers will be presenting the linseed and lupin foods at the Biotechnica trade fair in Hanover on Oct 7-9.

Sources: The Times Of India

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