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New Treatment Uses Nanofibers To Aid In Wound Healing April 18, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Longevity, Transhumanism.
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I’ve been hearing about the potential of nanomaterials in medicine for some time now so it’s nice to see it finally showing some practical applications:

The nanofibrous hollow spheres are combined with cells and then injected into the wound. When the nanofiber spheres, which are slightly bigger than the cells they carry, degrade at the wound site, the cells they are carrying have already gotten a good start growing because the nanofiber spheres provide an environment in which the cells naturally thrive…

To repair complex or oddly shaped tissue defects, an injectable cell carrier is desirable to achieve accurate fit and to minimize surgery, he says. Ma’s lab has been working on a biomimetic strategy to design a cell matrix — a system that copies biology and supports the cells as they grow and form tissue — using biodegradable nanofibers.

Pretty darn cool, though I’m still waiting for my nanotech blood cells.

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Mammalian Hearts Capable of Regrowing February 26, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Longevity, Transhumanism.
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One of the primary reasons that heart disease is the number one killer in the developed world is the fact that once heart muscle is damaged it is incapable of regrowing.  Or so we thought.

The researchers found that within three weeks of removing 15 percent of the newborn mouse heart, the heart was able to completely grow back the lost tissue, and as a result looked and functioned just like a normal heart. The researchers believe that uninjured beating heart cells, called cardiomyocytes, are a major source of the new cells. They stop beating long enough to divide and provide the heart with fresh cardiomyocytes.

I’m somewhat surprised that rather than cardiac stem cells playing a role in the process the new cells seem to grow from existing mature heart tissue.  Considering the researchers mentioned the heart cells needing to stop beating in order for the division to take place it makes me wonder if that may have something to do with this feature being lost as we grow older.  For an adult individual needing to largely fend for itself the loss of some cardiac output could represent a severe loss in fitness, a difference that may not be overcome by the benefit of being able to regenerate damaged heart cells.

Now of course all the usual caveats apply.  This was in mice not humans.  Its only one study.  It only works in juvenile hearts.  But as a proof on concept it is very exciting especially given the aforementioned seriousness of heart disease as both an individual and societal problem for much of the west.