Sometime around Christmas Mikhail Batin, President of the Science for Life Extension Foundation, and I gave talks at the headquarters of one quite famous journal called Science and Life. This journal is sort of like a Russian version of Popular Mechanics or Scientific American. The idea of this “media club” is to enlighten the journalists about emerging technologies like personalized genomics, synthetic biology and possible life extension therapies. This meeting was about regenerative medicine. My talk was a brief overview of the field, what it consists of and when and which organs were engineered in the lab. Here’s the presentation I showed to the audience. You are most welcome to download and use it in the way you like.
Category Archives: Regenerative medicine
It seems to be an extremely interesting conference. Just to highlight a couple of talks: Engineering functional liver tissue, Nanofibers and iPS cells for neural regeneration, Exploring stem cell niche interactions at single cell resolution. Take a look at the whole program. I believe it’s worth visiting, because regenerative medicine is one of the ways of life extension.
Regenerative medicine has the potential of being the first solution to the problem of aging. In several years we’ll be able to repace damaged or diseased organs with the new grown ones. The video shows how it can be done. I found the story about the decellularized rat heart scaffold amazing. They actually show what a scaffold looks like and it’s beautiful.
Over a 16-year period, Panagiotis Tsonis at the University of Dayton, Ohio, and colleagues removed the lenses of six Japanese newts (Cynops pyrrhogaster) 18 times. After each excision, the lenses regenerated. They did so not from remaining lens tissue, but from pigment epithelial cells in the upper part of the iris. There was no documented decline in regenerative capacity neihter due to aging, nor to repetition.
The paper published in Nature Communications reports: “In addition, despite beliefs that aged animals regenerate less efficiently than young ones (also discussed by Darwin), our experiments show that this is not the case in the newt. As regenerative medicine has entered a new era, the knowledge that aged tissues possess robust regenerative capabilities should provide the impetus to identify mechanisms underlying this capacity in the newt and compare them with strategies being employed to promote mammalian regeneration, such as the creation of iPS cells.”
Unfortunately, the authors don’t discuss possible mechanisms underlying such an extraordinary capacity. This absolutely has to be studied, because these mechanisms, when identified, may shed light at how we can manipulate mammalian and human cells in order to trigger at least somewhat similar effects. I find restoration of own regenerative capacity to be a very potent way of extending our lives, therefore this work in newts and other animals with fantastic regenerative abilities has to be continued and multiplied. Any ideas about how this may be done are welcome.
DARPA‘s budget for next year includes funding for all kinds of wild new medical technologies for military medicine, from electromagnetic tissue regeneration to a machine that can suck your blood out, clean it, and then fill you back up.
DARPA is making a major push to try to reduce battlefield casualties, and they’re pouring a lot of money into new technologies to help soldiers recover from injury. The blood-sucking machine is part of a ‘Dialysis-Like Therapeutics’ program designed to combat sepsis, which is caused by toxins in the blood. Basically, DARPA is looking for a system that can filter up to 5 liters of blood at a time, identifying and removing bacteria and viruses and poisons and other toxic stuff and then returning clean blood back into the body.
Also on the table are new autonomous diagnostic sensors that can detect both known and unknown diseases and come up with fast and effective treatments, and tissue regeneration technology that uses hordes of individually magnetized cells controlled by electromagnetic fields to encourage natural ‘scaffolding’ to promote the rapid healing of wounds.
One other exciting little nugget that somehow falls under the medical category for DARPA is the creation of artificial eyes that see as well as the biological eyes of animals. From the sound of things, the end result of the Neovision2 program will be little electronic eyeballs that can learn and recognize objects as quickly as we can, that can be tossed into dangerous situations and report back what they see. Plus, throwing disembodied eyeballs around just generally sounds like a good idea and a lot of fun!
Surgeon Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center used lab-grown urethras to treat patients with damaged urinary tracts.
Five boys aged 10 to 14 were involved in the study and it took place at the Federico Gomez Children’s Hospital in Mexico City. Basically, Atala took each patient’s bladder cells and grew the cells on a scaffold. After about four to seven weeks, the cells grew into an ideal structure on the mesh-like tube and soon enough, the cells were ready for implantation.
At that point, the damaged tissue was removed and surgically replaced with the regenerative tissue custom-made for each patient. The urethra function in the male patients returned to normal and it only took three months. Even six years in, the tissue appeared to be working normally. Currently, treatment for damaged urethras involves skin grafts – but the failure rate of skin grafts is about 50 percent.
Researchers, working with mice, found that a portion of the heart removed during the first week after birth grew back wholly and correctly – as if nothing had happened.
“This is an important step in our search for a cure for heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the developed world,” said Dr. Hesham Sadek, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study available online in the Feb. 25 issue of Science. “We found that the heart of newborn mammals can fix itself; it just forgets how as it gets older. The challenge now is to find a way to remind the adult heart how to fix itself again.”
Previous research has demonstrated that the lower organisms, like some fish and amphibians, that can regrow fins and tails, can also regrow portions of their hearts after injury.