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Medical

Spinning up artificial capillaries with a cotton candy machine

From growing a full thymus gland inside a mouse, to creating a slice of artificial liver tissue, to using ink jet printing technology to create a human ear, researchers are steadily moving us toward the day when ordering up a new organ could be as commonplace as ordering an MRI is today. One of the hurdles in creating lab-grown organs, though, is that the cells in such a structure need a way to receive nutrients. Researchers at Vanderbilt University (VU) may have just leaped that hurdle using a most unexpected tool – a cotton candy machine.Read More

Medical

Functioning synthetic blood vessels become the real thing

When a vein or artery gets seriously blocked, a common course of action involves replacing it with part of another blood vessel harvested from elsewhere in the patient's body. While 3D-printed and lab-grown blood vessels show promise as alternatives, scientists from the Vienna University of Technology and Vienna Medical University have developed another option – polymer fabric vessels that transform into biological ones, once implanted. Read More

Medical

Flipping the switch on cell conversion could better repair damaged hearts

One complication that can arise from a heart attack is the formation of scar tissue, which can the harden organ's walls and impede its ability to pump blood. This is caused by fibroblast cells which move to replace damaged muscle with the scar tissue. New research conducted at the University of North Carolina's (UNC) School of Medicine suggests these cells could be converted to endothelial cells which actually assist in recovery, potentially minimizing the damage caused during a heart attack. Read More

Electronics

MARS prototype puts retinal scanning technology in the palm of a hand

Retinal scans have a lot going for them as a form of identification. You can’t forget your retinas, they're unique, they’re a lot harder to steal than passwords, and Captain Kirk uses them. The problem is, the technology needed to run a reliable retinal scan is often bulky, expensive, and hard to use. Scientists at the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have shrunk down retinal scanning technology in the hopes of making retinal scans a more widespread identification technology.Read More

Medical

"Mini hearts" on veins could be used to treat circulatory problems

When someone has chronic venous insufficiency, it means that because of faulty valves in their leg veins, oxygen-poor blood isn't able to be pumped back to their heart. The George Washington University's Dr. Narine Sarvazyan has created a possible solution, however – a beating "mini heart" that's wrapped around the vein, to help push the blood through. Read More

Medical

Tiny probe designed to provide live 3D images from within blood vessels

Imagine if you were trying to clear rubble out of a tunnel, but you could only see that tunnel from the side, instead of looking straight into it. Well, that's currently what it's like for doctors who are trying to see inside patients' blocked coronary blood vessels using ultrasound. Soon, however, a tiny catheter-based probe may give them a 3D real-time forward view from inside those vessels – or from inside the heart itself – not unlike that seen by the microscopic submarine crew in the movie Fantastic Voyage. Read More

Science

Plant-based magnetic microswimmers to deliver drugs more precisely

If you remember the 1966 science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, you'll recall how miniaturized government agents traveled through blood vessels in a tiny submarine, in their attempt remove a blood clot from a scientist's brain. Synthetic nanomotors that can do the same job have been the subject of numerous research efforts and now University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers report that they've created powerful biodegradable "microswimmers" that can deliver drugs more precisely, derived from common plants like passion fruit and wild banana.Read More

Facial blood vessel-scanning could be the next form of biometric ID

We’ve certainly been hearing a lot about facial recognition as a means of identification, although the technology could – conceivably – be thwarted by someone wearing a mask. Now, however, scientists at India’s Jadavpur University are taking a different approach to facial ID. They’ve developed a system that can identify a person based not on the composition of their face, but on the blood vessels within it.Read More

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