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Scientists have used polymer implants to grow new adult brain tissue (Image: Shutterstock)

Using implants made from porous biocompatible materials, scientists have recently been successful in regrowing things such as teeth, tendons and heart tissue, plus bone and cartilage. The materials act as a sort of nanoscale three-dimensional scaffolding, to which lab-cultivated cells can be added, or that the recipient’s own cells can colonize. Now, a Spanish research team has used the same principle to grow new brain tissue – the technique could ultimately be used to treat victims of brain injuries or strokes.  Read More

A new technique known as mechanical tissue resuscitation has been shown to reduce the cell...

When the brain receives a traumatic injury, irreversible damage occurs as the cells at the point of impact die. Injured cells surrounding the area then release toxic substances, which cause the brain to swell. This decreases blood flow within the brain, leading to lower oxygen levels, which in turn leads to more cell deaths. Recently, however, scientists from North Carolina’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a new technique, that has greatly reduced the secondary cell deaths in brain-injured lab rats.  Read More

A team of engineering students are designing a new type of cervical collar, that reportedl...

When a person injures the region of their spine immediately below their skull, emergency medical technicians apply what is known as a cervical collar. The devices first saw use in the Vietnam War, where medics needed a quick and simple system that could be used to immobilize the heads and necks of injured soldiers. In the years since, however, some studies have suggested that by pushing the head up and away from the body, the collars may cause the vertebrae to separate – actually making some spinal injuries worse. Fortunately, a team of six undergraduate engineering students from Houston’s Rice University are now developing a new type of cervical collar, that keeps the head still in a safer fashion.  Read More

The Infrascanner hand-held hematoma detector and its PDA interface

It's sadly ironic that the very properties which make our skulls such excellent brain protectors, strength and rigidity, often work against us after head injuries. Not only does the hard bone conceal damage from concussions and bleeding, say, but it also confines the swelling, causing intra-cranial pressure to surge, a situation that can lead to further brain damage. While CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging systems are crucial to an accurate assessment, they are rarely available to emergency medical personnel at remote accident sites or on the battlefield. To help address the need for rapid and timely diagnosis of head traumas, separate research teams at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have each developed hand-held devices that use Near Infra-Red (NIR) imaging to quickly detect hematomas (internal bleeding) and other life-threatening traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Read More

Postdoctoral fellow Guoming Sun (left) and Sharon Gerecht, an assistant professor of chemi...

Third-degree burns typically require very complex treatment, and leave nasty scars once they've healed. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, however, are reporting success at treating such burns on lab mice, using a new type of hydrogel that grows new skin (as opposed to scar tissue) over burn sites. The gel contains no drugs or biological components - it's made mainly from water and dissolved dextran, which is a sugar-like polymer.  Read More

DermaFuse, a glass nanofiber material that looks like cotton candy, has been shown to spee...

Many diabetics suffer from a condition known as venous stasis, which can result in wounds on their extremities that remain unhealed for up to several years – if infection sets in, amputation of the limb is sometimes even necessary. Such wounds can sometimes be treated with vacuum-assisted systems, but the equipment required is expensive, and must be carried by the patient at all times. In clinical trials conducted last year, however, human venous stasis wounds were quickly and thoroughly healed with an inexpensive new glass nanofiber material, that looks like cotton candy.  Read More

Biodegradable nanofiber microspheres show promise as a means of transporting cells to cart...

Cartilage wounds can be very difficult to treat. While they may eventually heal on their own, the resulting tissue often won't take the same form – or allow for the same function – as the original. Cartilage injuries are often treated with a process known as ACI (autologous chondrocyte implantation), in which a patient's own cells are injected at the wound site to form new tissue. The procedure doesn't always work, as the cells are just injected loosely, with no carrier to transport them or help them get established. Now, however, a scientist from the University of Michigan has developed a technique in which cells are delivered to wounds via injectable nanofiber spheres, and the results are said to be very promising.  Read More

Sensors integrated into the bandage register the knee's range of movement. (Image: Fraunho...

Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries that can befall sportspeople or those that simply enjoy an active lifestyle. Such injuries can lay up patients for weeks while they wait for the joints to regain their full function. Although the time it takes for the knee to heal is directly related to how well it responds to the chosen treatment, it can be difficult for an orthopedic doctor to evaluate the healing process and for the patients themselves to know what progress they are making. Researchers have now developed a new type of bandage that features integrated sensors to monitor a knee's range of movement over time to let patients know how they are progressing and let doctors know it they need to adapt the treatment.  Read More

A newly-developed computer model indicates that face shields could protect soldiers from t...

Over half of all injuries to U.S. troops are due to explosions, and a large percentage of those are head injuries. While helmets offer some protection, explosive pressure waves can be transmitted to soldier’s brains via their unprotected faces. With this in mind, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a computer model to evaluate how useful face shields on army helmets would be in reducing traumatic brain injuries. Their conclusion: shields could save lives.  Read More

The MGH microfluidic neutrophil-capturing device

Recently, researchers have come to realize that neutrophils – the most abundant type of white blood cell – play a key role in both chronic and acute inflammation, and in the activation of the immune system in response to injury. Of course, the best way to study neutrophils is to get a hold of some, but traditional methods have required relatively large blood samples, and take up to two hours. Because neutrophils are sensitive to handling, it is also possible to inadvertently activate them, which alters their molecular patterns. A microfluidic device developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), however, allows for neutrophils to be collected from a relatively small blood sample, unactivated, in just minutes.  Read More

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