Although known to reduce inflammation and aid in the repair of damaged tissue, the protein molecule called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) could not previously be put to use in treating osteoarthritis as it breaks down easily in the body. But now researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) could make this possible by using slow-release microcapsules containing the protein.
Six years ago, Dr. John Khier of Boston Children’s Hospital began investigating the idea of using injectable oxygen on patients whose lungs were incapacitated or whose airways were blocked. He was prompted to do so after a young girl that he was caring for passed away – she succumbed to a brain injury, which resulted when severe pneumonia caused her lungs to stop working properly, which in turn caused her blood oxygen levels to drop too low. Now, Khier is reporting that his team has injected gas-filled microparticles into the bloodstreams of oxygen-deprived lab animals, successfully raising their oxygen levels back to normal levels within seconds.
A hard material is impregnated with microcapsules that burst when the material cracks, releasing a stored liquid that hardens on contact with the air, thus repairing the crack ... it’s a system that we’ve recently seen used in a number of applications, including self-healing concrete
. Now, a research team from the University of Illinois is applying it to electronics. They have already created a system that automatically restores conductivity to a cracked circuit in just a fraction of a second.
Whether you want to deliver medication
to specific cells or create scaffolds
for building artificial tissues, currently one of the best media for doing so are polymer microparticles filled with drugs or cells. Traditionally, it has only been possible to make such particles in a few shapes, out of a few materials, and/or with only one layer of “cargo” inside. A new technique developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), however, could see multilayered microparticles being made in many shapes, from a wider variety of materials.
When the caoutchouc tree is damaged, liquid latex containing capsules of the protein hevein escapes from inside of it. Those capsules rupture, releasing the hevein, which links the latex particles together and ultimately closes up the wound. The whole bursting/sealing-microcapsules thing is obviously a pretty good idea, as it has been put to use in human technology such as self-healing concrete
and aircraft epoxy resin
. Now, German researchers have copied the caoutchouc tree’s modus operandi to create a self-sealing elastic polymer.
Materials that can repair themselves are generally a good thing, as they increase the lifespan of products created from them, and reduce the need for maintenance. Biorenewable polymers are also pretty likable, as they reduce or even eliminate the need for petroleum products in plastic production, replacing them with plant-derived substances. Michael Kessler, an Iowa State University associate professor of materials science and engineering, and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, is now attempting to combine the two.
We’re told that we should replace our bike helmets every couple of years or so, because minuscule cracks can develop over time, rendering them structurally unsound. For the same reason, we’re supposed to replace a helmet that has withstood a direct impact immediately, no questions asked. The problem is... it’s so hard to get yourself to throw away what looks
like a perfectly good helmet, just because it might
no longer be effective. New technology developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials should eliminate this situation. When your helmet is getting past its prime, it will start to smell. If it develops any large
cracks... well, you’d better plug your nose.
Dropping an electrical device such as a mobile phone or laptop can prompt a few anxious moments as you rush to see whether your beloved device has survived the fall. Now researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are working to make such incidents a little less distressing - they're developing a self-healing first-aid kit for electrical systems that could stop circuits failing and lead to safer, longer lasting batteries.