Lab-grown Skin Has Potential to Revolutionize Grafts

Something extraordinary happened in Japan last year — skin grown in a lab was transplanted onto a mouse and acted as if there had been no transplant at all, according to U.S. News and World Report.

A study published in the journal Science Advances details how scientists at Japan’s RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology were able to create skin taken from stem cells in the gums of mice. Even more exciting is the fact that the skin was able to make connections with the nerve and muscle tissue on the rodent.

That would be a big step from the way grafts currently are done, which are taken from other parts of the body and aren’t able to grow hair or produce oils like normal skin or like the skin grown in a lab. If adapted for humans successfully, the approach would have wide applications for serious situations, such as assisting in the care of burn victims.

A Future for Little Pharma?MM_VendingMeds

A team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  created a machine that has the stature of a fridge, but the capacity of a drug company. It was named Pharmacy on Demand by the team and can make hundreds to thousands of doses of medicine a day, according to STAT.com.

The project, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, already has made generic versions of Benadryl, Prozac, Valium and Lidocaine [a somewhat curious choice of medications].

For now, the machine can only produce liquid meds, but researchers say integrating 3-D printing could pave the way for pills to be made, too.

Overprescribing is a growing problem — so pushing out pills on demand is not a good option — but MIT chemical engineer Allan Myerson says the technology might be well-suited to producing needed drugs after natural disasters or for orphan drugs.

The Power of X-ray Vision on Your Phone

MM_VirtualiTeeJust about everyone has wondered what it would be like to have X-ray vision at some point — some may have even bought X-ray specs in their younger years. Now you can see for yourself with a new technology that allows anyone with a smartphone to see a model of what’s inside a friend.

A “smart T-shirt” called Virtuali-Tee, created by Curiscope, has a printed code on it that allows a user to see a re-creation of what’s going on in the body with X-ray like vision on a smartphone app, according to an article in Tech Times.

“Our objective as a company is to bring learning to life, whether that’s through a VR experience, or in the case of the Virtuali-Tee, by quite literally bringing the body to life, in a way that would otherwise be impossible,” said Curiscope CEO Ed Barton in the same article.

Sounds useful for education, but Superman still has the upper hand.

Diagnosing Ear Infections with a SmartphoneMM_EarInfection

Each year, half a billion children are diagnosed with an ear infection worldwide, many more go misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. A new method utilizing a low-cost video-otoscope that connects to a smartphone is hoping to change that, according to an Infection Control Today report.

The method — developed by researchers at Umeå University in Sweden — uses a cloud-based analysis of images taken from a digital otoscope and has demonstrated a diagnosis accuracy of 78.7 percent compared with a 80.6 percent accuracy with commercial video-otoscopes, according to the report.

“Using this method, health personnel can diagnose middle ear infections with the same accuracy as general practitioners and pediatricians … it provides rapid access to accurate and low-cost diagnosis in developing countries,” said co-author of the article, Claude Laurent. 

Good luck, though, connecting that device in the picture to a smartphone.