World First: the Woman with the Magnetic Spine

An Irish woman has become the first adult in the world to receive a revolutionary remote controlled ‘robo spine’.

Deirdre McDonnell was diagnosed with scoliosis as a newborn baby. After undergoing the first of many operations at just six weeks old, surgeons decided to try the pioneering MAGEC rod operation back in June 2014.

After three decades of living in pain with a 130 degree ‘C’ shaped spine, surgeons performed an operation that involved screwing magnetic rods in to Deidre’s spine. These rods can now be controlled externally to correct the curvature and straighten her spine.

Deirdre said: ‘The operation has completely changed my life. Before, I could only walk short distances without being in pain but now I love to walk everywhere.

‘After more than 30 years of operations and taking painkillers, I’m finally hopeful for the future.’

Up until now, the £15,000 procedure has only been performed on children, as it was thought only to be effective for early onset scoliosis – typically diagnosed before the age of ten.

Thanks to the success of Deirdre’s operation, doctors are now hopeful that the bone implant will help other adults, many of whom have undergone a number of unsuccessful and painful invasive surgeries in an attempt to straighten and lengthen their spine.

Image credit: Kevin O’Mara

First Organ Donation from UK Newborn

Organs from a recently-deceased baby have been successfully transplanted in to two patients.

In a procedure described as a milestone in neonatal care, a newborn baby girl’s kidneys and liver cells were given to two separate recipients after her heart stopped beating.

It is the first time in Britain that transplant surgeons have carried out such an operation involving a new-born child. Despite newborn organ donations being performed in the US, Germany and Australia, doctors say guidance about the diagnosis of newborn death in the UK may hamper life-saving operations.

Experts argue there is potential for more life-saving donations, but say current UK guidelines are prohibitive.

Prof James Neuberger of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We are pleased the first transplant of organs from a newborn in the UK was a success and we praise the brave decision of the family to donate their baby’s organs.

“The sad reality is for everybody to get the lifesaving transplant they are desperately in need of, more families who are facing the tragic loss of their young child will need to agree to donation.”

The parents of the deceased gave permission for the life-support to be switched off and for the baby girl’s organs to be used by the National Organ Retrieval Service after death had been confirmed.

In the last year, 4,655 organ transplants were carried out in Britain from donations made by 2,466 living and deceased organ donors. These included 206 heart transplants, 3,257 kidney transplants and 924 liver transplants.

At the present time, about 10,000 people in Britain are in need of an organ transplant and each year about 1,000 people die while waiting for a transplant.

Image credit: Christine Szeto

Implant Allows for Paralysed Rats to Walk Again

A new medical device attached to the spines of paralysed rats, has allowed for them to walk again.

Scientists have made a soft, flexible electrical implant that mimics the elasticity of the brain and spine’s protective tissue.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology built the implant, called “e-dura,” after the dura mater, which is one of the layers of protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

The device delivers electrical and chemical stimulation to the brain and spine, and when implanted in paralysed rats, gave the animals the ability to walk again – with some help.

Previously, it had been difficult for scientists to find a way to connect an electronic device to the spinal cord without damaging it. One obstacle is that electronics are made of stiff materials, whereas the spinal cord and its protective covering are more flexible. The new flexible device moves with the animals, keeping the stimulation attached to their neural tissue. The implants also did not trigger an immune response, the team reports.

The results could have implications for long-term treatment of paralysis and certain diseases, such as Parkinson’s, in humans.

Image credit: Harraz

First Antibiotic for 30 YEARS Discovered

Scientists have created the first new antibiotic in 30 years – and say it could be the key to beating superbug resistance.

The new antibiotic is extracted from soil bacteria and can kill a huge range of disease-causing microbes, with scientists claiming it appears to be as good, or even better, than many existing drugs with the potential to work against a broad range of fatal infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Laboratory tests have shown the new antibiotic, teixobactin, can kill some bacteria as quickly as established antibiotics and can cure laboratory mice suffering from bacterial infections with no toxic side-effects.

Studies have also revealed the prototype drug works against harmful bacteria in a unique way that is highly unlikely to lead to drug-resistance – one of the biggest stumbling blocks in developing new antibiotics.

With fears that the world is running out of effective antibiotics given the rapid rise of drug-resistant strains of superbugs, this development could represent a huge boost for medicine. Clinical trials could begin in two years.

Image credit: marlo

The Vitamin Reversing Hearing Loss…

Hearing loss resulting from exposure to loud sounds is very common. Now, using a supplement that is a source of Vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside or NR, scientists have successfully prevented noise-induced hearing loss in mice.

Our ears are very sensitive and can be damaged by a variety of things from disease to noise or trauma. Intense noises, for example, can induce hearing loss by triggering the degeneration of the nerve cells, or neurons, that are connected to the tiny hair cells of the cochlea – a tiny snail-shaped structure inside the ear that transmits audio signals to the brain.

Scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College and the Gladstone Institutes wondered whether it might be possible to somehow protect these nerve cells from harm.

They began by contemplating using a molecule called NAD+ which has been shown to exert protective effects to neurons in cell culture. As this molecule is unstable and difficult to get inside cells, the researchers turned to a molecule called nicotinamide riboside (NR).

NR, which is found in trace amounts in certain foods, is a precursor of NAD and also a source of Vitamin B3. Furthermore, NR enters cells easily and is quickly absorbed when administered orally, meaning it is an ideal drug candidate.

To investigate whether NR could prevent nerve damage in the cochlea, the team administered the compound to mice both before and after exposing them to loud noises. They found that NR successfully protected the nerve endings, avoiding both short-term and long-term hearing loss. Furthermore, they found it to be equally effective whether it was administered before or after noise exposure.

 

Image credit: be_khe

Superfast Clotting Agent Could Save Lives

A graduate from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU) has invented a plant-based gel that can stop bleeding and seal serious wounds in just 15 seconds, and hopes his invention will soon be used by the military, paramedics and even vets to save lives.

VetiGel works by using a plant-based haemophilic polymer made from polysaccharides that grab onto the blood and form a mesh that seals over the wound, without any need to apply pressure.

In a medical emergency, a first responder could simply apply the gel from a syringe-shaped applicator with no preparation required, and the bleeding will stop, which means that this could be a viable replacement for plasters and bandages today.

The idea of a liquid bandage has been thought of before, and some are already on the market. However, those bandages are for superficial cuts to the skin. They won’t help with bullet wounds or if an internal organ is cut during surgery.

The gel is the brainchild of Joe Landolina, 21, the founder and CEO of Suneris, who came up with the concept when he was just 17 in 2010.

“I was always interested in science and my grandfather owned a winery, so from a really young age I learned how to work in a chemistry lab and had a love for chemistry.”

“As I was playing around, I stumbled upon two polymers that when you mix them together, they become a solid mass. That was the Eureka moment for me.”

Image credit: Juan de Dios Santander Vela

Kinetica’s New LinkedIn Careers Page

Kinetica is proud to introduce to you our brand new LinkedIn Careers page!

Our Careers page showcases a host of live job roles from within science and healthcare industries – from graduate laboratory jobs to senior, high-profile sales and marketing vacancies. The Careers page also simplifies how you apply for jobs, even allowing for your LinkedIn profile to compensate for a CV!

Visit our LinkedIn Careers page today to see our latest roles, or alternatively visit our website for a full list of all vacancies.

In addition, follow Kinetica’s company page on LinkedIn to keep up to date with news, insights and jobs from within the industry you work in.

How Green Glowing Veins Could Make Blood Donation Easier…

The world faces a shortage of blood for lifesaving transfusions, and if you’ve ever given blood, you have likely experienced the discomfort of having a nurse struggle to find your vein. Now, however, a device has been created that shows a glowing map of our veins could make the whole process a lot easier, and trials of the technology have already begun in Australia.

The technology works by beaming harmless near-infrared light at your arm. Our veins contain a lot of deoxygenated haemoglobin, and because this is absorbed by infrared light, it creates an image of exactly where your veins are under the skin.

Importantly, the device can be used anywhere. It’s already used widely in hospitals and pathology clinics around the world to make it easier for patients to have blood taken, but now it’s also going to help those willing to donate blood.

While this technology is already used globally in clinical settings to assist practitioners in taking blood samples, it’s now being trialled on blood donors in Sydney by the Australian Red Cross. It’s hoped that reducing anxiety by quickly and easily finding veins without the painful prodding will make donors more likely to return. 300 first time donors and 600 returning donors between the ages of 18-35 will be included in the trial.

The Australian Red Cross is the first blood bank service in the world to trial this technology, and has already started using it in its Sydney clinics.

Watch the video of the device in action here - New Technology for the Blood Service

Image credit: Australian Red Cross