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World’s First 3D Printed Hearts, And Functional Beating Hearts Grown From Stem Cells

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World’s First 3D Printed Hearts, And Functional Beating Hearts Grown From Stem Cells
Photo Credit: www.nbcnews.com

More than 25 million people suffer heart failure each year. In the United States, approximately 2,500 of the 4,000 people in line for heart transplants actually receive them. That means almost 50% of the people needing a new heart to keep them alive won’t get it. But now, scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have successfully grown a human heart from adult skin cells in a lab. In addition, researchers from Tel Aviv University have “printed” the world’s first 3D vascularized engineered heart using a patient’s own cells and biological materials. Their research may someday soon solve the shortage problem of hearts the world faces today.

Grow A Heart
“A partially recellularized human whole-heart cardiac scaffold, reseeded with human cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, being cultured in a bioreactor that delivers a nutrient solution and replicates some of the environmental conditions around a living heart.” (CREDIT: Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Lab, Center for Regenerative Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital)
“A partially recellularized human whole-heart cardiac scaffold, reseeded with human cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, being cultured in a bioreactor that delivers a nutrient solution and replicates some of the environmental conditions around a living heart.” (CREDIT: Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Lab, Center for Regenerative Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital)

In the study done by the scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical school, they grew a heart using stem cells then shocked it with an electric current to bring it to life.

Here’s what they did:

  • 73 donor hearts deemed unfit for transplantation were used.
  • They took skin cells and turned them into pluripotent stem cells, the kinds of cells that can be specialized to any part of the human body, using messenger RNA. Then, they caused the stem cells to develop into two types of cardiac cells.
  • The scientists stripped away cells on the donated hearts and replaced them with those transformed skin cells.
  • Next, they mimicked the environment a human heart would typically grow within and infused the cardiac cells with a nutrient solution that facilitated growth. They left the cells there for two weeks.
  • After the two weeks, they shocked the hearts with electricity and it began beating. Furthermore, the tissue inside appeared to be well-structured and functional.
  • The study has been published in Circulation Research.

The team of scientists wrote:

“To show that functional myocardial tissue of human scale can be built on this platform, we then partially recellularized human whole-heart scaffolds with human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes. Under biomimetic culture, the seeded constructs developed force-generating human myocardial tissue and showed electrical conductivity, left ventricular pressure development, and metabolic function.”

Their goal is to eventually grow an entire human heart that is capable of being transplanted.

Print A Heart
“A 3D-printed, small-scaled human heart engineered from the patient’s own materials and cells.” (Credit: Advanced Science. © 2019 The Authors.)
“A 3D-printed, small-scaled human heart engineered from the patient’s own materials and cells.” (Credit: Advanced Science. © 2019 The Authors.)

The world’s first ‘printed’ 3D vascularized engineered heart by Tel Aviv University completely matches the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient because it uses a patient’s own cells and biological materials.

Here’s what they did:

  • First, a biopsy of fatty tissue was taken from patients.
  • Then, the cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were separated.
  • While the cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, the extracellular matrix (ECM), a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules such as collagen and glycoproteins, were processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing “ink.”
  • After being mixed with the hydrogel, the cells were efficiently differentiated to cardiac or endothelial cells to create patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire heart.
  • Their findings were published in the journal Advanced Science.
“Concept schematic. An omentum tissue is extracted from the patient and while the cells are separated from the matrix, the latter is processed into a personalized thermoresponsive hydrogel. The cells are reprogrammed to become pluripotent and are then differentiated to cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells, followed by encapsulation within the hydrogel to generate the bioinks used for printing. The bioinks are then printed to engineer vascularized patches and complex cellularized structures. The resulting autologous engineered tissue can be transplanted back into the patient, to repair or replace injured/diseased organs with low risk of rejection.” (Credit: Advanced Science. © 2019 The Authors.)
“Concept schematic. An omentum tissue is extracted from the patient and while the cells are separated from the matrix, the latter is processed into a personalized thermoresponsive hydrogel. The cells are reprogrammed to become pluripotent and are then differentiated to cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells, followed by encapsulation within the hydrogel to generate the bioinks used for printing. The bioinks are then printed to engineer vascularized patches and complex cellularized structures. The resulting autologous engineered tissue can be transplanted back into the patient, to repair or replace injured/diseased organs with low risk of rejection.” (Credit: Advanced Science. © 2019 The Authors.)

Prof. Tal Dvir of TAU’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology, who led the research for the study, said:

“This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and a chamber…This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. In our process these materials serve as the bioinks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models. People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future… At this stage, our 3D heart is small, the size of a rabbit’s heart. But larger human hearts require the same technology.”

The use of “native” patient-specific materials is crucial to successfully engineering tissues and organs. Prof. Dvir said:

“The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments. Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient’s own tissues. Here, we can report a simple approach to 3D-printed thick, vascularized and perfusable cardiac tissues that completely match the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient.”

The researchers are currently planning on culturing the printed hearts in the lab and “teaching them to behave” like hearts; then they will transplant them into animal models. Prof. Dvir said:

“We need to develop the printed heart further. The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can currently contract, but we need them to work together. Our hope is that we will succeed and prove our method’s efficacy and usefulness. Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.”

This article (World’s First 3D Printed Hearts, And Functional Beating Hearts Grown From Stem Cells) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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A Florida High School Is The First In The World To Provide Synthetic Frogs For Students To Dissect

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Florida High School Uses Synthetic Frogs For Dissection

Over six million frogs are killed each year for use in science labs in high schools across the world. However, now we have the technology to develop an exact replicated version of the anatomy of any species in artificial form. So, there’s no reason why we should continue to kill innocent frogs.

A high-school in New Port Richey, Florida, is leading the way to a guilt-free future, with no frog-blood on their hands. J.W Mitchell High School is the first school in the world to use synthetic frogs for their dissections in anatomy class. The school is using SynFrog’s instead of real frogs. SynFrog is developed by a company called SynDaver, based in a nearby town called Tampa.

Students dissect a SynFrog. Credit: SynDaver

SynDaver makes synthetic models of animals and humans for educational and surgical simulation purposes. Each artificial frog costs around $150, which is a lot more expensive than traditional frogs used in dissections. However, the schools can re-use synthetic frogs, which will save the school money in the long run.

Students dissect a SynFrog. Credit: SynDaver

Kurt Browning, Superintendent of Schools in Pasco County, said:

“The Pasco County School District is committed to being a leader in innovation and opportunity for students, so we are excited to announce that Mitchell High School is the first in the world to use SynFrogs in science labs, giving our students a learning experience, no other students have ever had.”

The synthetic frogs are designed to look and feel just like the real thing. However, it’s much safer to dissect compared to a real preserved frog because it’s free from potentially harmful chemicals like formalin. SynFrog’s are made out of water, fibers, and salts.

Students dissect a SynFrog. Credit: SynDaver
Students dissect a SynFrog. Credit: SynDaver
Students dissect a SynFrog. Credit: SynDaver

Founder and CEO of SynDaver, Dr. Christopher Sakezles, said:

“We’re excited to announce our revolutionary SynFrog, which is a far superior learning tool as it is designed to mimic living tissue. This makes it more like a live frog than the preserved specimens currently sold to schools for dissection labs.”

Sakezles commends Pasco County Schools for taking this monumental step to advance science education even further. “We want to thank PETA for their funding support, which helped with the initial development phase of the product and enabled us to deliver it faster than previously anticipated,” he added.

Thanks to a $150,000 donation from the animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the development of the SynFrog was made possible.

SynFrog. Credit: SynDaver
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Science Explains Why Certain People Experience ‘Déjà Vu’

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Photo Credit: Pexels

Déjà vu,’ the term of French origin mentions a psychological phenomenon, which occurs fleetingly at anytime and anywhere, affecting approximately 70% of the world’s population.

Most of us have had at least once in our lifetime a ‘déjà vu’ experience. It is a mysterious feeling where time seems to pass by in slow-motion, where you perceive information in such a way as if you had already experienced the current situation sometime in the distant past. However, none of us can explain it, little understand it. Researchers have mentioned numerous ’causes’ ranging from paranormal disturbances and neurological disorders and even multiple universes coexisting with ours.

When you come to experience a ‘déjà vu’ moment you feel mysteriously overtaken by a mysterious force which unconsciously tells you ‘this already happened before.’

According to a study by the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas A & M, this psychological phenomenon has occurred in about 70% of the general population.

“Because no clear, identifiable stimulus elicits a deja vu experience – it is a retrospective report from an individual – it is very difficult to study deja vu in a laboratory,” points out Michelle Hook, a professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

According to many studies, about two-thirds of people have experienced at least one episode of ‘déjà vu’ in their life,” added Dr. Michelle Hook.

Researchers describe the phenomenon as the result of a “technical problem” in the brain when a certain group of neurons related to the recognition and familiarity generates confusion between the present and the past.

However, Dr. Hook mentioned that according to some studies, the ‘déjà vu’ phenomenon can be attributed to a processing problem in the brain’s neural pathways.

Scientists explain it in the following way. Sensory information travels through several pathways before reaching higher cortical areas of the brain. The information travelling through different ‘routes’ usually reaches the brain at the same moment. However, there are exceptions when information does not reach the brain at the same time causing the ‘déjà vu’ feeling.

Some scientists suggest that when a difference in processing occurs along these pathways, the perception is disrupted and is experienced as two separate messages. The brain interprets the second version – coming through the slowed secondary pathway – as an independent experience. That is when the inappropriate feeling of deja vu occurs,” Hook explains.

Parallel Universe & ‘Déjà Vu.’

According to Dr. Michio Kaku, an American futurist, theoretical physicist and populariser of science, Parallel universes can explain the mysterious phenomenon and states that quantum physics provide the necessary details which suggest déjà vu might be caused by your ability to “flip between different universes.”

The idea that other universes (multiverse theory) exist has been supported by several scientists, among them Professor Steve Weinberg, a theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner. According to Professor Weinberg, it is possible that in the same room an infinite number of parallel realities coexist with us.

This article (Science Explains Why Certain People Experience ‘Déjà Vu’) was originally published at Ancient Code and is re-posted here under Creative Commons.

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Largest Study Of Its Kind Finds Cannabis Helps Prevent Alcohol-Related Liver Damage

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Photo Credit: Power of Possibility

John VibesGuest Writer

In a study published earlier this year by researchers at the National Institute of Scientific Research at the University of Quebec, cannabis can actually help counteract the harmful effects of alcohol to some degree.

The study found that cannabis use significantly lowered the odds of liver diseases like hepatitis, cirrhosis, steatosis, and even hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer.  Researchers formed these conclusions based on the medical records of roughly 320,000 patients who had a history of alcoholism.

According to the study:

“Abusive alcohol use has well‐established health risks including causing liver disease (ALD) characterized by alcoholic steatosis (AS), steatohepatitis (AH), fibrosis, cirrhosis (AC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Strikingly, a significant number of individuals who abuse alcohol also use Cannabis, which has seen increased legalization globally. While cannabis has demonstrated anti‐inflammatory properties, its combined use with alcohol and the development of liver disease remain unclear.”

Researchers have not determined why alcoholics who used cannabis had less of a chance of developing liver disease, but many suspect that it has something to do with the proven anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis.

These findings support the results of another study last year which concluded that cannabis helps with non-alcoholic liver disease as well.

According to last year’s study:

“It can be hypothesized that marijuana use may have potential beneficial effects on metabolic abnormalities such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Whether marijuana use plays a role in NAFLD pathogenesis via modification of shared risk factors, or by an independent pathway remains uncertain. In this population-based study, we assessed the association between marijuana use and NAFLD in the US.”

Despite the proven health benefits of cannabis and the fact that it becoming legal in new states every year, lawmakers and mainstream media pundits refuse to give up on the reefer madness hysteria that they built their careers on.

Just after these studies were published, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control banned the sale of cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages, totally ignoring the science that this actually makes the alcohol less harmful.

This attitude can be seen in the hysteria that was created when Elon Musk took a hit of cannabis on the Joe Rogan Podcast, after spending two hours drinking liquor. Of course, even though the herb is legal in the state where they recorded, and it is far less harmful than alcohol, people decided to focus on the cannabis use because of the stigma against it.

A 2015 study, published in the journal, ‘Scientific Reports,’ suggests that smoking cannabis is roughly 114 times safer than drinking  alcohol. Ironically, out of all the drugs that were researched in the  study, alcohol was actually the most dangerous, and it was the only  legal drug on the list.

Just behind alcohol, heroin and cocaine were listed as the next most dangerous, followed by tobacco, ecstasy, and meth. The criteria that  these drugs were arranged by, was according to the likelihood of a  person dying from consuming a lethal dose.

 “The results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been  overestimated in the past. At least for the endpoint of mortality, the (margin of exposure) for THC/cannabis in both individual and  population-based assessments would be above safety thresholds (e.g. 100  for data based on animal experiments). In contrast, the risk of alcohol  may have been commonly underestimated,” the report states. “Currently, the MOE results point to risk management  prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs.  The high MOE values of cannabis, which are in a low-risk range, suggest a  strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition  approach,” the report continues.

While this is not the first study to rank marijuana very low in terms of danger, it comes at a time when the debate surrounding marijuana legalization is more heated than ever before, with more and more people agreeing that it is time to end prohibition.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all.

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Scientists Develop Gel That Can Regrow Tooth Enamel

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Scientists Develop Gel That Can Regrow Tooth Enamel

Once tooth enamel breaks or wears away it’s over – it doesn’t grow back. That’s why dentists have to plug in the gaps with artificial fillings. But now, a team of scientists from China’s Zhejiang University and Jiujiang Research Institute says it has finally figured out how to regrow tooth enamel, a development that could totally upend dental care. The team developed a gel that has been found to help mouse teeth regrow enamel within 48 hours. The research has been published in the journal Science Advances.

Scientists Develop Gel That Can Regrow Tooth Enamel
Photo Credit: Zhejiang University

What exactly is enamel and why can’t it regrow? It is a mineralized substance with a highly complicated structure that covers the surface of teeth. The structure is made up of enamel rods interwoven with inter-rods in a fish scale pattern which makes it the hardest tissue in the human body. It is initially formed biologically but once mature it becomes acellular, meaning it becomes devoid of the ability to self-repair. This is why cavities (tooth decay) are one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in humans.

Electron microscope images of human tooth enamel that has been repaired for six, 12 and 48 hours. The blue area is the native enamel; the green is the repaired enamel. Photograph: Zhejiang University/Science Advances

Enamel is so complex that its structure has yet to be duplicated correctly artificially. Resins, ceramics and amalgam fillings can mend the problem but they are not a forever fix. The fact that they are made of foreign materials means they can’t achieve a permanent repair. The new gel made by the Chinese scientists is different because it is made of the same material as enamel. It is made by mixing calcium and phosphate ions – both minerals which are found in enamel – with the chemical called triethylamine in an alcohol solution.

Photo Credit: Zhejiang University

For now, the gel is only a promising sign that regenerative dentistry could someday heal tooth decay. There’s a long way to go before the gel can be used in human medicine because it is still too thin. Natural-grown enamel is 400 times thicker than that grown with assistance from the new gel. Until they can solve that piece of the puzzle, fillings will continue to be the more useful option for people with cavities for the foreseeable future.

The scientists are currently continuing the testing on mice and plan to eventually test the gel on people, tracking how the new enamel holds up as they go about their day, eating, drinking, and chewing.

This article (Scientists Develop Gel That Can Regrow Tooth Enamel) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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