Bionic Reconstruction Replaces Dysfunctional Arms with Robotic Prostheses

Serious injuries that damage nerve networks can leave entire appendages useless. According to the research published in The Lancet, three Austrian men who lost the functional ability to control one of their arms due to brachial plexus injuries have undergone a radical new procedure called bionic reconstruction. In summary, this involves a surgery to reposition nerves and muscle in preparation for amputation. The arm is replaced with an advanced powered prosthetic that integrates with the electrical activity coming from the prepared stump.

The technique required quite a bit of preparation from the patients, initially learning how to control a virtual arm via electrodes on the skin. Following that, a prosthetic arm was attached to the existing arm, a sort of hybrid to further develop a natural sense for using the robotic hand. Following amputation, further rehabilitation helped to train the brain to work with the new arm providing quite impressive results, allowing the patients to perform complex tasks. Here’s a video showing a patient’s ability at each stage of the process:

Study in The Lancet: Bionic reconstruction to restore hand function after brachial plexus injury: a case series of three patients…

The Lancet announcement…

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New Method for Creating Optimal Drug Combinations


Optimization of nanomedicine combination therapy. Schematic of a combination therapy based on nanodiamond-drug complexes for breast cancer treatment, left. The technology platform constructs a personalized response map that pinpoints the optimal drug-dose ratio, right.

Combination therapies, particularly in cancer treatment, are a popular way of attacking aggressive diseases, but they often miss their targets. Genetic data is typically used as a guide for targeting, but genes mutate and tumors can consist of different strains. Now researchers at UCLA have developed a new technique for creating patient specific combination drug regimens that, at least in laboratory tests, have shown more effective than existing techniques. Moreover, to make the drug therapy even more powerful, the team used nanodiamonds in helping to deliver drugs to neoplastic cells.

Instead of focusing on genetics, the so-called Feedback System Control.II uses phenotypic information in evaluating the effectiveness of a particular drug combination. Once the optimal combo therapy has been identified, the drugs are assembled along with nanodiamonds attached to their surface. The compounds were introduced to cancer cell lines and the the nanodiamonds acted as anchors that prevented the drugs from being excreted by the cancer cells. This allowed the drug therapy to act for longer periods of time, getting the most out of each drug payload without harming as many healthy cells nearby.

“This optimized nanodrug combination approach can be used for virtually every type of disease model and is certainly not limited to cancer,” said Dr. Chih-Ming Ho, a professor of mechanical engineering at UCLA  “Additionally, this study shows that we can design optimized combinations for virtually every type of drug and any type of nanotherapy.”

Study in ACS NanoMechanism-Independent Optimization of Combinatorial Nanodiamond and Unmodified Drug Delivery Using a Phenotypically Driven Platform Technology

More from UCLA: Cutting-edge technology optimizes cancer therapy with nanomedicine drug combinations…

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Cardioversione elettrica: dove metti le placche?

“Scusa Carlo, ma non puoi usare le piastre, le placche costano…” Ogni tanto il nostro primario ci fa notare che quando facciamo una cardioversione elettrica a un paziente con una fibrillazione atriale o un flutter sarebbe preferibile utilizzare le piastre del defibrillatore. Io obietto che la percentuale di successo delle placche è maggiore, anzi sono […]

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REMPARK Real-Time Parkinson’s Monitoring System


Researchers at Polytechnic University of Catalonia, aka BarcelonaTECH, have developed and are testing the new REMPARK (Personal Health Device for the Remote and Autonomous Management of Parkinson’s Disease) mobile Parkinson’s monitoring system. The device is worn on the side of the torso in a little fanny pack. It measures the person’s motor status, providing the data in real-time while evaluating patients in a clinical setting or recording the data for later analysis while the person is at home or out and about doing daily tasks.

The goal of the project is to help get a sense of each person’s level of impairment throughout the day, hopefully relying less on self-reporting of symptoms and achieving both breadth and accuracy of results. This can in turn help to decide on the medication regimens that are more appropriate to each person’s needs.

From BarcelonaTECH:

This is the first time in Europe that work has been done with outpatient data on Parkinson’s disease: the system has been tested with 50 patients at home rather than in the laboratory. A total of more than 50 volunteers from Spain, Italy, Ireland and Israel have participated in REMPARK.

The project ends on April 30. The preliminary results are good and pilot tests have compared the data of volunteers from the three countries. These results will be presented in a workshop on 21 April in Madrid, at which the contribution of the medical, social and economic benefits will be assessed.

The application of REMPARK will increase the independence of patients; it will improve management of the disease and treatment and rehabilitation of patients, and will avoid hospital admissions due to falls or poor compliance with medication. If REMPARK is incorporated as a tool for diagnosis and monitoring of the disease, it will improve the healthcare system in Europe, provide higher quality and more personalised care for Parkinson’s disease patients, and increase the sustainability of the public resources used.

Source: BarcelonaTECH…

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Lipid-Based Nanoparticles Ferry RNAi to Kill Brain Tumors

Hyaluronan-Grafted-Lipid-Based-NanoparticlesBrain tumors are not inherently more resistant to treatment than other cancers, but their location, protected by the skull and the blood-brain barrier, makes it challenging to target them effectively. In an attempt to deliver drugs inside glioma tumors, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel used lipid nanoparticles to ferry RNA interference (RNAi) molecules into tumor cells.

RNAi has been used in the past to halt the growth of cancers, but the new approach may allow its use for brain cancers. The lipid-based particles were coated with polysugar hyaluronan (HA), a substance that sticks to receptors only found on glioma cells. In pre-clinical testing using mice with human glioma implanted in their brains, the researchers showed that 60% of mice dosed with the new therapy lived for at least 100 days post-treatment. The control group that received traditional chemo lived for only a third of that.

Some details from the study abstract in ACS Nano:

Herein, we devised a localized strategy to deliver RNA interference (RNAi) directly to the GBM site using hyaluronan (HA)-grafted lipid-based nanoparticles (LNPs). These LNPs having an ionized lipid were previously shown to be highly effective in delivering small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) into various cell types. LNP’s surface was functionalized with hyaluronan (HA), a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan that specifically binds the CD44 receptor expressed on GBM cells. We found that HA-LNPs can successfully bind to GBM cell lines and primary neurosphers of GBM patients. HA-LNPs loaded with Polo-Like Kinase 1 (PLK1) siRNAs (siPLK1) dramatically reduced the expression of PLK1 mRNA and cumulated in cell death even under shear flow that simulate the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid compared with control groups. Next, a human GBM U87MG orthotopic xenograft model was established by intracranial injection of U87MG cells into nude mice. Convection of Cy3-siRNA entrapped in HA-LNPs was performed, and specific Cy3 uptake was observed in U87MG cells. Moreover, convection of siPLK1 entrapped in HA-LNPs reduced mRNA levels by more than 80% and significantly prolonged survival of treated mice in the orthotopic model. Taken together, our results suggest that RNAi therapeutics could effectively be delivered in a localized manner with HA-coated LNPs and ultimately may become a therapeutic modality for GBM.

Study in ACS NanoLocalized RNAi Therapeutics of Chemoresistant Grade IV Glioma Using Hyaluronan-Grafted Lipid-Based Nanoparticles…

Press release: Together, Nanotechnology and Genetic Interference May Tackle “Untreatable” Brain Tumors…

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10 Minute Test Diagnoses Ebola, Dengue, Yellow Fever


Ebola is continuing to infect people in the West Africa, but current testing techniques for the disease still take too much time. A new paper strip diagnostic device developed at MIT can spot Ebola, as well as dengue and yellow fever, simultaneously within ten minutes.

Using lateral flow technology, the device works much like a pregnancy test strip. Three different kinds of silver nanoparticles are used, each type having antibodies for a specific disease attached to them. When blood is passed through the strip the target viral proteins latch onto their matching antibodies and pull up the silver nanoparticles. The color of the test strip identifies the viral infection that the patient has. Hopefully this easy to use technology can lead to fewer people being infected and can help those that have the virus to receive earlier care.

From the study in Lab on a Chip:

Rapid point-of-care (POC) diagnostic devices are needed for field-forward screening of severe acute systemic febrile illnesses. Multiplexed rapid lateral flow diagnostics have the potential to distinguish among multiple pathogens, thereby facilitating diagnosis and improving patient care. Here, we present a platform for multiplexed pathogen detection using multi-colored silver nanoplates. This design requires no external excitation source and permits multiplexed analysis in a single channel, facilitating integration and manufacturing.

Study in Lab on a Chip: Multicolored silver nanoparticles for multiplexed disease diagnostics: distinguishing dengue, yellow fever, and Ebola viruses…

MIT: Simple paper strip can diagnose Ebola and other fevers within 10 minutes…

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