Tag Archives: artificial windpipe

More on synthetic windpipe; Swedes and Italians talk about nanoscience and medicine

There was a Swedish-Italian workshop on nanoscience and medical technology held in Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 29 and 30, 2011. It rates a mention here largely because there’s some additional information about the synthetic windpipe transplant that took place in June 2011 in Sweden. From the Oct. 14, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

A very important session was devoted to “tissue engineering”, i.e. the creation of artificial tissues and organs to replace diseased or damaged ones, thus reducing the need for human organs from donors for transplantation, whose availability is always difficult to predict. A “keynote lecturer”, in this field was held by Prof. Paolo Macchiarini, who recently joined the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm (the Institute that awards the Nobel Prize in Medicine each year).

Prof. Macchiarini presented the results of his recent surgery works, performed at the Karolinska, where for the first time a synthetic trachea (windpipe) made of porous nanocomposites was transplanted into a human patient. This was the base for the trachea reconstruction using stem cells from the patient himself, thus eliminating any possible problem of rejection. The artificial structure was designed to dissolve in a few months, leaving a totally natural organ. [emphasis mine] It is clear that this could be a first step in a revolution in regenerative medicine, reducing the need for conventional transplants, but it is also clear that the Prof. Macchiarini was able to perform this action thanks to the collaboration of experts in nanotechnology for the design of the scaffold, bioreactors for the growth of stem cells and biological tissues and dedicated infrastructure in Stockholm.

I must have missed it when the event (trachea transplant) was first made public (mentioned in my Aug. 2, 2011 posting) but I never realized the biocomposite was meant to dissolve.

Here’s a little more about the workshop, from the news item,

During the workshop, 18 Swedish and 18 Italian experts offered a comprehensive overview of the most prominent activities in the two Countries in several fields: bio-sensors, bio-electronics, contrast media for imaging and bio-analysis, nanoparticles for drug delivery eventually combined with diagnosis possibilities (known in the field as “theranostics”).

Several companies from both countries, including Bracco, Finceramica and Colorbbia from Italy as well as AstraZeneca and Spago Imaging from Sweden, presented their recent results in the field and gave a clear overview of the potential impact of nanotechnology in improving existing products as well as generating new solutions for the grand challenges that medicine is facing.

There are more details in the news item and at the Italian Embassy in Sweden’s Office of the Scientific Attaché in Sweden, Norway and Iceland workshop page.

Globe and Mail discovers nanomedicine

Business writer, Nick Rockel, has an October 4, 2011 article titled, Nano-technology [sic] coming to the doctor’s office, in The Globe and Mail newspaper. Dr. Jillian Buriak and her colleague, Dr.Lori West (my latest posting about their work was April 28, 2011) were heavily featured in it. From the Oct. 4, 2011 article in The Globe and Mail,

One of Dr. Buriak’s key collaborators on the transplantation project is Lori West, a U of A [University of Alberta] professor of pediatrics, surgery and immunology. Dr. West, a renowned cardiac transplant expert, is known for her discovery that children younger than two will not reject a heart from a donor with a different blood type.

That’s because the immune system is still developing during infancy. Even more remarkably, if a baby with Type A blood gets a Type B heart, it will develop a lifelong tolerance for B and AB blood.

The U of A team “functionalized” so-called stealth nano-particles with the antigens, or markers, that blood cells use to recognize each other. In animal tests, it introduced these particles into the bloodstream in an attempt to teach the body to tolerate every blood type.

Dr. Buriak, who hopes to move to more advanced models by 2015, says the nano-particles could eventually join the standard set of shots that children receive. “Later, if you ever had to have an organ transplant or a transfusion, you wouldn’t have to wait for the right one – you could just take any of them.”

Buriak’s and West’s strategy for avoiding organ rejection contrasts with the strategy used by a joint (Swedish/UK/US) team, which I featured in an August 2, 2011 posting about their work transplanting a synthetic windpipe coated with stem cells harvested from the patient receiving the new organ.

Rockel’s article goes on to provide descriptions of other nanomedicine initiatives (a mix of Canadian- and US-based projects). He employs the usual ‘war against disease’ rhetorical style common to articles about any kind of medicine even when he’s including a ‘kinder, gentler’ quote such as,

People keep asking when her field will deliver a killer app like the cure for cancer, Dr. Buriak says. “But what nanotechnology has done more than anything else is bring people together who normally would never talk to each other,” she explains. [emphases mine]

As one would expect from a business writer, the article concludes with a list of three commercially available nanomedicne products. I wish Rockel had stated whether or not he’s done additional research into these products since this list is culled from the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) database. As I’ve noted before (my July 26, 2011 posting) there is no oversight provided by PEN nor does the organization require any description of how the product is nanotechnology-enable, as they openly admit.

I’m glad to see more coverage of nanotechnology and that writers from many specialties are learning about it. As for why I described Nick Rockel as a business writer, here’s his description of his work,

Market forces are one thing, but you can’t force somebody to read about the markets. Nick Rockel helps you connect with your audience. A veteran writer and editor, Nick knows how to grab people’s attention by giving them access to the financial and investment world. Whether it’s hedge funds or herding behaviour, he presents complex subjects in clear and simple terms, without any jargon or bafflegab. Most important, Nick finds the story behind the numbers and makes it resonate with readers.

He advertizes himself as providing Financial Wrting, Editing & Research.