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Knit One, Pearl Two

Perfect holiday gifts.

Way back in the early ears of World News Center I wrote a fun article about medical advancements that were coming down the pike at a rapid rate. One, human limb regeneration, has hit a tiny snag. Simply put, it doesn’t work. Here’s the thing, while many life forms on our planet can, and do, regenerate limbs, they are far less complex than people. The working parts in a simple hand number thirteen and that’s just an overview. Fingers count as one, for example. Add in the capillaries, supporting tissues, and so on and there’s a lot that needs to happen, in the right order, to make one work. But all is not lost. The science behind the research is still yielding some amazing results. “How amazing?” you ask tentatively.

How about this.

SCIENTISTS CAN GROW A HUMAN HEART IN A PETRI DISH!

And it works.

For the needs of this study, researchers immersed 73 human hearts (unsuitable for transplantation) in solutions of detergent to remove any cells that may trigger the self-destructive response. They were left with the scaffold of the human heart, filled with blood vessels. This as their foundation.

Pluripotent stem cells may become bone, nerve, and even muscle cells in the body.

Researchers turned human skin cells into pluripotent stems cells that were later induced into becoming heart cells. These cells could grow on the scaffold when soaked in a nutrient solution.

About 610,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. The new findings may bring this number down.

In two week, the cells were part of immature hearts. When researchers used electricity, the hearts started beating. The body may consider these cells “friendly.” Of course, the original skin cells have to be sourced from the same body.

Jacques Guyette, a biomedical researcher at the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and lead author of the study, explained that his team will try to improve the methods, and generate more cardiac cells.

“Growing” a new heart requires “tens of billions” heart cells, and researchers “made” 500 million stem cell-derived heart cells.

This brings us a step closer towards providing a new, healthy organ to patients waiting for a heart transplant.

The resulting heart is a low risk for rejection, is functional, and will save lives once it goes public.

Now that we’re using the human body as source material we’re finding more and more amazing things.

Like yarn.

Quit laughing.

I’m talking about a bio-yarn that can be used in surgery. Since it can be built with the patient’s own cells, rejection isn’t an issue. And, bonus, since it grows into the skin it leaves a smaller scar, if any. Sutures used inside the body won’t need to be monitored for infections since they were part of you to begin with.

Victor Tangerman, over at Futurism.com, explains the process.

A team of researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux have grown yarn from human skin cells that they call a “human textile” — and they say it could be used by surgeons to close wounds or assemble implantable skin grafts.

“These human textiles offer a unique level of biocompatibility and represent a new generation of completely biological tissue-engineered products,” the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Acta Biomateriala.

The key advantage of the gruesome yarn is that unlike conventional synthetic surgical materials, the material doesn’t trigger an immune response that can complicate the healing process, according to New Scientist.

To create it, according to the magazinethe researchers cut sheets of human skin cells into long strips — and then “wove” them into a yarn-like material that can be fabricated into a variety of shapes.

“We can sew pouches, create tubes, valves and perforated membranes,” lead researcher Nicholas L’Heureux told New Scientist. “With the yarn, any textile approach is feasible: knitting, braiding, weaving, even crocheting.”

So far, the researchers have used the special yarn to stitch a rat’s wounds and help it fully heal over two weeks. They even created a skin graft, using a custom-made loom, to seal a sheep’s artery and stop it from leaking.

Related to that, scientists and doctors are already working with bio-glue. Approved by the FDA (see the link) back in 2017, it has been an amazing boon to patients.

I’ll let the nice people at Cryolife, who invented it, tell you all about it.

BioGlue’s two components, purified bovine serum albumin (BSA) and glutaraldehyde, are dispensed by a controlled delivery system. Once dispensed, the two components are fully mixed within the applicator tip. BioGlue, upon application to the tissue at the repair site, creates a flexible mechanical seal independent of the body’s clotting mechanisms.

BioGlue begins to polymerize within 20 to 30 seconds and reaches full strength within two minutes. BioGlue also adheres to synthetic graft materials through mechanical bonding within the interstices of the graft matrix.

Now, on a bit of a related tangent; science isn’t perfect. It’s a not a straight line from “I’ve got an idea” to “Let’s fix people.” The limb regeneration project I noted above is a prime example. But, and this is a big BUT, science works by testing, retesting, verifying, and only then applying the results on people.

Now, too many people, for a lot of reasons which mostly hinge on ignorance and fear, are eschewing scientific remedies for stuff that’s ripped from Medieval medical practices. And that has dire consequences. Diseases, long beaten, are making a come back. Measles, mumps, and cholera are all things again and many scientists are worried that small pox, a disease I lampooned in my story Vorbliss, is rearing its woe-begotten head as well.

Brandy Zadrozny, of NBC News, tells a sad, and avoidable, story.

A 4-year-old in Colorado died from flu this week. Days before, his mom reached out to Facebook’s biggest anti-vaxx group. Members told her not to take the Tamiflu a doctor had prescribed, but give him oils and elderberries and put potatoes in his socks.

Simply put, there is no reason to die from the flu. There is a possibility, around one in a million (literally) that a person could have a serious reaction to the vaccine, but that reaction is known and treatable.

According to the CDC, there is a link between the flu shot and GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome), but it’s extremely rare. Statistics show 1 to 2 people develop GBS from the flu shot per 1-million vaccinations.

Officials with the Southern Nevada Health District say the risk of developing GBS is actually higher if you catch the flu.

“The benefit from the flu vaccine greatly overcomes any specific rare condition like this one that might happen,” said Fermin Leguen, Chief Medical Officer with the Health District.

I’m not saying to take every scientific announcement at face value. I recently wrote about a treatment that doesn’t even meet the basic criteria for treating Alzheimer’s that is getting fast tracked due to the fact it’s got a lot of rich investors who are trying to get richer.

But, since science is still science, it’s getting serious blow back and isn’t available to the masses. If the test results shown are true, it never will.

You’d be better off stuffing potatoes in your socks.


Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.
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