93. Robot Performs Keyhole Surgery, Anti-Aging Vaccine Study, World’s First Offshore Charging Station
93. Robot Performs Keyhole Surgery, Anti-Aging Vaccine Study, World’s First Offshore Charging Station
Robot successfully performs keyhole surgery on pigs without human help | Unexpectech (01:24)
- US researchers say a robot has successfully performed keyhole surgery on pigs all on its own – without the guiding hand of a human.
- Keyhole surgery: a surgical method used to access the interior of the body through a small incision
- Furthermore, they add, the robot surgeon produced “significantly better” results than humans.
- The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (Star) carried out laparoscopic surgery to connect two ends of an intestine in four pigs.
- The first time a robot had performed that type of surgery without human help.
- Additionally, it excelled at the procedure, which requires a high level of precision and repetitive movements.
- Even a slight hand tremor or misplaced stitch during the surgery can result in a leak that could result in a patient suffering fatal complications.
- Axel Krieger, Mechanical Engineer at Johns Hopkins University, talked about the robot’s results:
- “Our findings show that we can automate one of the most intricate and delicate tasks in surgery: the reconnection of two ends of an intestine … The Star performed the procedure in four animals and it produced significantly better results than humans performing the same procedure.”
- According to the researchers, it is hard for robots to perform soft-tissue surgery because of how unpredictable it can be, forcing them to be able to adapt quickly to handle unexpected obstacles.
- The engineers of the robot set out to tackle that problem by creating a novel control system in the Star that can adjust the surgical plan in real time, just as a human surgeon would.
- Krieger believes providing repeatable high precision surgery is the best for patient care:
- “Robotic anastomosis (surgically joining two structures) is one way to ensure that surgical tasks that require high precision and repeatability can be performed with more accuracy and precision in every patient independent of surgeon skill. We hypothesize that this will result in a democratized surgical approach to patient care with more predictable and consistent patient outcomes.”
Frog regrows amputated leg after drug treatment | The Guardian (08:47)
- An African clawed frog has regrown a lost leg after being treated with a cocktail of drugs in a significant advance for regenerative medicine.
- Treated with the drugs for just 24 hours and this prompted an 18-month period of regrowth of a functional leg
- The demonstration raises the prospect that in the future drugs could be used to switch on similar untapped abilities for regeneration in human patients.
- Restoring tissues or organs
- Nirosha Murugan, first author on the paper, stated:
- “It’s exciting to see that the drugs we selected were helping to create an almost complete limb … The fact that it required only a brief exposure to the drugs to set in motion a months-long regeneration process suggests that frogs and perhaps other animals may have dormant regenerative capabilities that can be triggered into action.”
- Humans do have some regenerative capabilities
- Liver can regrow after being halved
- Children can regrow the tips of their fingers.
- Discussed the idea behind this on Episode 61, where researchers were looking at salamanders and mice.
- A class of proteins called toll-like receptors (TLRs) resulted in differing signals when loss of limbs.
- Mice: scar, Salamander: regrowth
- Mammal’s rapid formation of scar tissue protects us from blood loss and infection, but also prevents regrowth.
- What did they do to promote growth in the frog?
- Frog’s leg was amputated, which is a little messed up even if it did regrow
- Researchers enclosed the wound in silicone cap containing a five-drug cocktail
- Each had a different purpose, including reducing inflammation and the production of collagen to stop scar tissue growing.
- Also promote the growth of new nerve fibers, blood vessels and muscle.
- The experiment was repeated in dozens of frogs and many of those treated had a dramatic regrowth of tissue.
- Many re-creating an almost fully functional leg, including bone tissue and even toe-like structures at the end of the limb.
- The research team now plans to test the technique in mammals.
- Bob Lanza, head of Astellas Global Regenerative Medicine, who was not involved in the research, provides his thoughts on the study:
- “The study has extremely exciting ramifications for regenerative medicine … Although frogs have much greater regenerative capacity than humans, this is a very important first step. With the right combination of drugs and factors a similar approach could potentially spur regeneration and restore lost function in humans.”
Anti-aging vaccine clears out dysfunctional cells that cause disease | New Atlas (15:01)
- Many of the all-too-familiar symptoms of aging can be attributed to a build-up of senescent cells, those which have stopped dividing.
- According to the National Cancer Institute on senescence:
- “The process of growing old. In biology, senescence is a process by which a cell ages and permanently stops dividing but does not die. Over time, large numbers of old (or senescent) cells can build up in tissues throughout the body. These cells remain active and can release harmful substances that may cause inflammation and damage to nearby healthy cells. Senescence may play a role in the development of cancer and other diseases.”
- In a new study, researchers in Japan have identified a protein specific to these cells and developed a vaccine that can clear them away, with tests on mice reducing the effects of aging.
- Protein called GPNMB, which is expressed in high levels by the defunct cells
- This protein was also detected in high levels in patients with atherosclerosis, which is linked to senescence.
- To test what happens when GPNMB is removed the researchers fattened up mice to speed up senescence, then genetically eliminated cells that expressed GPNMB.
- Treated mice had fewer metabolic abnormalities and other molecular markers of aging compared to the control mice
- For humans, genetic elimination of those cells isn’t something that can be easily done. So, they developed a vaccine that could target the protein and induce the immune system to destroy cells that expressed it.
- This was then tested in three groups: young mice on a high fat diet, middle-aged mice, and mice with an accelerated aging disease known as progeria.
- Improvements were seen in all three groups
- Saw better metabolic function, more active, and a significantly longer median lifespan than the control mice.
- Question that I couldn’t find an answer: Did the results last for a lifespan of the mice? If not, then wouldn’t this be considered a treatment?
Using 3D printing for alloy materials innovation | TechXPlore (19:46)
- While millions of people around the world enjoy renewed mobility from hip and knee replacements, many don’t realize that the materials used in such implants have basically stayed the same since the 1960s.
- Titanium is strong, corrosion resistant, and lightweight, but it isn’t particularly well-matched to human bone and tissue, often leading to an implant’s eventual failure.
- The world of 3D printing is rapidly changing how materials can be designed, allowing for the materials development that can better meet societal needs
- Researchers provided a roadmap for industry and academics to use 3D printing to design new alloys, which are materials made up of two or more metallic elements.
- Lead on the research professor Amit Bandyopadhyay, stated that, “[3D Printing] is not just a platform to make a shape. It is also a platform to create new compositions for specific applications.”
- “With additive manufacturing or 3d printing, you can make a structure for your need on-demand with not only chemistry or composition control, but also with your desired functionalities at limited cost, time, and maintaining a smaller manufacturing footprint,” said Susmita Bose, a co-author on the paper.
- The researchers also emphasize that finding a successful recipe for an alloy will also mean that it has to be tested for regular manufacturing processes, making sure that it can be made consistently each time.
- also require being able to pass through regulatory review processes.
A Shipping Group Has Launched the World’s First Offshore Charging Station | Interesting Engineering (24:40)
- In a move to support the decarbonization of the maritime industry, Shipping group Maersk is launching StillStrom, an offshore vessel charging venture, to eliminate idle emissions
- They developed technology that will allow vessels to charge while moored to a buoy connected to land via a transmission line.
- Goal is to installing hundreds of full-scale offshore charging stations
- The vessels use electricity from charging stations, instead of consuming oil.
- Consume three to five tons of fuel when idle per day.
- Sebastian Klasterer Toft, Venture Programme Manager at Maersk Supply Service, states the company’s vision:
- “Our vision at Stillstrom is to enable maritime decarbonization, by providing the infrastructure that will allow vessels to charge from clean energy when idle offshore. The mission is to remove 5.5 million tons of CO2 within five years of commercial rollout, additionally eliminating particulate matter, NOx, and SOx.”
- Stillstrom has scheduled the installation of its offshore charging station to later this year at an offshore wind farm operated by Ørsted.
- Supply overnight power to one of Ørsted’s Service Operations Vessels
- Ørsted will be responsible for the grid integration of the charging buoy.
- The group aims to install between three and 10 buoys at up to 100 ports by 2028, Stillstrom manager Sebastian Klasterer Toft told Reuters.
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