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Striving for higher res imaging of cells, Harvard team debuts startup with backing from ARCH, Northpond – Endpoints News

By daniellenierenberg

When the tech VCs at Andreessen Horowitz entered biotech 4.5 years ago with the $200 million bio fund I, the idea was simple and hubristic: Were not going to do biotech, Vijay Pande said at the time, keeping a16zs longtime stance. Instead, the bio fund is really about funding software companies in the bio space.

In the near-half decade since, they havent softened their rhetoric. Pande and general partner Jorge Condes frequent blog posts often have the tone ofBurning Man technofuturists. Talking of a foundational shift in biology, bio-revolution, and the meaning of life, and dropping koans like what is medicine? has turned them into the well-financed New Age mystics of an AI-driven and bioengineered future.

Today, Andreessen Horowitz is launching bio fund III and putting $750 million behind it more than funds I and II combined. Theyve added new partners, as they did before fund I and II, picking up technologist and entrepreneur Julie Yoo and Vineeta Agarwala, a GV and Broad Institute alumn. Itll take much of the same tack as the earlier funds, investing early and occasionally up to Series B, and pouring funds not only into therapeutics, but also diagnostics, synthetic biology and startups bringing biological advances into other sectors, such as agriculture.

But Conde tells Endpoints News that the group has learned a thing or two since fund I. Pande had talked about extending Moores law to biology through digital therapeutics but they were wrong. It wasnt just about software and artificial intelligence. It was about the long list of ways how biology was done, how drugs were discovered and how the whole healthcare system functions. It was biotechs that worked both with machine learning and wet labs, and founders conversant in both.

Since then, theyve invested in companies like Insitro that integrate AI as a core but not sole part of a drug development chain and Asimov, which is trying to use AI and other tech systems to design a genome from scratch. They even invested in EQRx, Alexander Boriseys startup trying to use me-too drugs to change pricing.

In October, Conde, Pande and Yoo published their most soaring blog post yet: Biology is Eating the World: A Manifesto. They wrote: We are at the beginning of a new era, where biology has shifted from an empirical science to an engineering discipline.

Before the funds launch, though, Conde told Endpoints were at the end of the beginning for that era.

He talked about what theyve learned since bio I, where biology and biotech is headed and how well know when the convergence between engineering and biology hes been prophesizing has arrived.

You called this the end of the beginning for a new era. What does that mean?

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Striving for higher res imaging of cells, Harvard team debuts startup with backing from ARCH, Northpond - Endpoints News

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AskBio Announces First Patient Dosed in Phase 1 Trial Using AAV Gene Therapy for Congestive Heart Failure – BioSpace

By daniellenierenberg

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. , Feb. 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), a clinical-stage adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy company, and its NanoCor Therapeutics subsidiary today announced that the first patient has been dosed in a Phase 1 clinical trial of NAN-101. NAN-101 is a gene therapy that aims to activate protein phosphatase inhibitor 1 (I-1c) to inhibit the activity of protein phosphatase 1 (PP1), a substance that plays an important role in the development of heart failure.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart is unable to supply sufficient blood and oxygen to the body and can result from conditions that weaken the heart muscle, cause stiffening of the heart muscles, or increase oxygen demand by the body tissues beyond the hearts capability.

"Dosing the first patient using gene therapy to target I-1c to improve heart function is a tremendous milestone not only for the AskBio and NanoCor teams but, more importantly, for patients whose quality of life is negatively affected by CHF, said Jude Samulski, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of AskBio. We initially developed this gene therapy as treatment for late-stage Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients who typically die from cardiomyopathy. Following preclinical studies, we observed that heart function improved, which led us to investigate treatment for all types of heart failure.

Were excited to be involved in this novel approach for patients with Class III heart failure, said Timothy Henry, MD, FACC, MSCAI, Lindner Family Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research and Medical Director of The Carl and Edyth Lindner Center for Research at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and principal investigator for the study. These patients currently have no other options besides transplant and left ventricular assist devices (LVAD). Today, we started to explore the potential of gene therapy to change their outcomes.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, with CHF affecting an estimated 1% of the Western world, including over six million Americans. There is no cure, and medications and surgical treatments only seek to relieve symptoms and slow further damage.

Research by many investigators around the world has been trying to understand what exactly goes wrong in the heart and weakens its pumping activity until it finally fails, said Evangelia (Litsa) Kranias, PhD, FAHA, Hanna Professor, Distinguished University Research Professor and Director of Cardiovascular Biology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The aim has been to identify potential therapeutic targets to restore function or prevent further deterioration of the failing heart. Along these lines, research on the role of I-1c started over two decades ago, and it moved from the lab bench to small and large animal models of heart failure. The therapeutic benefits at all levels were impressive. It is thrilling to see I-1c moving into clinical trials with the hope that it also improves heart function in patients with CHF.

About the NAN-101 Clinical Trial NAN-CS101 is a Phase 1 open-label, dose-escalation trial of NAN-101 in subjects with NYHA Class III heart failure. NAN-101 is administered directly to the heart via an intracoronary infusion by cardiac catheterization in a process similar to coronary angioplasty, commonly used to deliver treatments such as stem cells to patients with heart disease. The primary objective of the study is to assess the safety of NAN-101 for the treatment of NYHA Class III heart failure, as well as assess the impact of this treatment on patient health as measured by changes in exercise capacity, heart function and other factors including quality of life.

AskBio is actively enrolling patients with NYHA Class III heart failure to assess three doses of NAN-101. Please refer to clinicaltrials.gov for additional clinical trial information.

Would you like to receive our AskFirst patient engagement program newsletter? Sign up at https://www.askbio.com/patient-advocacy.

About The Christ Hospital Health Network The Christ Hospital Health Network is an acute care hospital located in Mt. Auburn with six ambulatory centers and dozens of offices conveniently located throughout the region. More than 1,200 talented physicians and 6,100 dedicated employees support the Network. Its mission is to improve the health of the community and to create patient value by providing exceptional outcomes, the finest experiences, all in an affordable way. The Network has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as the 24th best large employer in the nation in the magazines Americas 500 Best Large Employers listing and by National Consumer Research as the regions Most Preferred Hospital for more than 22 consecutive years. The Network is dedicated to transforming care by delivering integrated, personalized healthcare through its comprehensive, multi-specialty physician network. The Christ Hospital is among only eight percent of hospitals in the nation to be awarded Magnet recognition for nursing excellence and among the top five percent of hospitals in the country for patient satisfaction. For more than 125 years, The Christ Hospital has provided compassionate care to those it serves.

About AskBioFounded in 2001, Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio) is a privately held, clinical-stage gene therapy company dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with genetic disorders. AskBios gene therapy platform includes an industry-leading proprietary cell line manufacturing process called Pro10 and an extensive AAV capsid and promoter library. Based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, the company has generated hundreds of proprietary third-generation AAV capsids and promoters, several of which have entered clinical testing. An early innovator in the space, the company holds more than 500 patents in areas such as AAV production and chimeric and self-complementary capsids. AskBio maintains a portfolio of clinical programs across a range of neurodegenerative and neuromuscular indications with a current clinical pipeline that includes therapeutics for Pompe disease, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2i/R9 and congestive heart failure, as well as out-licensed clinical indications for hemophilia (Chatham Therapeutics acquired by Takeda) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Bamboo Therapeutics acquired by Pfizer). For more information, visit https://www.askbio.com or follow us on LinkedIn.

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Mobility Devices Market to Reach $14.86 Billion by 2026; Rising Incidence of Physical Disabilities Worldwide to Favor Growth of the Market: Fortune…

By daniellenierenberg

Pune, Feb. 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The global Mobility Devices Market size is projected to reach USD 14.86 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.9% during the forecast period. Staggering rate of growth of geriatric population across the globe will be one of the crucial factors driving this market in the upcoming decade. Old age entails a plethora of disorders that generally restrict mobility in aged individuals and render them helpless. Given the rate at which the world population is ageing, the demand for devices aiding mobility is likely to spike. According the UNs Population Division, DESA, people at or above 60 years of age are currently numbered at 962 million. In the next three decades, the global geriatric population will reach 2.1 billion, predicts the DESA. Furthermore, old people are more susceptible to accidents associated deteriorating motor functions. For instance, the National Council of Aging estimates about 2.8 million aged Americans are rushed to hospital emergency rooms annually as a result of falling. Thus, a combination of aging and mishaps associated with the process will fuel the Mobility Devices Market trends during the forecast period.

For more information in the analysis of this report, visit: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/mobility-devices-market-100520

Fortune Business Insights shares the above and other valuable market information in its recent report, titled Mobility Devices Market Size, Share & Industry Analysis, By Product (Wheelchairs, Mobility Scooters, Walking Aids, and Others); By End-user (Personal Users and Institutional Users); and Regional Forecast, 2019-2026, which states that the value of this market was at USD 8.75 billion in 2018. The report also provides:

Growing Aging Population and Rise in Mobility Impairment Disorders to Drive the Market

The older population around the globe is continuously growing at an unprecedented rate. Aging decreases the ability to move and reduces the ability to perform physical tasks to maintain independent functioning among the elderly population. The growing older population count is likely to increase the percentage usage of mobile devices during the forecast period. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2017, the global population aged 60 years or over was around 962 million and is projected to reach about 2.1 billion by 2050. Rising prevalence of chronic conditions such as arthritis, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy among every age group is expected to increase the demand for highly advanced mobility aid devices during the forecast period.

Request a Sample Copy of the Research Report: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/enquiry/request-sample-pdf/mobility-devices-market-100520

North America to Lead the Pack; Europe to Follow Closely

Among regions, North America is set to dominate the Mobility Devices Market share owing to the rising prevalence mobility-related disorders in the region. Coupled with this is the increasing number of aged people in the region, which will propel the regional market.

Europe is anticipated to be the second most dominant region in this market on account of high proportion of aged people with mobility impairment. Asia-Pacific is touted to be the most promising region as geriatric population in the region is growing, while unmet needs of the people in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa will create lucrative market opportunities.

Focus on Patient Safety and Comfort to Drive Innovation Among Players

Strengthening market position is expected to be the primary focus of key players in this market, says one of our lead analysts. One of the leading strategies adopted is increasing investment in innovation to come up with novel solutions, keeping patient comfort and safety in mind. Some players are also expanding their global presence through collaborations and acquisitions.

Industry Developments:

List of Top Players Profiled in the Mobility Devices Market Report:

Have Any Query? Ask Our Experts: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/enquiry/speak-to-analyst/mobility-devices-market-100520

Detailed Table of Content:

TOC Continued.!

Request for Customization: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/enquiry/customization/mobility-devices-market-100520

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Mobility Devices Market to Reach $14.86 Billion by 2026; Rising Incidence of Physical Disabilities Worldwide to Favor Growth of the Market: Fortune...

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UAB: 50 years of Improving Birmingham, Alabama and the World – Birmingham Times

By daniellenierenberg

UAB Magazine

Written by Charles Buchanan, Brett Bralley and Jay Taylor with editorial contributions from Matt Windsor and UAB Public Relations. Images from UAB Archives, Rachel Hendrix, Andrea Mabry, Sarah Parcak, Steve Wood and Getty Images. Web design by Tyler Bryant. Reprinted by permission of UAB Magazine.

UABs birth was like a ray of sunlight punching through the smog.

In 1969 the newly independent university, uniting a pioneering academic medical center and a growing extension center, brought the promise of a brighter future to a city eager for change.

Birmingham is better because of UAB. So are Alabama, America, and the world. In the following pages, discover some of the many ways that UAB has fulfilled its promiseby saving lives, solving problems, expanding knowledge, and opening doorsover 50 years.

1

Best of the best

UABs accolades shine a global spotlight on Birmingham and Alabama:

2

A way to retrain the brain

Most scientists once believed that neuroplasticitythe brains ability to grow or repair itselfended in childhood. But research by UAB neuroscientist Edward Taub, Ph.D., contributed to a shift in thinking, and in the 1990s he developed constraint-induced (CI) therapy for stroke patients with poorly functioning limbs. As the intensive training helps patients learn to accomplish tasks with their affected limbs, the brain adapts by strengthening communication with those parts of the body. And the results have been remarkable: Most patients see a clinically significant level of improvement in their ability to use their affected limbs, and brain scans have shown an increase in gray matter. Taub and UAB clinical psychologist Gitendra Uswatte, Ph.D., have used CI therapy to help thousands of stroke patientsand adapted it for patients impacted by cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury. Today CI therapy is in use worldwide.

3

Discoveries on ice

UAB scientists conduct a lot of research in the fieldbut none may go as far afield as James McClintock, Ph.D.; Charles Amsler, Ph.D.; and Maggie Amsler. Their investigations take place at Palmer Station, Antarctica6,898 miles from their campus offices. For two decades, the biologists have led teams that dive into the frigid waters surrounding the icy continent to study the chemical ecology of the unique marine algae and invertebrates living there. What theyve discovered could aid the search for new drugs to help humans. The group also chronicles the dramatic impact of climate change, such as ocean acidification, on Antarctic marine life. You can see climate change happening there like no other place on earth, says McClintock.

4

A pinch of prevention

UAB endocrinologist Constance Pittman, M.D., turned her research passioniodines impact on thyroid functioninto a global mission. In the 1990s and 2000s, she teamed up with Kiwanis International and UNICEF to help eradicate iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), a prevalent cause of cognitive disabilities. Pittman traveled the world to convince companies to add iodine to table saltthe simplest solution for preventing IDD. And her work helped make a lasting impact.

5

Target: Diabetes

In 1973, UAB opened the nations first public diabetes hospitaland the first linked with an academic medical center. Today physicians on the front lines of the diabetes epidemic have an exciting new option to help their patients, thanks to breakthrough research from UABs Comprehensive Diabetes Center.

6

Sharing stories that matter

WBHM 90.3 FM radio went on the air in 1976 as the 200th National Public Radio (NPR)-affiliated station. A member-supported service of UAB, WBHM provides global news and award-winning local coverage to Birmingham and the surrounding region. The station also recently welcomed StoryCorps, an NPR-affiliated initiative, to collect stories from the Birmingham community that will be housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

7

Book of Life

Its tough to find a physician anywhere in the world who hasnt learned a few things from Tinsley Harrison, M.D. The legendary School of Medicine cardiologist and dean created and edited Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine, which has been reprinted 20 times, translated into 14 languages, and become arguably the most recognized book in all of medicine, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

8

Foresight

The School of Optometry has been a pioneer since it opened in 1969 as the nations first optometry school associated with an academic medical center. Three years later, it became the first optometry teaching program affiliated with a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, establishing a national model. Today more than 2,500 optometry staff and students from various schools work in the VA system nationwide.

9

Helping our hometown

Living and working in the heart of the city, UAB students, faculty, and staff cant help but feel a connection to Birmingham. Here are just a few ways Blazers have volunteered to support their neighbors:

10

A whole new ball game

Gene Bartow Mens basketball coach1977-1996

UAB started a winning tradition in 1977 when it hired coach Gene Bartow away from powerhouse UCLA to start a mens basketball program. He created a legendary team able to topple top rivals and reach the NCAA Tournament in just its third seasonthe first of 15 NCAA Tournament and 12 National Invitational Tournament appearances on its record. As UABs first athletic director, Bartow also helped UAB compete in other arenas. Today student-athletes in 18 sports give Birmingham reasons to cheer. Take a spin through some of the Blazers most memorable moments:

11

New views of history

Its as if Indiana Jones and Google Earth had a love child. Thats how UAB anthropology faculty member and National Geographic fellow Sarah Parcak, Ph.D., described space archaeology to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show in 2016. She has pioneered the use of high-resolution satellite imagery to search for the buried remains of lost civilizations. And her discoveries have thrilled people worldwide, including Colbert. She was even mentioned in a Jeopardy! answer earlier this year.

12

Defense team

UAB immunologists have been among the first to shed light on the mechanisms powering our bodys defenses:

13

Game changers

Future football helmets may better protect athletes thanks to mechanical engineering professor Dean Sicking, Ph.D. (Before coming to UAB, he developed the lifesaving SAFER barriers used on NASCAR and IndyCar courses.) Analyzing data from thousands of helmet-to-helmet impacts in football, Sicking has developed designs for a new helmet that could address concussionsabsorbing as much energy of the impact as possible so that the athlete has less risk of brain injury.

14

The dividends of discovery

In 2018-2019, UAB received $602 million in research grants and awardsjust one year after surpassing the $500-million milestone for the first time. We are aiming high and exceeding our goals, and it is a testament to the UAB research communitys great ideas, hard work, and will to succeed, says Christopher Brown, Ph.D., vice president for research. A rise in research funding means more opportunities to explore the frontiers of knowledgebut it also enables UAB to attract top minds from around the country in health care, engineering, the sciences, and more, plus create new jobs that boost the local economy. Want to ensure that UAB continues its upward trajectory? Philanthropic support helps position the university to attain competitive research grants.

15

Giant leaps

Space is the place for UAB people and technology:

Researcher Larry DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., became the first optometrist in orbit with a 1992 mission aboard the shuttle Columbia. There he conducted experiments to grow protein crystals, which give scientists a 3D view of protein structuresand a greater understanding of the roles they play in disease. DeLucas also served as chief scientist for the International Space Station in 1994-1995.

Astrophysicist Thomas Wdowiak, Ph.D., passed away in 2013, but his name lives onon Mars. The Red Planets Wdowiak Ridge honors the physics faculty members role in NASAs Mars Exploration Project. Wdowiak was in charge of operating the Mossbauer spectrometers onboard the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that helped uncover firm evidence that water once existed on Mars.

16

Focus on finances

Would you like to get better at saving, budgeting, or investing? Or do you dream of launching a business? The Regions Institute for Financial Education in the Collat School of Business has been helping people throughout the community develop practical, lifelong financial management skills since 2015. Some of its programs include a Money Math Camp for middle schoolers, a College Bridge Camp to prepare high schoolers for life after graduation, and for adults, a Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair Workshop.

17

Going green

Campus expansions have reshaped Birminghams Southside, and UAB works hard to be a good steward of that spaceand set a sustainable example. In 2008, UAB brought open green space into the heart of Birmingham by converting a city street into the Campus Green. Now UAB is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and establish a clean energy standard of 20-percent renewable energy by 2025.

18

Ingenuity vs. Infection

Virus vanguards

Antiviral therapies are essential for treating everything from influenza to HIV. In 1977, UAB pediatrics experts Richard Whitley, M.D., and Charles Alford, M.D., helped spark the antiviral revolution by developing vidarabine, the first drug to treat encephalitis caused by the herpes simplex virus. In the 1990s, Whitley and his team transformed the herpes virus into a genetically engineered weapon against tumors.

Vaccines for everyone

The laboratory of Moon Nahm, M.D., is a national treasure, notes the National Institutes of Health. But its discoveries could help protect millions of children worldwide threatened by S. pneumoniae infections, the leading cause of pneumonia. (Nahms lab also is designated a World Health Organization Pneumococcal Reference Laboratory.) His mission is to make pneumonia vaccines more affordable for use in developing countries.

Global guardian

GeoSentinel is a worldwide network of clinics watching for potential pandemics in an increasingly interconnected world, ready to relay information quickly about new disease outbreaks and effective treatments. And it has Alabama roots. UAB travel medicine expert David Freedman, M.D., cofounded GeoSentinel, a collaboration between the International Society for Travel Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the 1990s. He also directed the network for 20 years.

19

Staying safe on the road

In 2002, UAB public health researchers unveiled the Digital Childa pioneering computer model evaluating the physical consequences of car crashes on young passengers at various stages of developmentto generate data that could lead to improved child safety devices. Shift gears to today, and researchers in UABs TRIP (Translational Research for Injury Prevention) Lab use virtual realitya first-of-its-kind SUV simulator built with Honda Manufacturing of Alabamato study distracted driving in an effort to save lives. The TRIP Lab also has a portable simulator for schools and community events to help educate students and others on the dangers of distracted driving.

20

A home for Birmingham history

Odessa WoolfolkEducator and civic leader

When Birmingham first dreamed of developing a civil rights museum and research center, UABs Odessa Woolfolk, then special assistant to the president and director of community relations, and Horace Huntley, Ph.D., a historian and first director of the African American studies program, helped lead efforts to turn that idea into a reality. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute opened in 1992, with Woolfolk as president of its board of directors. Huntley also directed the institutes Oral History Project, which preserves the accounts of foot soldiers and other witnesses to the Birmingham campaign. Today the BCRI attracts visitors from around the world and is a key component of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

21

Invention in action

Faculty, staff, and students are designing the future for the rest of us. Preview some of their ingenious solutions:

Each year, biomedical engineering and business students develop technologies to help people overcome physical limitations. Examples include a joystick-controlled wheelchair for toddlerswhich won an international awardbuilt for the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs, and a special scale to help wheelchair users monitor their weight, used by the Lakeshore Foundation. Another design, a mechanical umbrella to protect power wheelchair users from rainy weather, scored second place at the 2018 World Congress on Biomechanics.

Graphic design students in UABs Bloom Studio unleash their talents to support local nonprofits and underserved communities. You can spot their work on license plates and signs that promote and protect the Cahaba Riverpart of a collaboration with the Cahaba River Society.

Solution Studios pairs Honors College, engineering, and nursing students with UAB health professionals to tackle everyday problems affecting patient care. One team has designed a device prototype that could improve quality of life for patients wearing ostomy bags to expel waste. Another has focused on new, more comfortable methods of applying wires to the skin in settings such as intensive care units.

22

Spreading the word

Low literacy levels translate into increased high school dropout rates, a lower-performing workforce, and higher rates of social problems, say UAB School of Education experts. For years UABs Maryann Manning, Ed.D., led the charge to improve literacy across Alabama, launching programs such as a conference that attracted thousands of local schoolchildren to share their writing with authors and illustrators. Today the Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center continues her legacy, providing enrichment activities in reading, writing, math, arts, and science for children and helping teachers across Alabama learn innovative strategies to foster literacy skills in their classrooms.

23

The heart of innovation

John Kirklin, M.D.Surgery superstar

John Kirklin, M.D., helped put Birmingham on the medical map when he was recruited in 1966 to chair the Department of Surgery. He already was a superstar at the Mayo Clinic, where he had revolutionized cardiovascular surgery by improving the heart-lung machine and performing the first operations for a variety of congenital heart malformations. At UAB he continued to pursue new methods and techniques, such as the development of a computerized intensive care unit with continuous monitoring of vital functions, which became a model for ICUs worldwide.

When Kirklin passed away in 2004, colleagues estimated his medical innovations had saved millions of lives. And his legacy thrives in other ways: UAB is a world-class medical center in part because of Kirklins work behind the scenes, where he championed the combination of public and private investments to foster growth. His textbook, Cardiac Surgery, remains a must-read for anyone in the field. His name lives on in The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital, which opened in 1992. And his son, cardiothoracic surgeon James Kirklin, M.D., directs UABs James and John Kirklin Institute for Research in Surgical Outcomes.

24

Birthplace of new businesses

UABs ideas and energy are an engine for entrepreneurship. The university was a founder of Birminghams Innovation Depot, where start-up companiessome born from UAB research breakthroughsfind the resources they need to grow. Today Innovation Depot is the Southeasts largest high-tech business incubator, home to more than 100 companies.

25

University of opportunity

In the fall of 2019, underrepresented students made up nearly 42 percent of UABs enrollment, and 20.5 percent of undergraduates were first-generation students. UAB has a long history of widening access to higher educationand potential careers in science and health careamong diverse students. Back in 1978, the Minority High School Research Apprentice Program began matching local students with faculty members for summer research experiences. Today, initiatives such as the Department of Surgerys Pre-College Internship for Students from Minority Backgrounds and the Neuroscience Roadmap Scholars program offer similar opportunities for students along their educational journeys.

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Successful careers begin here

More than 135,000 alumni call UAB their alma mater. Today youll find them across the United States and around the world, working as leaders in health care, science, business, art, engineering, government, education, and other fields. Many stay connected with UAB through the National Alumni Society, which was established in 1979 and has 63 chapters in locations ranging from Washington, D.C., to Taiwan.

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A New Path for Cardiac Stem Cells – hopkinsmedicine.org

By daniellenierenberg

By the time Bill Beatty made it to the Emergency Department in Howard County, he was already several hours into a major heart attack. His physicians performed a series of emergency treatments that included an intra-aortic balloon pump, but the 57-year-old engineers blood pressure remained dangerously low. The cardiologist called for a helicopter to transfer him to Johns Hopkins.

It was fortuitous timing: Beatty was an ideal candidate for a clinical trial and soon received an infusion of stem cells derived from his own heart tissue, making him the second patient in the world to undergo the procedure.

Of all the attempts to harness the promise of stem cell therapy, few have garnered more hope than the bid to repair damaged hearts. Previous trials with other stem cells have shown conflicting results. But this new trial, conducted jointly with cardiologist Eduardo Marbn at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, is the first time stem cells come from the patients own heart.

Cardiologist Jeffrey Brinker, M.D., a member of the Hopkins team, thinks the new protocol could be a game-changer. That's based partly on recent animal studies in which scientists at both institutions isolated stem cells from the injured animals hearts and infused them back into the hearts of those same animals. The stem cells formed new heart muscle and blood vessel cells. In fact, says Brinker, the new cells have a pre-determined cardiac fate. Even in the culture dish, he says, theyre a beating mass of cells.

Whats more, according to Gary Gerstenblith, M.D., J.D., the animals in these studies showed a significant decrease in relative infarct size, shrinking by about 25 percent. Based on those and earlier findings, investigators were cleared by the FDA and Hopkins Institutional Review Board to move forward with a human trial.

In Beattys case, Hopkins heart failure chief extracted a small sample of heart tissue and shipped it to Cedars Sinai, where stem cells were isolated, cultured and expanded to large numbers. Hopkins cardiologist Peter Johnston, M.D., says cardiac tissue is robust in its ability to generate stem cells, typically yielding several million transplantable cells within two months.

When ready, the cells were returned to Baltimore and infused back into Beatty through a balloon catheter placed in his damaged artery, ensuring target-specific delivery. Then the watching and waiting began. For the Hopkins team, Beattys infarct size will be tracked by imaging chief Joao Lima, M.D., M.B.A.,and his associates using MRI scans.

Now back home and still struggling with episodes of compromised stamina and shortness of breath, Beatty says his Hopkins cardiologists were fairly cautious in their prognosis, but hell be happy for any improvement.

Nurse coordinator Elayne Breton says Beatty is scheduled for follow-up visits at six months and 12 months, when they hope to find an improvement in his hearts function. But at least one member of the Hopkins team was willing acknowledge a certain optimism. The excitement here, says Brinker, is huge.

The trial is expected to be completed within one to two years.

--by Ramsey Flynn

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Coronavirus is similar to SARS and causes infection through a heart regulating enzyme: Study – International Business Times, Singapore Edition

By daniellenierenberg

Comparing between SARS, MERS and 2019-nCOv

The Wuhan coronavirus or novel 2019 nCoV, has spread like a wildfire across China and reached the shores of 22 countries as of now. In a bid to stem the spread of the disease, countries have resorted to various preventive and arresting measures. Many laboratories are in the process of formulating a vaccine. However, combating this new pathogen is proving to be a global challenge.

A new study by researchers from the University of Minnesota suggests that understanding the Severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS) or SARS-CoV, which caused global panic in 2002-2003 may help combat the new coronavirus.

After a structural study that lasted for ten years, the researchers have been able to demonstrate the manner of interaction between the SARS-CoV and animals, and human hosts that lead to infection in them. The scientists suggest that the mechanism of infection of the Wuhan coronavirus exhibits similarities to the SARS-CoV, which also is a coronavirus.

Using the data and information acquired from multiple strains of SARS-CoV from diverse hosts from different years, and studying the angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptors from various species of host animals, the scientists modelled predictions for the Wuhan coronavirus. Normally, the enzyme is associated with the regulation of cardiac functions. However, both these viruses have been found to gain entry into healthy cells by using ACE2.

"Our structural analyses confidently predict that the Wuhan coronavirus uses ACE2 as its host receptor," the researchers wrote in the study. They state that various other structural details of the new coronavirus are consistent with the ability of the SARS-CoV to recognise the ACE2 receptors to infect the cells, playing a determining role in transmission from hosts to human beings, and human to human.

The researchers also stressed that a single mutation has the ability to increase the potency with which the virus can infect humans. "Alarmingly, our data predict that a single mutation [at a specific spot in the genome] could significantly enhance [the Wuhan coronavirus's] ability to bind with human ACE2," they stated in the study.

It is because of this danger that the evolution of the Wuhan virus among patients must be monitored closely to spot novel mutations in its genomes, the scientists add. This continuous examination may help predict the possibility of an outbreak that could be far more serious than the ones being witnessed the authors stress.

"One of the long -term goals of our previous structural studies on SARS -CoV was to build an atomic -level iterative framework of virus-receptor interactions that facilitate epidemic surveillance, predict species-specific receptor usage and identify potential animal hosts and likely animal models of human diseases," highlighted the authors.

They conclude that this study provides translational and public health research communities with a reiterative framework that may help provide predictive insights enabling the better understanding and counter of the novel 2019 -nCoV.

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Cardio Round-up: Nanoparticles and Stem Cells in the Spotlight – DocWire News

By daniellenierenberg

This weeks Round-up looks to the future, as nanoparticles and stem cell-derived cardiac muscle cells get a closer look. More good news for lovers of yogurt, and a smelly but effective treatment for atherosclerosis as well.

Using stem cells extracted from the patients own blood and skin cells, this Japanese research team completed the first-in-human transplant of cardiac muscle cells derived from pluripotent stem cells. The team achieved this by reprogramming them, reverting them to their embryonic-like pluripotent initial state. I hope that (the transplant) will become a medical technology that will save as many people as possible, as Ive seen many lives that I couldnt save, Yoshiki Sawa, a professor in the Osaka University cardiovascular surgery unit, said in apress report.

Stem Cell-Derived Heart Muscle Transplanted Into Human for First Time: Researchers

Like something from a sci-fi horror novel, this team of researcher examined the role that nanoparticles that eat dead cells and stabilize atherosclerotic plaque may be able to play in the future of atherosclerosis treatment. We found we could stimulate the macrophages to selectively eat dead and dying cells these inflammatory cells are precursor cells toatherosclerosis that are part of the cause of heart attacks, one of the authors said in press release. We could deliver a small molecule inside the macrophages to tell them to begin eating again. The authors noted that after a single-cell RNA sequencing analysis, they observed that the prophagocytic nanotubes decreased inflammatory gene expression linked to cytokine and chemokine pathways in lesional macrophages, thereby treating the cell from the inside out.

Are Nanoparticles Potential Gamechangers for Treating Clogged Arteries?

In this large analysis of more than 120,000 individuals, the authors reported multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95% CI for all) for mortality were reduced in regular (more than four servings per week) consumers of yogurt, and there was an inverse relationship between regular consumption and cancer mortality as well as cardiovascular-related mortality in women. In our study, regular yogurt consumption was related to lower mortality risk among women, the authors wrote. Given that no clear doseresponse relation was apparent, this result must be interpreted with caution.

Yogurt Consumption Associated with Reduced Mortality Risk (Plus a Caveat)

This research teamlooked human microphages and compared them to dying cells in a dish. They observed that macrophages reclaim arginine and other amino acids when they eat dead cells, and then use an enzyme to convert arginine to putrescine. The putrescine, in return, activates a protein (Rac1) that causes the macrophage to eat more dead cells, suggesting to the authors that the problem of atherosclerosis may be, in part, a problem of putrescine. The findings, according to the accompanying press release, suggest that the compound could be use to potentially treat conditions with chronic inflammation, such as Alzheimers disease.

The Nose Knows: Pungent Compound Associated with Improvements in Atherosclerotic Plaque

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Space might be the perfect place to grow human organs – Popular Science

By daniellenierenberg

Three-dimensional printers have now assembled candy, clothing, and even mouse ovaries. But in the next decade, specialized bioprinters could begin to build functioning human organs in space. It turns out, the minimal gravity conditions in space may provide a more ideal environment for building organs than gravity-heavy Earth.

If successful, space-printed organs could help to shorten transplant waitlists and even eliminate organ rejection. Though they still have a long way to go, researchers at the International Space Station (ISS) hope to eventually assemble organs from adult human cells, including stem cells.

The medical field has only recently embraced 3D printing in general, particularly in biomedical fields like regenerative medicine and prosthetics. So far, these printers have produced early versions of blood vessels, bones, and different types of living tissue by churning out repeated layers of bioinka substance comprised of living human cells and other tissue thats meant to mimic the natural environment that surrounds growing organs.

Recently, researchers are finding that Earth might not be the best environment for growing freestanding organs. Because gravity is constantly pushing down on these delicate structures as they grow, researchers must surround the tissues in scaffolding, which can often debilitate the delicate veins and blood vessels and prevent the soon-to-be organs from growing and functioning properly. Within microgravity, however, soft tissues hold their shape naturally, without the need for surrounding supportan observation thats driven researchers to space.

And one manufacturing lab based in Indiana thinks its tech could play a key role in space. The 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is a specialized 3D printer that uses bioink to build layers several times thinner than human hair. It cost about $7 million to build and employs the smallest print tips in existence.

The brainchild of spaceflight equipment developer Techshot and 3D printer manufacturer nScrypt, the BFF headed to the ISS in July 2019 aboard the SpaceX CRS-18.

Currently, the project focuses on building increasingly thick artificial cardiac tissue and delivering it back to Earth. Once the printed cardiac tissue reaches a certain thickness, it gets harder for researchers to ensure that a printed structures layers effectively grow into one another. Ultimately, though, theyd like the organs to arrive here fully formed.

Printed organs would eventually require vasculature and nerve endings to work properly, though that technology doesnt yet exist.

The next stagetesting heart patches under microscopes and within animalscould span over the next four years. As for whole organs, Techshot claims it plans to begin production after 2025. For now, the project is still in its infancy.

If you were to look at what we printed, it looks very modest, says Techshot vice president of corporate advancement Rich Boling. Its just a cuboid-type shape, this rectangular box. Were just trying to get cells to grow one layer into the next.

Cooking organs like pancakes

Compare the manufacturing process to cooking pancakes, Boling says. The space crew first creates a custom bioink pancake mix with the cells sent from Earth, which they load with syringe-like tools into the BFF.

Researchers then insert a cassette into the BFF containing a bioreactora system that mimics the normal bodily functions essential for growing healthy tissue, like providing nutrients and flushing out waste.

Approximately 200 miles below in Greenville, Indiana, Techshot engineers connect with ISS astronauts on a NASA-enabled secure digital pathway. The linkup allows Techshot to remotely command BFF functions like pump pressure, internal temperature, lighting, and print speed.

Next, the actual printing process occurs within the bioreactor and can take anywhere from moments to hours, depending on the shapes complexity. In the final production step, the cell-culturing ADvanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) cooks the theoretical pancake; essentially, the ADSEP toughens up the printed tissue for its journey back to earth. This step could take anywhere from 12 to 45 days for different tissue types. When completed and hardened, the structure heads home.

The researchers have gone through three testing processes so far, each one getting more exact. This March, theyll begin the third round of experiments.

The bioprinter space race

The BFF lab is the sole team developing this specific type of microgravity bioprinter, Boling says. Theyre not the only ones looking to print human organs in space, though.

A Russian project has also entered the bioprinting space race, however their technique highly differs. Unlike the BFFs bioink layering method, Russian biotechnology laboratory 3D Bioprinting Solutions uses magnetic nanoparticles to produce tissue. An electromagnet creates a magnetic field in which levitating tissue forms the desired structuretechnology that appears ripped from the pages of a sci-fi novel.

After their bioprinter fell victim to an October 2018 spacecraft crash, 3D Bioprinting Solutions rebounded; the team now collaborates with US and Israeli researchers at the ISS. Last month, their crew created the first space-bioprinted bone tissue. Similar to the US project, 3D Bioprinting Solutions aims to manufacture functioning human tissues and organs for transplantation and general repair.

Just because we have the technology to do it, should we do it?

If the 3D BioFabrication Facility prospers in printing working human organs, theyd be subject to thorough regulation here on Earth. The US approval process is stringent for any drug, Rich Boling says, posing a challenge for this unprecedented invention. Techshot predicts at least 10 years for space-printed organs to achieve legal approval, though its an inexact estimate.

Along with regulatory acceptance, human tissue printed in microgravity may encounter societal pushback.

Each country maintains varying laws related to medical transplants. Yet as bioengineering advances into the the final frontier, the international scientific research community may need to shape new guidelines for collaboration among the stars.

As the commercialization of low-Earth orbit continues to ramp up in the next few years, it is certainly true that were going to have to take a very close look at the regulations that apply to that, says International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory interim chief scientist Michael Roberts. And some of those regulations are going to stray into questions related to ethics: Just because we have the technology to do it, should we do it?

Niki Vermeulen, a University of Edinburgh science technology and innovation studies lecturer, has researched the social implications of 3D bioprinting experiments. Like any Earth-bound project, she urges scientists not to get peoples hopes up too early in the process; individuals seeking organ transplants could read about the BFF online and think it could soon be ready to meet their needs.

The most important thing now, I think, is expectation management, Vermeulen says. Because its really quite difficult to do this, and of course we really dont know if its going to work. If it did, it would be amazing.

Another main issue is cost. Like other cutting-edge biotechnology innovations, the organs could also pose a major affordability challenge, she says. Techshot claims that a single space-printed organ could actually cost less than one from a human donor, since some people must pay for a lifetime of anti-rejection meds and/or multiple transplants. Theres currently no telling how long the BFF process would actually take, however, compared to the conventional donor route.

Plus, theres potential health risks for recipients: Techshot chief scientist Eugene Boland says cell manipulation always presents a possibility of genetic mutation. Modified stem cells can potentially cause cancer in recipients, for example.

The team is now working to define and minimize any dangers, he says. The BFF experiment adheres to the FDAs specific regulations for human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products.

Researchers on the ground now hope to perfect human cell manipulation: Over 100 US clinical trials presently test cultured autologous human cells, and several hundred test cultured stem cells with multiple origins.

What comes next

After the next round of printing tests this March, Techshot will share the bioprinter with companies and research institutions looking to print materials like cartilage, bone, and liver tissue. Theyre currently preparing the bioprinter for these additional uses, Boling says, which could advance health care as a whole.

To speed things up for space crews, Techshot is now building a cell factory that produces multiple cell types in orbit. This technology could cut down the number of cell deliveries between Earth and space.

The ISS has taken in plenty of commercial ventures in recent years, Michael Roberts says, and its getting crowded up there. Space-based experiments ramped up between 40 and 50 years ago, though until recently they mostly prioritized satellite communications and remote observation technology. Since then, satellites have shrunk from bus-sized to smaller than a shoebox.

Roberts has witnessed the scientific areas of interest broaden over the past decade to include medicine. Organizations like the National Institutes of Health are now looking to space to improve treatments, and everything from large pharmaceutical companies to small-scale startups want in.

Theyve got something stuck on every surface up there, he says.

As the ISS runs out of space and exterior attachment points, Roberts predicts that commercial ventures will build new facilities built for specific activities like manufacturing and plant growth. He sees it as a good opportunity for further innovation, since the ISS was originally designed for far more general purposes.

Space, as a whole, may start to look quite different from the first exploration age.

Baby boomers may remember glimpsing at a grainy, black-and-white moon landing five decades ago. Within the same lifetime, they could potentially observe the introduction of space-printed organs.

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Heart Muscle Cells Made in the Lab Successfully Transplanted into Patient – Interesting Engineering

By daniellenierenberg

A team of researchers at Osaka University in Japan successfully transplanted cardiac muscle cells created from iPS into a patient, who is now recovering in the general ward of the hospital.

The team, led by Yoshiki Sawa, a professor in the university's cardiovascular surgery unit, created the cardiac muscle cells from iPS cells in a clinical trial to verify the safety and efficacy of this type of procedure. The researches want to transplant heart muscle cells into ten patients who have serious heart malfunctions because of ischemic cardiomyopathy over a three year period.

RELATED: RESEARCHERS ORGANIZE STEM CELLS BASED ON A COMPUTATIONAL MODEL

Instead of replacing the heart of patients, the researchers developed degradable sheets of heart muscle cells that were placed on the damaged areas of the heart.

To grow the heart muscle cells in the lab, the researchers turned to induced pluripotent stem cells otherwise known as iPS. Researchers are able to take those iPS cells and make them into any cell they want. In this case, it was heart muscle cells.If the clinical trials prove successful it could remove someday the need for heart transplants.

I hope that (the transplant) will become a medical technology that will save as many people as possible, as Ive seen many lives that I couldnt save, Sawa was quoted at a news conference reported the Japan Times.

As for the patient, the team plans to monitor him during the next year to ascertain how the heart muscle cells perform. According to the Japan Times, the researchers opted to conduct a clinical trial instead of a clinical study because they want approval from Japan's health ministry for clinical application as soon as possible.

The report noted that during the trial the researchers will look at risks, probabilities of cancer and the efficacy of transplanting 100 million cells for each patient that could include tumor cells.

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El Paso researchers sending bioprinted mini hearts to ISS – 3DPMN

By daniellenierenberg

Biomedical researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso are working on a joint project to send miniature 3D bioprinted hearts to space. The research project, which has received backing from the National Science Foundation (NSF), seeks to understand how a microgravity environment affects the function of the human heart.

Bioprinting in space is a growing venture. The microgravity environment found aboard the International Space Station (ISS) provides a unique setting for bioprinted tissues and cellular structures to culture and grow. Bioprinting specialists like CELLINK and 3D Bioprinting Solutions are showcasing the potential of bioprinting in space, both for the advancement of bioprinting technologies and to understand the impact of zero-gravity on the human body.

The three-year research project conducted by the Texas-based research team falls into the latter category. The team, led by Munmun Chattopadhyay, Ph.D., TTUHSC El Paso faculty scientist, and Binata Joddar, Ph.D., UTEP biomedical engineer, wants to understand how the human heart is impacted by microgravity by testing bioprinted cardiac organoids aboard the ISS.

The cardiac organoids consist of heart-tissue structures measuring less than 1 mm in thickness which are bioprinted using human stem cells. The organoids will be sent to the ISS, where they will exposed to microgravity environments. This will provide vital insights into a condition commonly experienced by astronauts.

The condition in question is cardiac atrophy and it is caused by a weakening of heart tissue. The condition can lead to other problems, like fainting, irregular heartbeats and even heart failure. Because astronauts often suffer from cardiac atrophy after spending long stints in space, the researchers want to better understand the link.

Cardiac atrophy and a related condition, cardiac fibrosis, is a very big problem in our community, said Dr. Chattopadhyay. People suffering from diseases such as diabetes, muscular dystrophy and cancer, and conditions such as sepsis and congestive heart failure, often experience cardiac dysfunction and tissue damage.

The project, which officially started in September, is currently focused on research design. In this stage of the research, the team is developing bioprinted cardiac organoids and exploring different material compositions using cardiac cells to create heart-like tissue. The second stage of the research will be focused on preparing to launch to organoid to space. The final stage will consist of analyzing data collected during the organoids time in space, once they have returned to Earth.

Dr. Chattopadhyay expressed excitement about the ongoing research project, saying: Knowledge gathered from this study could be used to develop technologies and therapeutic strategies to better combat tissue atrophy experienced by astronauts, as well as open the doorforimproved treatmentsforpeople who suffer from serious heart issues due to illness.

The researchers also hope to engage the community with their research by offering a workshop for K-12 students about their experiments aboard the ISS. The team will also host a seminar for medical students, interns and residents about conducting research in space and on Earth.

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3D printed organs are coming to an International Space Station near you – Teslarati

By daniellenierenberg

Two high-tech companies have teamed up to take 3D printing in space to the next level. A new 3D printer, sent to the space station on a SpaceX cargo resupply mission last July, is now officially open for business. Its goal: to print human tissue in space.

Formally known as the 3D BioFabrication Facility (or BFF), the printer will use adult human cells (like stem cells) as its feedstock. The BFF is just the first step to a much larger goal of printing human organs such as hearts or lungs in space.

The initial phase for BFF, which could last about two years, will involve creating test prints of cardiac-like tissue of increasing thickness, Techshot representatives said in a statement. (Techshot is collaborating on the project with nScrypt, a 3D bioprinter and electronic printer manufacturer.)

If all goes according to plan, the company would then graduate to printing heart patches in space. Once printed, they would be shipped back to Earth and tested in small animals (such as rats) to see how they do. The next step after that could be entire organs.

Ultimately, long-term success of BFF could lead to reducing the current shortage of donor organs and eliminate the requirement that someone must first die in order for another person to receive a new heart, other organ or tissue, Techshot said.

Imagine needing a organ and instead of having to wait on the transplant list for an one that could never come, using a bit of your own DNA, a new organ could be printed for you in space.

Researchers on Earth have celebrated some success with the 3D printing of bones and cartilage, but when it comes to soft tissues, they havent had the same luck.

Tissues collapse under their own weight due to gravity. This results in not much more than a puddle of biomaterial. But when these sames components are used in space, they retain their shape.

However, without additional conditioning, once these new tissues return to Earth, theyd collapse just like there terrestrial counterparts. Heres where BFF comes in.

In addition to launching a bioprinter, Techshot has also developed a means of curing the newly printed tissues. This way they will remain solid even after returning to Earth. The company says that the actual printing process will take less than a day, the strengthening process will take an estimated 12-45 days. It all depends on the tissue.

This could lead to less people dying as they wait on transplant lists, and it could also mean less dependency on anti-rejection medications. Assembling a whole human organ (such as a heart or lung) was once strictly science fiction. While its still a few years away, it is now a possibility.

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Lab-grown heart cells implanted into human patient for the first time – New Atlas

By daniellenierenberg

In what is a world-first and potentially the dawn of a new medical technology to treat damaged hearts, scientists in Japan have succeeded in transplanting lab-grown heart cells into a human patient for the first time ever. The procedure is part of a cutting-edge clinical trial hoped to open up new avenues in regenerative medicine, with the treatment to be given to a further nine patients over the coming years.

The clinical trial harnesses the incredible potential of induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs), a Nobel Prize-winning technology developed at Kyoto University in 2006. These are created by first harvesting cells from donor tissues and returning them to their immature state by exposing them to a virus. From there, they can develop into essentially any cell type in the body.

Professor Yoshiki Sawa is a cardiac surgeon at Osaka University in Japan, who has been developing a technique to turn IPSCs into sheets of 100 million heart muscle cells, which can be grafted onto the heart to promote regeneration of damaged muscles. This was first tested on pigs and was shown to improve organ function, which led Japans health ministry to conditionally approve a research plan involving human subjects.

The first transplantation of these cells is a huge milestone for the researchers, with the operation taking place earlier this month and the patient now recovering in the general ward of the hospital. The sheets are biodegradable, and once implanted on the surface of the heart are designed to release growth factors that encourage new formation of healthy vessels and boost cardiac function.

The team will continue to monitor the first patient over the coming year, and over the next three years aims to carry out the procedure on a total of 10 patients suffering from ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition caused by a heart attack or coronary disease that has left the muscles severely weakened.

I hope that [the transplant] will become a medical technology that will save as many people as possible, as Ive seen many lives that I couldnt save, Sawa said at a news conference on Tuesday, according to The Japan Times.

Source: The Japan Times

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MedWatch Today: Surface Guided Radiation Therapy Protects the Heart During Treatment – YourCentralValley.com

By daniellenierenberg

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) After getting a breast cancer diagnosis, your heart health may be the last thing on your mind. But, if the cancer is in your left breast right over your heart treatment is more difficult. The medical director and the manager of radiation oncology at Community Cancer Institute explain a new and improved technique of radiation therapy that keeps your heart safer during treatment.

Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. It works by damaging genetic material within cancer cellscausing them to die. However, normal cells can also be affected by the radiation.

Alec Beach, the Manager of Radiation Oncology for Community Cancer Institute says, So Surface Guided Radiation Therapy is a new modality relatively new and new to us in the Valley, to help align patients even better and also to provide some techniquesimprovements in accuracy, alignment and also in the breathing cycle of the patient to deliver radiation therapy at the optimal time.

Surface Guided Radiation Therapy or SGRT has been particularly successful in treating breast cancer patients with cancer in the left breast.

Dr. William Silveira the Medical Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Community Cancer Institute says, The problem with left sided breast cancer is that the heart is very close to the breast tissue. If we can get the heart out of the way, that helps tremendously. When we monitor the surface of the patient, we can have the patient take a very deep breath, pulling the heart down and out of the way, and therefore we can treat the patient while the heart is essentially completely out of the way, out of the beams, out of harms way.

Its all about timing and the careful placement of SGRT that will minimize the dosage of radiation to the normal tissues while delivering the maximum amount to the cancerous cells.

Theres a significant reduction in the dose received by the heart with this technology. Many of our patients are now surviving, and down the road we dont want them to experience cardiac disease. Radiation therapy for left sided breast cancer can contribute to cardiac disease. So, although it has a tremendous impact on survival and local control for breast cancer, we also have this potential complication down the road. Minimizing the dose to the heart, really saves patients a lot of trouble, said Dr. Silveira.

The possible cardiac risks of radiation therapy are significantly reduced with SGRT treatment.

I think theres a lot of fear regarding radiation therapy and a lot of it has to do with heart disease. I, myself, do worry about heart disease from radiation therapy quite a bit. This technology allows us to reduce the risk of heart disease significantly by essentially taking the heart almost out of the picture. The risk to the heart would be minimalmuch less than 5 percent, Dr. Silveira said.

SGRT helps to keep the heart safe, but can also be used throughout the body.

So SGRT can be used in multiple anatomical sites head and neck treatment in particular. Obviously, were treating the head or neck, the brain or the brain stem areatheres a lot of critical structures in that area and the alignment in that area is crucial so the mm accuracy is crucial so thats a particularly good area that well be implementing this in. But, it can also be used throughout the body, the abdomen, the pelvis for GYN cancer, for example, prostate treatment, basically anything where the surface can be used to align the treatment, said Beach.

Community Cancer Institute is the only one in the Valley using this advanced technology and Beach says the program strives to be second to none.

I would hope that the patients would take away that were here to do the very best that we can for themyes, its technology, but its not just technology for technologys sake, its with an outcome in mind and I want patients to know that we might take a little extra time to treat you, but I think thats worth it, Beach said.

And Dr. Silveira says it takes a collective effort, It takes a lot to implement, however and we have a great team. Our physicist, dosimetrist and therapist all are really fantastic in putting this program together. So its technology plus people.

To learn more about how community medical centers can help you or a loved one in prevention and treatment, visit http://www.CommunityMedical.org/Cancer.

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MedWatch Today: Surface Guided Radiation Therapy Protects the Heart During Treatment - YourCentralValley.com

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Stem Cell Therapy Market Predicted to Accelerate the Growth by 2017-2025 – Jewish Life News

By daniellenierenberg

Stem Cell Therapy Market: Snapshot

Of late, there has been an increasing awareness regarding the therapeutic potential of stem cells for management of diseases which is boosting the growth of the stem cell therapy market. The development of advanced genome based cell analysis techniques, identification of new stem cell lines, increasing investments in research and development as well as infrastructure development for the processing and banking of stem cell are encouraging the growth of the global stem cell therapy market.

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One of the key factors boosting the growth of this market is the limitations of traditional organ transplantation such as the risk of infection, rejection, and immunosuppression risk. Another drawback of conventional organ transplantation is that doctors have to depend on organ donors completely. All these issues can be eliminated, by the application of stem cell therapy. Another factor which is helping the growth in this market is the growing pipeline and development of drugs for emerging applications. Increased research studies aiming to widen the scope of stem cell will also fuel the growth of the market. Scientists are constantly engaged in trying to find out novel methods for creating human stem cells in response to the growing demand for stem cell production to be used for disease management.

It is estimated that the dermatology application will contribute significantly the growth of the global stem cell therapy market. This is because stem cell therapy can help decrease the after effects of general treatments for burns such as infections, scars, and adhesion. The increasing number of patients suffering from diabetes and growing cases of trauma surgery will fuel the adoption of stem cell therapy in the dermatology segment.

Global Stem Cell Therapy Market: Overview

Also called regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy encourages the reparative response of damaged, diseased, or dysfunctional tissue via the use of stem cells and their derivatives. Replacing the practice of organ transplantations, stem cell therapies have eliminated the dependence on availability of donors. Bone marrow transplant is perhaps the most commonly employed stem cell therapy.

Osteoarthritis, cerebral palsy, heart failure, multiple sclerosis and even hearing loss could be treated using stem cell therapies. Doctors have successfully performed stem cell transplants that significantly aid patients fight cancers such as leukemia and other blood-related diseases.

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Global Stem Cell Therapy Market: Key Trends

The key factors influencing the growth of the global stem cell therapy market are increasing funds in the development of new stem lines, the advent of advanced genomic procedures used in stem cell analysis, and greater emphasis on human embryonic stem cells. As the traditional organ transplantations are associated with limitations such as infection, rejection, and immunosuppression along with high reliance on organ donors, the demand for stem cell therapy is likely to soar. The growing deployment of stem cells in the treatment of wounds and damaged skin, scarring, and grafts is another prominent catalyst of the market.

On the contrary, inadequate infrastructural facilities coupled with ethical issues related to embryonic stem cells might impede the growth of the market. However, the ongoing research for the manipulation of stem cells from cord blood cells, bone marrow, and skin for the treatment of ailments including cardiovascular and diabetes will open up new doors for the advancement of the market.

Global Stem Cell Therapy Market: Market Potential

A number of new studies, research projects, and development of novel therapies have come forth in the global market for stem cell therapy. Several of these treatments are in the pipeline, while many others have received approvals by regulatory bodies.

In March 2017, Belgian biotech company TiGenix announced that its cardiac stem cell therapy, AlloCSC-01 has successfully reached its phase I/II with positive results. Subsequently, it has been approved by the U.S. FDA. If this therapy is well- received by the market, nearly 1.9 million AMI patients could be treated through this stem cell therapy.

Another significant development is the granting of a patent to Israel-based Kadimastem Ltd. for its novel stem-cell based technology to be used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other similar conditions of the nervous system. The companys technology used for producing supporting cells in the central nervous system, taken from human stem cells such as myelin-producing cells is also covered in the patent.

Global Stem Cell Therapy Market: Regional Outlook

The global market for stem cell therapy can be segmented into Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa. North America emerged as the leading regional market, triggered by the rising incidence of chronic health conditions and government support. Europe also displays significant growth potential, as the benefits of this therapy are increasingly acknowledged.

Asia Pacific is slated for maximum growth, thanks to the massive patient pool, bulk of investments in stem cell therapy projects, and the increasing recognition of growth opportunities in countries such as China, Japan, and India by the leading market players.

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Global Stem Cell Therapy Market: Competitive Analysis

Several firms are adopting strategies such as mergers and acquisitions, collaborations, and partnerships, apart from product development with a view to attain a strong foothold in the global market for stem cell therapy.

Some of the major companies operating in the global market for stem cell therapy are RTI Surgical, Inc., MEDIPOST Co., Ltd., Osiris Therapeutics, Inc., NuVasive, Inc., Pharmicell Co., Ltd., Anterogen Co., Ltd., JCR Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., and Holostem Terapie Avanzate S.r.l.

About TMR Research:

TMR Research is a premier provider of customized market research and consulting services to business entities keen on succeeding in todays supercharged economic climate. Armed with an experienced, dedicated, and dynamic team of analysts, we are redefining the way our clients conduct business by providing them with authoritative and trusted research studies in tune with the latest methodologies and market trends.

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Stem Cell Therapy Market Predicted to Accelerate the Growth by 2017-2025 - Jewish Life News

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Contrasting US Stem Cell (OTCMKTS:USRM) and National Research (OTCMKTS:NRC) – Riverton Roll

By daniellenierenberg

National Research (NASDAQ:NRC) and US Stem Cell (OTCMKTS:USRM) are both small-cap business services companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, risk, earnings, valuation, analyst recommendations, dividends and institutional ownership.

Risk & Volatility

National Research has a beta of 0.78, indicating that its stock price is 22% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, US Stem Cell has a beta of 4.87, indicating that its stock price is 387% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

39.7% of National Research shares are held by institutional investors. 4.5% of National Research shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 16.7% of US Stem Cell shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares National Research and US Stem Cells top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

National Research has higher revenue and earnings than US Stem Cell.

Profitability

This table compares National Research and US Stem Cells net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current recommendations and price targets for National Research and US Stem Cell, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Summary

National Research beats US Stem Cell on 7 of the 9 factors compared between the two stocks.

About National Research

National Research Corporation (NRC) is a provider of analytics and insights that facilitate revenue growth, patient, employee and customer retention and patient engagement for healthcare providers, payers and other healthcare organizations. The Companys portfolio of subscription-based solutions provides information and analysis to healthcare organizations and payers across a range of mission-critical, constituent-related elements, including patient experience and satisfaction, community population health risks, workforce engagement, community perceptions, and physician engagement. The Companys clients range from acute care hospitals and post-acute providers, such as home health, long term care and hospice, to numerous payer organizations. The Company derives its revenue from its annually renewable services, which include performance measurement and improvement services, healthcare analytics and governance education services.

About US Stem Cell

U.S. Stem Cell, Inc., a biotechnology company, focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of autologous cellular therapies for the treatment of chronic and acute heart damage, and vascular and autoimmune diseases in the United States and internationally. Its lead product candidates include MyoCell, a clinical therapy designed to populate regions of scar tissue within a patient's heart with autologous muscle cells or cells from a patient's body for enhancing cardiac function in chronic heart failure patients; and AdipoCell, a patient-derived cell therapy for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction, chronic heart ischemia, and lower limb ischemia. The company's product development pipeline includes MyoCell SDF-1, an autologous muscle-derived cellular therapy for improving cardiac function in chronic heart failure patients. It is also developing MyoCath, a deflecting tip needle injection catheter that is used to inject cells into cardiac tissue in therapeutic procedures to treat chronic heart ischemia and congestive heart failure. In addition, the company provides physician and patient based regenerative medicine/cell therapy training, cell collection, and cell storage services; and cell collection and treatment kits for humans and animals, as well operates a cell therapy clinic. The company was formerly known as Bioheart, Inc. and changed its name to U.S. Stem Cell, Inc. in October 2015. U.S. Stem Cell, Inc. was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Sunrise, Florida.

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Researchers trace the molecular roots of potentially fatal heart condition – Jill Lopez

By daniellenierenberg

Research using heart cells from squirrels, mice and people identifies an evolutionary mechanism critical for heart muscle function.

Gene defect that affects a protein found in the heart muscle interferes with this mechanism to cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart condition.

Imbalance in the ratio of active and inactive protein disrupts heart muscle's ability to contract and relax normally, interferes with heart muscle's energy consumption.

Treatment with a small-molecule drug restores proper contraction, energy consumption in human and rodent heart cells.

If affirmed in subsequent studies, the results can inform therapies that could halt disease progression, help prevent common complications, including arrhythmias and heart failure.

The heart's ability to beat normally over a lifetime is predicated on the synchronized work of proteins embedded in the cells of the heart muscle.

Like a fleet of molecular motors that get turned on and off, these proteins cause the heart cells to contract, then force them to relax, beat after life-sustaining beat.

Now a study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the University of Oxford shows that when too many of the heart's molecular motor units get switched on and too few remain off, the heart muscle begins to contract excessively and fails to relax normally, leading to its gradual overexertion, thickening and failure.

Results of the work, published Jan. 27 inCirculation, reveal that this balancing act is an evolutionary mechanism conserved across species to regulate heart muscle contraction by controlling the activity of a protein called myosin, the main contractile protein of the heart muscle.

The findings--based on experiments with human, mouse and squirrel heart cells--also demonstrate that when this mechanism goes awry it sets off a molecular cascade that leads to cardiac muscle over-exertion and culminates in the development of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common genetic disease of the heart and a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young people and athletes.

"Our findings offer a unifying explanation for the heart muscle pathology seen in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that leads to heart muscle dysfunction and, eventually, causes the most common clinical manifestations of the condition," said senior author Christine Seidman, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Importantly, the experiments showed that treatment with an experimental small-molecule drug restored the balance of myosin arrangements and normalized the contraction and relaxation of both human and mouse cardiac cells that carried the two most common gene mutations responsible for nearly half of all HCM cases worldwide.

If confirmed in further experiments, the results can inform the design of therapies that halt disease progression and prevent complications.

"Correcting the underlying molecular defect and normalizing the function of heart muscle cells could transform treatment options, which are currently limited to alleviating symptoms and preventing worst-case scenarios such as life-threatening rhythm disturbances and heart failure," said study first author Christopher Toepfer, who performed the work as a postdoctoral researcher in Seidman's lab and is now a joint fellow in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

Some of the current therapies used for HCM include medications to relieve symptoms, surgery to shave the enlarged heart muscle or the implantation of cardioverter defibrillators that shock the heart back into rhythm if its electrical activity ceases or goes haywire. None of these therapies address the underlying cause of the disease.

Imbalance in the motor fleet

Myosin initiates contraction by cross-linking with other proteins to propel the cell into motion. In the current study, the researchers traced the epicenter of mischief down to an imbalance in the ratio of myosin molecule arrangements inside heart cells. Cells containing HCM mutations had too many molecules ready to spring into action and too few myosin molecules idling standby, resulting in stronger contractions and poor relaxation of the cells.

An earlier study by the same team found that under normal conditions, the ratio between "on" and "off" myosin molecules in mouse heart cells is around 2-to-3. However, the new study shows that this ratio is off balance in heart cells that harbor HCM mutations, with disproportionately more molecules in active versus inactive states.

In an initial set of experiments, the investigators analyzed heart cells obtained from a breed of hibernating squirrel as a model to reflect extremes in physiologic demands during normal activity and hibernation. Cells obtained from squirrels in hibernation--when their heart rate slows down to about six beats per minute--contained 10 percent more "off" myosin molecules than the heart cells of active squirrels, whose heart rate averages 340 beats per minute.

"We believe this is one example of nature's elegant way of conserving cardiac muscle energy in mammals during dormancy and periods of deficient resources," Toepfer said.

Next, researchers looked at cardiac muscle cells from mice harboring the two most common gene defects seen in HCM. As expected, these cells had altered ratios of "on" and "off" myosin reserves. The researchers also analyzed myosin ratios in two types of human heart cells: Stem cell-derived human heart cells engineered in the lab to carry HCM mutations and cells obtained from the excised cardiac muscle tissue of patients with HCM. Both had out-of-balance ratios in their active and inactive myosin molecules.

Further experiments showed that this imbalance perturbed the cells' normal contraction and relaxation cycle. Cells harboring HCM mutations contained too many "on" myosin molecules and contracted more forcefully but relaxed poorly. In the process, the study showed, these cells gobbled up excessive amounts of ATP, the cellular fuel that sustains the work of each cell in our body. And because oxygen is necessary for ATP production, the mutated cells also devoured more oxygen than normal cells, the study showed. To sustain their energy demands, these cells turned to breaking down sugar molecules and fatty acids, which is a sign of altered metabolism, the researchers said.

"Taken together, our findings map out the molecular mechanisms that give rise to the cardinal features of the disease," Seidman said. "They can help explain how chronically overexerted heart cells with high energy consumption in a state of metabolic stress can, over time, lead to a thickened heart muscle that contracts and relaxes abnormally and eventually becomes prone to arrhythmias, dysfunction and failure."

Restoring balance

Treating both mouse and human heart cells with an experimental small-molecule drug restored the myosin ratios to levels comparable to those in heart cells free of HCM mutations. The treatment also normalized contraction and relaxation of the cells and lowered oxygen consumption to normal levels.

The drug, currently in human trials, restored myosin ratios even in tissue obtained from the hearts of patients with HCM. The compound is being developed by a biotech company; two of the company's co-founders are authors on the study. The company provided research support for the study.

In a final step, the researchers looked at patient outcomes obtained from a database containing medical information and clinical histories of people diagnosed with HCM caused by various gene mutations. Comparing their molecular findings from the laboratory against patient outcomes, the scientists observed that the presence of genetic variants that distorted myosin ratios in heart cells also predicted the severity of symptoms and likelihood of poor outcomes, such as arrhythmias and heart failure, among the subset of people that carried these very genetic variants.

What this means, the researchers said, is that clinicians who identify patients harboring gene variants that disrupt normal myosin arrangements in their heart muscle could better predict these patients' risk of adverse clinical course.

"This information can help physicians stratify risk and tailor follow-ups and treatment accordingly," Seidman said.

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MicroCures Advances Burn Wound Healing Program Under Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical…

By daniellenierenberg

$1 Million in Funding from the USAISR Supporting Collaborative Research Project

Pilot Animal Study Successfully Completed; Larger Preclinical Study Underway

NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- MicroCures, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics that harness the bodys innate regenerative mechanisms to accelerate tissue repair, today announced the advancement of its ongoing collaborative research project with the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) in the area of burn wound healing. The collaboration, which is being carried out under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the USAISR and supported by $1 million in funding, is focused on evaluating the therapeutic potential of MicroCures lead product candidate, siFi2, in accelerating the healing of burn wounds. siFi2, a small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutic that can be applied topically, is designed to enhance recovery after trauma. Following the successful completion of the collaborations initial pilot animal study, MicroCures and the USAISR have initiated a second, larger preclinical burn study of siFi2.

MicroCures technology is based on foundational scientific research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine regarding the fundamental role that cell movement plays as a driver of the bodys innate capacity to repair tissue, nerves, and organs. The company has shown that complex and dynamic networks of microtubules within cells crucially control cell migration, and that this cell movement can be reliably modulated to achieve a range of therapeutic benefits. Based on these findings, the company has established a first-of-its-kind proprietary platform to create siRNA-based therapeutics capable of precisely controlling the speed and direction of cell movement by selectively silencing microtubule regulatory proteins (MRPs).

The company has developed a broad pipeline of therapeutic programs with an initial focus in the area of tissue, nerve and organ repair. Unlike regenerative medicine approaches that rely upon engineered materials or systemic growth factor/stem cell therapeutics, MicroCures technology directs and enhances the bodys inherent healing processes through local, temporary modulation of cell motility. The companys lead drug candidate, siFi2, is a topical siRNA-based treatment designed to silence the activity of Fidgetin-Like 2 (FL2), a fundamental MRP, within an area of wounded tissue. In doing so, the therapy temporarily triggers accelerated movement of cells essential for repair into an injury area. Importantly, based on its topical administration, siFi2 can be applied early in the treatment process as a supplement to current standard of care.

Our ongoing collaboration with the USAISR is progressing well and we greatly value the support that this partnership is providing us as we work to advance siFi2 toward the clinic. To date, our work with the USAISR has resulted in the successful completion of a pilot study of siFi2 in a preclinical burn wound model and the recent initiation of a larger preclinical study in this indication, said Derek Proudian, chief executive officer of MicroCures. This project highlights a deliberate strategy by MicroCures to align with trusted military and government organizations, such as the USAISR, other Department of Defense entities, Federal Agencies, and the National Institutes of Health, to collaboratively support the development of our novel therapeutic platform. We look forward to continuing these relationships and ultimately developing innovative treatments that can provide important therapeutic benefits to those in the military, as well as the broader public.

About MicroCures

MicroCures develops biopharmaceuticals that harness innate cellular mechanisms within the body to accelerate and improve recovery after traumatic injury. MicroCures has developed a first-of-its-kind therapeutic platform that precisely controls the rate and direction of cell migration, offering the potential to deliver powerful therapeutic benefits for a variety of large and underserved medical applications.

MicroCures has developed a broad pipeline of novel therapeutic programs with an initial focus in the area of tissue, nerve and organ repair. The companys lead therapeutic candidate, siFi2, targets excisional wound healing, a multi-billion dollar market inadequately served by current treatments. Additional applications for the companys cell migration accelerator technology include dermal burn repair, corneal burn repair, cavernous nerve repair/regeneration, spinal cord repair/regeneration, and cardiac tissue repair. Cell migration decelerator applications include combatting cancer metastases and fibrosis. The company protects its unique platform and proprietary therapeutic programs with a robust intellectual property portfolio including eight issued or allowed patents, as well as eight pending patent applications.

Story continues

For more information please visit: http://www.microcures.com

Contact:

Vida Strategic Partners (On behalf of MicroCures)

Stephanie Diaz (investors)415-675-7401sdiaz@vidasp.com

Tim Brons (media)415-675-7402tbrons@vidasp.com

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MicroCures Advances Burn Wound Healing Program Under Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical...

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El Paso scientists to deliver 3D bioprinted miniature hearts to the ISS – 3D Printing Industry

By daniellenierenberg

Biomedical researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) and The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are collaborating to develop artificial mini-hearts using 3D bioprinting technology for space.

These heart-tissue structures will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) to gain insight into how microgravity affects the function of the human heart, particularly in regards to the health condition known as cardiac atrophy.

The artificial mini-heart, otherwise known as a cardiac organoid, will be produced using a combination of human stem cells and 3D bioprinting. The project, which began in September 2019, will take course over the next three years. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the space stations U.S. National Laboratory.

TTUHSC El Paso faculty scientist Munmun Chattopadhyay, Ph.D., a researcher on the project, states:

Knowledge gathered from this study could be used to develop technologies and therapeutic strategies to better combat tissue atrophy experienced by astronauts, as well as open the door for improved treatments for people who suffer from serious heart issues due to illness.

How does microgravity affect our hearts?

Researchers taking part in the project are Dr. Chattopadhyay and UTEP biomedical engineer Binata Joddar, Ph.D. Dr. Chattopadhyay is an assistant professor in TTUHSC El Pasos Center of Emphasis in Diabetes and Metabolism, part of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicines Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine. Dr. Joddar is an assistant professor in the UTEP College of Engineering and leads research in the universitys Inspired Materials and Stem Cell-Based Tissue Engineering Laboratory.

Together, the researchers will collaborate to 3D bioprint small cardiac organoids using human stem cells. These heart-tissue structures will then be sent to the ISS, where they will be exposed to the near-weightless environment of the orbiting space station. The researchers hope that this will provide a better understanding of cardiac atrophy, which is a reduction and weakening of heart tissue, leading to difficulty pumping blood to the body. This condition commonly affects astronauts who spend long periods of time in microgravity, which causes significant problems as a weakened heart muscle can lead to symptoms such as fainting, irregular heartbeat, heart valve problems, and even heart failure.

Cardiac atrophy and a related condition, cardiac fibrosis, is a very big problem in our community. People suffering from diseases such as diabetes, muscular dystrophy and cancer, and conditions such as sepsis and congestive heart failure, often experience cardiac dysfunction and tissue damage, comments Dr. Chattopadhyay.

The first phase of the project will focus on research design. During this stage, taking place over the first year, Dr. Joddar will use 3D printing to fabricate the cardiac organoids. This will be achieved by coupling cardiac cells in physiological ratios to mimic heart tissue. Moving on to the second year, the researchers will be preparing the organoid payload for a rocket launch and mission in space. The third and final year of the project will center on analyzing the data from the experiment once the organoids have been returned to Earth.

Additionally, Dr. Chattopadhyay and Dr. Joddars project will provide an educational opportunity for the El Paso community. A workshop for K-12 students will be set up engaging young minds in the local area around the subject of tissue engineering, with focus placed on projects taking place on the space station. A seminar will also be provided for medical students, interns and residents to enable a discussion regarding the benefits and challenges of transitioning research from Earth-based laboratories into space.

3D bioprinting aboard the ISS

The TTUHSC El Paso and UTEP collaborative research project is one of just five research proposals selected by the NSF and ISS National Lab in 2019 as part of the organizations collaboration on tissue-engineering research funding. The NSF awarded Dr. Chattopadhyay $256,892 and Dr. Joddar $259,350 for their roles in the project.

A number of 3D bioprinting research projects have taken place aboard the ISS, as companies and organizations seek further understanding of how space flight affects astronauts.

For example, Russian bio-technical research laboratory 3D Bioprinting Solutions developed its Organ.Aut magnetic 3D bioprinter to study how living organisms are affected by long flights in outer space. In 2018, it was delivered to the ISS onboard the Soyuz MS-11 manned spacecraft following a previous failed launch from the Soyuz MS-10 spaceflight. In late 2019 it was announced that the company was able to 3D bioprint bone tissue in zero gravity aboard the ISS using the Organ.Aut. The experiment is part of a plan to create bone implants for astronaut transplantation during long-term interplanetary expeditions.

Additionally, the 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) bioprinter from nScrypt, a Florida-based 3D printing system manufacturer, and spaceflight equipment developer Techshot is also onboard the ISS. Delivered to the ISS aboard the SpaceX CRS-18 cargo mission in 2019, the system is capable of manufacturing human tissue in microgravity conditions. It was sent to the ISS in order to facilitate the production of self-supporting tissues that could lead to the development of therapeutic treatments.

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Featured image shows the ISS Exterior. Photo via Roscosmos/ NASA/TTUHSC El Paso.

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El Paso scientists to deliver 3D bioprinted miniature hearts to the ISS - 3D Printing Industry

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Revving the Engine – Harvard Medical School

By daniellenierenberg

The hearts ability to beat normally over a lifetime is predicated on the synchronized work of proteins embedded in the cells of the heart muscle.

Like a fleet of molecular motors that get turned on and off, these proteins cause the heart cells to contract, then force them to relax, beat after life-sustaining beat.

Now a study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Womens Hospital and the University of Oxford shows that when too many of the hearts molecular motor units get switched on and too few remain off, the heart muscle begins to contract excessively and fails to relax normally, leading to its gradual overexertion, thickening and failure.

Get more HM news

Results of the work, published Jan. 27 inCirculation,reveal that this balancing act is an evolutionary mechanism conserved across species to regulate heart muscle contraction by controlling the activity of a protein called myosin, the main contractile protein of the heart muscle.

The findingsbased on experiments with human, mouse and squirrel heart cellsalso demonstrate that when this mechanism goes awry it sets off a molecular cascade that leads to cardiac muscle over-exertion and culminates in the development of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the mostcommon genetic diseaseof the heartand aleading causeof sudden cardiac death in young people and athletes.

Our findings offer a unifying explanation for the heart muscle pathology seen in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that leads to heart muscle dysfunction and, eventually, causes the most common clinical manifestations of the condition, said senior authorChristine Seidman, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, a cardiologist at Brigham and Womens Hospital and a Howard Hughes Medical InstituteInvestigator.

Importantly, the experiments showed that treatment with an experimental small-molecule drug restored the balance of myosin arrangements and normalized the contraction and relaxation of both human and mouse cardiac cells that carried the two most common gene mutations responsible for nearly half of all HCM cases worldwide.

If confirmed in further experiments, the results can inform the design of therapies that halt disease progression and prevent complications.

Correcting the underlying molecular defect and normalizing the function of heart muscle cells could transform treatment options, which are currently limited to alleviating symptoms and preventing worst-case scenarios such as life-threatening rhythm disturbances and heart failure, said study first authorChristopher Toepfer,who performed the work as a postdoctoral researcher in Seidmans lab and is now a joint fellow in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

Some of the current therapies used for HCM include medications to relieve symptoms, surgery to shave the enlarged heart muscle or the implantation of cardioverter defibrillators that shock the heart back into rhythm if its electrical activity ceases or goes haywire. None of these therapies address the underlying cause of the disease.

Imbalance in the motor fleet

Myosin initiates contraction by cross-linking with other proteins to propel the cell into motion. In the current study, the researchers traced the epicenter of mischief down to an imbalance in the ratio of myosin molecule arrangements inside heart cells. Cells containing HCM mutations had too many molecules ready to spring into action and too few myosin molecules idling standby, resulting in stronger contractions and poor relaxation of the cells.

An earlier study by the same team found that under normal conditions, the ratio between on and off myosin molecules in mouse heart cells is around 2-to-3. However, the new study shows that this ratio is off balance in heart cells that harbor HCM mutations, with disproportionately more molecules in active versus inactive states.

In an initial set of experiments, the investigators analyzed heart cells obtained from a breed of hibernating squirrel as a model to reflect extremes in physiologic demands during normal activity and hibernation. Cells obtained from squirrels in hibernationwhen their heart rate slows down to about six beats per minutecontained 10 percent more off myosin molecules than the heart cells of active squirrels, whose heart rate averages 340 beats per minute.

We believe this is one example of natures elegant way of conserving cardiac muscle energy in mammals during dormancy and periods of deficient resources, Toepfer said.

Next, researchers looked at cardiac muscle cells from mice harboring the two most common gene defects seen in HCM. As expected, these cells had altered ratios of on and off myosin reserves.The researchers also analyzed myosin ratios in two types of human heart cells: Stem cell-derived human heart cells engineered in the lab to carry HCM mutations and cells obtained from the excised cardiac muscle tissue of patients with HCM. Both had out-of-balance ratios in their active and inactive myosin molecules.

Further experiments showed that this imbalance perturbed the cells normal contraction and relaxation cycle. Cells harboring HCM mutations contained too many on myosin molecules and contracted more forcefully but relaxed poorly. In the process, the study showed, these cells gobbled up excessive amounts of ATP, the cellular fuel that sustains the work of each cell in our body. And because oxygen is necessary for ATP production, the mutated cells also devoured more oxygen than normal cells, the study showed. To sustain their energy demands, these cells turned to breaking down sugar molecules and fatty acids, which is a sign of altered metabolism, the researchers said.

Taken together, our findings map out the molecular mechanisms that give rise to the cardinal features of the disease, Seidman said. They can help explain how chronically overexerted heart cells with high energy consumption in a state of metabolic stress can, over time,lead to a thickened heart muscle that contracts and relaxes abnormally and eventually becomes prone to arrhythmias, dysfunction and failure.

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Skeletal system 1: the anatomy and physiology of bones – Nursing Times

By daniellenierenberg

Bones are an important part of the musculoskeletal system. This article, the first in a two-part series on the skeletal system, reviews the anatomy and physiology of bone

The skeletal system is formed of bones and cartilage, which are connected by ligaments to form a framework for the remainder of the body tissues. This article, the first in a two-part series on the structure and function of the skeletal system, reviews the anatomy and physiology of bone. Understanding the structure and purpose of the bone allows nurses to understand common pathophysiology and consider the most-appropriate steps to improve musculoskeletal health.

Citation: Walker J (2020) Skeletal system 1: the anatomy and physiology of bones. Nursing Times [online]; 116: 2, 38-42.

Author: Jennie Walker is principal lecturer, Nottingham Trent University.

The skeletal system is composed of bones and cartilage connected by ligaments to form a framework for the rest of the body tissues. There are two parts to the skeleton:

As well as contributing to the bodys overall shape, the skeletal system has several key functions, including:

Bones are a site of attachment for ligaments and tendons, providing a skeletal framework that can produce movement through the coordinated use of levers, muscles, tendons and ligaments. The bones act as levers, while the muscles generate the forces responsible for moving the bones.

Bones provide protective boundaries for soft organs: the cranium around the brain, the vertebral column surrounding the spinal cord, the ribcage containing the heart and lungs, and the pelvis protecting the urogenital organs.

As the main reservoirs for minerals in the body, bones contain approximately 99% of the bodys calcium, 85% of its phosphate and 50% of its magnesium (Bartl and Bartl, 2017). They are essential in maintaining homoeostasis of minerals in the blood with minerals stored in the bone are released in response to the bodys demands, with levels maintained and regulated by hormones, such as parathyroid hormone.

Blood cells are formed from haemopoietic stem cells present in red bone marrow. Babies are born with only red bone marrow; over time this is replaced by yellow marrow due to a decrease in erythropoietin, the hormone responsible for stimulating the production of erythrocytes (red blood cells) in the bone marrow. By adulthood, the amount of red marrow has halved, and this reduces further to around 30% in older age (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018).

Yellow bone marrow (Fig 1) acts as a potential energy reserve for the body; it consists largely of adipose cells, which store triglycerides (a type of lipid that occurs naturally in the blood) (Tortora and Derrickson, 2009).

Bone matrix has three main components:

Organic matrix (osteoid) is made up of approximately 90% type-I collagen fibres and 10% other proteins, such as glycoprotein, osteocalcin, and proteoglycans (Bartl and Bartl, 2017). It forms the framework for bones, which are hardened through the deposit of the calcium and other minerals around the fibres (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018).

Mineral salts are first deposited between the gaps in the collagen layers with once these spaces are filled, minerals accumulate around the collagen fibres, crystallising and causing the tissue to harden; this process is called ossification (Tortora and Derrickson, 2009). The hardness of the bone depends on the type and quantity of the minerals available for the body to use; hydroxyapatite is one of the main minerals present in bones.

While bones need sufficient minerals to strengthen them, they also need to prevent being broken by maintaining sufficient flexibility to withstand the daily forces exerted on them. This flexibility and tensile strength of bone is derived from the collagen fibres. Over-mineralisation of the fibres or impaired collagen production can increase the brittleness of bones as with the genetic disorder osteogenesis imperfecta and increase bone fragility (Ralston and McInnes, 2014).

Bone architecture is made up of two types of bone tissue:

Also known as compact bone, this dense outer layer provides support and protection for the inner cancellous structure. Cortical bone comprises three elements:

The periosteum is a tough, fibrous outer membrane. It is highly vascular and almost completely covers the bone, except for the surfaces that form joints; these are covered by hyaline cartilage. Tendons and ligaments attach to the outer layer of the periosteum, whereas the inner layer contains osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) and osteoclasts (bone-resorbing cells) responsible for bone remodelling.

The function of the periosteum is to:

It also contains Volkmanns canals, small channels running perpendicular to the diaphysis of the bone (Fig 1); these convey blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves from the periosteal surface through to the intracortical layer. The periosteum has numerous sensory fibres, so bone injuries (such as fractures or tumours) can be extremely painful (Drake et al, 2019).

The intracortical bone is organised into structural units, referred to as osteons or Haversian systems (Fig 2). These are cylindrical structures, composed of concentric layers of bone called lamellae, whose structure contributes to the strength of the cortical bone. Osteocytes (mature bone cells) sit in the small spaces between the concentric layers of lamellae, which are known as lacunae. Canaliculi are microscopic canals between the lacunae, in which the osteocytes are networked to each other by filamentous extensions. In the centre of each osteon is a central (Haversian) canal through which the blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves pass. These central canals tend to run parallel to the axis of the bone; Volkmanns canals connect adjacent osteons and the blood vessels of the central canals with the periosteum.

The endosteum consists of a thin layer of connective tissue that lines the inside of the cortical surface (Bartl and Bartl, 2017) (Fig1).

Also known as spongy bone, cancellous bone is found in the outer cortical layer. It is formed of lamellae arranged in an irregular lattice structure of trabeculae, which gives a honeycomb appearance. The large gaps between the trabeculae help make the bones lighter, and so easier to mobilise.

Trabeculae are characteristically oriented along the lines of stress to help resist forces and reduce the risk of fracture (Tortora and Derrickson, 2009). The closer the trabecular structures are spaced, the greater the stability and structure of the bone (Bartl and Bartl, 2017). Red or yellow bone marrow exists in these spaces (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018). Red bone marrow in adults is found in the ribs, sternum, vertebrae and ends of long bones (Tortora and Derrickson, 2009); it is haemopoietic tissue, which produces erythrocytes, leucocytes (white blood cells) and platelets.

Bone and marrow are highly vascularised and account for approximately 10-20% of cardiac output (Bartl and Bartl, 2017). Blood vessels in bone are necessary for nearly all skeletal functions, including the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, homoeostasis and repair (Tomlinson and Silva, 2013). The blood supply in long bones is derived from the nutrient artery and the periosteal, epiphyseal and metaphyseal arteries (Iyer, 2019).

Each artery is also accompanied by nerve fibres, which branch into the marrow cavities. Arteries are the main source of blood and nutrients for long bones, entering through the nutrient foramen, then dividing into ascending and descending branches. The ends of long bones are supplied by the metaphyseal and epiphyseal arteries, which arise from the arteries from the associated joint (Bartl and Bartl, 2017).

If the blood supply to bone is disrupted, it can result in the death of bone tissue (osteonecrosis). A common example is following a fracture to the femoral neck, which disrupts the blood supply to the femoral head and causes the bone tissue to become necrotic. The femoral head structure then collapses, causing pain and dysfunction.

Bones begin to form in utero in the first eight weeks following fertilisation (Moini, 2019). The embryonic skeleton is first formed of mesenchyme (connective tissue) structures; this primitive skeleton is referred to as the skeletal template. These structures are then developed into bone, either through intramembranous ossification or endochondral ossification (replacing cartilage with bone).

Bones are classified according to their shape (Box1). Flat bones develop from membrane (membrane models) and sesamoid bones from tendon (tendon models) (Waugh and Grant, 2018). The term intra-membranous ossification describes the direct conversion of mesenchyme structures to bone, in which the fibrous tissues become ossified as the mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into osteoblasts. The osteoblasts then start to lay down bone matrix, which becomes ossified to form new bone.

Box 1. Types of bones

Long bones typically longer than they are wide (such as humerus, radius, tibia, femur), they comprise a diaphysis (shaft) and epiphyses at the distal and proximal ends, joining at the metaphysis. In growing bone, this is the site where growth occurs and is known as the epiphyseal growth plate. Most long bones are located in the appendicular skeleton and function as levers to produce movement

Short bones small and roughly cube-shaped, these contain mainly cancellous bone, with a thin outer layer of cortical bone (such as the bones in the hands and tarsal bones in the feet)

Flat bones thin and usually slightly curved, typically containing a thin layer of cancellous bone surrounded by cortical bone (examples include the skull, ribs and scapula). Most are located in the axial skeleton and offer protection to underlying structures

Irregular bones bones that do not fit in other categories because they have a range of different characteristics. They are formed of cancellous bone, with an outer layer of cortical bone (for example, the vertebrae and the pelvis)

Sesamoid bones round or oval bones (such as the patella), which develop in tendons

Long, short and irregular bones develop from an initial model of hyaline cartilage (cartilage models). Once the cartilage model has been formed, the osteoblasts gradually replace the cartilage with bone matrix through endochondral ossification (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018). Mineralisation starts at the centre of the cartilage structure, which is known as the primary ossification centre. Secondary ossification centres also form at the epiphyses (epiphyseal growth plates) (Danning, 2019). The epiphyseal growth plate is composed of hyaline cartilage and has four regions (Fig3):

Resting or quiescent zone situated closest to the epiphysis, this is composed of small scattered chondrocytes with a low proliferation rate and anchors the growth plate to the epiphysis;

Growth or proliferation zone this area has larger chondrocytes, arranged like stacks of coins, which divide and are responsible for the longitudinal growth of the bone;

Hypertrophic zone this consists of large maturing chondrocytes, which migrate towards the metaphysis. There is no new growth at this layer;

Calcification zone this final zone of the growth plate is only a few cells thick. Through the process of endochondral ossification, the cells in this zone become ossified and form part of the new diaphysis (Tortora and Derrickson, 2009).

Bones are not fully developed at birth, and continue to form until skeletal maturity is reached. By the end of adolescence around 90% of adult bone is formed and skeletal maturity occurs at around 20-25 years, although this can vary depending on geographical location and socio-economic conditions; for example, malnutrition may delay bone maturity (Drake et al, 2019; Bartl and Bartl, 2017). In rare cases, a genetic mutation can disrupt cartilage development, and therefore the development of bone. This can result in reduced growth and short stature and is known as achondroplasia.

The human growth hormone (somatotropin) is the main stimulus for growth at the epiphyseal growth plates. During puberty, levels of sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) increase, which stops cell division within the growth plate. As the chondrocytes in the proliferation zone stop dividing, the growth plate thins and eventually calcifies, and longitudinal bone growth stops (Ralston and McInnes, 2014). Males are on average taller than females because male puberty tends to occur later, so male bones have more time to grow (Waugh and Grant, 2018). Over-secretion of human growth hormone during childhood can produce gigantism, whereby the person is taller and heavier than usually expected, while over-secretion in adults results in a condition called acromegaly.

If there is a fracture in the epiphyseal growth plate while bones are still growing, this can subsequently inhibit bone growth, resulting in reduced bone formation and the bone being shorter. It may also cause misalignment of the joint surfaces and cause a predisposition to developing secondary arthritis later in life. A discrepancy in leg length can lead to pelvic obliquity, with subsequent scoliosis caused by trying to compensate for the difference.

Once bone has formed and matured, it undergoes constant remodelling by osteoclasts and osteoblasts, whereby old bone tissue is replaced by new bone tissue (Fig4). Bone remodelling has several functions, including mobilisation of calcium and other minerals from the skeletal tissue to maintain serum homoeostasis, replacing old tissue and repairing damaged bone, as well as helping the body adapt to different forces, loads and stress applied to the skeleton.

Calcium plays a significant role in the body and is required for muscle contraction, nerve conduction, cell division and blood coagulation. As only 1% of the bodys calcium is in the blood, the skeleton acts as storage facility, releasing calcium in response to the bodys demands. Serum calcium levels are tightly regulated by two hormones, which work antagonistically to maintain homoeostasis. Calcitonin facilitates the deposition of calcium to bone, lowering the serum levels, whereas the parathyroid hormone stimulates the release of calcium from bone, raising the serum calcium levels.

Osteoclasts are large multinucleated cells typically found at sites where there is active bone growth, repair or remodelling, such as around the periosteum, within the endosteum and in the removal of calluses formed during fracture healing (Waugh and Grant, 2018). The osteoclast cell membrane has numerous folds that face the surface of the bone and osteoclasts break down bone tissue by secreting lysosomal enzymes and acids into the space between the ruffled membrane (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018). These enzymes dissolve the minerals and some of the bone matrix. The minerals are released from the bone matrix into the extracellular space and the rest of the matrix is phagocytosed and metabolised in the cytoplasm of the osteoclasts (Bartl and Bartl, 2017). Once the area of bone has been resorbed, the osteoclasts move on, while the osteoblasts move in to rebuild the bone matrix.

Osteoblasts synthesise collagen fibres and other organic components that make up the bone matrix. They also secrete alkaline phosphatase, which initiates calcification through the deposit of calcium and other minerals around the matrix (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018). As the osteoblasts deposit new bone tissue around themselves, they become trapped in pockets of bone called lacunae. Once this happens, the cells differentiate into osteocytes, which are mature bone cells that no longer secrete bone matrix.

The remodelling process is achieved through the balanced activity of osteoclasts and osteoblasts. If bone is built without the appropriate balance of osteocytes, it results in abnormally thick bone or bony spurs. Conversely, too much tissue loss or calcium depletion can lead to fragile bone that is more susceptible to fracture. The larger surface area of cancellous bones is associated with a higher remodelling rate than cortical bone (Bartl and Bartl, 2017), which means osteoporosis is more evident in bones with a high proportion of cancellous bone, such as the head/neck of femur or vertebral bones (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018). Changes in the remodelling balance may also occur due to pathological conditions, such as Pagets disease of bone, a condition characterised by focal areas of increased and disorganised bone remodelling affecting one or more bones. Typical features on X-ray include focal patches of lysis or sclerosis, cortical thickening, disorganised trabeculae and trabecular thickening.

As the body ages, bone may lose some of its strength and elasticity, making it more susceptible to fracture. This is due to the loss of mineral in the matrix and a reduction in the flexibility of the collagen.

Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is essential for optimum bone formation and ongoing bone health. Two of the most important are calcium and vitamin D, but many others are needed to keep bones strong and healthy (Box2).

Box 2. Vitamins and minerals needed for bone health

Key nutritional requirements for bone health include minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, as well as smaller qualities of fluoride, manganese, and iron (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018). Calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D are essential for effective bone mineralisation. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the intestines, and deficiency in calcium or vitamin D can predispose an individual to ineffective mineralisation and increased risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia.

Other key vitamins for healthy bones include vitamin A for osteoblast function and vitamin C for collagen synthesis (Waugh and Grant, 2018).

Physical exercise, in particular weight-bearing exercise, is important in maintaining or increasing bone mineral density and the overall quality and strength of the bone. This is because osteoblasts are stimulated by load-bearing exercise and so bones subjected to mechanical stresses undergo a higher rate of bone remodelling. Reduced skeletal loading is associated with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis (Robson and Syndercombe Court, 2018).

Bones are an important part of the musculoskeletal system and serve many core functions, as well as supporting the bodys structure and facilitating movement. Bone is a dynamic structure, which is continually remodelled in response to stresses placed on the body. Changes to this remodelling process, or inadequate intake of nutrients, can result in changes to bone structure that may predispose the body to increased risk of fracture. Part2 of this series will review the structure and function of the skeletal system.

Bartl R, Bartl C (2017) Structure and architecture of bone. In: Bone Disorder: Biology, Diagnosis, Prevention, Therapy.

Danning CL (2019) Structure and function of the musculoskeletal system. In: Banasik JL, Copstead L-EC (eds) Pathophysiology. St Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Drake RL et al (eds) (2019) Grays Anatomy for Students. London: Elsevier.

Iyer KM (2019) Anatomy of bone, fracture, and fracture healing. In: Iyer KM, Khan WS (eds) General Principles of Orthopedics and Trauma. London: Springer.

Moini J (2019) Bone tissues and the skeletal system. In: Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Ralston SH, McInnes IB (2014) Rheumatology and bone disease. In: Walker BR et al (eds) Davidsons Principles and Practice of Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Robson L, Syndercombe Court D (2018) Bone, muscle, skin and connective tissue. In: Naish J, Syndercombe Court D (eds) Medical Sciences. London: Elsevier

Tomlinson RE, Silva MJ (2013) Skeletal blood flow in bone repair and maintenance. Bone Research; 1: 4, 311-322.

Tortora GJ, Derrickson B (2009) The skeletal system: bone tissue. In: Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Waugh A, Grant A (2018) The musculoskeletal system. In: Ross & Wilson Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness. London: Elsevier.

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