Engineering Diversity

FELLOW NEWS

New technique bioprints live cells inside the body using ultrasonic waves
Shulamit Levenberg | May 9, 2024

New technique bioprints live cells inside the body using ultrasonic waves
Shulamit Levenberg | May 9, 2024

Revolutionary acousto-printing method can be used to circumvent invasive surgery, and has a wide array of potential applications.

A new drug delivery and tissue implantation technique utilizing ultrasound waves as an alternative to surgery has been developed in the Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Lab of Prof. Shulamit Levenberg at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The technique allows for bioprinting live cells and tissues deep within the body using external soundwave irradiation.

Continue reading.

Researchers Engineer Yeast to Deliver Drugs, Reduce Inflammation for Possible Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment
Juliane Nguyen | May 7, 2024

Researchers Engineer Yeast to Deliver Drugs, Reduce Inflammation for Possible Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment
Juliane Nguyen | May 7, 2024

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a complex condition that requires individualized care to meet the needs of the patient’s current disease state. With available medications sometimes causing serious side effects or losing their efficacy over time, many researchers have been exploring new, more targeted ways of delivering medications or other beneficial compounds, such as probiotics.

To address pitfalls in IBD treatment and drug delivery, the labs of Juliane Nguyen, PhD, professor and vice chair of pharmacoengineering and molecular pharmaceuticals at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and Janelle Arthur, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the UNC School of Medicine, have developed a genetically engineered probiotic strain of Saccharomyces boulardii.

Continue reading.

Stretchable skin could give caregiving robots a more human touch
Nanshu Lu | May 6, 2024

Stretchable skin could give caregiving robots a more human touch
Nanshu Lu | May 6, 2024

Newly developed stretchable electronic skin soon might give robots and other devices the same softness and touch sensitivity as human skin. This could prove especially promising for care of the aging, where a soft touch can make a huge difference.

The new stretchable e-skin was developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Much like human skin has to stretch and bend to accommodate our movements, so too does e-skin,” said Nanshu Lu, PhD, a professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics who led the project. “No matter how much our e-skin stretches, the pressure response doesn’t change, and that is a significant achievement.

Continue reading.

An electrifying discovery may help doctors deliver more effective gene therapies
Susan Hagness | April 30, 2024

An electrifying discovery may help doctors deliver more effective gene therapies
Susan Hagness | April 30, 2024

In an effort to improve delivery of costly medical treatments, a team of researchers in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has developed a stimulating method that could make the human body more receptive to certain gene therapies.

The researchers exposed liver cells to short electric pulses — and those gentle zaps caused the liver cells to take in more than 40 times the amount of gene therapy material compared to cells that were not exposed to pulsed electric fields. The method could help reduce the dosage needed for these treatments, making them much safer and more affordable. The research appears April 30 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Continue reading.

Circadian rhythms can influence drugs’ effectiveness
Sangeeta Bhatia | April 24, 2024

Circadian rhythms can influence drugs’ effectiveness
Sangeeta Bhatia | April 24, 2024

MIT researchers find circadian variations in liver function play an important role in how drugs are broken down in the body.

Giving drugs at different times of day could significantly affect how they are metabolized in the liver, according to a new study from MIT.

Using tiny, engineered livers derived from cells from human donors, the researchers found that many genes involved in drug metabolism are under circadian control. These circadian variations affect how much of a drug is available and how effectively the body can break it down. For example, they found that enzymes that break down Tylenol and other drugs are more abundant at certain times of day.

Continue reading.

Engineered Peptides Stimulate Antitumor Immune Responses in Mice
Betty Kim | April 22, 2024

Engineered Peptides Stimulate Antitumor Immune Responses in Mice
Betty Kim | April 22, 2024

Researchers have designed a new method for developing immunotherapy drugs using engineered peptides to elicit a natural immune response inside the body. More specifically, they showed, in antigen presenting cells, that “the hydrophobicity, electrostatic charge, and secondary conformation of helical polypeptides can be optimized to stimulate innate immune pathways via endoplasmic reticulum stress.”

In preclinical models of locally advanced and metastatic breast cancer, this method improved tumor control and prolonged survival, both as a monotherapy and in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Continue reading.

Deep learning model detects COVID-19 infection using lung imaging
Bisi Bell | March 26, 2024

Deep learning model detects COVID-19 infection using lung imaging
Bisi Bell | March 26, 2024

A deep neural network-based automated detection tool could assist emergency room clinicians in diagnosing COVID-19 effectively using lung ultrasound images.

Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a deep learning-based model to detect COVID-19 infection using lung ultrasound images, according to a study published recently in Communications Medicine.

The automated detection tool uses deep neural networks (DNNs) to identify COVID-19 features in lung ultrasound B-mode images and may help clinicians diagnose emergency department patients more efficiently.

Continue reading.

This implant will tell a smartphone app when you need to pee
Guillermo Ameer | March 25, 2024

This implant will tell a smartphone app when you need to pee
Guillermo Ameer | March 25, 2024

The stretchy, wireless sensor could keep patients with bladder issues informed in real-time.

For people dealing with spina bifida, paralysis, and various bladder diseases, determining when to take a bathroom break can be an issue. To help ease the frequent stress, researchers at Northwestern University have designed a sensor array that attaches to the bladder’s exterior wall, enabling it to detect its fullness in real time. Using embedded Bluetooth technology, the device then transmits its data to a smartphone app, allowing users to monitor their bodily functions without far less discomfort and guesswork.

The new tool, detailed in a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), isn’t only meant to prevent incontinence issues. Lacking an ability to feel bladder fullness extends far beyond the obvious inconveniences—for millions of Americans dealing with bladder dysfunctions, not knowing when to go to the bathroom can cause additional organ damage such as regular infections and kidney damage. To combat these issues, the new medical device mirrors the bladder’s own elasticity.

Continue reading.

A lung-mimicking sealant helps repair surgical leaks
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | March 12, 2024

A lung-mimicking sealant helps repair surgical leaks
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | March 12, 2024

A superior surgical sealant mimics the structural and mechanical properties of lung tissue to repair air leaks after surgery.

A new sealant meant to mimic lung tissue has been shown to rapidly cork air leaks following surgery. Moreover, the protein-like molecules within the sealant were found to potentially help with wound repair.

“Our lung-mimetic sealant is designed with a structure similar to that of the healthy lung, allowing the sealant to deform in a similar way as the breathing lung,” explained Meghan Pinezich, researcher at Columbia University in the US, and first author on the study, in an email.

Continue reading.

How AI-powered handheld devices are boosting disease diagnostics – from cancer to dermatology
Irving Bigio | March 12, 2024

How AI-powered handheld devices are boosting disease diagnostics – from cancer to dermatology
Irving Bigio | March 12, 2024

In the past, artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare was mostly in the hands of specialists — experts in marrying supercomputers to hefty hospital devices. Now, thanks to a new breed of compact, handheld AI-assisted disease-detection devices, that is changing. Healthcare AI is increasingly in the hands (and the pockets) of non-specialists.

Lightweight, battery-powered handheld healthcare AI devices made a splash in January 2024 with the arrival of a portable device for detecting skin cancer. Approved for marketing by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the brand name DermaSensor, the device looks like an oversized cellphone. It is approved for use solely by physicians, and only in patients over 40 years of age, to help in the evaluation of skin lesions suggestive of three types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Continue reading.

Metal-Organic Nanoparticles Enable Better Vaccine Delivery, Stronger Immune Response
Ana Jaklenec | March 6, 2024

Metal-Organic Nanoparticles Enable Better Vaccine Delivery, Stronger Immune Response
Ana Jaklenec | March 6, 2024

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and elsewhere have published a paper in Science Advances that describes a type of nanoparticle for delivering vaccines called a metal organic framework (MOF) that can potentially provoke a strong immune response at lower doses. The paper is titled “Zeolitic Imidazolate Frameworks Activate Endosomal Toll-like Receptors and Potentiate Immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Trimer.”

In the study, which was done in mice, the researchers showed that the MOF successfully encapsulated and delivered part of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein while simultaneously acting as an adjuvant once it broke down inside cells. More work is needed to ensure that the particles can be used safely in human vaccines, but these early results are promising.

Continue reading.

AI Predicts Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Seven Years in Advance
Marina Sirota | February 25, 2024

AI Predicts Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Seven Years in Advance
Marina Sirota | February 25, 2024

AI enables precision medicine with early detection of Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) recently developed an AI algorithm that can identify patients at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease up to seven years in advance, according to a study published last week in Nature Aging.

The researchers reported that their AI models predicted Alzheimer’s disease up to seven years in advance with 72% accuracy.

The predictive capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning are enabling disease prediction and accelerating precision medicine in an effort to improve patient outcomes. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), an incurable neurodegenerative disease, is the most common form of dementia.

Continue reading.

DNA Melting Curves Could Speed Blood-Borne Pathogen Detection
Stephanie Fraley | February 21, 2024

DNA Melting Curves Could Speed Blood-Borne Pathogen Detection
Stephanie Fraley | February 21, 2024

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and elsewhere have described a method of detecting blood-borne pathogens faster and more accurately than traditional blood cultures. The method, called digital DNA melting analysis, produces results in under six hours, much shorter than traditional cultures which can require 15 hours to several days depending on the pathogen.

Details of the method and results from a clinical pilot using blood samples from pediatric patients are provided in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics in a paper titled, “Universal digital high resolution melt analysis for the diagnosis of bacteremia.” Results from the pilot study showed that their DNA melting approach matched results of blood cultures collected for sepsis testing. They were also able to quantify how much of the pathogen was present in the samples using DNA melting.

Continue reading.

Christine Schmidt elected to National Academy of Engineering
Christine Schmidt | February 8, 2024

Christine Schmidt elected to National Academy of Engineering
Christine Schmidt | February 8, 2024

The National Academy of Engineering has elected UF Distinguished Professor Christine Schmidt, Ph.D., to the academy for 2024 in recognition of her more than 25 years of work to help advance the fields of neural tissue engineering and wound healing and for her leadership in diversifying bioengineering.

Election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions bestowed upon an engineer, honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research and private industry. Schmidt, the Pruitt Family Chair in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, is focused on creating novel materials and therapeutic systems aimed at wound healing and rebuilding peripheral and spinal nerves damaged by injuries.

Continue reading.

Desai named to National Academy of Engineering
Tejal Desai | February 7, 2024

Desai named to National Academy of Engineering
Tejal Desai | February 7, 2024

Brown Engineering Dean receives one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer.

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected Brown University Sorensen Family Dean of Engineering Tejal A. Desai to its newest membership class, honoring her distinguished contributions to engineering, “for nanofabricated materials to control biologics delivery, and leadership in the fields of nanotechnology and regenerative medicine.” Membership in the NAE is considered one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer and Desai’s selection brings to six the number of current Brown faculty members in the NAE.

“I am deeply honored by this recognition, and am grateful for all my colleagues and trainees who have supported me over my career,” said Desai.

Continue reading.

National Academy of Engineering Elects Gargi Maheshwari, Ph.D.
Gargi Maheshwari | February 6, 2024

National Academy of Engineering Elects Gargi Maheshwari, Ph.D.
Gargi Maheshwari | February 6, 2024

National Academy of Engineering Elects 114 Members and 21 International Members

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 114 new members and 21 international members, announced NAE President John L. Anderson today. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,310 and the number of international members to 332.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.” Election of new NAE members is the culmination of a yearlong process. The ballot is set in December and the final vote for membership occurs during January.

Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during the NAE’s annual meeting on Sept. 29, 2024. A list of the new members and international members follows, with their primary affiliations at the time of election and a brief statement of their principal engineering accomplishments.

Maheshwari, Gargi, vice president, Biologics Development, Bristol Myers Squibb, Blue Bell, Pa. For industrial bioprocessing, leading to licensure of biologics and vaccines for human health.

Continue reading.

Nancy Allbritton elected to National Academy of Engineering
Nancy Allbritton | February 6, 2024

Nancy Allbritton elected to National Academy of Engineering
Nancy Allbritton | February 6, 2024

Nancy Allbritton, the dean of the University of Washington College of Engineering and a UW professor of bioengineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the academy announced Feb. 6.

Allbritton was selected “for innovation and commercialization of single-cell, analytical, and gut-on-chip technologies for drug screening and for engineering education.”

Drawing from the fields of engineering, chemistry, physics and materials science, Allbritton’s research develops technologies and platforms for biomedical research and clinical care, including the study and analysis of single cells for the treatment of a variety of diseases such as cancer, macular degeneration and HIV.

Continue reading.

Metastatic breast cancer treatments have aided decline in deaths, Stanford Medicine-led study finds
Sylvia Plevritis | January 17, 2024

Metastatic breast cancer treatments have aided decline in deaths, Stanford Medicine-led study finds
Sylvia Plevritis | January 17, 2024

Deaths from breast cancer dropped 58% between 1975 and 2019 due to a combination of screening mammography and improvements in treatment, according to a new multicenter study led by Stanford Medicine clinicians and biomedical data scientists.

Nearly one-third of the decrease (29%) is due to advances in treating metastatic breast cancer —a form that has spread to other areas of in the body and is known as stage 4 breast cancer or recurrent cancer. Although these advanced cancers are not considered curable, women with metastatic disease are living longer than ever.

The analysis helps cancer researchers assess where to focus future efforts and resources.

Continue reading.

Injectable hydrogel electrodes open door to a novel painless treatment regimen for arrhythmia
Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez | January 9, 2024

Injectable hydrogel electrodes open door to a novel painless treatment regimen for arrhythmia
Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez | January 9, 2024

A breakthrough study led by Dr. Mehdi Razavi at The Texas Heart Institute (THI), in collaboration with a biomedical engineering team of The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) Cockrell School of Engineering led by Dr. Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez, sets the foundation of a ground-breaking treatment regimen for treating ventricular arrhythmia. Their study published in Nature Communications demonstrates the design and feasibility of a new hydrogel-based pacing modality.

The urgent need for an effective therapeutic regimen for ventricular arrhythmia inspired THI’s Electrophysiology Clinical Research & Innovations (EPCRI) team, led by its director, Dr. Razavi, to partner with Dr. Cosgriff-Hernandez and her UT Austin Biomedical Engineering (UT Austin BME) team to co-develop an innovative strategy that addresses the pathophysiology of re-entrant arrhythmia.

Continue reading.

Inhalable sensors could enable early lung cancer detection
Sangeeta Bhatia | January 5, 2024

Inhalable sensors could enable early lung cancer detection
Sangeeta Bhatia | January 5, 2024

The diagnostic, which requires only a simple urine test to read the results, could make lung cancer screening more accessible worldwide.

Using a new technology developed at MIT, diagnosing lung cancer could become as easy as inhaling nanoparticle sensors and then taking a urine test that reveals whether a tumor is present.

The new diagnostic is based on nanosensors that can be delivered by an inhaler or a nebulizer. If the sensors encounter cancer-linked proteins in the lungs, they produce a signal that accumulates in the urine, where it can be detected with a simple paper test strip.

Continue reading.

Next-Generation Wearable Technologies
Jill Higginson | December 19, 2023

Next-Generation Wearable Technologies
Jill Higginson | December 19, 2023

UD engineers are researching and refining innovative nanomaterial-based sensors for human health applications

From keeping us warm and dry during a downpour to showcasing our Blue Hen spirit at Homecoming, clothing is essential for our comfort, protection and self-expression. But what if our clothing could do even more — what if, for example, our clothes could collect real-time data and provide feedback that could aid our recovery after an accident or surgery, or monitor our form or body posture during exercise and sports to prevent injury?

At the University of Delaware, a team of researchers from the College of Engineering has developed nanomaterial sensors that can measure precise changes in human movement while being both comfortable and cost effective. Now, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program, the team will continue studying these innovative materials while collaborating with industry partners to explore new commercial opportunities in health-related applications.

Continue reading.

Kuhn Develops Patent-Pending Process to Create Comfortable Prosthetics for Breast Cancer Survivors
Liisa Kuhn | December 14, 2023

Kuhn Develops Patent-Pending Process to Create Comfortable Prosthetics for Breast Cancer Survivors
Liisa Kuhn | December 14, 2023

University of Connecticut Professor of Biomedical Engineering Liisa Kuhn credits Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper for inspiring her work on designing bone grafts, growth plate repair gel—and most recently—breast prosthetics.

“The Gobstopper candy has all these layers, and each layer lets them experience a different course of a meal,” says Kuhn, who has a dual appointment with the School of Dental Medicine and the College of Engineering. “Similarly, in my own research, I’m working with multilayered structures that provide timed release of multiple factors to improve bone and cartilage healing.”

Continue reading.

Guillermo A. Ameer Elected a Biomaterials Science and Engineering Fellow
Guillermo Ameer | December 7, 2023

Guillermo A. Ameer Elected a Biomaterials Science and Engineering Fellow
Guillermo Ameer | December 7, 2023

With his election, Ameer joins a group of fewer than 500 biomaterials scientists worldwide

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer has been elected a Fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE) by the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (IUSBSE), the highest honor the global biomaterials community can bestow on outstanding scientists. With his election, Ameer joins a group of fewer than 500 biomaterials scientists worldwide who have been named a FBSE.

Ameer will be formally inducted May 27 at the World Biomaterials Congress in Daegu, South Korea. Fellowships recognize those who have gained a status of excellent professional standing and high achievements in the field of biomaterials science and engineering.

Continue reading.

MIT’s Tiny Technologies Go to Washington
Ana Jaklenec | December 4, 2023

MIT’s Tiny Technologies Go to Washington
Ana Jaklenec | December 4, 2023

Cancer nanomedicine showcased at the White House Demo Day

On November 7, a team from the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine showed a Washington D.C. audience several examples of how nanotechnologies developed at MIT can transform the detection and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The team was one of 40 innovative groups featured at “American Possibilities: A White House Demo Day.” Technology on view spanning energy, artificial intelligence, climate, and health, highlighting advancements that contribute to building a better future for all Americans.

Continue reading.

Low-dose CT screening can catch lung cancer early – but most people overlook it
Denise Aberle | November 8, 2023

Low-dose CT screening can catch lung cancer early – but most people overlook it
Denise Aberle | November 8, 2023

CT was shown to be the first and most effective way of reducing lung cancer mortality,’ says UCLA Health’s Dr. Denise Aberle.

Most people at greatest risk of lung cancer are overlooking a non-invasive screening that can detect cases early, when treatment can best save lives.

November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month and UCLA Health lung cancer experts are working to spread the word about the importance of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) of the chest. The annual scan is recommended for people with a long-term history of smoking, as well as other criteria, including age.

The screening is designed to find asymptomatic cancers when they are most treatable with surgery or radiation. It also allows doctors to monitor any suspicious findings over time.

Continue reading.

Anesthesia technology precisely controls unconsciousness in animal tests
Emery Brown | November 7, 2023

Anesthesia technology precisely controls unconsciousness in animal tests
Emery Brown | November 7, 2023

An advanced closed-loop anesthesia delivery system that monitors brain state to tailor propofol dose and achieve exactly the desired level of unconsciousness could reduce post-op side effects.

If anesthesiologists had a rigorous means to manage dosing, they could deliver less medicine, maintaining exactly the right depth of unconsciousness while reducing postoperative cognitive side effects in vulnerable groups like the elderly. But with myriad responsibilities for keeping anesthetized patients alive and stable as well as maintaining their profoundly unconscious state, anesthesiologists don’t have the time without the technology.

To solve the problem, researchers at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have invented a closed-loop system based on brain state monitoring that accurately controls unconsciousness by automating doses of the anesthetic drug propofol every 20 seconds.

Continue reading.

Advancing ultrasound microvessel imaging and AI to improve cancer detection
Azra Alizad | October 21, 2023

Advancing ultrasound microvessel imaging and AI to improve cancer detection
Azra Alizad | October 21, 2023

Ultrasound—a technology that uses sound waves to produce an image—is commonly used to monitor the development of a baby as it grows inside its mother. But ultrasound imaging also can be used to investigate suspicious masses of tissue and nodules that may be cancerous.

Tumors consist not only of cancer cells but also a matrix of small blood vessels, or microvessels, that cannot be seen in the images produced by conventional ultrasound machines. To solve this problem, physician-scientist Azra Alizad, M.D., and biomedical engineering scientist Mostafa Fatemi, Ph.D., teamed up at Mayo Clinic to design and study a tool that may improve the resolution of ultrasound imaging.

Continue reading.

Immunotherapy Response in Glioblastoma Induced by mRNA Delivered by Extracellular Vesicles
Betty Kim | October 20, 2023

Immunotherapy Response in Glioblastoma Induced by mRNA Delivered by Extracellular Vesicles
Betty Kim | October 20, 2023

Investigators at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has developed a potentially groundbreaking method for enhancing immunotherapy responses in glioblastoma by using extracellular vesicles loaded with messenger RNA (mRNA). This new approach, detailed in Nature Communications, has solved some of the hurdles faced by mRNA-based therapy approaches for cancer and could lead to wider use of these therapies across a range of hard-to-treat tumor types.

The new approach for mRNA delivery builds on research from a team at MD Anderson led by Betty Kim, MD, PhD, and Wen Jiang, MD, PhD, who developed a novel method earlier this year of loading mRNA into extracellular vesicles and demonstrates the anti-tumor potential of this method of therapeutic delivery. Researchers have known for some time the therapeutic potential of mRNA to fight both infectious diseases and cancer. But methods to deliver it accurately to where it is needed has been a challenge, with various other potential delivery method studied previously including via lipid polymeric nanoparticles.

Continue reading.

Curbing Lung Cancer Metastasis with Nanoparticle Vaccine
Nicole Steinmetz | October 11, 2023

Curbing Lung Cancer Metastasis with Nanoparticle Vaccine
Nicole Steinmetz | October 11, 2023

Scientists at the University of California (UC), San Diego, have developed an experimental vaccine that could curb the spread of metastatic cancers to the lungs. The key ingredients of the vaccine are nanoparticles that have been engineered to target a protein known to play a central role in cancer growth and spread. The vaccine significantly reduced the spread of metastatic breast and skin cancers to the lungs in mice. It also improved the survival rate in mice with metastatic breast cancer after surgical removal of the primary tumor.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in an article titled, “Viral nanoparticle vaccines against S100A9 reduce lung tumor seeding and metastasis.”

Continue reading.

Restoring nerve-muscle connections boosts strength of aging mice, Stanford Medicine study finds
Helen Blau | October 11, 2023

Restoring nerve-muscle connections boosts strength of aging mice, Stanford Medicine study finds
Helen Blau | October 11, 2023

A drug that boosts strength in injured or aging mice restores connections between nerves and muscle and suggests ways to combat weakness in humans due to aging, injury or disease.

A small molecule previously shown to enhance strength in injured or old laboratory mice does so by restoring lost connections between nerves and muscle fibers, Stanford Medicine researchers have found.

The molecule blocks the activity of an aging-associated enzyme, or gerozyme, called 15-PGDH that naturally increases in muscles as they age. The study showed that levels of the gerozyme increase in muscles after nerve damage and that it is prevalent in muscle fibers of people with neuromuscular diseases.

The research is the first to show that damaged motor neurons — nerves connecting the spinal cord to muscles — can be induced to regenerate in response to a drug treatment and that lost strength and muscle mass can be at least partially regained. It suggests that, if similar results are seen in humans, the drug may one day be used to prevent muscle loss of muscle strength due to aging or disease or to hasten recovery from injury.

Continue reading.

Regina Barzilay elected to the National Academy of Medicine for 2023
Regina Barzilay | October 10, 2023

Regina Barzilay elected to the National Academy of Medicine for 2023
Regina Barzilay | October 10, 2023

The National Academy of Medicine announced the election of 100 new members to join their esteemed ranks in 2023, among them five MIT faculty members and seven additional affiliates.

MIT professors Daniel Anderson, Regina Barzilay, Guoping Feng, Darrell Irvine, and Morgen Shen were among the new members. Justin Hanes PhD ’96, Said Ibrahim MBA ’16, and Jennifer West ’92, along with three former students in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) — Michael Chiang, Siddhartha Mukherjee, and Robert Vonderheide — were also elected, as was Yi Zhang, an associate member of The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service, the academy noted in announcing the election of its new members.

Continue reading.

Tumor-destroying sound waves receive FDA approval for liver treatment in humans
Zhen Xu | October 9, 2023

Tumor-destroying sound waves receive FDA approval for liver treatment in humans
Zhen Xu | October 9, 2023

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of sound waves to break down tumors—a technique called histotripsy—in humans for liver treatment.

Pioneered at the University of Michigan, histotripsy offers a promising alternative to cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which often have significant side effects. Today, FDA officials awarded clearance to HistoSonics, a company co-founded in 2009 by U-M engineers and doctors for the use of histotripsy to destroy targeted liver tissue.

A human trial underway since 2021 at the U-M Rogel Cancer Center and other locations has treated patients with primary and metastatic liver tumors via histotripsy, demonstrating the technology’s ability to meet the testing’s primary effectiveness and safety targets.

Continue reading.

Dean Jennifer L. West Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Jennifer West | October 9, 2023

Dean Jennifer L. West Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Jennifer West | October 9, 2023

Jennifer L. West, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia, has been elected to the prestigious NATIONAL ACADEMY OF MEDICINE, one of the highest recognitions in health and medicine. The National Academy of Medicine is one of three institutions that make up the National Academies, operating under an 1863 Congressional charter signed by President Lincoln to assemble experts to advise the nation in science and technology.

“It is my honor to welcome this truly exceptional class of new members to the National Academy of Medicine,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau. “Their contributions to health and medicine are unparalleled, and their leadership and expertise will be essential to helping the NAM tackle today’s urgent health challenges, inform the future of health care, and ensure health equity for the benefit of all around the globe.

Continue reading.

The cactus chemist: Dr. Norma Alcantar
Norma Alcantar | September 5, 2023

The cactus chemist: Dr. Norma Alcantar
Norma Alcantar | September 5, 2023

Among the typical things you’d expect to find in a chemical engineer’s office — honorary awards, patent plaques, and books like “Environmental Analytical Chemistry” and “Introducing Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics” — Dr. Norma Alcantar’s office at the University of South Florida (USF) also showcases her love of life and teaching with books like “Intentional Integrity,” a coffee mug that reads “the influence of a good teacher can never be erased,” and a decorative plaque that reads “It’s All Gonna Be Fine.”

But hidden between the intellectual and inspirational materials, two sets of objects stand out: a series of cacti and owl collectibles. To the uninitiated, they appear to be whimsical office décor, but to those who know Alcantar, the folklore wisdom of the owl and the hardy, but elegantly designed cacti plant represent the tapestry of her life and career.

Continue reading.

Engineered Proteins Take On Cancer’s Epigenome
Karmella Haynes | August 24, 2023

Engineered Proteins Take On Cancer’s Epigenome
Karmella Haynes | August 24, 2023

In addition to characterizing the genetic basis for different cancers, scientists are increasingly interested in the role of the epigenome in tumor development, and possible therapies that can target genes repressed by chemically modifying chromatin in cancer.

Part of what makes the epigenome an attractive target is the possibility of hitting a system of proteins involved in gene expression programming rather than a single target, according to Karmella Haynes, PhD, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Emory University. She and a team of scientists from Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology have developed another potential approach for reactivating repressed tumor suppressor genes that could ultimately have implications for how solid tumors like triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) are treated.

Continue reading.

Ameer Wins 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award
Guillermo Ameer | August 23, 2023

Ameer Wins 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award
Guillermo Ameer | August 23, 2023

The award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the science of biomaterials

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer has been elected the winner of the 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award, an honor given by the Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation (SIBF).

The award, the highest given by the foundation, recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the biomaterials science field. Previous winners include Moderna cofounder Robert Langer (2020) and the late Northwestern professor Richard Van Duyne (1991).

Continue reading.

Transforming flies into degradable plastics
Karen Wooley | August 14, 2023

Transforming flies into degradable plastics
Karen Wooley | August 14, 2023

Imagine using insects as a source of chemicals to make plastics that can biodegrade later — with the help of that very same type of bug. That concept is closer to reality than you might expect. Today, researchers will describe their progress to date, including isolation and purification of insect-derived chemicals and their conversion into functional bioplastics.

The researchers will present their results at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2023 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person Aug. 13–17, and features about 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“For 20 years, my group has been developing methods to transform natural products — such as glucose obtained from sugar cane or trees — into degradable, digestible polymers that don’t persist in the environment,” said Karen Wooley, PhD, the project’s principal investigator.

Continue reading.

Deep learning unlocks personalised cancer therapy
Rachel Karchin | August 14, 2023

Deep learning unlocks personalised cancer therapy
Rachel Karchin | August 14, 2023

Engineers and cancer researchers have harnessed the power of machine learning technology to predict immune-boosting proteins.

Machine learning technology developed by a team of Johns Hopkins engineers and cancer researchers can accurately predict cancer-related protein fragments that may trigger an immune system response.

If validated in clinical trials, the technology could help scientists overcome a major hurdle to developing personalised immunotherapies and vaccines.

In a new study, investigators from Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Computational Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy show that their deep learning method, called BigMHC, can identify protein fragments on cancer cells that elicit a tumour cell-killing immune response, an essential step in understanding response to immunotherapy and in developing personalised cancer therapies.

Continue reading.

New DNA Identification Approach Could Improve Monitoring for Chronic Diseases
Shana Kelley | July 26, 2023

New DNA Identification Approach Could Improve Monitoring for Chronic Diseases
Shana Kelley | July 26, 2023

Investigators led by Shana Kelley, PhD, the Neena B. Schwartz Professor of Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, have developed a novel approach for identifying sequences of artificial DNA with differing levels of binding to other small molecules.

The approach, detailed in a study published in Nature Chemistry, could help improve the efficiency of diagnostic monitoring for patients with chronic diseases.

Aptamers are sequences of artificial DNA that selectively bind to other small molecules such as peptides, carbohydrates and foreign pathogens. Aptamers can be used for therapeutic purposes in the same way as monoclonal antibodies, and have been used for pathogen and cancer recognition as well as stem cell markers.

Continue reading.

Study optimizes patient-specific stem cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease
Jeanne Loring | July 19, 2023

Study optimizes patient-specific stem cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease
Jeanne Loring | July 19, 2023

The discovery by scientists from Scripps Research and Cardiff University paves the way for clinical trials that use patients’ own cells to treat Parkinson’s disease

Scientists from Scripps Research and Cardiff University made key discoveries in support of a new stem cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease. The approach, called an autologous therapy, uses induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)—made from a patient’s own skin or blood cells—to replace the neurons in the brain that are lost in Parkinson’s. Transplants of a person’s own cells eliminates the need for immunosuppression.

In a new study, the researchers used iPSCs made from the skin cells of two people with Parkinson’s disease to make young neurons that were successfully transplanted into a rat model with the disease. They used the animal model to pinpoint exactly at what stage of development the iPSC-derived neurons should be transplanted to become mature neurons that can reverse signs of disease in the rat brain.

Continue reading.

Study finds tracking brain waves could reduce post-op complications
Emery Brown | July 17, 2023

Study finds tracking brain waves could reduce post-op complications
Emery Brown | July 17, 2023

Distinctive EEG patterns indicate when a patient’s state of unconsciousness under general anesthesia is more profound than necessary.

When patients undergo general anesthesia, their brain activity often slows down as they sink into unconsciousness. Higher doses of anesthetic drugs can induce an even deeper state of unconsciousness known as burst suppression, which is associated with cognitive impairments after the patient wakes up.

A new study from MIT, in which the researchers analyzed the EEG patterns of patients under anesthesia, has revealed brain wave signatures that could help anesthesiologists determine when patients are transitioning into that deeper state of unconsciousness. This could enable them to prevent patients from falling into that state, reducing the risk of postoperative brain dysfunction.

Continue reading.

Promising new approach finds cancer, delivers therapy all at once
Julie Sutcliffe | June 28, 2023

Promising new approach finds cancer, delivers therapy all at once
Julie Sutcliffe | June 28, 2023

New research is offering some hope in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

The answer is nuclear medicine. And the power to find cancer and deliver therapy all at the same time. Theranostics, combining therapy and diagnostics, is a promising approach to cancer treatment.

While some people fear the idea of using radioactive isotopes as a therapy in the body, Julie Sutcliffe PhD. knows the power for good.

“You have a molecule, same molecule with a different piece of radioactivity on it, so one is for imaging for diagnostics, one is for therapy for treatment,” she said. “So theranostics combine the two words together.”

Continue reading.

DNA test could broaden access to cervical cancer screening
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | June 21, 2023

DNA test could broaden access to cervical cancer screening
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | June 21, 2023

Rice engineers show low-cost, point-of-care platform is effective for HPV testing

Rice University bioengineers have demonstrated a low-cost, point-of-care DNA test for HPV infections that could make cervical cancer screening more accessible in low- and middle-income countries where the disease kills more than 300,000 women each year.

HPV, a family of viruses, infects nearly everyone at some point in their lives, often without symptoms. But more than a dozen types of HPV can cause persistent infections that result in cervical cancer, which is preventable and curable if it is detected early and managed effectively.

Nine engineers from the laboratory of Rice Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum spent more than two years developing a DNA testing platform that combines two technologies, isothermal DNA amplification and lateral flow detection, in a way that greatly simplifies the equipment needs and procedures for testing.

Continue reading.

Designing Surfaces to Improve Bone Grafts
Guillermo Ameer | June 12, 2023

Designing Surfaces to Improve Bone Grafts
Guillermo Ameer | June 12, 2023

The field of bone implants has taken incredible strides thanks to technological innovations that allow for stronger grafts that are easier to install.

Yet even with these advances, there are still risks involved in such procedures. Implants can be loosened following operations, for example, which can lead to costly surgical revisions that lengthen the recovery process for patients.

New research from an interdisciplinary team from Northwestern Engineering’s Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering (CARE) and Center for Physical Genomics and Engineering (CPGE) could reduce the likelihood of these painful, expensive complications.

Continue reading.

How the combination of advanced ultrasound and AI could upgrade cancer diagnostics
Azra Alizad | June 5, 2023

How the combination of advanced ultrasound and AI could upgrade cancer diagnostics
Azra Alizad | June 5, 2023

Researchers have shown that an automated cancer diagnostic method, which pairs cutting-edge ultrasound techniques with artificial intelligence, can accurately diagnose thyroid cancer, of which there are more than 40,000 new cases every year.

The method—deemed high-definition microvasculature imaging, or HDMI—noninvasively captures images of the tiny vessels within tumors and, based on the vessel features, automatically classifies the masses. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, who developed the technique, tested it on 92 patients with thyroid tumors, finding that the method could distinguish if the growths were cancerous with 89% accuracy. In a study published in the journal Cancers, the authors suggest that HDMI could potentially resolve a long-standing diagnostic challenge of assessing thyroid tumors in the clinic.

Continue reading.

Healing Big Broken Bones With a Small Molecule
Cato Laurencin | May 24, 2023

Healing Big Broken Bones With a Small Molecule
Cato Laurencin | May 24, 2023

Repairing severely damaged bones is a challenge—especially the long bones of the arms and legs. Now, UConn Health scientists describe a new method in the 22 May issue of PNAS that can promote regrowth of long bones more affordably and with fewer side effects than other techniques.

Cleanly broken bones often heal without problems. But bones with smashed or missing sections are much more difficult to regenerate. Grafting across the gaps using bone from elsewhere is one way to fix them, and about 500,000 bone grafts are done in the US every year. But bone grafts alone don’t always work, and they’re quite costly. Recently, orthopedic surgeons have begun treating difficult breaks with specific human proteins that encourage bone growth, both alone and paired with grafts or scaffolds. They are used to encourage bone regrowth in spinal fusion surgeries, for example.

Continue reading.

Johns Hopkins Machine Learning Tool Can Identify Tumor Cell Interactions
Elana Fertig | May 12, 2023

Johns Hopkins Machine Learning Tool Can Identify Tumor Cell Interactions
Elana Fertig | May 12, 2023

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Convergence Institute and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a machine learning (ML) model capable of identifying molecular interactions among the cells in and around tumors.

The tool, known as SpaceMarkers, leverages spatial transcriptomics, a type of technology that helps measure gene expression within a tissue sample using the genes’ locations in cells.

The press release indicates that by understanding both these intercellular interactions in the tumor microenvironment and the molecular profiles of individual cells, researchers can gain insights into tumor progression..

Continue reading.

Jennifer Elisseeff elected to National Academy of Sciences
Jennifer Elisseeff | May 5, 2023

Jennifer Elisseeff elected to National Academy of Sciences
Jennifer Elisseeff | May 5, 2023

Three Johns Hopkins researchers elected to National Academy of Sciences

Neuroscientist Amy Bastian, biomedical engineer Jennifer Elisseeff, astrophysicist Alex Szalay among 120 new members

Three Johns Hopkins University researchers—neuroscientist Amy Bastian, biomedical engineer Jennifer Elisseeff, and astrophysicist and computer scientist Alex Szalay—have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Continue reading.

Teri Odom Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Teri Odom | May 4, 2023

Teri Odom Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Teri Odom | May 4, 2023

Joining the company of some of history’s most distinguished scientists, Northwestern Engineering’s Teri W. Odom has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Along with fellow Northwestern faculty members Timothy K. Earle and Richard B. Silverman, Odom was recognized for her excellence and notable contributions to their field of science. They are among the 120 new members and 23 new international members selected this year.

Continue reading.

Pharmacy Researchers License New NSAIDS-Administering Technology
Diane Burgess | May 4, 2023

Pharmacy Researchers License New NSAIDS-Administering Technology
Diane Burgess | May 4, 2023

Slow-releasing implants are designed to reduce side effects associated with medications for pain relief of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

For rheumatologic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, NSAIDS are often the first line of medications used for pain relief. UConn Pharmacy researchers have discovered a way to minimize the side effects associated with the treatment and bring it to market.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are widely used to relieve pain, reduce fever, and bring down inflammation. More than 30 billion doses are taken each year — making them among the most popular medications worldwide for general pain relief.

Continue reading.

Microneedle Patch Printer Enables On-Demand Vaccine Manufacturing
Ana Jaklenec | April 24, 2023

Microneedle Patch Printer Enables On-Demand Vaccine Manufacturing
Ana Jaklenec | April 24, 2023

The portable instrument could increase global access to vaccines by simplifying their storage, distribution, and administration.

Researchers from the lab of Robert Langer, ScD, at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), say they have developed a printer for microneedle patches smaller than postage stamps that penetrate the skin to deliver vaccines, including the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

The research article, “A microneedle vaccine printer for thermostable COVID-19 mRNA vaccines,” was published in Nature Biotechnology.

Continue reading.

CRISPR-Cas-amplified urinary biomarkers for multiplexed and portable cancer diagnostics
Sangeeta Bhatia | April 24, 2023

CRISPR-Cas-amplified urinary biomarkers for multiplexed and portable cancer diagnostics
Sangeeta Bhatia | April 24, 2023

Synthetic biomarkers, bioengineered sensors that generate molecular reporters in diseased microenvironments, represent an emerging paradigm in precision diagnostics. Despite the utility of DNA barcodes as a multiplexing tool, their susceptibility to nucleases in vivo has limited their utility. Here we exploit chemically stabilized nucleic acids to multiplex synthetic biomarkers and produce diagnostic signals in biofluids that can be ‘read out’ via CRISPR nucleases. The strategy relies on microenvironmental endopeptidase to trigger the release of nucleic acid barcodes and polymerase-amplification-free, CRISPR-Cas-mediated barcode detection in unprocessed urine. Our data suggest that DNA-encoded nanosensors can non-invasively detect and differentiate disease states in transplanted and autochthonous murine cancer models. We also demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas amplification can be harnessed to convert the readout to a point-of-care paper diagnostic tool. Finally, we employ a microfluidic platform for densely multiplexed, CRISPR-mediated DNA barcode readout that can potentially evaluate complex human diseases rapidly and guide therapeutic decisions.

Continue reading.

Python-based compiler achieves orders-of-magnitude speedups
Bonnie Berger | March 14, 2023

Python-based compiler achieves orders-of-magnitude speedups
Bonnie Berger | March 14, 2023

Codon compiles Python code to run more efficiently and effectively while allowing for customization and adaptation to various domains.

In 2018, the Economist published an in-depth piece on the programming language Python. “In the past 12 months,” the article said, “Google users in America have searched for Python more often than for Kim Kardashian.” Reality TV stars, be wary.

The high-level language has earned its popularity, too, with legions of users flocking daily to the language for its ease of use due in part to its simple and easy-to-learn syntax. This led researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and elsewhere to make a tool to help run Python code more efficiently and effectively while allowing for customization and adaptation to different needs and contexts. The compiler, which is a software tool that translates source code into machine code that can be executed by a computer’s processor, lets developers create new domain-specific languages (DSLs) within Python — which is typically orders of magnitude slower than languages like C or C++ — while still getting the performance benefits of those other languages.

Continue reading.

‘Groundbreaking’ Soil Sensors From UT Dallas Bioengineers Could Help Combat Climate Change, Food Insecurity
Shalini Prasad | March 9, 2023

‘Groundbreaking’ Soil Sensors From UT Dallas Bioengineers Could Help Combat Climate Change, Food Insecurity
Shalini Prasad | March 9, 2023

“This is the equivalent of having a wearable health sensor on your body that tells you in real time what’s happening. Think of it as a wearable for the soil,” Dr. Shalini Prasad said.

Soil quality isn’t just a concern for farmers and policymakers—it also matters on a personal level. The health of our soil affects everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe. But thanks to bioengineers at UT Dallas, new soil sensors could help improve soil productivity on a global scale.

Bioengineers at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed sensors that monitor multiple soil parameters, including total soil carbon, to provide farmers with accurate, real-time, continuous data to improve soil health and productivity.

Continue reading.

AI Model Provides Insights into Long-Term Traumatic Brain Injury Risk
Ellen Kuhl | March 7, 2023

AI Model Provides Insights into Long-Term Traumatic Brain Injury Risk
Ellen Kuhl | March 7, 2023

A new AI model may signal a ‘paradigm shift’ in traumatic brain injury research by more accurately modeling the tissue deformations that lead to brain damage.

Stanford University researchers are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify which computational models perform best at modeling mechanical stress on the brain, which may help drive insights into why some traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) lead to long-term brain damage while others do not.

The press release states that the ability to model the mechanical forces causing the compression, stretching, twisting, and other deformations of brain tissue that lead to brain damage is critical to understanding TBI. This modeling could help researchers understand why some TBIs lead to lasting brain damage and some don’t.

Continue reading.

First Transient Electronic Bandage Speeds Healing by 30 Percent
Guillermo Ameer | February 22, 2023

First Transient Electronic Bandage Speeds Healing by 30 Percent
Guillermo Ameer | February 22, 2023

Northwestern Engineering researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind small, flexible, stretchable bandage that accelerates healing by delivering electrotherapy directly to the wound site. 

In an animal study, the new bandage healed diabetic ulcers 30 percent faster than in mice without the bandage. 

The bandage also actively monitors the healing process and then harmlessly dissolves — electrodes and all — into the body after it is no longer needed. The new device could provide a powerful tool for patients with diabetes, whose ulcers can lead to various complications, including amputated limbs or even death.

Continue reading.

Disrupted flow of brain fluid may underlie neurodevelopmental disorders
Samuel Achilefu | February 9, 2023

Disrupted flow of brain fluid may underlie neurodevelopmental disorders
Samuel Achilefu | February 9, 2023

The brain floats in a sea of fluid that cushions it against injury, supplies it with nutrients and carries away waste. Disruptions to the normal ebb and flow of the fluid have been linked to neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and hydrocephalus, a disorder involving excess fluid around the brain.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis created a new technique for tracking circulation patterns of fluid through the brain and discovered, in rodents, that it flows to areas critical for normal brain development and function. Further, the scientists found that circulation appears abnormal in young rats with hydrocephalus, a condition associated with cognitive deficits in children.

Continue reading.

National Academy of Engineering adds 3 Buckeyes
Judit E. Puskas | February 9, 2023

National Academy of Engineering adds 3 Buckeyes
Judit E. Puskas | February 9, 2023

Election recognizes outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education

Two Ohio State University professors and a recently retired faculty member have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2023 in recognition of sustained excellence in innovation and education.

Alan Luo, Judit E. Puskas and Longya Xu are among 124 new NAE members, bringing the total U.S. membership to 2,420 and the number of international members to 319.

Continue reading.

Melody Swartz Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Melody Swartz | February 9, 2023

Melody Swartz Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Melody Swartz | February 9, 2023

Melody Swartz, William B. Ogden Professor at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for her research into lymphatic transport and immunobiology, informing novel approaches for cancer immunotherapy and vaccination.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions for engineers. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education, particularly as it relates to developing fields of technology or advancements in traditional fields of engineering.

Continue reading.

NIST Director Laurie Locascio Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Laurie Locascio | February 8, 2023

NIST Director Laurie Locascio Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Laurie Locascio | February 8, 2023

Laurie E. Locascio, under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering — one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. 

Locascio leads NIST’s collaborative efforts with industry, academia and government to unleash U.S. innovation by advancing technology, measurements and standards. A key priority for her is the successful implementation of the CHIPS for America initiative, a $50 billion suite of programs to strengthen and revitalize U.S. leadership in semiconductor research, development and manufacturing. 

Continue reading.

Barzilay elected to National Academy of Engineering
Regina Barzilay | February 7, 2023

Barzilay elected to National Academy of Engineering
Regina Barzilay | February 7, 2023

On February 7th, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) elected Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and CSAIL member Regina Barzilay as a new member. The NAE recognized Barzilay for her work on machine learning models that understand structures in text, molecules, and medical images, choosing members who are “pioneering new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

Her election caps off a remarkable decade of work. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, Barzilay shifted much of her efforts toward cancer research. Three years later, she developed a machine learning model that could have diagnosed her cancer earlier. In 2018, she helped launch the Jameel Clinic, which has since initiated machine learning efforts on COVID-19, different forms of cancer, Parkinson’s, and other diseases.

Continue reading.

Michael J. Barber elected to National Academy of Engineering
Michael J. Barber | February 7, 2023

Michael J. Barber elected to National Academy of Engineering
Michael J. Barber | February 7, 2023

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 106 new members and 18 international members, announced NAE President John L. Anderson today. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,420 and the number of international members to 319.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.

Continue reading.

How sound waves trigger immune responses to cancer in mice
Zhen Xu | January 31, 2023

How sound waves trigger immune responses to cancer in mice
Zhen Xu | January 31, 2023

When noninvasive sound waves break apart tumors, they trigger an immune response in mice. By breaking down the cell wall “cloak,” the treatment exposes cancer cell markers that had previously been hidden from the body’s defenses, researchers at the University of Michigan have shown.

The technique developed at Michigan, known as histotripsy, offers a two-prong approach to attacking cancers: the physical destruction of tumors via sound waves and the kickstarting of the body’s immune response. It could potentially offer medical professionals a treatment option for patients without the harmful side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

Continue reading.

How to make hydrogels more injectable
Jennifer Lewis | January 31, 2023

How to make hydrogels more injectable
Jennifer Lewis | January 31, 2023

Gel-like materials that can be injected into the body hold great potential to heal injured tissues or manufacture entirely new tissues. Many researchers are working to develop these hydrogels for biomedical uses, but so far very few have made it into the clinic.

To help guide in the development of such materials, which are made from microscale building blocks akin to squishy LEGOs, MIT and Harvard University researchers have created a set of computational models to predict the material’s structure, mechanical properties, and functional performance outcomes. The researchers hope that their new framework could make it easier to design materials that can be injected for different types of applications, which until now has been mainly a trial-and-error process.

Continue reading.

Accurate integrated imaging and projection system for oral cancer diagnosis
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | January 19, 2023

Accurate integrated imaging and projection system for oral cancer diagnosis
Rebecca Richards-Kortum | January 19, 2023

Oral cancer is a globally prevalent disease with an astonishingly low five-year survival rate of less than 50%. A key factor for its poor prognosis is delayed diagnosis resulting in more late-stage oral cancers. At these later stages, treatment becomes less effective and harsher on the body. Hence, many scientists aim to develop and improve diagnostic techniques for the early detection of oral cancer. At present, the gold standard for the diagnosis of most oral cancers is biopsy of suspicious oral lesions and pathologic analysis of the extracted small amounts of tissue. However, it is extremely important that clinicians biopsy the areas within the abnormal lesion with the worst disease. Currently, the decision whether or not to perform a biopsy, and the optimal biopsy site, are based on clinical examination, which greatly depends upon the experience of the examining clinician. To help identify high-risk regions, clinicians can also use commercially available imaging techniques based on autofluorescence to detect abnormal tissue at the macroscopic level, although current autofluorescence technologies suffer from low specificity for neoplastic disease.

Continue reading.

University of Toronto scientists use machine learning to fast-track drug formulation development
Christine Allen | January 10, 2023

University of Toronto scientists use machine learning to fast-track drug formulation development
Christine Allen | January 10, 2023

Scientists at the University of Toronto have successfully tested the use of machine learning models to guide the design of long-acting injectable drug formulations. The potential for machine learning algorithms to accelerate drug formulation could reduce the time and cost associated with drug development, making promising new medicines available faster.

The study was published today in Nature Communications and is one of the first to apply machine learning techniques to the design of polymeric long-acting injectable drug formulations.

Continue reading.

Mechanism Behind Osteoarthritis Could Lead to New Treatments
Fabrisia Ambrosio | January 10, 2023

Mechanism Behind Osteoarthritis Could Lead to New Treatments
Fabrisia Ambrosio | January 10, 2023

Researchers in the United States and Japan have discovered a new mechanism that links age-related cartilage tissue stiffening with the repression of a key protein associated with longevity. These findings enhance the understanding of mechanisms that lead to the deterioration of joints that causes osteoarthritis, according to the authors of a new study, published January 10th in Nature Communications.

In the study, researchers showed that increased stiffening of the extracellular matrix – a network of proteins and other molecules that surround and support tissues in the body – led to a decrease in a so-called “longevity protein” called Klotho (α-Klotho) in knee cartilage brought about by epigenetic changes. This Klotho decrease then damaged the cells in healthy cartilage called chondrocytes. Conversely, exposing aged chondrocytes to a softer extracellular matrix restored the knee cartilage to a more youthful state.

Continue reading.

Harriet Nembhard named president of Harvey Mudd College
Harriet Nembhard | December 6, 2022

Harriet Nembhard named president of Harvey Mudd College
Harriet Nembhard | December 6, 2022

Harriet Nembhard, dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering, has been named president of Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts college specializing in science, engineering, and mathematics located in Claremont, California.

Nembhard, who joined Iowa in June 2020, will begin her new position July 1. The UI will conduct a national search for Nembhard’s replacement.

“I congratulate Dean Nembhard and wish her the best of luck in her new role,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. “Under her leadership, the College of Engineering has continued to build upon its exceptional research reputation while advancing equity and inclusion in STEM education. She leaves the college in a strong position moving forward.

Continue reading.

LaShanda Korley Appointed U.S. Science Envoy
LaShanda Korley | December 6, 2022

LaShanda Korley Appointed U.S. Science Envoy
LaShanda Korley | December 6, 2022

Esteemed engineer to travel the world to advance science and technology cooperation with U.S.

LaShanda Korley, Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware, has been appointed a U.S. Science Envoy for 2023. The announcement was made by the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Through the Science Envoy Program, eminent U.S. scientists and engineers leverage their expertise and networks to forge connections and identify opportunities for sustained international cooperation, championing innovation and demonstrating America’s scientific leadership and technical ingenuity.

Continue reading.

Finding the “Sweet Spot” for Indoor Humidity May Help to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission
Lydia Bourouiba | November 18, 2022

Finding the “Sweet Spot” for Indoor Humidity May Help to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission
Lydia Bourouiba | November 18, 2022

As friends and families are beginning to plan holiday gatherings, a new study found that raising the humidity level could be another mitigation method to reduce COVID-19. That sweet spot looks to be between 40% and 60% humidity.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) combined population-based COVID-19 data with meteorologic measurements from 121 countries collected between January and August 2020 (J R Soc Interface 2022;19[196]:20210865). Countries included had reported at least 50 COVID-19–related deaths, indicating at least one outbreak had occurred. The researchers processed the epidemiological data while accounting for bias, and developed a computational workflow to estimate indoor conditions based on outdoor weather data and standard indoor comfort conditions.

Continue reading.

Vanderbilt study finds that diabetes may hasten breast cancer tumor growth and stiffness
Cynthia Reinhart-King | November 18, 2022

Vanderbilt study finds that diabetes may hasten breast cancer tumor growth and stiffness
Cynthia Reinhart-King | November 18, 2022

While diabetes is already associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer, a new Vanderbilt study published in Science Advances on November 18 indicates that presence of the disease may increase tumor growth and stiffness.

Researchers also found that diabetes treatments could reduce the tumor growth and stiffness to levels comparable with non-diabetic ones. The research was led by Cynthia Reinhart-King, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering and University Distinguished Professor. Vanderbilt Ph.D. student Wenjun Wang, a current member of Reinhart-King’s cellular mechanics lab, and Lauren Hapach, PhD’21, a former lab member, were co-authors.

Continue reading.

Are Covid-19 “comas” signs of a protective hibernation state?
Emery Brown | November 18, 2022

Are Covid-19 “comas” signs of a protective hibernation state?
Emery Brown | November 18, 2022

Scientists hypothesize that, as in a hibernating turtle, the brain under sedation and deprived of oxygen may assume a protective state.

Many Covid-19 patients who have been treated for weeks or months with mechanical ventilation have been slow to regain consciousness even after being taken off sedation. A new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers the hypothesis that this peculiar response could be the effect of a hibernation-like state invoked by the brain to protect cells from injury when oxygen is scarce.

A very similar kind of state, characterized by the same signature change of brain rhythms, is not only observed in cardiac arrest patients treated by chilling their body temperature, a method called “hypothermia,” but also by the painted turtle, which has evolved a form of self-sedation to contend with long periods of oxygen deprivation, or “anoxia,” when it overwinters underwater.

Continue reading.

Old mice regain leg strength after antibody treatment, Stanford Medicine researchers find
Helen Blau | November 15, 2022

Old mice regain leg strength after antibody treatment, Stanford Medicine researchers find
Helen Blau | November 15, 2022

Muscle stem cells, the cells in muscle fibers that generate new muscle cells after injury or exercise, lose their potency with age. But a study by researchers at Stanford Medicine shows that old mice regain the leg muscle strength of younger animals after receiving an antibody treatment that targets a pathway mediated by a molecule called CD47.

The findings are surprising because CD47, billed as the “don’t eat me” molecule, is better known as a target for cancer immunotherapy than for muscle regeneration. It peppers the surface of many cancer cells, protecting them from immune cells that patrol the body to root out and engulf dysfunctional or abnormal cells. Now it seems old muscle stem cells may use a similar approach to avoid being culled by the immune system.

Continue reading.

Dimension Inx and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago awarded joint NIH grant to expand fertility restoration options
Ramille Shah | November 10, 2022

Dimension Inx and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago awarded joint NIH grant to expand fertility restoration options
Ramille Shah | November 10, 2022

Exploratory collaboration will focus on developing strategies using 3-D printed bioscaffolds to support the growth and maturation of ovarian follicles to produce fertilizable eggs

Newswise — Dimension Inx, a regenerative biomaterials company, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago have been jointly awarded an NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant. The grant focuses on uncovering a novel approach to in vitro growth and maturation (IVGM) of ovarian follicles. Together, Dimension Inx and Lurie Children’s will use the funding to further explore the development of a more accessible and affordable infertility preservation intervention, one particularly useful in the emerging field of oncofertility.

Infertility is a significant and growing global health problem, with estimates suggesting more than 186 million individuals live with infertility worldwide. While assistive reproductive technologies (ART) methods like IVF have been available for over four decades, these technologies remain largely inaccessible and unaffordable.

Continue reading.

Popular Pharmaceutical Target in Cells May Prove Even More Useful
Jin Zhang | October 26, 2022

Popular Pharmaceutical Target in Cells May Prove Even More Useful
Jin Zhang | October 26, 2022

Researchers at University of California San Diego have identified a new signaling process involving G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a cellular target already exploited by hundreds of diverse drugs. The discovery, published in the October 26, 2022 issue of Nature, opens the possibility of new therapies, including for multiple forms of cancer.

GPCRs are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes — cells containing a nucleus and other organelles. Residing on the cell’s surface, they act as an inbox for messages arriving in the form of sugars, proteins, lipids and peptides, and play myriad roles in body functions, including fundamentally in regulating communications between cells.

Continue reading.

What causes severe COVID symptoms? Research examines role of immune systems
Melody Swartz | October 20, 2022

What causes severe COVID symptoms? Research examines role of immune systems
Melody Swartz | October 20, 2022

UChicago study examines how autoantibodies could cause complications in some patients

Since the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians and scientists worldwide have been working to understand how exactly the virus makes us sick. That task, already complicated by COVID’s rapid spread, is made more challenging by some of its unusual, seemingly inexplicable symptoms, such as blood pressure dysregulation and blood clots.

Now, research from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) shows that the immune system may unintentionally contribute to the disease’s strangest symptoms.

Continue reading.

Katherine Pollard Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Katherine Pollard | October 17, 2022

Katherine Pollard Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Katherine Pollard | October 17, 2022

Gladstone Data Scientist Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Data scientist and statistician Katie Pollard, PhD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Data Science and Biotechnology, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the highest honors in health and medicine. Through its election process, the Academy recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Pollard is perhaps best known for developing a novel statistical approach to identify human accelerated regions (HARs), which are stretches of DNA that rapidly changed when humans evolved from primate ancestors. Many of these regions of the human genome help determine when and where important genes—including those associated with diseases—are turned on or off.

Continue reading.

Audrey Bowden receives NIH funding to develop point-of-care detection of jaundice in newborns
Audrey Bowden | October 13, 2022

Audrey Bowden receives NIH funding to develop point-of-care detection of jaundice in newborns
Audrey Bowden | October 13, 2022

Audrey Bowden, Dorothy J. Wingfield Phillips Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow and associate professor of biomedical and electrical engineering, has won a grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to develop a novel noninvasive smartphone-integrated device to provide accurate, point-of-care detection of jaundice in newborns of all skin tones.

Newborns have immature liver function that is inefficient at metabolizing bilirubin, a yellowish pigment that is made during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. Consequently, nearly 80 percent of preterm and 60 percent of term babies develop hyperbilirubinemia, a potentially fatal form of neonatal jaundice, within a week of their birth. The gold standard for detecting hyperbilirubinemia is the use of frequent blood tests to measure bilirubin levels, but this approach is expensive and painful and increases likelihood of infection.

Continue reading.

Tissue chip developments: what’s the 411?
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | October 4, 2022

Tissue chip developments: what’s the 411?
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | October 4, 2022

Tissue chips—tiny mimics of human organs, just millimeters in size—represent an alternative to animal models as a way to study disease or evaluate drugs. However, a major limitation of tissue chips is that they do not faithfully imitate tissue interactions, so it’s impossible to know how a treatment for liver disease, for example, might affect another organ, like the heart.

To improve this technology, NIBIB-funded researchers have developed an interlinked tissue chip system that can model four mature organs in their perspective environments simultaneously. These multi-organ tissue chips, which could be personalized to model individual patients, may represent a new way to evaluate the systemic effects of novel drugs.

Continue reading.

Gene Loss Enhances Metastasis and Cancer Progression
Shana Kelley | September 29, 2022

Gene Loss Enhances Metastasis and Cancer Progression
Shana Kelley | September 29, 2022

Investigators have discovered that the loss of the gene SLIT2 in circulating tumor cells regulates metastasis of prostate cancer tumors, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Science Advances.

Metastasis accounts for most cancer-related deaths, yet its underlying mechanisms have remained poorly understood despite recent advances in cancer treatments and care.

Continue reading.

Leading Tissue Regeneration Expert to Chair UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
Shayn Peirce-Cottler | September 9, 2022

Leading Tissue Regeneration Expert to Chair UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
Shayn Peirce-Cottler | September 9, 2022

Shayn Peirce-Cottler, PhD, an international leader in biomedical engineering and a University of Virginia faculty member since 2004, has been named chair of UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. She succeeds Frederick H. Epstein, PhD, who has served as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering – a joint program of UVA’s School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science – since 2011. Epstein was named the School of Engineering’s associate dean for research earlier this year.

“With her long tenure at UVA, Dr. Peirce-Cottler has a deep understanding and appreciation for our talented, accomplished team in the Department of Biomedical Engineering,” said Melina R. Kibbe, MD, the dean of the School of Medicine and chief health affairs officer for UVA Health. “She is a nationally recognized outstanding scientist and educator and has been a shining leader within the department. I look forward to seeing how she builds on the department’s 55 years of innovation.” 

Continue reading.

Discovery points to new drug targets that could prevent cancer spread
Sylvia Plevritis | August 22, 2022

Discovery points to new drug targets that could prevent cancer spread
Sylvia Plevritis | August 22, 2022

Any cancer cell migrating from a tumor to set up shop elsewhere in the body will face a brutal attack from an immune system programmed to seek and destroy abnormal cells. But two recent studies from Stanford Medicine show that the hearty few that manage to infiltrate nearby lymph nodes carry out a stunning biological coup — convincing the body’s defense system to accept them as part of its own tissues. This savvy rebranding gives tumor cells a free pass to easily metastasize to any site in the body and significantly worsen cancer prognoses.

The studies, conducted in laboratory mice, human cells and human tissue samples from cancer patients, upend the idea that lymph nodes — often the first site of metastasis — are simply passive downstream harbors for circulating cancer cells that have broken loose from nearby tumors.

Continue reading.

New strategy for delivery of therapeutic proteins could help treat degenerative eye diseases
Molly Shoichet | August 18, 2022

New strategy for delivery of therapeutic proteins could help treat degenerative eye diseases
Molly Shoichet | August 18, 2022

A U of T Engineering research team has created a new platform that delivers multiple therapeutic proteins to the body, each at its own independently controlled rate. The innovation could help treat degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss for people over 50.

Unlike traditional drugs made of small molecules, therapeutic proteins are synthetic versions of larger biomolecules naturally present in the body. One example is the synthetic insulin used to treat diabetes. There are other proteins that can modulate the body’s own repair processes in ways that small-molecule drugs cannot.

Continue reading.

Professor Laurencin Publishes Breakthrough Report on Rotator Cuff Regeneration Treatment
Cato Laurencin | August 12, 2022

Professor Laurencin Publishes Breakthrough Report on Rotator Cuff Regeneration Treatment
Cato Laurencin | August 12, 2022

A new way to regenerate muscle could help repair the damaged shoulders of millions of people every year. The technique uses advanced materials to encourage muscle growth in rotator cuff muscles. Dr. Cato Laurencin and his team reported the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) August 8th issue.

Tears of the major tendons in the shoulder joint, commonly called the rotator cuff, are common injuries in adults. Advances in surgery have made ever better rotator cuff repairs possible. But failure rates with surgery can be high. Now, a team of researchers from the UConn School of Medicine led by Laurencin, a surgeon, engineer and scientist, reports that a graphene/polymer matrix embedded into shoulder muscle can prevent re-tear injuries.

Continue reading.

Scaling up cell imaging
Anne Carpenter | August 3, 2022

Scaling up cell imaging
Anne Carpenter | August 3, 2022

Scientists have learned a lot about human biology by looking at cells under a microscope, but they might not notice tiny differences between cells or even know what they’re looking for. Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in the laboratories of Anne Carpenter and Stuart Schreiber, first started developing cell painting 13 years ago to take cell imaging to the next level. The method, further advanced by Carpenter, now senior director of the Broad’s Imaging Platform and senior group leader Shantanu Singh, and colleagues, uses six colored dyes to stain eight different cell organelles. Machine learning models recognize subtle differences in the images—changes in cell morphology that might indicate disease or a drug or genetic perturbation—which allows researchers to predict the effects of a drug or mutation.

The Broad team has recently made strides in scaling up the method. They have spent the last several years building a consortium of drugmakers and academic institutions to create the world’s largest public cell painting database, which drug developers hope will help accelerate their search for promising drug candidates.

Continue reading.

Advances in Pesticide Screening Techniques
Shalini Prasad | July 29, 2022

Advances in Pesticide Screening Techniques
Shalini Prasad | July 29, 2022

Pesticides have become an integral part of the modern farming process due to their usefulness in preventing crop losses to pests, weeds and disease. With the United Nations “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” goals placing a renewed emphasis on sustainable farming technologies and environmental safety, demand is increasing for screening techniques that can detect and monitor the presence of excess pesticide residues in the environment.

Despite such demand, it is still relatively rare for pesticide testing to occur on-site during farming. For pesticide residues on crops and foodstuffs, it is most common for samples to be sent away to analytical laboratories for testing. This may give accurate results, but it is a time-consuming process that can become quite impractical for routine screening. At the other end of the scale, environmental soil and soil runoff samples are rarely tested at all.

Continue reading.

Controlling glaucoma: Eye drop therapy reaches posterior ocular tissues
Laura Ensign | July 22, 2022

Controlling glaucoma: Eye drop therapy reaches posterior ocular tissues
Laura Ensign | July 22, 2022

A novel eye drop under development may provide neuroprotection to the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). An added plus is that only once-weekly dosing is required, according to Laura Ensign, PhD, who headed up the research.

Ensign holds the Marcella E. Woll Professorship in Ophthalmology and is an associate professor of ophthalmology and vice chair for research at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Justin Hanes, PhD, who is the Lewis J. Ort Professor of Ophthalmology and director of the Center for Nanomedicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Donald Zack, MD, PhD, the Guerrieri Professor of Genetic Engineering and Molecular Ophthalmology and codirector of the Center for Stem Cells and Ocular Regenerative Medicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

Antiglaucoma eye drops are the mainstay of treatment for the disease, and they successfully and significantly lower the IOP. However, despite achieving a reduction of the IOP, glaucoma can continue to progress and threaten vision in many patients diagnosed with the disease. A therapy that protects the RGCs from damage was just a dream until recently. This new therapy developed by the Wilmer Eye Institute team is in the process of becoming a reality.

Continue reading.

Scientists find molecular clues behind acute and chronic phases of traumatic brain injury
Sarah Stabenfeldt | July 22, 2022

Scientists find molecular clues behind acute and chronic phases of traumatic brain injury
Sarah Stabenfeldt | July 22, 2022

New research led by scientists at Arizona State University has revealed some of the first detailed molecular clues associated with one of the leading causes of death and disability, a condition known as traumatic brain injury (TBI).

TBI is a growing public health concern, affecting more than 1.7 million Americans at an estimated annual cost of $76.5 billion dollars. It is a leading cause of death and disability for children and young adults in industrialized countries, and people who experience TBI are more likely to develop severe, long-term cognitive and behavioral deficits.

Continue reading.

How different cancer cells respond to drug-delivering nanoparticles
Paula Hammond | July 21, 2022

How different cancer cells respond to drug-delivering nanoparticles
Paula Hammond | July 21, 2022

The findings of a large-scale screen could help researchers design nanoparticles that target specific types of cancer.

Using nanoparticles to deliver cancer drugs offers a way to hit tumors with large doses of drugs while avoiding the harmful side effects that often come with chemotherapy. However, so far, only a handful of nanoparticle-based cancer drugs have been FDA-approved.

A new study from MIT and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard researchers may help to overcome some of the obstacles to the development of nanoparticle-based drugs. The team’s analysis of the interactions between 35 different types of nanoparticles and nearly 500 types of cancer cells revealed thousands of biological traits that influence whether those cells take up different types of nanoparticles.

Continue reading.

Suffocating from Medical Bias
Gilda Barabino & Harriet Nembhard | July 15, 2022

Suffocating from Medical Bias
Gilda Barabino & Harriet Nembhard | July 15, 2022

The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis, reeling from two serious pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. Everyone is familiar with the impact of the virus. The categorization of racism as a pandemic may seem less obvious, but when viewed through the lens of systems engineering, racism in the American health care system can be seen to contain tightly linked problems of medicine, technology, design, leadership, and ethics. The intersections are myriad, bound in racial disparities that pervade all aspects of life, including such basic functions as the ability to breathe.

For Black people and other racially minoritized groups, the health care system—which should provide equitable treatment and care—is tainted by disparate access, poor quality of care, unequal outcomes, and distrust between individuals and health care providers. The extent to which racial biases lead to health care disparities is influenced by demographics; environmental, social, and economic conditions; and policies and practices that pervade all aspects of life.

Continue reading.

Ameer Wins 2022 Innovation Commercialization Award
Guillermo Ameer | July 13, 2022

Ameer Wins 2022 Innovation Commercialization Award
Guillermo Ameer | July 13, 2022

The award recognizes the application of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine that benefits patients

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer was honored with the 2022 Innovation/Commercialization Award by the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society-Americas (TERMIS-AM).

The award recognizes the application of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine in the production of a product or technology that ultimately will benefit patients. The award can be presented for an existing product or for a newly developed product that has been launched in the last five years, or for a technology launched in the last five years that can facilitate commercialization of a product.

Continue reading.

Microparticles could be used to deliver “self-boosting” vaccines
Ana Jaklenec | July 13, 2022

Microparticles could be used to deliver “self-boosting” vaccines
Ana Jaklenec | July 13, 2022

With particles that release their payloads at different times, one injection could provide multiple vaccine doses.

Most vaccines, from measles to Covid-19, require a series of multiple shots before the recipient is considered fully vaccinated. To make that easier to achieve, MIT researchers have developed microparticles that can be tuned to deliver their payload at different time points, which could be used to create “self-boosting” vaccines.

In a new study, the researchers describe how these particles degrade over time, and how they can be tuned to release their contents at different time points. The study also offers insights into how the contents can be protected from losing their stability as they wait to be released.

Continue reading.

When it comes to darker skin, pulse oximeters fall short
Kimani Toussaint | July 11, 2022

When it comes to darker skin, pulse oximeters fall short
Kimani Toussaint | July 11, 2022

Over the past two years, the pulse oximeter has become a crucial tool for tracking the health of COVID-19 patients.

The small device clips onto a finger and measures the amount of oxygen in a patient’s blood. But a growing body of evidence shows the device can be inaccurate when measuring oxygen levels in people with dark skin tones.

A study published on Monday only adds to this concern.

Researchers analyzing pre-pandemic health data also find those measurements resulted in patients of color receiving less supplemental oxygen than white patients did.

Continue reading.

Experts Study Marine Mammals To Learn About Human Hearing
Barbara Shinn-Cunningham | June 30, 2022

Experts Study Marine Mammals To Learn About Human Hearing
Barbara Shinn-Cunningham | June 30, 2022

Many hearing loss patients have the same complaint: They have trouble following conversations in a noisy space. Carnegie Mellon University’s Barbara Shinn-Cunningham has spent her career conducting research to better understand this problem and how it affects people at cocktail parties, coffee shops and grocery stores.

Now, along with a team of researchers from six universities, Shinn-Cunningham, the director of CMU’s Neuroscience Institute (NI) and the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Auditory Neuroscience, is looking for answers in an unexpected place. The researchers will conduct noninvasive experiments on free-swimming dolphins and sea lions.

Continue reading.

Breast Cancer’s Spread Accelerates During Sleep
Sunitha Nagrath | June 28, 2022

Breast Cancer’s Spread Accelerates During Sleep
Sunitha Nagrath | June 28, 2022

Breast cancer metastases spread far more efficiently during sleep, according to a Swiss study.

While it has been assumed that circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are constantly shedding from growing tumors, or as a result of mechanical insults, there’s a “striking and unexpected pattern of CTC generation dynamics in both patients with breast cancer and mouse models, highlighting that most spontaneous CTC intravasation events occur during sleep,” wrote Nicola Aceto, PhD, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and colleagues.

Furthermore, CTCs are more prone to metastasize during a body’s resting phase, while those generated during a body’s active phase are not, they noted in Nature.

Continue reading.

Tissue model reveals key players in liver regeneration
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 27, 2022

Tissue model reveals key players in liver regeneration
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 27, 2022

By tracing the steps of liver regrowth, MIT engineers hope to harness the liver’s regenerative abilities to help treat chronic disease.

The human liver has amazing regeneration capabilities: Even if up to 70 percent of it is removed, the remaining tissue can regrow a full-sized liver within months.

Taking advantage of this regenerative capability could give doctors many more options for treating chronic liver disease. MIT engineers have now taken a step toward that goal, by creating a new liver tissue model that allows them to trace the steps involved in liver regeneration more precisely than has been possible before.

The new model can yield information that couldn’t be gleaned from studies of mice or other animals, whose biology is not identical to that of humans, says Sangeeta Bhatia, the leader of the research team.

Continue reading.

Nanomaterials That Provide Imaging While Delivering Medication
Kytai Nguyen | June 24, 2022

Nanomaterials That Provide Imaging While Delivering Medication
Kytai Nguyen | June 24, 2022

A University of Texas at Arlington bioengineer is leading a project that will develop biodegradable nanomaterials that will take pictures and deliver medicine to combat peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Kytai Nguyen, a UT Arlington bioengineering professor, is the principal investigator in the four-year, $2.1 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. She’s collaborating with Jian Yang, a Penn State University bioengineering professor and former UTA faculty member, and Ralph Mason, a professor of radiology at UT Southwestern.

“What’s important in this project is that the technology carries fluorescent and ultrasound imaging capabilities, which will provide patients and doctors with more detailed information,” Nguyen said. “It also gives patients more targeted medicine, making it more efficient.

Continue reading.

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin Elected to the European Academy of Sciences
Cato Laurencin | June 16, 2022

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin Elected to the European Academy of Sciences
Cato Laurencin | June 16, 2022

The prestigious European Academy of Sciences has recognized UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin for his visionary and pioneering work in the field of regenerative engineering

In recognition of his pioneering work in the field of regenerative engineering, UConn professor Dr. Cato T. Laurencin has been elected to the prestigious European Academy of Sciences (EURASC).

“It’s very gratifying that a number of different parts of the world consider the work we are doing to be breakthrough,” Laurencin says. “The world is embracing the concepts behind regenerative engineering and has come to realize the importance of this field.”

Continue reading.

Lydia Contreras Named New Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity
Lydia Contreras | June 15, 2022

Lydia Contreras Named New Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity
Lydia Contreras | June 15, 2022

The University of Texas at Austin has named Lydia Contreras as its new vice provost for faculty diversity, equity and inclusivity, effective immediately. Contreras, who currently holds the Jim and Barbara Miller Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Chemical Engineering, has served for the past two years as the managing director of diversity in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

She succeeds Edmund T. Gordon, who will serve as the inaugural executive director for the university’s Contextualization and Commemoration Initiative.

Contreras’ primary responsibility will be to lead the advancement of the Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in alignment with UT’s new plan for an equitable and inclusive campus, You Belong Here.

Continue reading.

Nanoparticle sensor can distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 13, 2022

Nanoparticle sensor can distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia
Sangeeta Bhatia | June 13, 2022

Many different types of bacteria and viruses can cause pneumonia, but there is no easy way to determine which microbe is causing a particular patient’s illness. This uncertainty makes it harder for doctors to choose effective treatments because the antibiotics commonly used to treat bacterial pneumonia won’t help patients with viral pneumonia. In addition, limiting the use of antibiotics is an important step toward curbing antibiotic resistance.

MIT researchers have now designed a sensor that can distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia infections, which they hope will help doctors to choose the appropriate treatment.

Continue reading.