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Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Medicina. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Medicina. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, marzo 14, 2015

Google Ventures' Bill Maris Investing in Idea of Living to 500

Bloomberg Business
Bill Maris has $425 million to invest this year, and the freedom to invest it however he wants. He's looking for companies that will slow aging, reverse disease, and extend life. 

Maris' interview:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-09/google-ventures-bill-maris-investing-in-idea-of-living-to-500
  • Google Ventures' Bill Maris said he thinks humans can live to 500 years old
  • This will be due to medical breakthroughs and a rise in biomechanics
  • Google's director of engineering Ray Kurzweil previously said we'd be uploading our brains to machines by 2045
  • Google Ventures has invested in genetics firms and cancer startups
  • Tech giant also set up Calico - anti-ageing research and development labs
  • Mr Maris said: 'We have the tools to achieve anything that you have the audacity to envision. I just hope to live long enough not to die'
  • But professor Sir Colin Blakemore believes there's a limit on human life
  • Neurobiologist believes 120 years ‘might be an absolute to human lifespan’
  • This is because living for longer is ‘so rarely exceeded’ that even with medical advances, it is unlikely this threshold will be raised 

viernes, febrero 27, 2015

El Dr. Canavero asegura tener listo el primer trasplante de cabeza

Quo
Juan Scaliter
Donante
Se realizan incisiones profundas en los cuellos de ambos pacientes, separando cuidadosamente todas las estructuras anatómicas.
Quedan al descubierto las venas carótidas y yugulares, y la columna.
El cuerpo del donante respira y transmite sangre a los tejidos por medio de diferentes equipos

¿Sabes de quienes he recibido más cartas y llamadas solicitando información?”, me pregunta desde Italia, Sergio Canavero. “De transexuales.” Y suena lógico. Este neurocientífico, director del Grupo de Neuromodulación Avanzado de Turín, ha asegurado en un trabajo publicado en Surgical Neurological International que ya contamos con la tecnología para realizar un trasplante de cabeza completo. Y propone hacer el primero en menos de tres años.
La investigación en trasplantes de cabeza, que en realidad debería llamarse donación de cuerpo, ya que es la cabeza la que “recibe” un cuerpo nuevo, comenzó en la década de 1940. En aquellos tiempos, el científico ruso Vladimir Demikhov experimentaba con perros construyendo falsas quimeras, como sus canes de dos cabezas. En total, Demikhov realizó más de 20 intervenciones de este tipo, con las que creó un terrorífico ejército de animales bicéfalos. Hoy, estos experimentos se consideran una aberración; pero gracias a ellos se comenzó a investigar en las técnicas de trasplantes. Este científico ruso, muerto en 1988, fue quien logró llevar a cabo el primer trasplante de corazón en un perro, en 1946, el pionero en trasplantar un pulmón en cualquier mamífero, un año más tarde, y en 1953 realizó el primer bypass coronario.
El mono con dos cabezas
Todo ello permitió que en 1967 el cirujano sudafricano Christiaan Barnard realizara por primera vez un trasplante de corazón en un ser humano. El propio Barnard reconocía que “si existe un padre de los trasplantes de corazón y pulmón, ese título lo ostenta, sin duda, Demikhov”. Y no fue el único que le consideró un pionero. En los años 70 el doctor Robert White, inspirado por los experimentos de Demikhov, realizó el primer intercambio de cabezas en primates, trasplantando con éxito la cabeza de un mono Rhesus al cuerpo de otro. El pequeño simio sobrevivió durante varios días, pero al no poder conectar la médula espinal a la cabeza, falleció. El doctor Jerry Silver, de la Universidad Case Western Reserve, estuvo presente y sus memorias no son agradables. “Recuerdo que la cabeza se despertó”, asegura Silver, “y su expresión facial era de un dolor terrible. No me olvido tampoco de la ansiedad y la confusión que se podía ver en su rostro. Cuando los médicos intentaron alimentar al animal, la comida cayó al suelo. Fue terrible. La cabeza siguió viva, pero por poco tiempo”.
“Los científicos estamos preparados para un debate como este. Es la sociedad la que no lo está todavía”, asegura el neurocientífico José Aguilera
El dolor que experimentó el mono es algo en lo que Cavanero ya ha investigado. “Se produce cuando se secciona la médula espinal”, explica, “y se llama dolor central. Es algo que no deberías desearle ni a tu peor enemigo”.
Por eso, este obstáculo, la reconexión de la médula, es la piedra angular en la que se basa el trabajo de Canavero: “Cuando leí los papeles de White, me pregunté si lograría hacer un trasplante. Y comencé a interesarme en la regeneración neuronal. En 1986, George Bittner, del Departamento de Zoología de la Universidad de Texas, demostró que se podía restablecer la conexión entre las partes seccionadas de la médula utilizando polietilenglicol (PEG), un polímero que actúa como adhesivo. Me resultó interesante, pero durante treinta años nadie escribió sobre eso”. Lo extraño es que en 2013 el antes mencionado doctor Silver reconectó la médula de una rata gracias a este pegamento. Así que, ¿obstáculo salvado? En absoluto. Para el propio Silver: “Aún estamos a años luz de poder realizar una intervención similar en humanos. Falta mucho para que consigamos unir todas las piezas de modo que el sujeto recupere finalmente la movilidad completa”.
Canavero no está de acuerdo: “Desde hace 50 años sabemos que no es necesario reconectar todo el circuito nervioso para tener motricidad completa; basta solamente entre un 10 y un 30%. Nosotros creo que podemos reconectar hasta un 60%”.
Otros avances parecían imposibles y...
Las afirmaciones de Canavero han generado, obviamente, mucho revuelo. Algunos, como el propio Silver, aseguran que es imposible. Otros, como Anthony Warrens, de la Sociedad Británica de Trasplantes, señalan que “conectar una cabeza a un cuerpo es un sinsentido hoy en día. Toda la idea es muy extraña”. Mientras tanto, aquí, en España, las opiniones están muy divididas. Manuel Martín Loeches, profesor de Neurociencia Cognitiva de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, asegura: “No lo veo nada descabellado, y en realidad el único dilema sería el de quién es el “titular” de lo que salga: ¿el dueño original de la cabeza o el del cuerpo? Voto por el de la cabeza, es lo único que vale de verdad para que haya un ‘yo’. Tengo mis dudas respecto a cómo enlazar el sistema nervioso central (cerebro y médula espinal) con todos los nervios periféricos, pero tampoco lo creo imposible, hoy día, pues se ha hecho con los de las manos. Resumiendo: lo creo factible, me caben pocas dudas”.
Por su parte, José Aguilera, director del Instituto de Neurociencias de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, es ambiguo. Al principio, asegura: “Difícilmente se podría llevar a cabo una intervención así. La médula espinal es muy compleja y el resultado podría no ser bueno”. Después lo piensa más despacio: “Pero la verdad es que no lo podemos considerar inverosímil. Habría que ver el tema del rechazo de tejidos y cómo afectaría hormonalmente al comportamiento del nuevo cuerpo el cerebro”.
Son muchos los científicos que ponen en tela de juicio que de verdad contemos con la tecnología para realizar este tipo de operación, que claman que es algo imposible y que estamos jugando a Prometeo y Frankenstein. “Hace poco más de un siglo”, señala Canavero para explicarlo, “a los hermanos Wright les decían que una nave que fuera más pesada que el aire no podía levantar vuelo. La historia de la ciencia está plagada de ejemplos de imposibles que se convirtieron en realidad”.
Pero también de otros, como los coches voladores, los autobuses submarinos y los viajes en el tiempo, que apenas llegaron al cine.
Aguilera intenta aclarar esta cuestión: “Muchas veces estas ideas se lanzan para obtener notoriedad o para avanzar hacia el futuro. Es como cuando Barnard hizo el primer trasplante de corazón; quizá él avanzó demasiado deprisa. Aunque muchos científicos ya sabíamos que se podía hacer”.
La intervención completa (véase el paso a paso en la página anterior) requiere del trabajo de 100 profesionales médicos durante unas 36 horas y costaría unos 10 millones de euros. Aunque pueda sorprender, el tiempo necesario para reconectar cuerpo y cabeza es de apenas una hora. “Esto viene de conocimientos adquiridos por el doctor White en sus intervenciones”, señala Canavero. “Y pese a parecer increíble, es más que suficiente. Igual que los 20 minutos que nos llevará reunir ambas secciones de la médula. Claro, que es la parte más crítica de toda la intervención”. Según el neurocientífico italiano, tanto los costes como el tiempo se irán reduciendo a medida que progresemos en nuestro conocimiento. “Inicialmente, un trasplante de hígado”, confirma Canavero, “duraba unas 14 horas; ahora apenas 2”. Pero no es lo mismo un solo órgano que un cuerpo entero...
La pregunta es: ¿Deberíamos hacerlo?
Pese a que el objetivo de este trasplante es restablecer las funciones motoras en pacientes con condiciones médicas muy graves, como distrofia muscular progresiva, cáncer o tetrapléjicos con fallos orgánicos múltiples, Canavero señala que podría abrir las puertas a profundos dilemas éticos. “Hay mucha gente que sufre de enfermedades ahora incurables... Pero muchos pueden utilizarlo como una forma de esquivar la muerte por medio de un cuerpo más joven. El problema será regular un procedimiento que tiene el poder de dividir a la sociedad”.
Desde el Comité Español de Bioética, el Dr. Manuel de los Reyes, uno de sus miembros más reconocidos, se niega a opinar porque, asegura, no tiene suficiente información al respecto.
Por suerte, José Aguilera da en el clavo: “Los científicos estamos preparados para este tipo de debates. La sociedad no lo está. En el mundo hay miles de científicos experimentando con sustancias peligrosas y no ocurre nada. Yo he trabajado con un neurotóxico que podría haber matado a toda la población de Barcelona. Eso no significa que lo usemos. Pero la sociedad necesita participar de este tipo de dilemas”. Y a la luz de la velocidad a la que se puede acercar este logro, no queda duda de esa necesidad.
Cavanero reconoce que aún no ha progresado más debido a la falta de fondos. Pero esto se podría resolver muy pronto, confiesa, ya que el Proyecto 2045 ha contactado con él. Esta iniciativa del millonario ruso Dmitry Itskov pretende crear tecnologías que nos permitan transferir nuestra personalidad a entidades no biológicas y volvernos eternos. “Me han invitado a Moscú a exponer mis ideas”, señala Canavero, “para hablar de la posibilidad de darme fondos y poder continuar la investigación”. La primera etapa del proyecto 2045 concluye el año que viene. Quizá entonces ya sepamos si los trasplantes de cabeza son una realidad o un recurso más para la ciencia ficción.

jueves, enero 29, 2015

'Ghost Boy': The Story of a Young Man Trapped in His Body

By Alexa Keyes, Kate Snow and Wonbo Woo
It was 1988, and Martin Pistorius was a healthy 12-year-old boy growing up in South Africa when his life took an unexpected turn. Pistorius went home from school with a sore throat, and he never returned.
His body gradually weakened. He lost the ability to walk, to eat on his own and eventually, the ability to communicate. Doctors suspected some kind of neurodegenerative disease, but his case was a medical mystery. Martin's parents say doctors told them their son now had the intelligence of a three-month-old, and that they should take him home to die.
The last words he ever spoke: "When home?" 
But Pistorius didn't die. He spent more than a decade at home and in day-care centers. His parents were told he was unaware of the world around him, but about four years after he fell ill, Pistorius says he began to "wake up."
"For so many years, I was like a ghost. I could hear and see everything, but it was like I wasn't there. I was invisible," Pistorius told NBC News' Kate Snow with the help of a device that speaks the words he types into a computer.
"What really got to me was the complete and utter powerlessness," Pistorius said. "Every single aspect of your life is controlled and determined by someone else. They decide where you are, what you eat, whether you sit or lie down, in what position you lie in, everything."
Day after day, year after year, Pistorius was trapped in a body that wouldn't move, left with nothing but his own thoughts.
"I would literally live in my imagination," he said. "Sometimes to such an extent that I became almost oblivious to my surroundings." 
His family struggled to come to terms with his illness. One night, after his parents argued, his mother turned to her son and said, "I hope you die." She didn't think her son was there to hear it, but he was.
"It broke my heart, in a way," Pistorius said. "But at the same time, particularly as I worked through all the emotions. I felt only love and compassion for my mother."
But in 2001, there was new hope. A therapist at Pistorius' care center, Virna Van Der Walt, began to pick up on tiny signals that made her realize he was more aware than people thought.
"He had a sparkle in his eye, I could see he was understanding me," Van Der Walt wrote to NBC News' Kate Snow.
She urged his parents to take him for cognitive testing, and for the first time, Pistorius was able to show people that he understood.
"She was the catalyst who changed everything," Pistorius said. "Had it not been for her, I would probably either be dead or forgotten in a care home somewhere."
As his mind grew stronger, so did his body. Pistorius was given special equipment he could use to communicate, which, he says, changed everything.
"I don't think I will ever forget that feeling when my mom asked me what I'd like for supper and I said, 'Spaghetti Bolognese,' and then she actually made that," he said. "I know that must seem insignificant, but for me, that was amazing."
Pistorius had to relearn everything - from reading and socializing to making decisions for himself. He went to college, learned to drive, and even feel in love.
He married Joanna, who he met through his sister, in 2009, and they are hoping to start a family.
"It took a massive amount of work, blood, sweat and tears," he said. "But I am a different person today that I was 13 years ago."
Today, Pistorius works as a web designer. His story captured in an autobiography, "Ghost Boy," is on The New York Times best-seller list.
He's grateful for the little things, like being able to have a conversation or experiencing something for the first time. 
His message - don't overlook what's possible.
"Never underestimate the power of the mind, the importance of love and faith, and never stop dreaming," Pistorius said, adding one more piece of advice:
"Treat everyone with kindness, dignity, compassion and respect, irrespective of whether you think they understand or not."
               
             
             

martes, diciembre 23, 2014

Restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba: What it means for American [& Cuba] medicine

but just don't forget that the cuban health system is a weapon of castro and the doctors are slaves of the govermment.
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An embargo imposed nearly 50 years ago has prevented Cuba and the United States from exchanging medical and technological advances, but scientists say that may be about to change now that the countries have restored diplomatic relations— something many experts believe was a long time coming. 
“I testified before the [U.S.] Senate Foreign relations Committee in 2001, and I was asked by Sen. Dodd (D-CT, 1981-2011) about my opinions on the embargo, and I said, ‘As a scientist, I could never imagine doing an experiment for 40 years and it not working.’ And now it’s been over 50,” Mark Rasenick, professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Illinois, told FoxNews.com.
“It doesn’t matter what your politics are: If you let the embargo go another year, it will have an effect that flies in the face of logic. I think that working together we will make a lot of progress,” said Rasenick, who has traveled to Cuba for numerous international research conferences. The embargo has allowed international meetings but prohibited one-on-one conferences between Cuba and the U.S.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has dubbed Cuba’s health care system as “a model for the world” and praised the country for its strides in medical research. The island has an infant mortality rate of 5 per thousand births and an average life expectancy of about 79 years, according to the World Bank. Those values in the U.S. are 6 and 79 years, respectively. The leading cause of death in Cuba is heart disease— a problem primarily seen in developed nations.
Despite limited medical research funding from the government, Cuban researchers have developed experimental cancer treatments, as well as numerous vaccines— including one for meningitis B that is the most widely used version worldwide.
Researchers in Cuba developed the first meningitis B vaccine in the 1980s during an outbreak on the island, and the vaccine was then distributed in other countries facing outbreaks. Until Novartis developed another meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero— which was used to treat U.S. students this year during emergency outbreaks at Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Barbara— Cuba’s was the only vaccine for this strain available worldwide. In the wake of those outbreaks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expedited the approval process for a different vaccine, Trumenba, in October—the first meningitis B vaccine to be licensed in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While Cuba’s cancer treatments have gained international attention due to their sometimes unusual nature— one uses a shark fin— calling any of them a “miracle cure” would be premature, Rasenick said. Effects may be limited to a small number of people, and, though promising, the efficacy of these treatments is unclear thus far.
But other medical discoveries in Cuba have proven successful. An epidermal growth factor receptor system to treat wounds, the use of the compound Heberprot-P to treat pressure ulcers common in diabetics, as well as a host of veterinary vaccines, are among other treatments developed in Cuba that have the potential to hit ground in the U.S., Rasenick noted.  
The vaccine and cancer research in Cuba have come out of the Carlos J. Finlay Vaccine and Serum Institute and the Center of Molecular Immunology, respectively. Much of the medical research in the country is concentrated in the west side of Havana, Rasenick said.
According to Mavis Anderson, senior associate at the Latin American Working Group (LAWG), the country has been forced to develop a pharmaceutical industry of its own because of a U.S. rule for strict end-use monitoring of any antibiotic patented in the U.S. That policy has deterred pharmaceutical companies from selling their drugs in Cuba, she said.
“There’s been a lot of development in the medical arena in Cuba in the last 50 years, largely out of need,” Anderson told FoxNews.com. LAWG is a nonprofit that consists of 65 nongovernmental organizations, and advocates for changes in U.S. policy toward Latin American countries.
Cuba’s medical advances are largely attributable to its government, which has prioritized health care, “even as it has limited freedoms and economic prospects of its people,” Peter A. Muennig, an associate professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, wrote in an email to FoxNews.com.
He said that while the health care systems in the U.S. and Cuba are not comparable, both countries’ medical research stands to advance from open relations.
“[Cuba] will be able to modernize their research equipment and begin to generate revenue based upon the technologies that they have and will develop,” Muennig said. “Over the long-term, I see a good deal of benefit to both nations, as information and technologies are shared, and human capital flows from Cuba to the U.S. There is a surplus of medical personnel in Cuba and a shortage in the U.S. This will therefore be hugely beneficial to both countries.”
Rasenick said Cuba has been hailed worldwide for its development of brain mapping technology. As researchers haven’t had access to magnetic resource imaging (MRI) equipment, they have invented an Electroencephalography (EEG) mechanism, outfitted with a bathing cap and electrodes, to measure electrical patterns on the surface of the brain. The device is manufactured in Spain, and Cuba sells it under the brand Neuronic for about $10,000 USD.
“In rural America, where you don’t have access to functional MRI (fMRI) imaging, if you had someone with a stroke or a brain injury of some kind, and you wanted to find out what was going on with it, with this inexpensive equipment, you could generate the image and send the info to a more sophisticated center where they could analyze it,” Rasenick said.
Edward W. Campion, senior deputy editor and online editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, lauded Cuba’s contributions to global medicine in a January 2013 paper published in the journal.
Campion told FoxNews.com that Cuba frequently sends medics to developing nations. The country has provided aid to its neighboring island Haiti— whose residents live 30 fewer years, on average, than people in Cuba— and it has sent more medics to West Africa to help in the fight against Ebola than any other country, the Associated Press has reported.
“That’s got nothing to do with politics,” Campion said.
Campion added that Cuba has recently focused on genetic technology and studying the genetics of infectious organisms like tuberculosis, an area that “requires communication and interaction with the leaders in the world of science.”
“Medical research and medical teaching depend on communication and learning,” he said. “Isolation is not good for medical care and any kind of scientific research.”

lunes, mayo 26, 2014

Mice With Mohawks Yield Clues to Autism

NBC News.com
It's not every day you see a mouse with a mohawk. But that's what researchers saw while studying mice that had a genetic mutation linked to autism.
The mohawks that the mice were sporting actually resulted from their "over-grooming" behavior, repeatedly licking each other's hair in the same direction.
The behavior resembles the repetitive motions displayed by some people with autism, and the researchers say their experiments reveal a link between the genetic causes of autism and their effects on the brain, suggesting potential avenues for treating the disorder.
Image: Mouse with mohawk  
Nature via Live Science
Mice that have a genetic mutation linked to autism groom their hair into mohawk-like hairstyles.
"Our study tells us that to design better tools for treating a disease like autism, you have to get to the underlying genetic roots of its dysfunctional behaviors, whether it is over-grooming in mice or repetitive motor behaviors in humans," study researcher Gordon Fishell, a neuroscientist at NYU Langone Medical Center, said in a statement.
Autism is a spectrum of developmental disorders that involve social impairments and communication deficits. People with autism may also engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking or hand flapping. [ Beyond Vaccines: 5 Things That Might Really Cause Autism ]
In the study, detailed today (May 25) in the journal Nature, the researchers bred mice that lacked a gene for a protein called Cntnap4, which is found in brain cells called interneurons.
Having low levels of this protein leads to the abnormal release of two brain-signaling molecules, known as dopamine and GABA. Dopamine is involved in sensations of pleasure; GABA (which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid) dampens neural activity and regulates muscle tone.
Mice that lacked the gene for this critical brain protein were found to obsessively groom their fellow animals' fur into mohawk-like styles, suggesting a link between genetics, brain function and autistic behaviors.
"There have been many candidate genes implicated in contributing to autism, but animal and human studies to identify their action have so far not led to any therapies," Fishell said in the statement. "Our research suggests that reversing the disease's effects in signaling pathways like GABA and dopamine are potential treatment options," he said.
— Tanya Lewis, LiveScience

sábado, abril 05, 2014

The next frontier in 3-D printing: Human organs

CNN.com

The emerging process of 3-D printing, which uses computer-created digital models to create real-world objects, has produced everything from toys to jewelry to food.
Soon, however, 3-D printers may be spitting out something far more complex, and controversial: human organs.
For years now, medical researchers have been reproducing human cells in laboratories by hand to create blood vessels, urine tubes, skin tissue and other living body parts. But engineering full organs, with their complicated cell structures, is much more difficult.
Enter 3-D printers, which because of their precise process can reproduce the vascular systems required to make organs viable. Scientists are already using the machines to print tiny strips of organ tissue. And while printing whole human organs for surgical transplants is still years away, the technology is rapidly developing.
"The mechanical process isn't all that complicated. The tricky part is the materials, which are biological in nature," said Mike Titsch, editor-in-chief of 3D Printer World, which covers the industry. "It isn't like 3-D printing plastic or metal. Plastic doesn't die if you leave it sitting on an open-air shelf at room temperature for too long."
Lawrence Bonassar, a professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University, with an artificial ear made via 3-D printing and injectable molds.
Lawrence Bonassar, a professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University, with an artificial ear made via 3-D printing and injectable molds.
The idea of printing a human kidney or liver in a lab may seem incomprehensible, even creepy. But to many scientists in the field, bioprinting holds great promise. Authentic printed organs could be used for drug or vaccine testing, freeing researchers from less accurate methods such as tests on animals or on synthetic models.
Then there's the hope that 3-D printers could someday produce much-needed organs for transplants. Americans are living longer, and as we get deeper into old age our organs are failing more. Some 18 people die in the United States each day waiting in vain for transplants because of a shortage of donated organs -- a problem that Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a pioneer in bioprinting, calls "a major health crisis."
An 'exciting new area of medicine'
Bioprinting works like this: Scientists harvest human cells from biopsies or stem cells, then allow them to multiply in a petri dish. The resulting mixture, a sort of biological ink, is fed into a 3-D printer, which is programmed to arrange different cell types, along with other materials, into a precise three-dimensional shape. Doctors hope that when placed in the body, these 3-D-printed cells will integrate with existing tissues.
The process already is seeing some success. Last year a 2-year-old girl in Illinois, born without a trachea, received a windpipe built with her own stem cells. The U.S. government has funded a university-led "body on a chip" project that prints tissue samples that mimic the functions of the heart, liver, lungs and other organs. The samples are placed on a microchip and connected with a blood substitute to keep the cells alive, allowing doctors to test specific treatments and monitor their effectiveness.
"This is an exciting new area of medicine. It has the potential for being a very important breakthrough," said Dr. Jorge Rakela, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and a member of the American Liver Foundation's medical advisory committee.
One of Organovo\'s engineers oversees the construction of a vascular tissue construct on a NovoGen MMX bioprinter.
One of Organovo's engineers oversees the construction of a vascular tissue construct on a NovoGen MMX bioprinter.
"Three-D printing allows you to be closer to what is happening in real life, where you have multiple layers of cells," he said. With current 2-D models, "if you grow more than one or two layers, the cells at the bottom suffocate from lack of oxygen."
To accelerate the development of bioprinted organs, a Virginia foundation that supports regenerative medicine research announced in December it will award a $1 million prize for the first organization to print a fully functioning liver.
One early contender for the prize is Organovo, a California start-up that has been a leader in bioprinting human body parts for commercial purposes. Using cells from donated tissue or stem cells, Organovo is developing what it hopes will be authentic models of human organs, primarily livers, for drug testing.
The company has printed strips of human liver tissue in its labs, although they are still very small: four by four by one millimeter, or about one-fourth the size of a dime. Each strip takes about 45 minutes to print, and it takes another two days for the cells to grow and mature, said Organovo CEO Keith Murphy. The models can then survive for about 40 days.
Organovo has also built models of human kidneys, bone, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels and lung tissue, he said.
"Basically what it allows you to do is build tissue the way you assemble something with Legos," Murphy said. "So you can put the right cells in the right places. You can't just pour them into a mold."
Ethical concerns
Not everyone is comfortable with this bold new future of lab-built body parts, however.
A research director at Gartner Inc., the information-technology research and advisory firm, believes 3-D bioprinting is advancing so quickly that it will spark a major ethical debate by 2016.
A 3-D printer at Cornell University produces an artificial ear.
A 3-D printer at Cornell University produces an artificial ear.
"Three-D bioprinting facilities with the ability to print human organs and tissue will advance far faster than general understanding and acceptance of the ramifications of this technology," Pete Basiliere said in a recent report.
"These initiatives are well-intentioned, but raise a number of questions that remain unanswered," Basiliere added. "What happens when complex 'enhanced' organs involving nonhuman cells are made? Who will control the ability to produce them? Who will ensure the quality of the resulting organs?"
Bioprinted organs are also likely to be expensive, which could put them out of reach of all but the wealthiest patients.
Murphy said Organovo only uses human cells in creating tissues, and doesn't see any ethical problems with what his company is doing.
"People used to worry about doing research on cadavers ... and that dissipated very quickly," he said. "We don't think there's any controversy if you're producing good data and helping people with health conditions."
Most experts, including Wake Forest's Atala, don't think we'll see complex 3-D-printed organs, suitable for transplants, for years if not decades. Instead, they believe the next step will be printing strips of tissue, or patches, that could be used to repair livers and other damaged organs.
Organovo\'s NovoGen MMX bioprinter is small enough to fit into a cabinet.
Organovo's NovoGen MMX bioprinter is small enough to fit into a cabinet.
"We are very eager to put pieces of tissue to work for surgical transplants," said Organovo's Murphy, who hopes his company will be ready to begin clinical trials within five years.
Of course, any use of 3-D-printed tissue in surgical procedures would require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That review process could take up to a decade.
By then, the notion of a surgeon putting a 3-D-printed kidney into a patient may not seem so bizarre. Then again, this swiftly evolving technology may create new moral conundrums.
"The ethical questions are bound to be the same concerns we have seen in the past. Many major medical breakthroughs have suffered moral resistance, from organ transplants to stem cells," said Titsch of 3D Printer World.
"Will only the rich be able to afford it? Are we playing God? In the end, saving lives tends to trump all objections."

lunes, febrero 17, 2014

'Bizarre' Cluster of Severe Birth Defects Stuns Health Experts

Image: Mystery_Birth_Defects
James Cheng / for NBC News/ Andrea Jackman comforts her 4-month-old daughter, Olivia, after her MRI scan at Seattle Children's Hospital.
A mysterious cluster of severe birth defects in rural Washington state is confounding health experts, who say they can find no cause, even as reports of new cases continue to climb.
Federal and state officials won’t say how many women in a three-county area near Yakima, Wash., have had babies with anencephaly, a heart-breaking condition in which they’re born missing parts of the brain or skull. And they admit they haven't interviewed any of the women in question, or told the mothers there's a potentially widespread problem.
But as of January 2013, officials with the Washington state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had counted nearly two dozen cases in three years, a rate four times the national average.
Since then, one local genetic counselor, Susie Ball of the Central Washington Genetics Program at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, says she has reported “eight or nine” additional cases of anencephaly and spina bifida, another birth defect in which the neural tube, which forms the brain and spine, fails to close properly.
“It does strike me as a lot,” says Ball.
And at least one Yakima mother whose baby is part of the cluster says no one told her there was a problem at all.
“I had no idea,” said Andrea Jackman, 30, whose blue-eyed daughter, Olivia, was born in September with the most severe form of spina bifida. “I honestly was really surprised that nobody had said anything. If my doctor hadn’t wanted us to see the geneticist, I wouldn’t have known.”
There’s no secret, state and CDC officials said, and they noted that small clusters of birth defects often turn out to be nothing more than sad coincidence.
The agencies released a report last summer detailing an investigation of 27 women with pregnancies that resulted in neural tube defects in Yakima, Franklin and Benton counties between 2010 and 2013. That included 23 cases of anencephaly, a rate of 8.4 per 10,000 live births, far higher than the national rate of 2.1 cases per 10,000. There were three cases of spina bifida and one with encephalocele, a sac-like protrusion of the brain through the front or back of the skull.
They publicly posted the results of the investigation in press releases and on state and federal websites. Those were picked up in news stories, including one in the local newspaper, the Yakima Herald-Republic. "State says no cause found for birth defect in Yakima County," the July headline read.
But it's not clear whether affected women saw those stories, and there was no effort to reach out to individual families, said Mandy Stahre, the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer based in Washington state, who led the inquiry. “There were very few of us that could spend time doing this investigation,” Stahre said. “I’m not sure the women knew they were part of a cluster.”
Health officials originally were alerted to the problem by a nurse, Sara Barron, 58, who was in charge of infection control and quality assurance at Prosser Memorial Hospital, a 25-bed medical center in the farm town set on the Yakima River. A 30-year nursing veteran, she’d seen perhaps one or two devastating cases of anencephaly in her wide-ranging career.
“And now I was sitting at Prosser, with 30 deliveries a month and there’s two cases in a six-month period,” Barron said. “Then, I was talking to another doctor about it and she has a third one coming. My teeth dropped. It was like, ‘Oh my god.’”
At a regional medical meeting, there were more anecdotal reports. So Barron notified state health officials, who started looking into the problem.
“This is bizarre,” Barron said. “This is a very, very small area.”
More at NBC News.com >>

miércoles, enero 29, 2014

Ecuador aprobó la ley por la cual los médicos renunciarían en masa

El Congreso ecuatoriano dejó en firme este martes el nuevo código penal, uno de cuyos artículos desató la ira de los médicos que amenazan con renunciar en masa, al acoger las observaciones del presidente Rafael Correa.
El texto, que reemplaza la ley de 1938 e incorpora 70 nuevos delitos, entre ellos el feminicidio, pánico financiero, trata de personas y tortura, había sido aprobado en diciembre por la mayoría oficialista, pero fue objetado parcialmente por Correa, tras lo cual el código regresó al Parlamento para su aprobación final.
La Asamblea Nacional informó en un comunicado que incorporó los vetos presidenciales y envió la norma para su divulgación oficial, sin alterar el artículo relacionado con la penalización de la mala práctica profesional en todos los ámbitos, pese a las protestas de gremios de la salud.

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"Hablame"

"EN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES" - Heberto Padilla

A aquel hombre le pidieron su tiempo

para que lo juntara al tiempo de la Historia.

Le pidieron las manos,

porque para una época difícil

nada hay mejor que un par de buenas manos.

Le pidieron los ojos

que alguna vez tuvieron lágrimas

para que contemplara el lado claro

(especialmente el lado claro de la vida)

porque para el horror basta un ojo de asombro.

Le pidieron sus labios

resecos y cuarteados para afirmar,

para erigir, con cada afirmación, un sueño

(el-alto-sueño);

le pidieron las piernas

duras y nudosas

(sus viejas piernas andariegas),

porque en tiempos difíciles

¿algo hay mejor que un par de piernas

para la construcción o la trinchera?

Le pidieron el bosque que lo nutrió de niño,

con su árbol obediente.

Le pidieron el pecho, el corazón, los hombros.

Le dijeron

que eso era estrictamente necesario.

Le explicaron después

que toda esta donación resultaria inútil.

sin entregar la lengua,

porque en tiempos difíciles

nada es tan útil para atajar el odio o la mentira.

Y finalmente le rogaron

que, por favor, echase a andar,

porque en tiempos difíciles

esta es, sin duda, la prueba decisiva.

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La columna de Cubanalisis

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]
¨Saturno jugando con sus hijos¨/ Pedro Pablo Oliva

Seguidores

Carta desde la carcel de Fidel Castro Ruz

“…después de todo, para mí la cárcel es un buen descanso, que sólo tiene de malo el que es obligatorio. Leo mucho y estudio mucho. Parece increíble, las horas pasan como si fuesen minutos y yo, que soy de temperamento intranquilo, me paso el día leyendo, apenas sin moverme para nada. La correspondencia llega normalmente…”

“…Como soy cocinero, de vez en cuando me entretengo preparando algún pisto. Hace poco me mandó mi hermana desde Oriente un pequeño jamón y preparé un bisté con jalea de guayaba. También preparo spaghettis de vez en cuando, de distintas formas, inventadas todas por mí; o bien tortilla de queso. ¡Ah! ¡Qué bien me quedan! por supuesto, que el repertorio no se queda ahí. Cuelo también café que me queda muy sabroso”.
“…En cuanto a fumar, en estos días pasados he estado rico: una caja de tabacos H. Upman del doctor Miró Cardona, dos cajas muy buenas de mi hermano Ramón….”.
“Me voy a cenar: spaghettis con calamares, bombones italianos de postre, café acabadito de colar y después un H. Upman #4. ¿No me envidias?”.
“…Me cuidan, me cuidan un poquito entre todos. No le hacen caso a uno, siempre estoy peleando para que no me manden nada. Cuando cojo el sol por la mañana en shorts y siento el aire de mar, me parece que estoy en una playa… ¡Me van a hacer creer que estoy de vacaciones! ¿Qué diría Carlos Marx de semejantes revolucionarios?”.
¨La patria es dicha de todos, y dolor de todos, y cielo para todos, y no feudo ni capellaní­a de nadie¨ - Marti

"No temas ni a la prision, ni a la pobreza, ni a la muerte. Teme al miedo"
-
Giacomo Leopardi

¨Por eso es muy importante, Vicky, hijo mío, que recuerdes siempre para qué sirve la cabeza: para atravesar paredes¨Halvar de Flake [El vikingo]

"Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir" - Lorca

"Al final, no os preguntarán qué habéis sabido, sino qué habéis hecho" - Jean de Gerson

"Si queremos que todo siga como está, es necesario que todo cambie" - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"Todo hombre paga su grandeza con muchas pequeñeces, su victoria con muchas derrotas, su riqueza con múltiples quiebras" - Giovanni Papini


"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" - John Lennon

"Habla bajo, lleva siempre un gran palo y llegarás lejos" - Proverbio Africano

"No hay medicina para el miedo" - Proverbio escoces

"El supremo arte de la guerra es doblegar al enemigo sin luchar"
- Sun Tzu

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother" - Albert Einstein

"It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office" - H. L. Menken

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" - Elie Wiesel

"Stay hungry, stay foolish" -
Steve Jobs

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert , in five years ther'ed be a shortage of sand" - Milton Friedman

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less" - Vaclav Havel

"No se puede controlar el resultado, pero si lo que uno haga para alcanzarlo" -
Vitor Belfort [MMA Fighter]

Liborio

Liborio
A la puerta de la gloria está San Pedro sentado y ve llegar a su lado a un hombre de cierta historia. No consigue hacer memoria y le pregunta con celo: ¿Quién eras allá en el suelo? Era Liborio mi nombre. Has sufrido mucho, hombre, entra, te has ganado el cielo.

Para Raul Castro

Cuba ocupa el penultimo lugar en el mundo en libertad economica solo superada por Corea del Norte.

Cuba ocupa el lugar 147 entre 153 paises evaluados en "Democracia, Mercado y Transparencia 2007"

Cuando vinieron

Cuando vinieron a buscar a los comunistas, Callé: yo no soy comunista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los sindicalistas, Callé: yo no soy sindicalista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los judíos, Callé: yo no soy judío. Cuando vinieron a buscar a los católicos, Callé: yo no soy “tan católico”.
Cuando vinieron a buscarme a mí, Callé: no había quien me escuchara.

Reverendo Martin Niemöller

Martha Colmenares

Martha Colmenares
Un sitio donde los hechos y sus huellas nos conmueven o cautivan

CUBA LLORA Y EL MUNDO Y NOSOTROS NO ESCUCHAMOS

Donde esta el Mundo, donde los Democratas, donde los Liberales? El pueblo de Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan los Green, los Socialdemocratas, los Ricos y los Pobres, los Con Voz y Sin Voz? Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan el Jet Set, los Reyes y Principes, Patricios y Plebeyos? Cuba desesperada clama por solidaridad.
Donde Bob Dylan, donde Martin Luther King, donde Hollywood y sus estrellas? Donde la Middle Class democrata y conservadora, o acaso tambien liberal a ratos? Y Gandhi? Y el Dios de Todos?
Donde los Santos y Virgenes; los Dioses de Cristianos, Protestantes, Musulmanes, Budistas, Testigos de Jehova y Adventistas del Septimo Dia. Donde estan Ochun y todas las deidades del Panteon Yoruba que no acuden a nuestro llanto? Donde Juan Pablo II que no exige mas que Cuba se abra al Mundo y que el Mundo se abra a Cuba?
Que hacen ahora mismo Alberto de Monaco y el Principe Felipe que no los escuchamos? Donde Madonna, donde Angelina Jolie y sus adoptados around de world; o nos hara falta un Brando erguido en un Oscar por Cuba? Donde Sean Penn?
Donde esta la Aristocracia Obrera y los Obreros menos Aristocraticos, donde los Working Class que no estan junto a un pueblo que lanquidece, sufre y llora por la ignominia?
Que hacen ahora mismo Zapatero y Rajoy que no los escuchamos, y Harper y Dion, e Hillary y Obama; donde McCain que no los escuchamos? Y los muertos? Y los que estan muriendo? Y los que van a morir? Y los que se lanzan desesperados al mar?
Donde estan el minero cantabrico o el pescador de percebes gijonese? Los Canarios donde estan? A los africanos no los oimos, y a los australianos con su acento de hombres duros tampoco. Y aquellos chinos milenarios de Canton que fundaron raices eternas en la Isla? Y que de la Queen Elizabeth y los Lords y Gentlemen? Que hace ahora mismo el combativo Principe Harry que no lo escuchamos?
Donde los Rockefellers? Donde los Duponts? Donde Kate Moss? Donde el Presidente de la ONU? Y Solana donde esta? Y los Generales y Doctores? Y los Lam y los Fabelo, y los Sivio y los Fito Paez?
Y que de Canseco y Miñoso? Y de los veteranos de Bahia de Cochinos y de los balseros y de los recien llegados? Y Carlos Otero y Susana Perez? Y el Bola, y Pancho Cespedes? Y YO y TU?
Y todos nosotros que estamos aqui y alla rumiando frustaciones y resquemores, envidias y sinsabores; autoelogios y nostalgias, en tanto Louis Michel comulga con Perez Roque mientras Biscet y una NACION lanquidecen?
Donde Maceo, donde Marti; donde aquel Villena con su carga para matar bribones?
Cuba llora y clama y el Mundo NO ESCUCHA!!!

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