Monday, December 13, 2010

Cellweld Inc.

Over here at Technology Review:

Today, a broken hip usually means surgery and extensive rehab. But what if all you needed was an injection and a shorter recovery period? That's the vision that inspires Thomas Webster, an associate professor of engineering at Brown University.


Webster has developed a nanomaterial that quickly solidifies at body temperature into a bone-like substance. This week, Brown announced a deal with medical device maker Audax Medical of Littleton, Massachusetts, to further develop the material and launch trials in animals.

The material contains the same nucleic acids as DNA, Webster says. Each molecule has two covalent bonds and links with other molecules to form a tube. Hence it's called a "twin-base linker." (Audax will develop it under the name Arxis.)

Well, not quite the same but getting there:

"Fascinated as he was by this exchange, Stanton could not concentrate on it. The robot now removed the splint and bandages from his arm with a scuttling of curved scalpels. This would have been bad enough in a proper hospital, but here? It then split his shirt sleeve and parted it … only, Stanton suddenly realised it wasn’t just his shirt that the machine had opened. He looked away quickly from the neatly snapped bone he could see there, and cringed at the sound of small tubes sucking away the blood that started to well up. There was movement next, but no pain, then came the reassuring drone of a bone welder. Stanton could not say he was impressed with Sylac’s bedside manner."

16 comments:

Pavlov's Cat said...

and now rail guns

Roger said...

I really really like that. A friend of mine just broke his arm and boy would he be glad if he just could have welded it in instants. Regards from CH. Roger (www.schweingruber.tv)

Ryan said...

Regenerative medicine has a long way to go before we reach anything in science fiction! (especially of the fantastic auto-docs of the polity)

just trying to influence the differentiation of one culture of cells in vitro is a nigh impossible nightmare. Not to mention the awesome cost, let alone doing it in vitro on an ad hoc basis. An auto doc is still in my top few technologies i want to see created in my life

Ryan said...

I do remember hearing about this a while ago though

http://www1.cuny.edu/portal_ur/content/CAT/pdfdownloads/Tissue%20Welding%200405-1.pdf

Apparently 2 pieces of chicken flesh were "welded" together. No idea how effective this is, havent done a proper search in scientific literature but it would be cool if it was true and became widespread!

mr-maigo said...

That seems a BIT cruel for animal trials...

Phil M said...

A bit off topic but this might be interesting tonight on BBC4
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11982757

"The search for life: The Drake equation"

Graeme said...

I'm having a Lumbar fusion in the new year. I had one previously (in the 80's) with bone grafts and all sorts of stuff that left you fek'ed for months. This time, they will be using a small separation piece/cage between vertebra a couple of screws and a flexible filler. Should be back to normal in six weeks and on my feet in 24 hours.

That's 23 years difference in technology. So where will we be in another 23 years. It really does make you think.

Neal Asher said...

Yep, already posted that one, Pavlov's Cat.

Roger, the only broken bone I've had was in my hand when I punched someone, wrongly. That was bad enough so I thoroughly agree.

I don't know, Ryan, the stem cell stuff seems to be moving pretty fast and we already have computer controlled surgery - just ask anyone who's had laser eye treatment recently ... Hah! And now I've just looked at your link...

mr-maigo, quite right, we would learn so much more carrying out such trials on, oh I dunno, prisoners. Okay Mr Paedo, we're going to lop your balls off then see if we can weld up the wound.

Phil M, I watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it - I also recorded the later Horizon on the same subject. I'll be doing a post about it.

Ah Graeme, the wonders of implants. Stents are a case in point. We've gone from open heart surgery and months of recovery to just a couple of days in the hospital, in perhaps a similar time period.

Graeme said...

And the thing is, that most of it is down to advances in the silicon chip, with modelling techniques improving, imaging techniques etc.

Imagine that dark scenario where all the computers stop working. Imagine a Terminator scenario where Skynet just switched off and held off all our silicon based tools.

We would be just as fucked as is if they launched nuclear missiles.

mr-maigo said...

Breaking living animals bones doesn't seem the moral way to test things.

Ryan said...

mr-magio you might be interested in the 3Rs policy

http://www.nc3rs.org.uk/landing.asp?id=2

Whilst it is not ideal animal testing is a necessary part of scientific research. Without it much of medicine would not be possible.

Unfortunately there is no golden bullet technique for replacing animals. Some techniques include using human grown tissues in vitro but these are limited and rather novel. The National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction in animal research has awarded these prizes for novel methods

http://www.nc3rs.org.uk/page.asp?id=447

Perhaps some day our ability to grow tissues and organs outside the lab will result in us developing a suite of non-animal based testing methods that are more accurate than any animal test could be. I would like to see that happen but until such time we will have to use animals but ensure that we are doing it in the best and most efficient way possible

mr-maigo said...

Oh, I know it's the only way these things would ever get done and that there's no viable replacement. But no practice or technique will make breaking the bones of animals any less brutal.

Ryan said...

Actually part of the 3Rs policy works on that. For example developing non-interfering anaesthetics so that research can be done painlessly on the animal and still be valid.

In many cases it is no less brutal, but perhaps it is more moral

Neal Asher said...

It's boggy ground mr-maigo. What exactly is moral? People poison rats but cry about shooting dogs, they eat the meat of butchered pigs yet think killing cats (a great deal less intelligent)terrible. I guess we all have to ask ourselves if we would be prepared to die rather than have such research conducted because, at some point and with some people, that rule applies.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

if the prisons were full of "Albert" Fish type masochists, no one would ever harm a chicken again. they would harm Fishes.

Neal Asher said...

Now I'd never heard of him before, Vaude.