Medgadget (Medical Technology) Daily Digest: All items
Article Digests for Psychology & Social Work
article-digests at lists.clinicians-exchange.org
Fri Sep 15 16:11:01 PDT 2023
Medgadget (Medical Technology) Daily Digest
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/brain-computer-interface-decodes-speech-and-facial-expressions.html) Brain Computer Interface Decodes Speech and Facial Expressions
Sep 14th 2023, 17:03
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco have developed a brain computer interface that can lets someone with severe paralysis communicate with both speech and facial expressions, in the form of a digital avatar. The breakthrough advances what has been possible, with previous brain computer interface systems providing speech only, and allows people to communicate more completely, encompassing facial expressions, which are an important aspect of natural communication. The system includes electrodes that intercept brain signals that are intended for the muscles of the face, essentially decoding complex facial expressions.
Brain computer interfaces have provided a window into the minds of those with severe paralysis who may otherwise struggle to communicate, or who may not be able to communicate at all. Controlling motorized wheelchairs and other robotic assistance devices is one aspect of such technologies, but communication remains one of the most important.
Despite this, to date, brain computer interfaces have focused on offering basic speech capabilities. However, human communication is more sophisticated than basic speech, and includes a myriad of complex facial expressions and other body language. In this latest development, these researchers have pioneered the use of a digital avatar as a means for a severely paralyzed woman to communicate using a repertoire of facial expressions that accompany speech.
Moreover, the new system can decode these brain signals at a speed of 80 words per minute, which is a marked improvement in speed over pre-existing commercial technologies. The researchers attached electrodes to areas of the participant’s brain that are involved in speech and facial expressions, and trained the system over time to recognize the signals that corresponded to certain words and facial expressions.
“The accuracy, speed and vocabulary are crucial,” said Sean Metzger, a researcher involved in the study. “It’s what gives a user the potential, in time, to communicate almost as fast as we do, and to have much more naturalistic and normal conversations.”
Here’s a video from UCSF about the technology:
Study in journal Nature: (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06443-4) A high-performance neuroprosthesis for speech decoding and avatar control
Via: (https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2023/08/425986/how-artificial-intelligence-gave-paralyzed-woman-her-voice-back) UCSF
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/highly-precise-pressure-sensor-for-laparoscopic-or-robotic-surgical-tools.html) Highly Precise Pressure Sensor for Laparoscopic or Robotic Surgical Tools
Sep 14th 2023, 16:50
Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a highly sensitive pressure sensor that can provide haptic feedback for surgeons using laparoscopic tools or for use in robotic grippers as part of robotic surgical systems. The technology is inspired by the surface of the lotus leaf, which is extremely sensitive to the pressure exerted by tiny drops of water and will repel them. This sensor is also highly sensitive, using an incorporated layer of air to detect tiny pressure changes, and a surface coating inside to reduce friction. Called “eAir”, the devices can also be highly miniaturized to just a few millimeters in size, making them well suited for inclusion in laparoscopic devices.
“Conducting surgeries with graspers presents its unique challenges,” said Benjamin Tee, a researcher involved in the study. “Precise control and accurate perception of the forces applied are critical, but traditional tools can sometimes fall short, making surgeons rely heavily on experience, and even intuition. The introduction of soft and readily integrable eAir sensors, however, could be a game-changer.”
These researchers were inspired to develop a new pressure sensor for use in minimally invasive surgery and also potentially to monitor intracranial pressure. Conventional pressure sensors tend to be bulky, inconsistent in their measurements and they are often made using stiff materials that inhibit their sensitivity.
“When surgeons perform minimally-invasive surgery such as laparoscopic or robotic surgery, we can control the jaws of the graspers, but we are unable to feel what the end-effectors are grasping,” Kaan Hung Leng, a surgeon who is familiar with the research. “Hence, surgeons have to rely on our sense of sight and years of experience to make a judgement call about critical information that our sense of touch could otherwise provide.”
The Singapore team were inspired by the sensitivity of lotus leaves to tiny falling water droplets, whereby the leaves repel the droplets quickly. “The sensor, akin to a miniature ‘capacity meter’, can detect minute pressure changes — mirroring the sensitivity of a lotus leaf to the extremely light touch of a water droplet,” said Tee.
“The haptic or tactile feedback provided by smart pressure sensors has the potential to revolutionize the field of minimally-invasive surgery,” said Hung Leng. “For example, information about whether a tissue that is being grasped is hard, firm or soft provides an additional and important source of information to aid surgeons in making prudent decisions during a surgery. Ultimately, these intra-operative benefits have the potential to translate into improved surgical and patient outcomes.”
Study in journal Nature Materials: (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41563-023-01628-8) Frictionless multiphasic interface for near-ideal aero-elastic pressure sensing
Via: (https://news.nus.edu.sg/nature-inspired-pressure-sensing-technology/) National University of Singapore
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/microneedle-skin-patch-measures-cancer-biomarkers.html) Microneedle Skin Patch Measures Cancer Biomarkers
Sep 14th 2023, 16:42
Researchers at the Harvard Wyss Institute have developed a technique that lets clinicians to characterize and monitor melanoma. The system involves using a microneedle patch that can draw deep interstitial fluid into itself through a series of penetrating hyaluronic acid needles. The needles can later be dissolved to release the biomarkers into a test tube before analysis, using a highly sensitive technique called Simoa, to detect individual biomarker protein molecules. The Simoa method involves capturing these molecules using an antibody attached to a magnetic bead, which allows the researchers to use magnets to separate and isolate the molecules for ultimate detection. The approach could permit clinicians to easily identify which melanoma patients are more likely to respond favorably to treatments such as immunotherapies, and also monitor how treatment is progressing.
Melanoma is a highly aggressive cancer, but has one clinical advantage of being easily accessible on the skin. This means that largely skin-specific technologies, such as microneedle patches, could be useful here. This latest research leverages this to create a microneedle patch that can assist in measuring levels of important biomarkers within melanoma lesions.
While some melanoma patients respond well to certain immunotherapies, approximately 50% do not, and even amongst those that do, treatment resistance can later emerge. Assessing which patients are likely to respond, and determining if treatment is going as planned, may require the analysis of tumor biomarkers. However, it can be difficult to extract such biomarkers from deeper layers of the skin and repeated invasive biopsies to monitor treatment progress is not desirable.
Hence, this latest microneedle patch, which can sample interstitial fluid from within a superficial tumor minimally invasively. “Rapid readout of the responses to melanoma therapy using microneedles may enable effective drug screening and patient stratification to maximize therapeutic benefits,” said Natalie Artzi, a researcher involved in the study.
So far, the researchers have tested the patch in a mouse model of melanoma, and treated the tumors using focused ultrasound and a nanoparticle-based immunotherapy. They were able to detect the rise and fall of biomarkers involved in inflammation that correlated with mouse survival.
“Merely a few microliters of interstitial fluid obtained with microneedles provide a wealth of biomarker information as normal skin cells, local immune cells, and cancer cells constantly secrete diverse signaling molecules and metabolites,” said Daniel Dahis, another researcher involved in the study. “After the microneedles are retrieved, their tips can be simply dissolved to release the captured molecules into a test tube for us to start the biomarker analysis.”
Study in journal Advanced Functional Materials: (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adfm.202301659) Monitoring Melanoma Responses to STING Agonism and Focused Ultrasound Thermal Ablation Using Microneedles and Ultrasensitive Single Molecule Arrays
Via: (https://wyss.harvard.edu/news/moving-the-needle-on-monitoring-skin-cancer/) Wyss Institute
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/organoids-produce-tooth-enamel-proteins.html) Organoids Produce Tooth Enamel Proteins
Sep 12th 2023, 17:00
Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine have developed a method to create stem cell-derived organoids that can produce tooth enamel proteins. The breakthrough could pave the way for lab grown enamel that can be used in dental repairs and may even allow for living fillings or completely new living teeth that can be implanted into a patient’s jaw. The researchers studied the genetic activity that occurs during tooth development, and then used this information to steer stem cells into becoming ameloblasts, which are the cell type responsible for enamel creation. Once present in organoids, the cells can produce three proteins that are crucial in enamel.
Repairing teeth is difficult. In the past, people would simply have them all pulled out and use false teeth instead. Thankfully, modern dentistry is somewhat more sophisticated, but still rarely involves actually regenerating damaged or diseased dental tissue, and usually means removing and replacing tissue with synthetic alternatives. While this is OK, it would be nice to be able to replace missing teeth with a living alternative or plug a hole in a tooth with real tooth enamel, rather than a synthetic polymer paste.
Creating regenerative treatments for dental work is a noble goal, but is faced with a key challenge, at least in the case of tooth enamel. During tooth formation, enamel is created by cells called ameloblasts. However, these cells only stick around during tooth formation and die off thereafter. Therefore, teeth have no way to regenerate their own enamel and there is no endogenous population of such cells to target in adult patients. The researchers behind this latest study realized that if they wished to create tooth enamel naturally, then such cells would need to be created from near scratch. And that’s what they did.
The researchers used a tool called single-cell combinatorial indexing RNA sequencing (sci-RNA-seq) to study which genes are turned off and on at each point during tooth development, giving them a blueprint of ameloblast development. Then, they activated those same genes, in the correct sequence, to coax undifferentiated stem cells to develop into ameloblasts, which they grew as organoids. Strikingly, the organoids produced proteins that are crucial for enamel development, indicating a first step on the path to regenerative dental treatments.
“Many of the organs we would like to be able to replace, like human pancreas, kidney, and brain, are large and complex. Regenerating them safely from stem cells will take time,” said Hannele Ruohola-Baker, a researcher involved in the study. “Teeth on the other hand are much smaller and less complex. They’re perhaps the low-hanging fruit. It may take a while before we can regenerate them, but we can now see the steps we need to get there. This may finally be the ‘Century of Living Fillings’ and human regenerative dentistry in general.”
Study in journal Developmental Cell: (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S153458072300360X?via%3Dihub) Single-cell census of human tooth development enables generation of human enamel
Via: (https://newsroom.uw.edu/news/stem-cell-derived-organoids-secrete-tooth-enamel-proteins) University of Washington School of Medicine
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/enzyme-treatment-strips-mucins-from-cancer-cells.html) Enzyme Treatment Strips Mucins from Cancer Cells
Sep 12th 2023, 16:52
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new type of cancer therapy. The technology targets mucins, sugar-coated proteins that help cancer cells to metastasize and avoid the immune system. In particular, mucins enable cancer cells to survive free-floating as they travel through the blood during metastasis and can also trick immune cells into assuming that the cancer cell is not a threat. The new treatment involves combining an enzyme called mucinase with a cancer-specific nanobody that can bind to the cell surface, allowing the mucinase to destroy any mucins present. In tests with mice with simulated breast and lung cancer, the treatment significantly reduced tumor growth and enhanced survival.
Cancer cells employ a variety of tricks to ensure their survival and growth. One involves mucins, a common sugar-coated protein that is found on the surface of many cell types. “Mucins play important roles throughout the body, such as forming mucus in our gut and lungs, and protecting us from pathogens,” said Gabrielle Tender, a researcher involved in the study. “Cancers dial this natural process up to 11, hijacking the functions of mucins to protect themselves and spread throughout the body.”
In cancer cells, mucins assist in allowing the cell to live as it floats freely through the blood vessels and finds a new site to create a metastatic tumor. Ordinarily, cells from solid tumors are more accustomed to surviving within a solid tissue mass, so this role for mucins is crucial in metastasis. Mucins also act as camouflage against the immune system, helping cancer cells to evade destruction.
Mucins are ubiquitous within the body, and so don’t represent a good drug target on their own. However, by combining a bacterially derived mucinase, an enzyme that can cleave mucins off the cell surface, with a cancer-targeting nanobody, the researchers ensured that their treatment would not target healthy cells.
So far, in tests with mice with simulated lung and breast cancer, the treatment successfully slowed tumor growth and enhanced mouse survival. “We have decades of evidence from cancer patients and experiments that mucins are important in cancer, but there was not that much that we could previously do to get rid of these mucins,” said Tender. “We were inspired that we finally have an approach to degrade mucins on cancer cells.”
Study in journal Nature Biotechnology: (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-023-01840-6) Design of a mucin-selective protease for targeted degradation of cancer-associated mucins
Via: (https://news.stanford.edu/2023/08/10/bioengineered-tool-unmasks-cancer-cells/) Stanford University
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/technique-creates-multilayered-tubular-cell-constructs.html) Technique Creates Multilayered Tubular Cell Constructs
Sep 12th 2023, 16:45
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed a new method to create multilayered tubes from cells. The technique could be very useful for recreating multilayered tubular constructs that are found in the body, such as the intestines and blood vessels. Accurately modeling such complex structures in the lab could open new doors in terms of medical research and may even pave the way for bioengineered intestinal or vascular constructs that are suitable for implantation in human patients.
The method is called rotational internal flow layer engineering (RIFLE), and is low-cost, rapid and can be used to create constructs on a small scale. In essence, the technique involves delivering cells in a liquid suspension to a tube that is spinning at high speed (9000 rpm). The resulting centrifugal force causes the cell suspension to spread over the internal surface of the tube, where the cells can settle and form a monolayer, with additional cell layers being added iteratively.
Our bodies are full of complex structures that are set to keep scientists busy over the following decades as they seek to recreate them in the lab. While this is a challenge, creating transplantable organs on the lab bench is a worthwhile goal, given the shortage of available transplants, and should also make medical research easier and avoid the need to use experimental animals to find new treatments.
This is the goal of RIFLE, which aims to recreate the layered, tubular structures within our bodies, such as the intestine or blood vessels. The technology uses a spinning tube to distribute a cell suspension all over its internal surface, creating a cell layer that is just one cell thick. Then, a new layer can be added on top, allowing the researchers to create multilayered constructs.
“With the RIFLE technology, we can create, in the laboratory, the high-resolutions that we observe in human layered tubular tissue, such as blood vessels,” said Ian Holland, a researcher involved in the study. “Crucially, this uses the same materials and cells we find in our own bodies. This level of accuracy is essential for researchers who want to develop new medicines and investigate diseases — ultimately reducing the need for experiments involving animals.”
Study in journal Biofabrication: (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1758-5090/ace2ed) Stratified tissue biofabrication by rotational internal flow layer engineering
Via: (https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2023/new-tech-is-step-towards-lab-grown-blood-vessels) University of Edinburgh
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/crispr-equipped-bacteria-detect-tumors.html) CRISPR-Equipped Bacteria Detect Tumors
Sep 7th 2023, 17:07
Researchers at the University of California San Diego have created a bacterial sentinel system that can alert clinicians to the presence of tumors. The technology takes advantage of the specificity of the CRISPR system and the tendency of bacteria to uptake fragments of DNA from their environment. Termed “Cellular Assay for Targeted CRISPR-discriminated Horizontal gene transfer” (CATCH), the system has been created to detect gastrointestinal tumors in its first iteration. This involves administering the CRISPR-enabled bacteria to the gut. The bacteria have been engineered to respond to DNA fragments that encode a mutated protein that is shed by certain tumors in the gut into the surrounding environment. Once they uptake this DNA, the bacteria express a gene that confers resistance to a specific antibiotic, along with a gene that makes them glow green. These factors allow the researchers to identify the presence of tumor DNA once they harvest the bacteria from stool samples.
Researchers have grown adept at identifying and manipulating DNA using standard lab equipment. However, it is significantly more challenging to detect DNA inside the human body, although the clinical rewards could be huge – tumors can release DNA fragments into their surroundings, which float about. If we could identify these fragments, then we can identify the presence of a tumor.
Bacteria are skilled at uptaking DNA fragments that have been released by other bacteria into their surroundings. Bacteria uptake these fragments to incorporate this new genetic material into their own genome in the hopes that the new proteins they can then produce may confer an advantage in terms of growth and survival. However, these researchers decided to investigate if this mechanism could be exploited to create living bacterial biosensors.
“As we started on this project four years ago, we weren’t even sure if using bacteria as a sensor for mammalian DNA was even possible,” said Jeff Hasty, a researcher involved in the study. “The detection of gastrointestinal cancers and precancerous lesions is an attractive clinical opportunity to apply this invention.”
The researchers used a bacterium called Acinetobacter baylyi, which is adept at grabbing DNA from its environment. They engineered the bacterium so that it hosts CRISPR that can rapidly recognize DNA that encodes a mutated form of a gene called KRAS. DNA fragments containing this mutated gene are released by several forms of cancer. Once they encounter the DNA, the bacteria will express a fluorescent protein and a gene that confers antibiotic resistance. Once the researchers harvest the bacteria from stool samples, they can culture them on agar plates containing the antibiotic. Only bacteria that have expressed the antibiotic resistance gene will survive and grow on the plate, revealing the presence of a tumor in the gut.
See a video about the technology below.
Top image: As seen in a dish, Acinetobacter baylyi (green) bacteria surround clumps of colorectal cancer cells. Credit: Josephine Wright
Study in journal Science: (https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adf3974) Engineered bacteria detect tumor DNA
Via: (https://today.ucsd.edu/story/researchers-engineer-bacteria-that-can-detect-tumor-dna) UCSD
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/09/device-for-rapid-covid-19-breath-testing.html) Device for Rapid COVID-19 Breath Testing
Sep 7th 2023, 17:01
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have developed a COVID-19 breathalyzer test. The technology requires someone to breathe into it just once or twice, and it can then provide an indication if the person is infected with SARS-CoV-2 in as little as one minute. The device could be very useful fo screening large numbers of people prior to access to an indoor event, for instance, or in community clinics to quickly determine if people are infected. Moreover, the technology could be adapted to detect other viruses, which may be useful for future outbreaks. The system involves blowing into a straw, which directs the breath onto llama-derived nanobodies that specifically bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike-protein. The nanobodies are bound to an ultrasensitive micro-immunoelectrode biosensor, which can provide a rapid readout if the virus is present.
Thankfully, the COVID-19 pandemic has been declared over. However, if we are to learn the lessons of the pandemic, we need to develop strategies that will assist us with the next one. This could be caused by COVID-19, perhaps through the emergence of a highly aggressive new SARS-CoV-2 variant, or through the emergence of a completely new pathogen which is currently unknown. Rapid and convenient testing will be a key ally, allowing large scale health screens, and this latest technology showcases these features.
“With this test, there are no nasal swabs and no waiting 15 minutes for results, as with home tests,” said Rajan Chakrabarty, a researcher involved in the study. “A person simply blows into a tube in the device, and an electrochemical biosensor detects whether the virus is there. Results are available in about a minute.”
Interestingly, the technology can be modified relatively rapidly to detect other viruses, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In fact, the researchers may be able to make a multiplex device that can test for several viruses simultaneously, and report that they should be able to create a biosensor that is specific for completely new viruses, with just a two week lag time.
“It’s a bit like a breathalyzer test that an impaired driver might be given,” said John Cirrito, one of the lead developers of the new technology. “And, for example, if people are in line to enter a hospital, a sports arena or the White House Situation Room, 15-minute nasal swab tests aren’t practical, and PCR tests take even longer. Plus, home tests are about 60% to 70% accurate, and they produce a lot of false negatives. This device will have diagnostic accuracy.”
Study in journal ACS Sensors: (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acssensors.3c00512) Rapid Direct Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Aerosols in Exhaled Breath at the Point of Care
Via: (https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/scientists-develop-breath-test-that-rapidly-detects-covid-19-virus/) Washington University School of Medicine
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/08/peptoid-oligomers-target-viral-membranes.html) Peptoid Oligomers Target Viral Membranes
Aug 30th 2023, 16:48
Researchers at New York University have developed a new method to target many viruses that cause disease. For viruses with a lipid membrane, which includes many that commonly cause disease, this new technique could prove to be fatal. By targeting the lipid membrane, the approach may circumvent the treatment resistance that arises when viruses mutate to alter their surface proteins, which are the most common targets for conventional anti-viral drugs. This new approach is based on a synthetic version of antimicrobial peptides, which are naturally produced by our immune system and can target pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. These researchers have developed a more stable synthetic version that they call “peptoids” that can more effectively bind to viral envelope lipids, disrupting the viral membrane and destroying the viral particle.
While it may seem morbid to frame it as such, the clock is ticking until the next viral pandemic. In the calm before the next storm, developing new anti-viral treatments is crucial so that we will be better prepared. However, viruses are a worthy adversary, rapidly mutating their surface proteins so that the drug targets that are present now will likely change relatively soon. This has been a key limitation with many anti-viral strategies which target these surface proteins. For instance, we can see how fast SARS-CoV-2 mutated to create new variants with different properties and different levels of susceptibility to vaccine-mediated immunity.
However, one component of viruses does not even originate with the viral genome itself, but rather directly from our own cells. This is the viral membrane, which many viruses ‘steal’ from our own cells as they force our cellular machinery to create new viral particles. While such theft is deplorable, it renders the virus vulnerable to treatments that target the membrane, and does not allow the virus to develop an effective resistance strategy, since it does not generate the membranes itself.
This latest technology targets the viral membrane, and it uses antimicrobial peptides naturally produced by our own immune system as inspiration. Such peptides can effectively target viruses, but they are relatively unstable and could cause side-effects if delivered in large doses. Instead, these researchers designed a synthetic version called “peptoids”, which are more stable and more specific for viral membranes.
So far, the peptoids have shown efficacy in targeting viruses such as Zika, Rift Valley fever, and chikungunya. Moreover, the peptiods should not target our own cells, as the viral membrane is a little different in its composition from our own membranes. “Because phosphatidylserine is found on the exterior of viruses, it can be a specific target for peptoids to recognize viruses, but not recognize—and therefore spare—our own cells,” said Patrick Tate, a researcher involved in the study. “Moreover, because viruses acquire lipids from the host rather than encoding from their own genomes, they have better potential to avoid antiviral resistance.”
See a video below that illustrates the peptoid mechanism of action.
Study in Infectious Diseases: (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsinfecdis.3c00063) Peptidomimetic Oligomers Targeting Membrane Phosphatidylserine Exhibit Broad Antiviral Activity
Via: (https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2023/august/antiviral-molecules.html) New York University
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/08/uv-free-air-decontamination-interview-with-sorel-rothschild-vp-at-quantum-innovations.html) UV-Free Air Decontamination: Interview with Sorel Rothschild, VP at Quantum Innovations
Aug 25th 2023, 16:57
(https://www.lumaflo.co/) LumaFlo, a medtech company based in Israel, has developed a decontamination technology that does not require UV light, something that can be dangerous for people nearby. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for safe and effective decontamination technologies for both public spaces and healthcare facilities. However, many such technologies rely on UV light to kill pathogens, but this can also have negative effects on those exposed.
In an effort to create a safer and more effective alternative, LumaFlo has developed a carbon nanostructure based photocatalytic system that is activated through visible light, meaning that it completely avoids the need for UV. In lab tests, the technology demonstrated 99.997% lethality for pathogens in just 90 minutes. The system is designed to be used in areas of maximal airflow, but it may also have applicability as a contact decontamination system, such as in heavily touched areas like door handles or hand-rails.
Medgadget had the opportunity to speak with Sorel Rothschild, Vice President at Quantum Innovations, LumaFlo’s parent company, about the technology.
Conn Hastings, Medgadget: How did the recent COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need for effective decontamination technologies?
Sorel Rothschild, Quantum Innovations/LumaFlo: Early in the pandemic, when the very aggressive contaminating properties of COVID-19 were revealed, it was clear that new preventive measures and strategies are necessary in the field of indoor air purification to contain such urgent situations as quickly as possible.
The CDC recently released new recommendations for higher air replacement rates and the use of active air purification equipment in crowded spaces. Within this context, air purification by photocatalytic oxidation (a NASA-derived air-quality control technology) appears to be the preferred solution to this problem.
LumaFlo took the photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) a few steps ahead by developing a Visible Light induced PCO technology to replace the potentially harmful UV light-induced PCO currently in use. LumaFlo’s technology can more efficiently decontaminate airborne contaminants in schools, hospitals, shopping centers, office buildings, airports, buses, etc. without the limitations imposed by the hazards of UV light exposure.
Medgadget: What are the most common air decontamination solutions for healthcare facilities at present? What are the limitations of such approaches?
Sorel Rothschild: At present, there are two main air decontamination technologies in use by healthcare facilities:
Germicidal UV – UV light decontaminates primarily by causing damage to nucleic acids (DNA or RNA).
There are two types of equipment:
High intensity, high power Germicidal UV ‘robots’ — a very expensive and power-consuming type of technology. During operation, the space to be disinfected must be evacuated since germicidal UV light is harmful, causing damage to nucleic acids, and generates Ozone, which can be a harmful gas by itself.
Low intensity Germicidal UV. This is much less effective than the High Intensity approach. Mostly installed as an add-on device in HVAC air ducts, it generates Ozone and due to the too short contact time, has low effectiveness.
Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) – a technology developed in the 1990s at the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR), a NASA Research Partnership Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the time, and sponsored by the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The technology, as developed at that time used germicidal UV light to ‘activate’ the titanium dioxide – generating Ozone as by-product. PCO has the capability to oxidize organic matter, VOCs and other organic molecules as well as airborne contaminants / pathogens. UV light is still used by most products that base their air purification systems on PCO.
In contrast to this approach, LumaFlo developed a novel PCO technology that utilizes Visible Light to trigger the photocatalytic Oxidation – avoiding the hazardous threats the come from using UV light.
Medgadget: Please give us an overview of the LumaFlo decontamination technology, and how/where it is intended to be used.
Sorel Rothschild: LumaFlo is based on carbon nanostructures and certain photocatalytic materials combined through a special process into a novel nanomaterial. ARE (an FDA certified independent laboratory) tests indicate 99.997% pathogen reduction in 90 min, significantly better than existing solutions in the market.
LumaFlo technology will be implemented in products of various formats, from DIY adhesive labels for residential applications to OEM components integrated in existing ventilation systems and stand-alone equipment for hospitals, public spaces, airports, etc. LumaFlo can be placed on virtually any surface that is exposed to natural/white light. However, for maximal effectiveness it should also be positioned in locations where the LumaFlo material is exposed to the highest air flow volume (such as fan blades or intake/exhaust ventilation vents).
Medgadget: How does the system work? How does it kill airborne pathogens?
Sorel Rothschild: Our system is based on the classic PCO process, which works as follows:
The adsorption of a photon with sufficient energy by TiO2 promotes electrons from the valence band to the conduction band leaving a positively charged hole in the valence band. The electrons are then free to migrate within the conduction band and the holes may be filled by an electron from an adjacent molecule. This process can be repeated. Thus, holes are also mobile. Electrons and holes may recombine (bulk recombination) a non-productive reaction, or, when they reach the surface, react to give reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as O2 −⋅ and ⋅OH .
In theory, the ‘killing’ action was originally proposed to be via depletion of coenzyme A by dimerization and subsequent inhibition of respiration (Matsunaga et al. 1985, 1988). However, there is overwhelming evidence that the lethal action is due to membrane and cell wall damage. (See image below.)
Medgadget: What sort of lifespan does the LumaFlo material have? Can it be integrated into heavily touched surfaces, or is it primarily intended to decontaminate air-borne pathogens?
Sorel Rothschild: Theoretically, LumaFlo photocatalyst material has a very long lifespan. When operating in a contaminated environment, we predict a minimum lifespan of six months, while in normal “preventive mode” setting, the expected lifespan is twelve months.
LumaFlo technology has been tested so far under two largely recognized methodologies:
Decontamination of airborne pathogens using a flow cell
2. Contact test – Decontamination of E.coli on surface
Based on the tests’ outcomes, we believe our material can be integrated into heavily touched surfaces as well as decontamination of air-borne pathogens.
Medgadget: How can we prepare better for the next pandemic? Do you see such technologies being used in various public spaces and buildings, beyond healthcare facilities?
Sorel Rothschild: The CDC recently (May 12, 2023) called to improve the ventilation and decontamination practices as a vital preventive step towards the next pandemic, at the price of additional equipment, maintenance, and increased energy consumption cost. To the best of our knowledge, LumaFlo is the only technology that provides both superior decontamination and improved ventilation rate without inducing excessive energy cost.
Lumaflo can be used in any environment where there is a need for air purification / decontamination, both as a “preventive measure” device and in “emergency response” configuration such as in healthcare facilities, schools, public spaces, office buildings, trains, buses, airplanes, etc.
Link: (https://www.lumaflo.co/) LumaFlo homnepage…
(https://www.medgadget.com/2023/08/mrna-immunotherapy-targets-cancer.html) mRNA Immunotherapy Targets Cancer
Aug 25th 2023, 16:03
Researchers at the Mount Sinai Hospital have developed an mRNA-based treatment for cancer. The approach combines the delivery of mRNA therapy in lipid nanoparticles and also involves co-delivering dendritic cells that have also been primed through treatment with lipid-encased mRNA. The technology aims to overcome some of the immune evasive tricks that tumors use to circumvent the immune system, some of which can hamper more traditional immunotherapies. In contrast, this treatment, which the researchers have called CATCH, aims to progress the cancer immunity cycle by modulating the tumor microenvironment to support an anti-cancer immune response.
Modern immunotherapies can have significant efficacy in various cancers, but they are not always successful. Tumors employ a variety of tricks to disguise themselves from the immune system or suppress its activity in recognizing and destroying cancer cells. One cell type that can be enlisted in the fight against cancer are dendritic cells, which can ‘educate’ T cells on what cells to target. However, treatments targeting dendritic cells have shown mixed success because of the immuno-evasive behavior of tumors.
“Most approaches to boost this critical role of dendritic cells — or adoptive cell therapies — aim to increase the activation signals provided to dendritic cells when specific molecules on their surface bind to tumor cells,” said Yizhou Dong, a researcher involved in the study. “However, these have not been as successful in clinical trials as hoped. This is because tumors have a tendency to evolve in different ways to switch off each stage of the cancer-immunity cycle.”
The CATCH system incorporates a double-pronged attack. One aspect of this includes an mRNA therapy encased in a lipid nanoparticle. The mRNA encodes for CD40, a transmembrane ligand that is present on activated T cells. These nanoparticles lead to the expression of the ligand in cancer cells, which provokes immune-mediated cell death in tumors, which in turn releases loads of tumor antigens into the surrounding area.
The second prong of the attack are dendritic cells that have been removed from a patient, treated using the same mRNA-loaded nanoparticles, and then re-introduced into the patient. These cells react to the increased CD40 expression produced by the first set of nanoparticles in tumor tissue, and go on to reprogram the tumor microenvironment to make it more amenable to further immune attack.
“Dendritic cells have been a key focus for the development of new cancer therapies as these cells organize the cancer-immunity cycle,” said Brian Brown, another researcher involved in the study. “In theory, the CATCH regimen using this particular RNA-based technology has the potential to provide a much more effective approach for using dendritic cells for cancer immunotherapy to treat a wide range of solid tumors.”
Study in journal Nature Nanotechnology: (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-023-01453-9) Close the cancer–immunity cycle by integrating lipid nanoparticle–mRNA formulations and dendritic cell therapy
Via: (https://www.mountsinai.org/about/newsroom/2023/new-rna-based-therapy-combats-melanoma-in-mouse-models) Mount Sinai Hospital
Michael Reeder LCPC
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