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Copper Bioactive Glass Implant to treat bone infection

A group of researchers for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland have developed a form of glass implant which uses a high amount of copper - said to treat the bone infection osteomyelitis.  The team discovered that bioactive glass with copper is able to promote bone growth and kill bacteria simultaneously, and therefore no need for antibiotics or further treatment. It works by attracting blood cells and bone cells to the source so increase bone growth rapidly, whilst fighting the chance of bacteria growing and spreading. They have claimed it will speed the healing process and is a major improvement on current treatments.  “Osteomyelitis is notoriously difficult to treat,” said first author Emily Ryan, a recently qualified PhD student in the RCSI Department of Anatomy

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New Synthetics able to mimic protein behaviour

A team at Liverpool University have created a new material which is able to mimic proteins. Designed using metal ions and small peptide molecules, the new porous synthetic has a similar structural change and chemical activity to the proteins.  “These porous materials use the same atomic-scale mechanisms as proteins to switch between structures, which gives us the opportunity to develop new ways to manipulate and change molecules with synthetic materials that are inspired by biology,” said research lead Matt Rosseinsky, a professor of chemistry at Liverpool University. “This offers exciting scientific possibilities, for example in catalysis, through the design of materials that can dynamically select the structure needed for a particular task.” Claimed to be the first

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Autonomous vehicles coming quicker than we think?

The Joint European Torus (JET), based in Oxfordshire, UK, is known for housing the largest fusion reactor in the world and carries out a large amount of research when it comes to nuclear fusion. Their latest project, however, is more than just studying nuclear fusion, but researching ways to use nuclear fusion in autonomous vehicles.   Using a test called RACE, the team at JET have been researching ways nuclear fusion can help support robotic devices and their development. The installation of equipment into extremely small space caused the reactor shell to activate by neutron bombardment, in turn causing a nuclear fusion reaction which can be used within nuclear fusion studies but also outside.  “We are increasingly concerned with decommissioning, not just at Sellafield b

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New insoles to treat diabetic ulcers

A new show insole has been developed by Purdue University in order to help prevent amputation of toes, feet and legs of diabetics who are currently suffering from diabetic ulcers. The insoles have been designed to slowly release oxygen to the foot, which in turn heals the ulcers and allows the user to be able to regain more mobility.  Diabetic ulcers are caused by damaged nerves which causes skin tissue to disintegrate as well as the lack of feeling, meaning that damage to the foot can go unnoticed, and therefore doesn’t receive the appropriate treatment.  “We typically treat ulcers by removing devitalised tissue from the surface of the wound, and by helping the patient to find ways to take the weight off the affected foot,” said Desmond Bell, a podiatrist in wound ma

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Paralysis in three patients treated with electrical simulation.

A medical breakthrough by GTX Medical, led by the Swiss professors Grégoire Courtine and Bloch, has enabled three patients, all suffering with chronic paraplegia, to walk again thanks to wireless electrical simulation.  The wireless implant is inserted onto the spinal cord where it contains a multitude of electrodes which can send specific messages to specific muscle groups, just as the brain would.  “Selected configurations of electrodes are activating specific regions of the spinal cord, mimicking the signals that the brain would deliver to produce walking,” said Prof Jocelyne Bloch, a neuroscientist at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV/Unil). Each of the patients who undertook the electrical simulation found that not only could they move and control their paraly

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General Motors and Honda partner up for new autonomous project

The Japanese company, Honda, has announced that after following the success of electric vehicles with General Motors, they will be partnering up again to design and produce an autonomous vehicle. It is said that the project will create a vehicle which can be used for a variety of uses and will be deployed globally. Contributing a whopping $2bn towards the project, Cruise, Honda is planning to build the vehicles on a large scale.  “This is the logical next step in General Motors and Honda’s relationship, given our joint work on electric vehicles, and our close integration with Cruise,” said General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Together, we can provide Cruise with the world’s best design, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and global reach to establish them as

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Deep blood pressure to be measured through a new ultrasound patch

The University of California San Diego have designed and produced a non-invasive ultrasound patch which can measure blood pressure in arteries and veins - a task that normal wearable devices would not be able to perform as they can only measure surface readings. “By integrating ultrasound technology into wearables, we can start to capture a whole lot of other signals, biological events and activities going on way below the surface in a non-invasive manner,” said research leader Sheng Xu, a professor of nanoengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. Created using silicone elastomer and small electronic components, the new ultrasound patch is said to be able to measure depths as great as 4cm below the surface of the skin. In addition to this, using a patch which can be attach

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One step closer to preventing epileptic seizures

For some time, those who have been diagnosed with Epilepsy have relied on drug treatments to prevent all ranges of epileptic seizures. However, with these drugs not being fully effective, as well as bringing many side effects, the Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering, alongside two French institutions, have begun developing a new treatment which hopes to be safer and more reliable. Together, they have created a flexible electronic implant which can be inserted into the brain to not only sense when an epileptic seizure is about to start, but then prevents it from occurring by releasing a drug, directed at the source of the seizure.  Currently still in animal testing, this new feature provides much hope, not only for sufferers of Epilepsy but also other neurological

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Development of 3D printed implants to promote bone growth

3D printed implants have been developed by a team in NYU’s Medicine and Dentistry colleges which have been created to act a a type of scaffolding to help bones to repair and regenerate over time. Formed as a gel-like substance, the implants are produced with tricalcium phosphate and is set to resemble the bone after being heated, eventually turning the gel substance into a ceramic implant.  As the impact and gel contain similar compounds to the ones found in real bone, natural bone will use the implant as a template to regrow in place of the impact, which dissolves over time. This process is said to help speed up the regeneration period of bone as the Dipyridamole is said to attract new bone stem cells and thin the blood, resulting in the time taken for a bone to heal to decrease

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The 2018 MacRobert Award goes to…

This year’s Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award was presented to Cambridge firm, Owlstone Medical. The award was given for their work and development of a breath sampler, known as the ReCIVA, which is said to have the potential to save a vast quantity of lives - not to mention the $1.5 billion that could be saved in healthcare across the world.  Using microchip chemical sensor technology, the ReCIVA is said to be able to analyse even the smallest change in Volatile Organic Compounds, which can suggest the early signs of a variety of diseases, including cancer. Currently developing tests for lunch and colorectal cancer - the two most common types of cancer killers, the ReCIVA is currently under clinical trials with the NHS & Cancer Research. Diagnosis, however, is

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