Watch: Printing Biological Structures, Fast Food Wrappers, Organ-on-chip

24 February 2018

Printing Biological Structures

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London are studying a new printing technique and they believe it will be the next innovation in cancer research and development of new drugs to fight harmful illnesses.

This method enables the possibility to build 3D structures by printing multiple types of biomolecules capable of assembling into well-defined structures at multiple scales. Because of this, the self-assembling ink provides an opportunity to control the chemical and physical properties during and after printing, which can be tuned to stimulate cell behavior.

Are Fast Food Wrappers Making You Fat?

While it is no surprise that eating fast food could lead to weight gain and other health issues, a recent study suggests that exposure to the chemicals used in fast food wrappers might also be contributing to weight gain. Researchers determined that high levels of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — chemicals used in food wrappers due to their oil and water-repellant properties — found in the blood were associated with weight gain in participants, especially women, who had previously lost weight. The explanation, according to researchers, is that the PFAS disrupt normal metabolic processes. As such, researchers determined that participants with higher blood levels of PFAS subsequently had lowered resting metabolic rates, and thus, burned fewer calories during the course of the day.

Placenta-on-chip Studies Drug Transport Into Fetal Bloodstream

Organ-on-chip technology is medicine’s newest way to study conditions and dynamics that would be unethical, or even impossible, to study on living subjects. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science, have used a placenta-on-chip platform to study how drugs are transported across the human placental barrier. Most placental transport experiments today are done with placentas donated after birth — but these are only viable for a few hours. The Penn team has demonstrated that their benchtop system can be an effective stand-in for a living organ, with a much longer lifespan.

The goal is to understand how the placenta determines which molecules get through to the fetal bloodstream, which is important for controlling maternally administered medications.

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