I enjoy reading medical news stories, given that there is always something interesting and potentially profound in development that can save lives! Here are three stories of note from the past week…
First up, from Boing-Boing–
Organovo, a biotech start-up near San Diego, has figured out a method for printing blood vessels. Made from the stem cells of the soon-to-be transplant recipient, the blood vessels are useful in themselves, but they’re also a first step toward something even crazy bigger—printing whole organs.
Most organs in the body are filled with veins, so the ability to print vascular tissue is a critical building block for complete organs. The printed veins are about to start testing in animal trials, and eventually go through human clinical trials. If all goes well, in a few years you may be able to replace a vein that has deteriorated (due to frequent injections of chemo treatment, for example) with custom-printed tissue grown from your own cells.
And from the Wall Street Journal Health Blog–
Dendreon, a Seattle-based drug maker, has been making a lot of press for meeting key goals in bringing the cancer fighting drug Provenge to market. Last month the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study on the drug, that earlier this year influenced the Food and Drug Administration to approve it. Provenge is a treatment that enlists a patient’s own cells to arm the body’s immune system against cancer. For the study, cells were obtained from select American Red Cross blood donations by study participants.
And sometimes, no news can be great news-
A year ago, H1N1 (otherwise known as Swine Flu) was making headlines and keeping Lise busy. Today, the World Health Organization announced that H1N1 is in a post-pandemic period and has largely run it’s course. Another viral outbreak we have seen in the recent past has been West Nile, that has yet to make an appearance in Oregon this summer, the time of year when West Nile is in full force. It is still wise to be prepared though, and the Red Cross is always on guard with a 24/7 Red Cross blood testing lab in Portland screening to identify potential outbreaks thanks to the combined effort with our volunteer blood donors.