What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Ultrasound accelerates healing of fractures

A new report has suggested that ultrasound can speed up the healing of fractures.
A randomised controlled trial found that the use of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) in patients with tibial fractures, which showed inadequate progress toward healing, resulted in 34 per cent greater bone mineral density (BMD) in the fracture area after 16 weeks than use of a sham device.

Jon E Block worked with a team of researchers from University Hospital Marburg and the University of Ulm, Germany, to test LIPUS in 51 patients and 50 controls. Smith and Nephew, a manufacturer of ultrasound devices, supported their research.

Block said: “These findings demonstrate significantly greater progress toward bone healing after LIPUS treatment compared to no LIPUS treatment in subjects with established delayed unions of the tibia. This should assist in establishing this non-invasive modality as a viable, effective treatment option for patients suffering these injuries”.

The LIPUS device comprises a handheld control unit attached by wire to a small ultrasound emitter, which is placed over the fracture site for 20 minutes per day.

Artificial pancreatic tissue offers new hope to diabetics

Researchers have found a completely new way of controlling insulin dependent diabetes without daily injections of insulin.

Surgeons from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, have bio engineered a novel matrix that serves as a scaffold for seeding supportive stem cells as well as pancreatic islets (the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas).

The researchers note that the matrix not only helps to understand the micro-architecture of the pancreas, but also prolongs the survival and preserves the function of the islets.

Islets survived longer in the bio-artificial matrix than in conventional transplantation sites, and they produced significantly more insulin when challenged with glucose.

“Islet cell transplantation is the only treatment of insulin dependent diabetes that can consistently establish insulin independence,” said Claudius Conrad of the Massachusetts General Hospital.

However, islets only feel at home in the pancreatic niche, and therefore their survival and ability to produce insulin declines rapidly if transplanted, for example, in the liver.

“The pancreas provides a very special environment for islets. By default, the survival and function of the islet cells will always be worse in any organ other than the pancreas.”

Loss of cell powerhouses linked to Parkinson’s

Scientists have bolstered the link between Parkinson’s disease and the loss of cellular powerhouses called mitochondria after conducting a painstaking analysis of more than 400 brain tissue samples.

If supported by additional studies, the results could warrant clinical trials of existing drugs (currently used to treat other diseases) that activate a key pathway able to repair and replace broken mitochondria.

In recent years, evidence has been mounting that damaged mitochondria contribute to the neurological damage wrought by the disease.

For the latest study, neurologist Clemens Scherzer of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts — lead author on the current study — and an international consortium of researchers began by profiling patterns of gene expression in diseased versus healthy brains.

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