U of Toronto engineering researchers mend broken hearts with expanding tissue bandage

Friday, 25 August, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 9.56.43 AM - New biomaterial developed by U of T engineering researchers could be delivered through minimally invasive surgery

Very cool news. Excerpts from University of Toronto news “New biomaterial developed by U of T engineering researchers could be delivered through minimally invasive surgery” (emphasis, extra note & links added) (for an in-depth look, see technical article, Nature Materials “Flexible shape-memory scaffold for minimally invasive delivery of functional tissues” ),

A team of U of T engineering researchers is mending broken hearts with an expanding tissue bandage a little smaller than a postage stamp.

Repairing heart tissue destroyed by a heart attack or medical condition with regenerative cells or tissues usually requires invasive open-heart surgery. But now biomedical engineering Professor Milica Radisic [K’s note: including links to PubMed listed articles] and her colleagues have developed a technique that lets them use a small needle to inject a repair patch, without the need to open up the chest cavity.

Radisic’s team are experts in using polymer scaffolds to grow realistic 3D slices of human tissue in the lab. One of their creations, AngioChip, is a tiny patch of heart tissue with its own blood vessels – the heart cells even beat with a regular rhythm. Another one of their innovations snaps together like sheets of Velcro™.

Such lab-grown tissues are already being used to test potential drug candidates for side-effects, but the long-term goal is to implant them back into the body to repair damage.

“If an implant requires open-heart surgery, it’s not going to be widely available to patients,” says Radisic.

She says that after a myocardial infarction – a heart attack – the heart’s function is reduced so much that invasive procedures like open-heart surgery usually pose more risks than potential benefits.

“It’s just too dangerous,” she says.

Miles Montgomery, a PhD candidate in Radisic’s lab, has spent nearly three years developing a patch that could be injected, rather than implanted. [K’s note: more news on Miles]

“At the beginning, it was a real challenge,” he says. “There was no template to base my design on, and nothing I tried was working. But I took these failures as an indication that I was working on a problem worth solving.”

After dozens of attempts, Montgomery found a design that matched the mechanical properties of the target tissue and had the required shape-memory behaviour: as it emerges from the needle, the patch unfolds itself into a bandage-like shape.

[…]

The scaffold is built out of the same biocompatible, biodegradable polymer used in the team’s previous creations. Over time, the scaffold will naturally break down, leaving behind the new tissue.

The team also showed that injecting the patch into rat hearts can improve cardiac function after a heart attack: damaged ventricles pumped more blood than they did without the patch.

“It can’t restore the heart back to full health, but if it could be done in a human, we think it would significantly improve quality of life,” says Radisic.

There is still a long way to go before the material is ready for clinical trials. Radisic and her team are collaborating with researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children to assess the long-term stability of the patches, as well as whether the improved cardiac function can be maintained.

They have also applied for patents on the invention and are exploring the use of the patch in other organs, such as the liver.

“You could customize this platform, adding growth factors or other drugs that would encourage tissue regeneration,” says Radisic. “I think this is one of the coolest things we’ve done.”

Injectable tissue patch could help repair damaged organs – U of T Engineering

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Julie Payette – Canada’s next Governor General

Thursday, 13 July, 2017

I’m thrilled and excited to hear Ms. Julie Payette, TA of my Computer Science CSC258 class at University of Toronto which I wrote more in this post, has been named Canada’s next Governor General.

2017 July 13, CBC News, “‘Unquestionably qualified’: Ex-astronaut Julie Payette formally introduced as Canada’s next GG – Prime minister holds news conference on Parliament Hill to name successor to David Johnston

U of T News, “U of T alumna Julie Payette to be next Governor General

Via CBC Politics LIVE FB post.

Have a watch of this amazing CBC Witness (1993) documentary “Space For Four (1993)


The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

Tuesday, 30 May, 2017

I’m watching this great talk thanks to Yann LeCun’s FB post. I’m also planning to read “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge” by Abraham Flexner (PDF via IAS). Fascinating stuff.

Robbert Dijkgraaf: “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge” | Talks at Google


The Future of Go Summit: Ke Jie & AlphaGo

Tuesday, 23 May, 2017

Master” is the new version of “AlphaGo” which Demis Hassabis stated, in the post game press conference with 9 dan Go player Ke Jie (柯潔), the details will be published for others to study similar to AlphaGo’s Nature article.

Wired, “An Improved AlphaGo Wins Its First Game Against the World’s Top Go Player

Last year, in South Korea, AlphaGo topped the Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol, becoming the first machine to beat a professional Go player—a feat that most AI researchers believed was still years away, given the extreme complexityof the ancient Eastern game. Now, AlphaGo is challenging Ke Jie, the current world number one.

According to Demis Hassabis, the CEO and founder of DeepMind, this time out the machine is driven by a new and more powerful architecture. It can now learn the game almost entirely from play against itself, relying less on data generated by humans. In theory, this means DeepMind’s technology can more easily learn any task.

MIT Technology review, “Intelligent Machines A Stronger AlphaGo Defeats the World’s Number One Player

The Future of Go Summit, Match One: Ke Jie & AlphaGo

May 26, 2017 Update:

Wired, “Google’s AlphaGo Trounces Humans—But It Also Gives Them a Boost

Much of that future has yet to play out. And there is no guarantee that AI improves humanity. “In some cases,” grandmaster Gu Li said after a pair game alongside AlphaGo, “I could not follow in his footsteps.” But certainly, DeepMind has effected real change in the world of Go, a game that’s enormously popular across China, Korea, and other parts of Asia, and that is a comforting thing. In at least one way, AI has helped make humans better.

After losing matches to AlphaGo, European champion Fan Hui and Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol said the machine opened their eyes to new possibilities. This raised awareness was on wide display this week in China, when Ke Jie opened the first game with a strategy straight from the AlphaGo playbook.

Ke Jie went on to lose that game and then the next. And some observers continued to lament that machines were eclipsing humans. But that’s not the story of AlphaGo’s trip to China. What’s most striking is how closely the players have studied the games played by AlphaGo—and how hungry they are for more. Many have repeatedly called on DeepMind to release the many games that AlphaGo has played in private. They know they can’t beat the machine. But like Thore Graepel, they believe it can make them better.

The Future of Go Summit, Match Two: Ke Jie & AlphaGo Read the rest of this entry »


Instant Pot DUO-60/DUO-Plus-60 Design Flaw

Thursday, 11 May, 2017

Let me make a few things clear. I enjoy cooking with my iPot (Instant Pot). I even admire the inventor/entrepreneur/company that makes iPot (have a read of this enjoyable and insightful 30th Jan, 2017 Globe & Mail news article “Ottawa entrepreneur’s Instant Pot has attracted a devoted following of home cooks“). I think it is awesome to see Canadian inventor/entrepreneur making a name and money from a great product in US, Canada and around the world.

At the same time, I think it is important to point out problems, or design flaws when we see them. Customer feedbacks are good ways for companies to learn to improve their products over time.

I talk about a design flaw for my Instant Pot DUO-60 in the following video. And then I realized Instant Pot had come out with a newly designed DUO-Plus-60 around April 2017 which unfortunately has the same design flaw (based on unboxing video I watched)  I identified in the video. It is a bit disappointing the design flaw isn’t fixed with the new DUO-Plus-60.

Instant Pot DUO-60/DUO-Plus-60 Design Flaw


Ed Young – I Contain Multitudes

Tuesday, 28 March, 2017

Watching YouTube videos of Ed Young @edyong209, author of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, over lunch. [HT Bill Gates]

Some of the many ideas/keywords: Dysbiosis

 


Black Mirror – Best 2016 speculative fiction on Netflix

Monday, 31 October, 2016

Black Mirror season 3 created by Charlie Brooker is now on Netflix and it is a must see speculative fiction (or if you wish, Sci-Fi) show! Two of my favourite S3 episodes are “San Junipero” and “Hated in the Nation” (WARNING: those linked pages have spoilers).

Black Mirror | Official Trailer – Season 3 [HD] | Netflix

Charlie Brooker on Black Mirror, satire and politicians – BBC Newsnight

Charlie Brooker at the Black Mirror Q&A: “We wanted to not always fling you into a pit of despair”


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