A 42-year-old woman named Selvi was fast asleep when she felt something wriggle up her nostril. She went to brush it away from her nose, but it was too late. The intruder was already inside. This story is literally my nightmare. 😵
The weird feeling around her nose and eyes that night was extremely painful. According to Selvi, “I could not explain the feeling but I was sure it was some insect. There was a tingling, crawling sensation. Whenever it moved, it gave me a burning sensation in my eyes. I spent the entire night in discomfort, sitting up and waiting for dawn to go to Stanley hospital after getting the reference of a doctor from my employer.”
Doctors couldn’t believe what they found. After a nasal endoscopy, they discovered a live full-grown cockroach sitting at the base of her skull, between her eyes, near her brain. They had never seen anything like it before.
It took the ‘rescue team’ roughly 45 minutes to remove the squirming insect from Selvi’s skull using suction and clamps. The craziest part? They got it on video:
Doctors were relieved the cockroach was alive. According to The New Indian Express, if the cockroach had died, it could have caused a massive brain infection.
A 59 year-old obese Maryland woman died over 20 years ago, but details of her anatomy will live on in the digital world. Scientists with The Visible Human Project (creepiest name ever) sliced her cadaver over 5,000 times in order to create a super detailed digital image of the human body.
High-resolution images showing cross-sections of the body – at just a third of a millimeter thick – were stitched together to create a digital version of the woman, referred to as the ‘human phantom.’
The Visible Human Project was created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine in 1986. Their goal is to provide digital subjects for medical education, but they also hope to provide a new way for researchers to conduct experiments deemed too dangerous to perform on living humans.
“They have ten times as much information as you’d get from an MRI scan,” Dr Fernando Bello, from Imperial College London, told New Scientist. “It means the team will have much more information about organs and their structuring.”
The unnamed woman was not the first to undergo this procedure. The project also digitally pieced together a man in the 1990’s, but the woman’s recreation is much more detailed due to the fact she was sliced thinner (yikes). The male cadaver was sectioned at 1 millimeter intervals; the woman at intervals of just a third of a millimeter.
Click here to learn more about the Visible Human Project. And watch the crazy video below showing 1,800 cross-section images of the male cadaver!
Beauty giant L’Oreal USA has announced a partnership with 3-D bioprinting company Organovo to develop 3-D printed skin tissue for product testing and other areas of advanced research.
L’Oreal is no stranger to the field of skin engineering. The company has spent decades exploring skin culture technologies that could take them away from forms of animal testing.
L’Oreal has roughly 60 scientists working on site, at a lab in Lyon, France, growing more than 100,000 skin samples annually. According to Bloomberg – In a year, their efforts produce a cowhide worth of human skin samples. The process yields nine different types of human skin samples, representing different ages and ethnicities, that can be used to test various products.
For this partnership, L’Oreal will provide skin expertise and all the initial funding, while Organovo, which is already working with such companies as Merck to print liver and kidney tissues, will provide the technology – with the hopes of automating the process.
What is the end game?
L’Oreal wins exclusive rights to the 3D printed skin developed with Organovo for uses related to non-prescription skin care products.
Organovo will retain rights to the tissue models for efficacy testing of prescription drugs, toxicity tests, and the development and testing of therapeutic or surgically transplanted tissues.
The end of animal testing?
The beauty industry has famously been at war with animal rights activists protesting the use of animals – with watchdogs like PETA creating lists of companies that are either ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘still testing’ on animals.
In 2013, the European Union banned the import and sale of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals. L’Oreal, which is based in France, was one of the first beauty companies to respond. L’Oreal said it would respect the ban and “no longer sell in Europe any finished product with an ingredient that was tested on animals.”
L’Oreal’s current stance on animal testing as posted on their website: The Group no longer tests on animal, anywhere in the world, and does not delegate this task to others.
3-D printed skin tissue will not only protect animals from unnecessary product testing, it will also greatly impact the fields of medicine and cosmetic surgery.
What does L’Oreal have to say about the new partnership?
Guive Balooch -VP of L’Oreal’s global Technology Incubator- said the potential for this new field of technology is ‘boundless.’
Balooch told The Washington Post, “Some of the biggest potential advantages are the speed of production as well as the level of precision that 3-D printing can achieve… L’Oreal’s focus right now is not to increase the quantity of skin we produce but instead to continue to build on the accuracy and consistent replication of the skin engineering process.”
Organovo Holdings, Inc & Bioprinting
Organovo is one of the first companies to offer commercially available 3D-printed human organs. This deal with L’Oreal is their first foray into cosmetics.
Last year they launched their first product, the exVive3D human liver, for use in toxicology and other preclinical drug testing. They struck a deal with Merck & Co. last month to use this liver system for testing as a supplement to in vitro and animal testing.
Click below to watch Organovo’s video explaining the bioprinting process
It looks and feels human. It’s even made of salt, water, and fiber – just like you and me. But, this incredible replica of the human body isn’t human; it’s SynDaver Lab’s synthetic human patient.
Human cadavers can cost up to $10,000, and that doesn’t take into account transportation and disposal fees, as well as the need for specialized storage facilities and trained staff. Plus, you can only use them once! The SynDaver ultra-realistic human is meant to be educational and reusable.
According to their official website, The SynDaver Synthetic Human is ‘the most elaborate and sophisticated full-body surgical simulator ever devised. An exquisite 3D jigsaw puzzle; every muscle, bone, vascular component and organ is removable and replaceable.’
This synthetic human can be used in the medical industry to replace live animals, human cadavers, and even human patients – mainly for trauma training, sugerical training, and medical device development.
‘It is obviously good not only for ethical reasons, but also because avoiding animal use saves a great deal of time and money,’ said SynDaver Labs founder Dr Sakezles. ‘So, I started designing synthetic organs to test devices and over time they became very elaborate.’
How much does all of this cost?
The SynDaver Anatomy “base model,” which has all of the organs, muscles and bones a human cadaver has, sells for $25,000 and is used worldwide at hospitals with simulators and at universities and community colleges teaching anatomy.
The SynDaver Patient is the newest addition to the SynDaver Synthetic Human (SSH) product line. In addition to all of the existing features that have made the Synthetic Human world-famous, the SynDaver Patient also includes an open-source physiology engine that controls body motions and all aspects of synthetic biology.
The SynDaver Patient can be used for practicing ultrasound, fluoroscopy, X-ray and CT imaging, along with surgical procedures involving tools such as lasers, plasma knives and sonic blades. According to GizMag, it’s available now, for $85,000.
Later this year, the company should be releasing a Basic version of its existing Synthetic Human – the latter model not only features full human anatomy, but also functioning circulatory and respiratory systems – along with Preemie and Newborn models. All three should be priced at about $15,000.
Even the ‘Product Description’ on the website gave me chills!
SynDaver synthetic tissues have been validated over the last two decade to simulate the mechanical and physico-chemical properties of live tissue. With this technology, our products have created an entirely new field known as live tissue replacement. The SSH is capable of standing in for a human cadaver in medical procedure training but unlike a cadaver, the SSH can last forever.
The model pumps heated synthetic blood (pulsed flow away from the heart and drainage toward the heart) and can be used to simulate procedures with ventilation, insufflation and intubation.
Anatomical attributes include:
Skin with fat and fascia planes (Optional)
Every bone, muscle, tendon and ligament
Fully articulating joints
Functioning respiratory system
Complete digestive and urinary tracts
Visceral and reproductive organs
Muscles, bones, organs and vasculature are all removable and replaceable to allow onsite servicing and upgrades.
A variety of pathologies and injuries are available based on patient images, CAD drawings or simple descriptions. Client may also select gender and skin tone.
Onsite installation and training, one full year of anatomy and tissue upgrades and a three-year warranty. Annual service contracts covering every aspect of the body are also available.
Compatible with all known imaging techniques including MRI, CT, fluoroscopy and ultrasound.
System is compatible with all known surgical devices including lasers, RF ablation, plasma knives, sonic blades and cryocatheters as well as bipolar, monopolar and harmonic devices.
Full body with storage and display container, stainless-steel table, deluxe battery-powered heart pump and all required plumbing. The model may be skinless or covered with either the standard SynDaver synthetic human skin (pure wet chemistry) or our new organosilicate-synthetic human hybrid skin (polymer outer – wet inner).
Shark Tank Let Down
SynDaver Labs was awarded a $3 million dollar deal on ABC’s Shark Tank, but unfortunately the deal fell through.
Dr. Christopher Sakezles accepted the deal last week from investor Robert Herjavec in an episode of the hit show. The agreement would have given Herjavec 25 percent equity and equal board representation.
Erin McLean, vice president of marketing for the Herjavec Group, said she could not comment on a deal that hadn’t closed. “We were not able to progress through our due diligence process,” she said, “but we wish them well.”
Dr. Sakezles views this not as a setback, but as an opportunity. “With the exposure that we’ve recently received, we’re looking at much more lucrative opportunities with other investors,” he said.
Click below to see the full video of SynDaver Labs on Shark Tank.
8 MAY 2015 | GENEVA – WHO called on scientists, national authorities and the media to follow best practices in naming new human infectious diseases to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people.
The concern is that diseases are often given common names by people who work outside of the scientific community, and once these names are established on the Internet and in print, they are very hard to change. So, WHO argues that it is important that whoever FIRST reports on a newly identified human disease uses a ‘scientifically sound’ and ‘socially acceptable’ name.
“In recent years, several new human infectious diseases have emerged. The use of names such as ‘swine flu’ and ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome’ has had unintended negative impacts by stigmatizing certain communities or economic sectors,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General for Health Security, WHO.
Dr Fukuda went on to explain that, while this may sound trivial to some people, disease names can have serious consequences for those directly affected. We have experienced certain backlash against members of religious or ethnic communities, and witnessed unjustified barriers to travel, commerce, and trade. Worst of all, some of these names have triggered the needless slaughter of food animals 😦
If you need an example of how WHO thinks new human diseases should be handled you can look to the Swine flu epidemic in 2009, which WHO asked we call A(H1N1)pdm09.
So, what does WHO consider to be ‘inappropriate’?
Terms that should be avoided in disease names include geographic locations (e.g. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Spanish Flu, Rift Valley fever), people’s names (e.g. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Chagas disease), species of animal or food (e.g. swine flu, bird flu, monkey pox), cultural, population, industry or occupational references (e.g. legionnaires), and terms that incite undue fear (e.g. unknown, fatal, epidemic).
Interesting Fact: The final name of any new human disease is assigned by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which is managed by WHO. Doctors, nurses, researchers, coders, policymakers, insurers, and patient organizations around the world use the ICD to classify diseases in a standardized way.
As a member of the media, and a lover of the science/tech/health community, I see both sides of this issue. But, I don’t see this plea having much of an impact on publications that push eye-catching, SEO driven, headlines. That being said, I will try to use WHO approved disease names moving forward! 😉