The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University is working on a wide array of mindboggling projects that could transform life on the planet from a medical and environmental perspective. The institute, which has offices in Boston and Cambridge, is a collaboration of researchers at Harvard, the university’s affiliated hospitals, Boston University, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
One project involves the 3-D printed artificial cardiac tissue called MeTro hydrogels that could someday be implanted in patients who have suffered a major heart attack instead of subjecting them to a heart transplant.
Another project is the Biospleen, a blood-cleansing device that can radically alter the way sepsis is treated globally. The device mimics the human spleen and could be used as an extracorporeal therapeutic device that flows blood in a closed system similar to a dialysis machine. Magnetic nanobeads coated with a specially engineered immune system protein are introduced to the blood to capture and bind bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens. The magnet pulls the particles bound to the contaminating microbes from the flowing blood, and the cleansed blood is then returned to the patient. A physician doesn’t need to know the cuase of the blood infection to administer the therapy.
A third initiative is exploring infant sleep apnea and hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen supply to tissue in babies that are premature. Researchers at the Wyss Institute and the University of Massachusetts Medical School have developed an infant sleep apnea mattress that can provide gentle stimulation to a baby’s body, which regulates respiration without disturbing the sleeping infant. The technology also incorporates sensors and computer processors to predict when an apneic or hypoxia event might occur.
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|Meet more agents of change in medtech at the MD&M East tradeshow and conference in New York City June 9–12, 2014.|
[image courtesy of THE WYSS INSTITUTE]