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About the size of a big cherry, the first-of-its-kind 3D printed heart has cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers. This feat is the work of Prof. Tal Dvir and his team at Tel Aviv University. They managed to engineer such miniature organs using cells and biological materials that are originated from human patients. Besides the remarkable technical achievement, this breakthrough could potentially be the answer to the shortage of organ donors in the future.
Effective treatment for obesity remains a challenge and the only intervention proven to maintain weight loss is bariatric surgery. Intrigued by the beneficial effect that this procedure has on the composition of gut microbiota, Dr Fredrik Bäckhed explores the possibility of mimicking these changes to develop a treatment for obesity that won’t require going under the knife.
Diseases affecting the retina cause one quarter of worldwide blindness. To date, there are no treatments to restore lost retinal cells and visual function, making it urgent to find new therapeutic approaches. Can stem cells be the solution? Prof. Majlinda Lako aims at growing artificial replicas of the human retina using stem cells.
The abundant presence of a certain bacteria in our intestine, Akkermansia muciniphila, to give it its full name, is an excellent sign according to metabolism and nutrition specialist prof. Patrice Cani. With his team, they discovered the role of these bacteria in reducing cardiometabolic risk factors - like insulin resistance or hypertension – that are leading causes in the development of cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016. Of these, over 650 million were obese and therefore at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and some forms of cancers. In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers have looked into the reasons why some people are more likely to gain weight while others manage to stay thin.
Key nutrients can improve vision both in ageing and in healthy eyes, according to EU-funded research. Doctors are now prescribing supplements of these nutrients, while the researchers are investigating other possible health benefits.
An EU-funded project is exploring what keeps people committed to a task even when they get bored, distracted or are tempted to stop. The findings could foster productivity-boosting strategies, improve robot-human interactions and even help treat borderline personality disorder.
At the forefront of medicine, gene therapy is based on the insertion of genes into an individual's cells and tissues to treat a disease. Scientists are currently testing several approaches to this experimental technique. One of them, Prof. Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, intends to develop a novel method to treat myocardial ischemia by activating endogenous genes to propel angiogenesis. If successful, he will open a new era in gene therapy.
More than 100 million people worldwide suffer from valvular heart disease, affecting one or more of the heart’s four valves and causing breathlessness, chest pain, dizziness and fainting. If severe valvular heart disease is not properly treated, chances of surviving decrease, especially in the elderly. The only effective therapy is heart valve replacement, which may entail some risks and lead to revision surgeries. What can be done to improve safety and durability of artificial heart valves?
Cell transplantation is a promising new approach for organ regeneration in disease or after injury. To support the differentiation of hepatocytes from stem cells, European researchers developed ex vivo organoids which precisely mimic liver architecture.