Previous nextbigfuture coverage:
Gabor Forgacs gave a very interesting talk about using bioprinting to build entire organs from scratch. He argued that while traditional scaffold-based methods of tissue engineering work for thin tissues, they are not appropriate for thick, complex tissues. They have designed a computer-aided printing system that can put down layers of single cells according to a blueprint, and are applying it to produce vascular and nerve grafts.
Sally Dickinson spoke about the first transplant of a tissue-engineered airway, which took place in June 2008. She played a cool video explaining the whole procedure, which is up on youtube. Using a donor trachea, they first treated it to remove all the donor’s cells; they then took some stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow, turned them into chondrocytes, grew them up and seeded them onto the scaffold; finally, they transplanted the engineered trachea into the patient
Justin Rebo spoke about some initial experiments that show it’s feasible to selectively remove anergic T cells from old mice. The basic idea: remove some blood from a mouse; mix it with some selective superparamagnetic antibodies; clean the blood by applying a magnet to separate out tagged cells; put it back into the animal
Carlos Barbas talked about altering the activity of individual genes using zinc finger recombinases. They have developed an automated approach for producing enzymes that can accurately target any region of DNA, and made it publicly available – just input your target sequence to ZFTools.
Daniel Kraft spoke about stem cell transplantation in bone marrow. They developed an alternative method of ‘making room’ in bone marrow for new stem cells that uses antibodies (which is much less toxic than chemotherapy, the usual approach). Also, they developed MarrowMiner, a faster and less painful way to extract bone marrow from a donor using only a single entry site – previous methods require making hundreds of individual needle jabs.