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Archive - May 23, 2013

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Medical History: Child Receives Life-Saving Bioartificial Trachea Grown with Her Own Cells.

In a pioneering, first-of-its-kind-in-the-world operation, an international team of surgeons at Children's Hospital of Illinois created and transplanted a windpipe into a 32-month-old Korean toddler born with a rare, fatal, congenital abnormality in which her trachea failed to develop. During the revolutionary operation, the surgical team implanted a tissue-engineered stem cell based artificial windpipe in Hannah Warren, who had spent her entire life living in a neonatal intensive care unit in a hospital in Seoul, South Korea. Unable to breathe, talk, swallow, eat or drink on her own since birth, Hannah would have died without a trachea transplant. The groundbreaking, nine-hour operation took place at Children’s Hospital of Illinois, part of the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, in Peoria, Illinois, on April 9, 2013. It is the first time a child has received a tissue-engineered, bioartificial trachea, which was made using non-absorbable nanofibers and stem cells from her own bone marrow. Because no donor organ was used, the remarkable procedure virtually eliminates the chance of her immune system rejecting the transplant. It is expected that in the coming months, Hannah will be able to return home with her family and lead a normal life. “The most amazing thing, which for a little girl is a miracle, is that this transplant has not only saved her life, but it will eventually enable her to eat, drink and swallow, even talk, just like any other normal child,” said Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, Professor of Regenerative Surgery at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden and lead surgeon in the case.

First Successful Treatment of Pediatric Cerebral Palsy with Autologous Cord Blood

Ruhr-University Bochum’s (RUB’s) medics in Germany have succeeded in treating cerebral palsy with autologous cord blood. Following a cardiac arrest with severe brain damage, a 2.5-year-old boy had been in a persistent vegetative state – with minimal chances of survival. Just two months after treatment with the cord blood containing stem cells, the symptoms improved significantly; over the following months, the child learned to speak simple sentences and to move. “Our findings, along with those from a Korean study, dispel the long-held doubts about the effectiveness of the new therapy,” says Dr. Arne Jensen of the Campus Clinic Gynecology. Together with his colleague Professor Dr. Eckard Hamelmann of the Department of Pediatrics at the Catholic Hospital Bochum (University Clinic of the RUB), he reports on the case in an open-access article in 2013 issue of the journal “Case Reports in Transplantation.” At the end of November 2008, the child suffered from cardiac arrest with severe brain damage and was subsequently in a persistent vegetative state with his body paralyzed. Up to now, there has been no treatment for the cause of what is known as infantile cerebral palsy. “In their desperate situation, the parents searched the literature for alternative therapies,” Dr. Jensen explains. “They contacted us and asked about the possibilities of using their son’s cord blood, frozen at his birth.” Nine weeks after the brain damage, on 27 January 2009, the doctors administered the prepared blood intravenously. They studied the progress of recovery at 2, 5, 12, 24, 30, and 40 months after the insult. Usually, the chances of survival after such severe brain damage and more than 25 minutes duration of resuscitation are six per cent.

University of Wisconsin Chemists Fnd New Compounds to Curb Staph Infections

In an age when microbial pathogens are growing increasingly resistant to the conventional antibiotics used to tamp down infection, a team of Wisconsin scientists has synthesized a potent new class of compounds capable of curbing the bacteria that cause staph infections. Writing online on May 6, 2013 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a group led by University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry Professor Helen Blackwell describes agents that effectively interfere with the "quorum sensing" behavior of Staphylococcus aureus (image), a bacterium at the root of a host of human infections ranging from acne to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome, and sepsis. "It's a whole new world for us," says Dr. Blackwell, whose group identified peptide-based signaling molecules that effectively outcompete the native molecules the bacterium uses to communicate and activate the genes that cause disease. Bacteria employ quorum sensing to assess their population density and coordinate certain behaviors. They do so through the use of pheromone-like chemicals, which bind to receptors either in the bacterial cell or on its surface and tell it if there are enough companion bacteria around to switch on genes that perform certain functions. In the case of Staphylococcus aureus, quorum sensing activates toxin production, manifesting disease in the host.Interfering with bacterial quorum sensing to stymie disease is considered a promising new antibiotic strategy, says Dr. Blackwell. Staph, she adds, is an excellent target as the bacterium is not only a prevalent pathogen, but some strains, notably methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, have developed resistance to commonly used antibiotics such as penicillin and its derivatives. The new compounds synthesized by Dr.