About early diagnosis, bioprinter proteins and electric fields

With an incidence of around 10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, pancreatic ductal carcinoma is the most common malignant tumor of the pancreas. This tumor is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the western world and is often discovered very late.

Men are affected about 3 times more frequently than women. The five-year survival rate is only 5-10% because pancreatic carcinoma is usually inoperable or has already metastasized. In their research into potential biomarkers, researchers at the EMBL in Heidelberg have now been able to show in the journal “GUT” that 27 bacterial strains are particularly suitable for early diagnosis using stool tests, as they have a higher specificity than, for example, saliva samples for the same bacteria.

Proteins from the BioPrinter

Proteins are characterized by a complex 3-dimensional structure, which is essential for their biological function. The spatial structure follows chemical and physical laws and is not only dependent on the primary sequence of amino acids.

What is everyday work and a matter of course for our body cells requires time and skill in the laboratory. The British biotechnology company Nuclera Nucleics Ltd wants to revolutionize this process by launching a bioprinter. This should make it possible to print proteins, such as those required in research projects, within 24 hours.

The basis of the patented technology is the so-called electrowetting effect. It describes the change in the surface tension of liquids when an electric field is applied. This allows the shape of a drop of liquid to be changed to a certain extent, which helps to move the smallest droplets in the nanometer range in a targeted manner in protein printing.

Nuclera wants to drive its innovation forward and recently raised USD 42.5 million as part of a Series B financing round. If successful, the entire field of proteomics could be fundamentally changed and, above all, accelerated.

Electric fields stimulate cartilage growth

Once cartilage has worn away, it is practically impossible to repair. Patients with osteoarthritis are painfully aware of this. However, American scientists have now published an animal study in “Science Translational Medicine” that could provide a remedy. They were able to repair cartilage damage in rabbits using nano-implants made of polylactic acid. As the material is piezoelectric and therefore generates tension when subjected to mechanical stress, the cartilage tissue can be stimulated to grow and regenerate itself. After four weeks of exercise therapy, the damage had almost disappeared.

Further research is needed to determine whether the principle can also be applied to humans.

Anja Fürbach, Market Intelligence Senior Expert

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