from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Techniques for extending people's lives have come from a vast number of somewhat unexpected research projects. Transplanting organs from other people (or animals) and isolating various natural products weren't always as commonplace as they are now. Hopefully, life-saving research won't be locked away in patent monopolies, and naturally-occurring materials will remain free for anyone to use. Here are just a few fascinating advances in medical science.
- A lab-grown kidney has been transplanted into a rat -- giving the rat a functioning organ. If this technique can be scaled up to work with humans, it could be a huge relief for organ donor shortages. [url]
- Supplies of human serum albumin (HSA) normally come from blood donations, but it may be possible to grow HSA from rice seeds in yields high enough to be worthwhile. There's still some testing to be done to make sure the rice-derived HSA is as safe and effective as HSA from human blood, but this development could make HSA supplies abundant and help a lot patients who've lost fluids from trauma. [url]
- Horseshoe crabs are routinely captured (temporarily) to extract their blood for a clotting agent called Limulus amoebocyte lysate (LAL). The LAL isolated from the crabs' blood can detect bacteria and other contaminants in various medical supplies at less than one part per trillion, and a quart of the stuff can sell for about $15,000. [url]