Tag Archives: worcester polytechnic institute

Body Rebuilding: Scientists Regenerate Muscle in Mice

*New Study Uses Reprogrammed Human Cells and Bioengineered Microthreads*

A team of scientists from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and CellThera, a private company located in WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center, have regenerated functional muscle tissue in mice, opening the door for a new clinical therapy to treat people who suffer major muscle trauma.

The team used a novel protocol to coax mature human muscle cells into a stem cell-like state and grew those reprogrammed cells on biopolymer microthreads. The threads were placed in a wound created by surgically removing a large section of leg muscle from a mouse. Over time, the threads and cells restored near-normal function to the muscle, as reported in the paper “Restoration of Skeletal Muscle Defects with Adult Human Cells Delivered on Fibrin Microthreads”, published in the current issue of the journal Tissue Engineering. Surprisingly, the microthreads, which were used simply as a scaffold to support the reprogrammed human cells, actually seemed to accelerate the regeneration process by recruiting progenitor mouse muscle cells, suggesting that they alone could become a therapeutic tool for treating major muscle trauma. (more…)

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More Power to the Cranberry: Study Shows the Juice is Better than Extracts at Fighting Bacterial Infections

With scientific evidence now supporting the age-old wisdom that cranberries, whether in sauce or as juice, prevent urinary tract infections, people have wondered if there was an element of the berry that, if extracted and condensed, perhaps in pill form, would be as effective as drinking the juice or eating cranberry sauce. A new study from researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute helps to answer that question.

The study tested proanthocyanidins or PACs, a group of flavonoids found in cranberries.  Because they were thought to be the ingredient that gives the juice its infection-fighting properties, PACs have been considered a hopeful target for an effective extract. The new WPI report, however, shows that cranberry juice, itself, is far better at preventing biofilm formation, which is the precursor of infection, than PACs alone. The data is reported in the paper “Impact of Cranberry Juice and Proanthocyanidins on the Ability of Escherichia coli to Form Biofilms,” which will be published on-line, ahead of print, Oct. 31, 2011, by the journal Food Science and Biotechnology. (more…)

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Hold the Phone for Vital Signs

*WPI researchers turn a smart phone into a medical monitor*

An iPhone app that measures the user’s heart rate is not only a popular feature with consumers, but it sparked an idea for a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) researcher who is now turning smart phones, and eventually tablet devices, into sophisticated medical monitors able to capture and transmit vital physiological data.

A team led by Ki Chon, professor and head of biomedical engineering at WPI, has developed a smart phone application that can measure not only heart rate, but also heart rhythm, respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation using the phone’s built-in video camera. The new app yields vital signs as accurate as standard medical monitors now in clinical use. Details of the new technology are reported in the paper “Physiological Parameter Monitoring from Optical Recordings with a Mobile Phone,” published online, in advance of print, by the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. (more…)

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Leakage of Private Information from Popular Websites is Common, New Study Finds

*Co-Authored by WPI Computer Science Professor Craig Wills, Study Shows that Existing and Proposed Safeguards Against Leakage and Linking of Private Information are Inadequate*

A study of more than 100 popular websites used by tens of millions of people has found that three quarters directly leak either private information o r users’ unique identifiers to third-party tracking sites. The study, co-authored by Craig Wills, professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), also demonstrated how the leakage of private information by many sites, including email addresses, physical addresses, and even the configuration of a user’s web browser—so-called browser fingerprints—could permit tracking sites to link many disparate pieces of information, including browsing histories contained in tracking cookies and the contents of searches on health and travel sites, to create detailed profiles of individuals. (more…)

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Cranberry Juice Shows Promise Blocking Staph Infections

WORCESTER, Mass. – Expanding their scope of study on the mechanisms of bacterial infection, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have reported the surprise finding from a small clinical study that cranberry juice cocktail blocked a strain of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) from beginning the process of infection.

(more…)

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