News Bites brings you 5 weekly news in bite-sized form.

1. Heater-cooler units used in surgery, found to be contaminated during manufacturing process


Heater-cooler units made at a German factory are found to be contaminated with Mycobacterium chimaera during the manufacturing process, making it the likely source of a global outbreak of more than 100 deadly infections tied to the devices since 2013, according to a study published on 19 July.

Scientists used whole-genome sequencing to match the DNA fingerprints of samples taken from infected heart-surgery patients from several countries, to samples from the heater-cooler units, in multiple hospitals and the manufacturing site.

They concluded that the heater-cooler devices made at the LivaNova PLC plant in Munich, Germany, were contaminated during production.

However, officials with LivaNova said that the study was too limited to draw any conclusions. The authors also noted that no individual patients have been linked to particular heater-cooler units and urged to further investigate the problem.

2. Radiopaque glue seals wounds and guides surgeries


TSN has a silica shell and a radiopaque tantalum oxide (TaOx) core. Photo credit: IBS
TSN has a silica shell and a radiopaque tantalum oxide (TaOx) core. Photo credit: IBS

Scientists at Korea's Centre for Nanoparticle Research and medical professionals from Seoul National university Hospital have developed a nanoparticle-based surgical glue that can close wounds, and is also visible on a range of medical scans.

The material known as TSN, has a silica shell and a radiopaque tantalum oxide (TaOx) core. The silica holds the tissue together, while TaOx provides contrast enhancement, which allows the adhesive to appear through many common imaging techniques including fluoroscopy, ultrasound and CT scans.

This could help doctors carry out surgery more accurately, particularly in minimally invasive procedures such as bleeding embolisation, angioplasty, stent insertion and biopsies. The researchers have tested it out by sealing a liver puncture and conduction operations in moving organs, such as lungs and limbs.

A fluorescent version of TSN has also been developed to guide the resection of lung cancer in a rat using a CT scan. It is also found to be more biocompatible than CA-Lp, an FDA-approved mixture of a tissue adhesive and radiopaque oil currently being used.

3. Later onset of menopause might reduce risk of developing Type 2 diabetes


Women with early or normal onset menopause are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to women with later onsets, a new study from the Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands suggests.

The team looked at data of 3,969 women, from the Rotterdam Study, a "population-based, prospective cohort study" done in the district of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

It was found that 384 out of the 3,969 women developed Type 2 diabetes over a median follow-up of 9.2 years. Those who began menopause before the age of 40 were almost four times more likely to develop diabetes compared to those who began menopause between ages 40 and 44 who were 2.4 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Women who began menopause between 45 and 55 years of age were 60% more likely compared to those who had a later onset of menopause.

The older the woman was when she began menopause, the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes was reduced by 4% per year.

4. Sea mammals inspire potentially life-saving method for trauma victims


University at Buffalo researchers found that placing a plastic baggy filled with ice water slurry over a person's forehead, eyes and cheeks for 15 minutes prevents a drop in blood pressure during a simulation of blood loss. Photo credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo researchers found that placing a plastic baggy filled with ice water slurry over a person's forehead, eyes and cheeks for 15 minutes prevents a drop in blood pressure during a simulation of blood loss. Photo credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo

A physiological process commonly used by mammals such as seals and dolphins have inspired a potentially life-saving method by University at Buffalo researchers.

The pre-hospital intervention, aims to increase and maintain a person's blood pressure during a simulated blood loss through placing a bag of ice on the victim's forehead, eyes and cheeks.

Seals and dolphins have a "mammalian diving reflex", a physiological function that the animals employ for submersion in water. When the mammals submerge their face in cold water, the reflex causes bodily functions to change, conserving oxygen and allowing the animals to remain underwater for long periods of time.

Similarly, face cooling works as it constricts the blood vessels, sending blood back to the heart, increasing blood output from the heart, resulting in increased blood pressure.

The team intends to further study the method for usage in trauma incidents.

5. Hydrogel laminates could replace common elastomers in medical devices


MIT engineers have designed a gel-like material to be coated onto standard plastic or rubber devices to provide a softer, more slippery exterior that can significantly ease a patient's discomfort. The coating can even be tailored to monitor and treat signs of infection.

The gel-like material called "hydrogel laminates" is the result of bonding a layer of hydrogel to common elastomers such as latex, rubber and silicone. These laminates are soft, stretchable, slippery and impermeable to viruses and other small molecules, making it suitable for medical devices such as catheters, condoms, intravenous lines and other types of surgical tubing.

The coating can also be embedded with compounds to sense, for instance, inflammatory molecules. Drugs can also be incorporated into and slowly released from the hydrogel coating, to treat inflammation in the body.

The team hopes that common elastomers can be replaced with these laminates. MIMS

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Sources:
http://khn.org/news/dna-links-deadly-germs-tainted-heart-surgery-devices-to-german-factory/
https://www.theengineer.co.uk/radiopaque-glue-can-seal-wounds-and-guide-surgery/ http://globalnews.ca/news/3606283/womens-risk-of-type-2-diabetes-linked-to-early-onset-menopause-study/
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717151046.htm
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170718170040.htm