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Recent Developments:

Congrats to PhD Student Jessica Stelzel for our new News & Views article out in Nature Materials: CHECK IT OUT!

Other News: pending soon.

We are honored to be a part of a large Johns Hopkins School of Medicine team that recently received a DARPA award for investigating ultrasound/Doppler implant systems for spinal cord injury and repair! (Continue reading just below)

Cross-disciplinary team will design, develop devices to better treat spinal cord injuries

Funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the project will bring together experts from across Johns Hopkins to create solutions that work on the battlefield and on the frontlines of health care.

Doloff, who specializes in immunoengineering and regenerative medicine, will assist in developing the packaging of the implantable ultrasound device system, taking into account tissue and immune biocompatibility. His team will also aid in assessing wound healing and tissue response after implantation. Photo: Getty Images.

A team of Johns Hopkins biomedical engineers and neurosurgeons has received $13.48 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop implantable ultrasound and other devices that could revolutionize care for people suffering from spinal cord injuries. The results could benefit thousands of U.S. service members and civilians who sustain spinal cord injuries every year…. CONTINUE READING

Drug crystals to prevent medical device fibrosis

Crystallized drug prevents immune system rejection of transplanted pancreatic islet cells.

MIT engineers have devised a way to incorporate crystallized immunosuppressant drugs into devices carrying encapsulated islet cells, which could allow them to be implanted as a long-term treatment for diabetes.

Implanted medical devices can save lives, but can also put patients at the risk of fibrosis, a condition in which the immune system attacks the device and produces scar tissue around it, interfering with the device’s functionality. Working with researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Joshua Doloff, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and former MIT postdoc, has devised a new way to prevent fibrosis: loading implantable devices with a crystallized immunosuppressant drug…. CONTINUE READING

Faculty Highlight: Meet Joshua Doloff, Assistant Professor of BME

Joshua Doloff joined the Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering as an assistant professor in November 2018. In this interview, Doloff, who has an interest in technology and biology, describes his eagerness to build research collaborations and provide mentorship to students. He also discusses his “eureka moments,” the research he plans to conduct at Hopkins, and the future of engineering…. CONTINUE READING

Oxygen-tracking method could improve diabetes treatment

Measurements could help scientists develop better designs for a bioartificial pancreas.

MIT researchers are testing encapsulated pancreatic islet cells as a possible treatment for diabetes. These 1.5 mm capsules are embedded with a fluorine-containing compound that allows the researchers to monitor their oxygen levels with MRI once implanted in the body. Credit: Virginia Spanoudaki

Transplanting pancreatic islet cells into patients with diabetes is a promising alternative to the daily insulin injections that many of these patients now require. These cells could act as a bioartificial pancreas, monitoring blood glucose levels and secreting insulin when needed…. CONTINUE READING

Study points a way to better implants

Selectively blocking immune cells can prevent formation of scar tissue around medical devices.

The immune system often builds up a wall of dense scar tissue around implanted medical devices, a process known as fibrosis. The cell shown in blue represents a macrophage that has been blocked from initiating fibrosis.
The immune system often builds up a wall of dense scar tissue around implanted medical devices, a process known as fibrosis. The cell shown in blue represents a macrophage that has been blocked from initiating fibrosis.

Medical devices implanted in the body for drug delivery, sensing, or tissue regeneration usually come under fire from the host’s immune system. Defense cells work to isolate material they consider foreign to the body, building up a wall of dense scar tissue around the devices, which eventually become unable to perform their functions… CONTINUE READING

Scientists have figured out how to stop our bodies from fighting electronic implants

Scar tissue may no longer be an obstacle on our road to becoming cyborgs

An employee of digiwell shows a RFID-Chip which can be engrafted in a person’s hand at the CeBIT trade fair, the world’s biggest computer and software fair, in Hannover March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Nigel Treblin – RTX28XCC

We may dream of one day becoming cyborgs, with RFID chips implanted in our hands or bionic eyes, but the human body won’t necessarily cooperate. Implantable devices like pacemakers have been used regularly for decades, but they often encounter a build-up of scar tissue, or fibrotic tissue around the implants that can hinder functionality. Now, biologists have figured out a way to fight that process without seriously compromising the entire immune system…. CONTINUE READING

Designing better medical implants

Optimal size and shape allow implantable devices to last longer in the body.

This image shows an artificial pancreas that could eliminate the routine of pinpricks and injections for type 1 diabetics. In this image, the body has recognized the artificial pancreas as foreign and fibrosis has built up on the device. The pancreatic islet cells are green and located inside the ball of alginate microcapsule. The blue and magenta are the host immune cells that have recognized the material as foreign and are working to wall it off from the body. 

Biomedical devices that can be implanted in the body for drug delivery, tissue engineering, or sensing can help improve treatment for many diseases. However, such devices are often susceptible to attack by the immune system, which can render them useless.

A team of MIT researchers has come up with a way to reduce that immune-system rejection. In a study in Nature Materials, they found that the geometry of implantable devices has a significant impact on how well the body will tolerate them… CONTINUE READING

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