Tag Archives: healing

Canadian researchers develop hand-held skin printer to treat burn patients

Researchers from the University of Toronto (UoT) Engineering and Sunnybrook Hospital, Canada, have developed a new 3D printer that can create sheets of skin to cover large burns and accelerate the healing process.

A simple schematic detailing the use (a) and general structure of the device (b).
Image credits Richard Y Cheng et al., (2020), Biofab.

Nobody likes to get burned — literally and figuratively. So a team of Canadian researchers has developed a handy new tool to take care of our literal burns. This hand-held 3D printer churns out stripes of biomaterial meant to cover burn wounds, promote healing, and reduce scarring. The bio-ink it uses is based on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), a type of stem cell that differentiates into specialized roles depending on their environment.

Don’t feel the burn

“Previously, we proved that we could deposit cells onto a burn, but there wasn’t any proof that there were any wound-healing benefits — now we’ve demonstrated that,” says Axel Guenther, an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the UoT and the study’s corresponding author.

The team unveiled their first prototype of the printer in 2018. It was quite the novel gadget at the time, the first of its kind to form tissues on-site, deposit them, and have them set in place in under two minutes.

Since then, the team has redesigned the printer 10 times, in an effort to make it more user-friendly and to tailor it to the requirements of an operating room. The current iteration of the design includes a single-use microfluidic printhead (to ensure the part is always sterile), and a soft wheel that’s used to flatten the material and tailor it to wounds of different shapes and sizes.

The MSCs in the ink are intended to promote regeneration and reduce scarring, the team explains. In broad lines, the authors explain, the method is similar to skin grafting, but it doesn’t require for healthy skin to be transplanted from other areas of the patient’s body — it’s printed on the spot. This is especially useful in the case of large burns, they add.

“With big burns, you don’t have sufficient healthy skin available, which could lead to patient deaths,” says Dr. Marc Jeschke, director of the Ross Tilley Burn Centre and study co-author.

The team tested their printer in collaboration with the Ross Tilley Burn Centre and the Sunnybrook Hospital, successfully using the device to treat full-thickness wounds. Such burn wounds involve the destruction of both layers of the skin and often cover a significant portion of the body. While the results were encouraging, the team wants to further refine their printer and improve its ability to prevent scarring.

“Our main focus moving forward will be on the in-vivo side,” explains study leader Richard Cheng, a teaching assistant at the UoT.

“Once it’s used in an operating room, I think this printer will be a game changer in saving lives. With a device like this, it could change the entirety of how we practice burn and trauma care,” adds Jeschke.

The paper “Handheld instrument for wound-conformal delivery of skin precursor sheets improves healing in full-thickness burns” has been published in the journal Biofabrication.

LSD changes the way the brain reacts to music, study finds

Researchers have discovered how LSD changes the neural response to music in various brain regions associated with memory, emotion, auditory processing, and self-directed thought.

“I have always been fascinated by emotion, memory, and altered states of consciousness. To this end, I completed my PhD in cognitive neuroscience at UC Davis with Petr Janata, using computational models of music cognition to study the neural basis of emotions and memories evoked by music,” stated study author Frederick Barrett of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to Psypost.

After thinking about how natural and intimate the connection between music and psychedelic subjective experiences is, the author wanted to understand the way psychedelics alter how the brain processes music.

So, he contacted University of Zürich’s Dr. Katrin Preller and Dr. Franz Vollenweider who conducted a study of the effects of LSD on meaning-making while listening to music. Barrett inquired about a collaboration and was met with a positive reply, receiving permission to analyze the imaging data collected during music listening sessions after administration of LSD.

Preller and Vollenweider surveyed 25 healthy participants about songs that had a special meaning for them. Next, the participants listened to personally meaningful songs and non-meaningful songs after receiving LSD or a placebo. They discovered that non-meaningful songs gained a sense of meaningfulness under the influence of LSD. The results increased scientists’ understanding of how personal relevance is attributed in the brain.

Berret and his team conducted a secondary analysis of the fMRI scans from the first study. They found that LSD changed the neural response to music in a number of brain areas, including the superior temporal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex, and amygdala.

“Music can evoke a wide range of emotions, memories, and other feelings and states of mind. We can often identify with music, and music can change the way that we feel about and think about ourselves,” Barrett said.

“In the same way, music also engages a broad range of brain regions involved in memory, emotion, attention, and self-directed thought. LSD increases the ​degree to which these brain areas process music, and it seems to use a brain mechanism that is shared across all psychedelic drugs,” he added.

Berret believes that the changes that occur in the brain when listening to music under the influence of LSD might actually be related to the therapeutic effects of psychedelics. But even though psychedelic drugs can be safely administered in a controlled setting, this doesn’t make them any less dangerous. Let’s just remember — bad trips exist.

Scientists still have to understand the degree to which music and LSD are needed for successful therapy. They also have to determine why these elements sometimes lead to bad experiences and find a way to optimize music listening during psychedelic therapy sessions.

“Psychedelics are powerful drugs that hold promise to help us to heal, understand our brains and minds, and potentially uncover the elusive basis of consciousness itself,” Barrett added.

The paper was published in the scientific journal Cerebral Cortex.