Tag Archives: patch

Great Garbage Patch.

The Pacific Garbage patch is 16 times bigger than we thought

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a lot bigger than we’ve estimated — and more dangerous in composition.

Great Garbage Patch.

A map showing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floating in the ocean, and trash concentration levels in the gyre.
Image credits The Ocean Cleanup Foundation.

Out on the waves of the Pacific Ocean lies one of man’s greatest accomplishments. I use the last term in the loosest way possible since, by ‘great’, I mean sheer size; the aptly named Great Pacific Garbage Patch now measures a stunning 620,000 square miles (roughly 1,605,800 square km) — some 16 times larger than previously estimated.

Resting between California and Hawaii, in an area known as the Pacific gyre, the Patch has been steadily growing in current-borne plastics; and it has grown fat indeed — it now contains some 87,000 tons of plastic, a new study reports. The authors note that with the massive deluge of plastic pollution we’re generating, this Patch is growing right as we speak, and will likely keep doing so. Data gathered between 1970 and 2015 shows the plastic levels in the garbage patch are increasing at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.

Patches of Plastics

As far as huge spans of thrash are concerned, the Patch is very cosmopolitan — microplastics stew alongside larger bits of plastics, all entangled in fishing nets and gear. But, worryingly, the largest chunk of all this ‘ew’, some 46%, is made up of fishing nets, the authors report. Other types of commercial fishing gear, such as eel traps, ropes, or oyster spacers account for a majority of the rest of the trash.

The findings are part of a three-year mapping effort involving Ocean Cleanup, an international team of scientists, six universities and an aerial sensor company. They used two aircraft surveys and 30 vessels to cross the debris field and get an accurate idea of its size and composition.

“I knew there would be a lot of fishing gear, but 46 percent was unexpectedly high,” said Laurent Lebreton, member of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation. “Initially, we thought fishing gear would be more in the 20 percent range. That is the accepted number [for marine debris] globally – 20 percent from fishing sources and 80 percent from land.”

Having a lot of fishing equipment lying about in the middle of the ocean is quite a poor development; all this refuse can entangle turtles, seals, and whales; plastic items kill or injure some 100,000 marine animals each year, National Geographic reports.

Despite the gloomy outlook, the team says there are still many unknowns in regard to this garbage patch: how polluted are deeper waters? How much plastic has sunk to the sea floor? More research will have to answer these questions.

The paper “Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic” has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Doctors restore patient’s sight with stem cells, offering new hope for cure to blindness

Scientists have developed a specially engineered retinal patch to treat people with sudden, severe sight loss.

The macula lutea (an oval region at the center of the retina) is responsible for the central, high-resolution color vision that is possible in good light; when this kind of vision is impaired due to damage to the macula, the condition is called age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD). Macula lutea means ‘yellow spot’ in Latin.

Picture of the back of the eye showing intermediate age-related macular degeneration.
Via Wikipedia

Douglas Waters, an 86-year-old from London, had lost his vision in July 2015 due to severe AMD. After a few months, Waters became part of a clinical trial developed by UC Santa Barbara researchers that used stem cell-derived ocular cells. He received his retinal implant at Moorfields Eye Hospital, a National Health Service (NHS) facility in London, England.

Before the surgery, Water’s sight was very poor, and he wasn’t able to see anything with his right eye. After the surgery, his vision improved so much that he could read the newspaper and help his wife in the garden.

The study, published in Nature Biotechnology, shows groundbreaking results. Researchers could safely and effective implant a specially engineered patch of retinal pigment epithelium cells derived from stem cells to treat people with sudden severe sight loss from wet AMD. This is the first time a completely engineered tissue has been successfully transplanted in this manner.

“This study represents real progress in regenerative medicine and opens the door on new treatment options for people with age-related macular degeneration,” said co-author Peter Coffey, a professor at UCSB’s Neuroscience Research Institute and co-director of the campus’s Center for Stem Cell Biology & Engineering.

Douglas Waters was struggling to see up close after developing severe macular degeneration, but 12 months on he is able to read a newspaper again

AMD usually affects people over the age of 50 and accounts for almost 50% of all visual impairment in the developed world. The condition disturbs central vision responsible for reading, leaving the surrounding eyesight normal. Wet AMD is caused by hemorrhage or liquid accumulation into the region of the macula, in the center of the retina. Wet AMD almost always starts as dry AMD. Researchers believe that this new technique will be the future cure for dry AMD.

Scientists wanted to see whether the diseased retinal cells could be replenished using the stem cell patch. They used a specially engineered surgical tool to insert the patch under the affected retina. The operation lasted almost two hours.

Besides Water, another patient, a 60-year-old woman who also suffered from wet AMD, underwent the surgery. The two patients were observed for one year and reported improvements to their vision. The results were incredible — the patients went from being almost blind to reading 60 to 80 words per minute with normal reading glasses.

“We hope this will lead to an affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy that could be made available to NHS patients within the next five years,” said Coffey, who founded the London Project to Cure Blindness more than a decade ago.



ibuprofen patch

This is an ibuprofen patch that relieves pain 12 hours straight

Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK, in collaboration with drug delivery research firm Medherant, devised the first ever ibuprofen patch.

ibuprofen patch

Its made out of a polymer matrix which allows the painkiller to be steadily diffused in the body of the patient over the course of 12 hours. During whole time the seemingly flimsy patch can prevent pain since its made out of 30% ibuprofen by weight.

“Many commercial patches surprisingly don’t contain any pain relief agents at all, they simply soothe the body by a warming effect. Our technology now means that we can for the first time produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist. Also, we can improve the drug loading and stickiness of patches containing other active ingredients to improve patient comfort and outcome,” said University of Warwick research chemist Professor David Haddleton.

“Our success in developing this breakthrough patch design isn’t limited to ibuprofen; we have also had great results testing the patch with methyl salicylate (used in liniments, gels and some leading commercial patches). We believe that many other over the counter and prescription drugs can exploit our technology and we are seeking opportunities to test a much wider range of drugs and treatments within our patch.”