It’s hard to imagine something so simple could save a child’s life. But that’s exactly what this small device built on 3-D printer did. University of Michigan doctors designed and implanted the tracheal splint inside Kaiba Gionfriddo, now 20 months old.
The tiny collar was made to treat Kaiba’s tracheobronchomalacia, a condition in which the airways collapse when breathing or coughing. It was created directly from a CT scan of the collapsed area using a laser-based 3-D printer. The printer constructed the splint using polycaprolactone, a biodegradable polyester that is slowly absorbed by the body over a few years. It was sewn around the airway to keep it open and give support so more tissue could grow.
The doctors described their groundbreaking treatment in New England Journal of Medicine letter published on May 23.
Rice University mechanical engineering students have built a prototype shoe fitting that generates enough energy to power portable electronics and recharge batteries.
The fitting, called PediPower, diverts the energy of heel strikes while walking, which would otherwise be lost into the ground, through a small gear system and generator. In bench tests, it delivered an average 400 milliwatts, enough to charge a battery or operate a cell phone. Their creation joins another body-powered generator developed by U.S. and Canadian scientists—a knee brace that can recharge up to 10 cell phones at once.
The Rice seniors hope their innovation will be improved upon by the next group taking it up to boost power output and decrease size. The goal is for the device to reliably produce enough energy to power artificial heart valves.
HT to Laughing Squid for spotting this one.
The world is awash in antibiotics. We take them to fight off the bacteria that mean to colonize us. We feed them to animals to prevent the outbreak of disease in densely packed factory-farming operations. Even many of our cleaning and body care products, controversially, now contain them.
But many antibiotics don’t get fully metabolized within humans or animals and, through excretion, find their way into waste and surface waters. It’s a major environmental concern whose full ecological implications still aren’t clear.
And the problem creates a vicious cycle. Evolution gives our microbial adversaries the strategic advantage—the ability to adapt to our weapons and render them harmless. So we engage in a microscopic arms race, battering increasing numbers of antibiotic-resistant bugs with more and more drug compounds to keep them at bay.
So you could call it a small case of poetic justice when researchers figure out how to use the cellular machinery that renders some bacteria drug-resistant to reclaim antibiotics from contaminated water.