Archive for Cells

“MicroSort” Genetics and IVF Institute’s answer for the age old question “Is it a Boy or a Girl?”

MicroSort is a system designed to separate X (female) and Y (male) sperm cells. It has the ability to identify and measure then separate them based on the measurable differences. This technology is based on the fact that the X chromosome is much larger than the Y chromosome. Using a modified flow cytometer instrument MicroSort is now able to provide 80% accuracy rates.

This idea was originally developed by Dr. Lawrence Johnson at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). His original clinical trials were produced using animals. The Genetics & IVF Institute began collaboration with Dr. Johnson to further develop this technology for use in humans.

The option to choose whether a pregnancy will render a boy or a girl seems quite frivolous, but there are directly X-linked diseases that can now be avoided. The opportunity for a family to ensure the sex of their child, maybe the only way they will ever have children. This based on the possibility of their child having a debilitating disease if it is born a certain sex. Another reason is family balancing this ensures a family (thus the population) has an adequately balanced female, male ratio.

Currently MicroSort is undergoing human clinical trials. To be considered for these trials the couple must be married, they must have an X-linked or X-limited chromosome or at least one other child and the sort must be for the opposite sex of that child, and both must be HIV and HepB negative. While the FDA has granted GIVF permission to allow enrollment of new participants, access does not represent FDA approval.

There is a great ethical debate with this topic, especially in light of such technology and the probability of its approval by the FDA and use in genetic labs. When understanding that some diseases only affect a certain sex child of some gene carrying parents, it seems logical. The question is when discussing family balancing where does the line get drawn and who draws it?

A Recellularized Heart – A New Heart with Old Cells

Heart failure is a disease that is currently affecting over 22 million people worldwide and that number is expected to rise as the “BabyBoomers” become senior citizens. There are a number of breakthrough medications, repair procedures, and even complete heart transplants that can extend the patients life, but most diagnosed die within five years despite our current defenses. Doris Taylor a Biologist at the University of Minnesota has created a new innovation to the fight against heart disease.

The Recellularized Heart is a donor heart that has had the donor cells removed and replaced with the patients cells. The process entails flushing the cells out with a type of detergent that leaves on the skeletal looking extracellular matrix. Then the progenitor cells from the recipient are injected into the matrix thus reducing the risk of incompatibility. Amazingly the cells begin to divide and form tissues thus creating a new heart that is better than before and 100% compatible with the recipient

Human trials are currently underway and the pre-results are showing to be positive. If all goes as planned this technology could be put to use in transplants within a decade. This is by far the largest stride in producing a viable transplant that is a universal solution to transplant rejection. The recellularization of a heart gives hope to other types of organ transplantation as well. Right now Taylor is dedicated to recellularizing a heart, her goal is to see this process being used to save millions of lives and give heart disease patients meaningful recoveries.