Monday, October 31, 2011

Scientists make human blood protein from rice

Scientists at a Chinese university said Monday they can use rice to make albumin, a protein found in human blood that is often used for treating burns, traumatic shock and liver disease.
When extracted from rice seeds, the protein is "physically and chemically equivalent to blood-derived human serum albumin (HSA)," said the research in the US-published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings could lead to a breakthrough in production of HSA, which typically comes from human blood donations.

The demand for the blood protein is about 500 tons per year worldwide, and China has faced worrying shortages in the past.

The rice method was devised by scientists at Wuhan University in China and colleagues from the National Research Council of Canada and the Center for Functional Genomics at the University at Albany in New York.

First, they genetically engineered rice seeds to produce high levels of HSA. Then, they worked out a way to purify the protein from the seeds, gathering about 2.75 grams of the protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of rice.

When they tested the rice-made protein in rats with liver cirrhosis, a common condition for which the human equivalent is often used, they found it produced similar outcomes to treatment with HSA.

"Our results suggest that a rice seed bioreactor produces cost-effective recombinant HSA that is safe and can help to satisfy an increasing worldwide demand for human serum albumin," said the study.

The protein is often used in the manufacture of vaccines and drugs and is given to patients with serious burn injuries, hemorrhagic shock and liver disease, the researchers said.

In 2007, a shortage in China led to price spikes and a brief rise in the number of fraudulent albumin medicines on the market.

Concerns have also been raised about the potential for the transmission of hepatitis and HIV, since the protein comes from human blood.

Large-scale planting of genetically modified rice fields that could produce enough seed for mass production of the protein also raises environmental and food supply contamination concerns, since rice is a major world food staple.

However, the study authors noted that rice is a largely self-pollinating crop, pointing to previous studies that showed "a very low frequency (0.04-0.80%) of pollen-mediated gene flow between genetically modified (GM) rice and adjacent non-GM plants."

More research is needed to evaluate the safety of the rice-derived protein in animals and humans before it can be considered for the market.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Body parts manufacturing: Future may be now

CBS News)  
Synthetic body parts sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but body parts that can be used in humans are actually being made and used. A medical professor in England has developed a new nano-plastic that has enabled a world first in organ transplantation and opened the door to "off-the-shelf" body parts. 
CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips remarked that professor Alex Seifalian's work might well be the start of a whole new medical industry. While the technique is not yet approved in the United States, Seifalian's London lab is already getting body part orders from other countries around the world.
Phillips, who recently visited Seifalian's lab, reported that you might think you'd stumbled onto a film set for a re-make of "Frankenstein" in which the synthetic parts are manufactured. Bubbling vats there contain noses, ears -- even a windpipe and trachea.
But how are the parts actually made?
Seifalian explained the breakthrough technique for manufacturing replacement organs happens with the help of a a special plastic that, Phillips noted, has the potential to change the transplant landscape.
On his visit to the lab, Phillips asked, "So an actual living windpipe grows in a jar?"
Seifalian said, "Exactly. So that's what's transplanted."
There has only been one actual transplant so far of what's called a "wholly tissue-engineered synthetic windpipe." It was successfully completed in a Stockholm, Sweden, hospital in June.
The recipient, Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, from Eritrea, who had previously been diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer, is now recovering well.
Beyene told Phillips, "They soon discharged me, and then I was feeling OK, you know, I was feeling hope for the future."
The technique involves making a glass mock-up of the diseased body part and then coating it in a new type of polymer -- a rubbery type substance developed in a lab. Seifalain explained it's a special type of plastic with microscopic pores, onto which stem cells taken from the patient can attach and grow.
Chemicals in a "red liquid growth medium" determine that the stem cells grow into the required type of tissue.
Phillips said, "So basically, you're providing a scaffold -- a kind of foundation or form around which the patient's own cells then regrow the diseased body part."
Seifalian said, "The cell remodels itself and becomes the patient's own."
And because the cells are the patient's own, they are not rejected by the body's immune system -- the usual problem with transplants.
And the trachea, Seifalian says, may be just the beginning.
Seifalian said, "The heart is possible, but a more complex organ like lung and brain are more complex to build, but liver is possible."
The lab is already growing blood vessels to be used in heart bypass surgery.
But Seifalian shies away from descriptions that liken his work to the construction of the fictional character in Mary Shelley's book "Frankenstein."
"We're not making (a) human," he said. "We're just making spare parts, human spare parts. You know, just simple."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boeing funds strategic carbon fibre recycling collaboration with the University of Nottingham

In desert ‘aircraft graveyards’, where retired planes often go when flight service ends, good parts are removed and sold and many materials are recycled. Increasingly popular strong, light carbon fibre composites (or carbon fibre reinforced plastics) were once too difficult to recycle, so went to landfill.

In the past decade, researchers at Nottingham led by Dr Steve Pickering have developed ways to recycle carbon fibre composites. They have worked with Boeing since 2006. Now Boeing plans to invest $1,000,000 per year in a strategic research collaboration – an inclusive partnership in which Boeing will collaborate with Nottingham in all its composites recycling activities.

Sir Roger Bone, President of Boeing UK, launched this major new collaborative investment in carbon fibre recycling research involving Boeing Commercial Airplanes and The University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering when he visited Nottingham on Monday 24 October.

First introduced into military aircraft 30 years ago, carbon fibre composites are stronger and lighter than any other commonly available material. This helps reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions in aircraft making modern passenger planes more efficient and cheaper to fly. Advanced composite materials comprise half the empty weight of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner.

“Boeing wants to be able to recycle composite materials from manufacturing operations to improve product sustainability and to develop more efficient ways of recycling aircraft retired from commercial service,” said Sir Roger Bone, President of Boeing UK Ltd.

“The ultimate aim is to insert recycled materials back into the manufacturing process, for instance on the plane in non-structural sustainable interiors applications, or in the tooling we use for manufacture. This work helps us create environmental solutions throughout the lifecycle of Boeing products.” 

“Aerospace is a priority research area for this University,” said Professor Andy Long, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Professor of Mechanics of Materials and Director of the Institute for Aerospace Technology. “This recognises the sector’s potential for growth and our ability to deliver influential world-class research and knowledge transfer to address global issues and challenges.

Our agreement formalizes a long-term working commitment between The University of Nottingham and Boeing. We have been working together for over six years on mutual R&D activities in aircraft recycling as well as novel applications for power electronics. We share the aims of improving environmental performance of aircraft and using materials more sustainably."

In the strategic collaboration on composites recycling Boeing will provide funding of $1,000,000 per year initially for three years, but with the intention to continue with a rolling programme. The collaboration with Boeing will further develop:
• recycling processes
• technology to process recycled fibre into new applications
• and new products using recycled materials, in collaboration with other suppliers.

Boeing was a founding member six years ago of AFRA, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association. AFRA is a non-profit standards-setting association for the aerospace industry. Nottingham joined two years later, and a significant part of this agreement will involve working with several other AFRA member companies on the very difficult challenge of aircraft interiors recycling.

“Through this work, Boeing and Nottingham intend to develop quality and performance standards for recycled aerospace carbon fibre,” said Bill Carberry, Project Manager of Aircraft and Composite Recycling at Boeing and Deputy Director of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association.

“Our research at Nottingham has been developing recycling processes for carbon fibre composites for over 10 years in projects funded by industry, UK Government and EU,” said Dr Steve Pickering.“As well as recycling processes, we are creating applications to reuse recycled material.

“With Nottingham, Boeing is a partner in the ongoing Technology Strategy Board (TSB) funded project AFRECAR (Affordable Recycled CARbon fibre). With colleagues Professor Nick Warrior and Professor Ed Lester, and industrial collaborators including Boeing, we are developing high value applications for recycled carbon fibre along with new recycling processes.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Momentive Introduces Silver-Based Antimicrobial Elastomer for Healthcare Applications

Momentive Performance Materials Inc., one of the leading global providers of silicones and advanced materials, has announced that its StatSil* antimicrobial elastomer platform technology is being customized for a growing number of applications in the healthcare industry, as customers seek built-in antimicrobial protection for various products.
The innovative portfolio of addition curable, high consistency rubber (HCR) and liquid silicone rubber (LSR) custom compounds is based on direct incorporation of a silver-based antimicrobial additive into the base silicone elastomer. Silver's effectiveness against a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and mold, has been demonstrated in several published studies.

"StatSil technology is an excellent candidate for manufacturers to consider for greater design flexibility and performance in applications where controlling the growth of microbes in or on the body is of concern," said Dr. Burkhard Ledig, Marketing Manager for Consumer Goods and Healthcare in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India at Momentive Performance Materials. "Customers are impressed with the antimicrobial aspects of our StatSil materials, as well as their inherent processability."

Typically, StatSil silver-based technology does not influence processability, and the elastomers have been custom formulated to meet specific performance and processing requirements of various devices and components. Manufacture of silicone applications based on StatSil technology is possible in a hardness range between 20 and 80 Shore A.
"These new products are part of our continuing effort to support the growing global demand in healthcare applications based on silicone elastomers, room temperature vulcanizates and gels," Dr. Ledig added. In addition to proven antimicrobial efficacy, StatStil products have been shown to provide excellent resistance to a wide range of temperatures and chemicals.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Teijin Launches High-Strength & Metal-replacing All Black Aromatic Polyamide Fiber

Teijin Aramid started the production of the first all black aramid fiber, Twaron Black, in Emmen. Twaron, normally golden yellow in color due to the chemical process, now is completely black for the first time. With its three production sites in the Netherlands, Teijin Aramid is responsible for more than half of the world's production of aramid.
Aramid is difficult to dye by nature, but it is now possible to produce black threads of the same quality. Twaron is five times stronger than steel at the same weight and is often used in bullet-proof vests, ropes and cables, sails and firefighter suits. At the request of customers in the sailing and sports industries, Teijin Aramid started to investigate other colors for Twaron. Twaron Black will soon be seen for the first time in the sails of the world's largest ocean sailing race, the Volvo Ocean Race.

For the threads to become completely black, they are not dyed afterwards, like cotton fibers. The production process has been adjusted to inject the fiber with the black dye during the process. This makes it the first black aramid fiber with characteristics that are equivalent to the standard golden yellow fiber. Gert Frederiks, CEO of Teijin Aramid, explains: "With Twaron Black, it is possible to combine the special characteristics of the aramid fiber with a beautiful look. Black aramid fibers have already been produced in the world, but they do not have the same characteristics (modulus) as the standard Twaron aramid fiber."
Aramid fibers are frequently used in water sports and sportswear, but combined with carbon. "For example, you often see the golden yellow of aramid in sails on a professional yacht or the underside of a canoe. With Twaron Black, it becomes part of the whole and maintains the same characteristics."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Innovative epoxy prepreg using a bio-based resin

The formulation features CTS’s new novolac-based bio-hardener, Novocard™ XFN, which introduces a high level of renewable content to prepregs and increases impact strength by 163 percent, when compared to composite prepregs made with a conventional amine-cured resin and carbon fiber.  The aerospace, wind energy, transportation and sporting industries can use the bio-based prepreg in a range of applications due to its versatility and strength.
Novocard resin is produced with oil extracted from discarded cashew nutshells. Thermally, chemically, and water-resistant, the bio-resin delivers superior fiber wetting and improved surface appearance.  In addition to higher impact strength, Novocard-cured prepregs show improved material flow properties and processability in hot melt prepreg processes due to longer gel time when compared to traditional amine-cured epoxy systems.
Mechanical tests of a composite laminate made with a Novocard prepreg demonstrated higher shear strength and toughness of the cardanol-based matrix. The prepreg is especially compatible with carbon fibers. These results prove Novocard’s potential for other manufacturing methods such as Resin Transfer Molding, pultrusion and filament winding.

Composite Technical Services LLC is a leading manufacturer of innovative, cost effective, environmentally sustainable materials and technologies for a broad range of industries that include automotive, aerospace, construction, marine, coatings and packaging. Along with its Italian partner Cimteclab SRL, CTS has pioneered ExaPhen™, a family of bio-resins that include Novocard™ XFN and Polycard™ XFN, by taking the non-edible agricultural by-products of cashew nuts and extracting the inherent phenolic resins engineered by nature.  This highly stable phenolic structure improves thermal stability, heat resistance, fire retardancy and compressive strength.  Novocard XFN liquid novolac resins is an epoxy hardener designed to deliver improved physical and processing properties suited to composite manufacturing.  ExaPhen’s latest product line, Polycard XFN, is a new class of aromatic bio-based polyols with the ability to significantly improve the mechanical properties of bio-based rigid spray foams, sandwich panels and pour-in-place insulation systems.  CTS is dedicated to providing customers with a total solution from design concept and development of manufacturing processes to testing and production. CTS also works with customers to tailor products to unique requirements.