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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Conceiving a Smarter Blow to One of Healthcare’s Biggest Adversaries

The human arsenal has always possessed a wide range of valuable traits, but despite the volume, it never had anything more valuable than that tendency of ours to grow on a consistent basis. This tendency, in particular, has already fetched us some huge milestones, with technology appearing as a major member of the stated group. The reason why technology enjoys such an esteemed stature among people is largely down to its skill-set, which realized all the possibilities for us that we couldn’t have imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look a little bit closer, it will become clear how the whole runner was also very much predicated upon the way we applied those skills across a real-world environment. The latter component was, in fact, what gave the creation a spectrum-wide presence, including a timely appearance on our healthcare block. Technology’s foray into healthcare was so perfect with its timing, as it came right when the sector was beginning to struggle against its own obsolete structure. This reality, fortunately enough, went through a complete overhaul under the new regime, but even after achieving such a monumental feat, the new and budding medtech concept will somehow continue to produce all the right goods. The same has only turned more and more evident in recent times, and truth be told, a new development does a lot to keep that trend well and truly alive.

The researching team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard has successfully developed a mechanically active gel-elastomer-nitinol tissue adhesive, otherwise known as MAGENTA, a technology which is purposed around solving the problem of muscle atrophy. Conceived to function as a soft robot, the implantable device is supposed to be adhered to the outside of a muscle. Hence, when an electric charge is applied to the device, a spring inside made from nitinol (a shape memory alloy) heats up and begins to actuate, creating a contraction and stretching effect on the attached muscle.  In case you are concerned whether the generated heat can possibly affect the nearby tissues, let me tell you that it doesn’t. According to certain reports, the actuator spring that plays the role of a powerhouse for the whole device is actually shielded in an elastomer matrix, therefore giving the area in close proximity complete protection. To simplify this heat-generating mechanism and make it wireless, the researchers have also tried using laser light as an instigator, but that still remains in the early stages.

“With MAGENTA, we developed a new integrated multi-component system for the mechano stimulation of muscle that can be directly placed on muscle tissue to trigger key molecular pathways for growth,” said David Mooney, a researcher involved in the study. “While the study provides first proof-of-concept that externally provided stretching and contraction movements can prevent atrophy in an animal model, we think that the device’s core design can be broadly adapted to various disease settings where atrophy is a major issue.”

Surely, Wyss Institute’s latest brainchild isn’t the world’s first ever answer to muscle trophy, but all those previous treatments have shown a notable inefficiency in regards to making a sustainable impact. This is why an ingenious device like MAGENTA promises to be a landmark development from the grander standpoint. So far, the researchers have tested their device only on animals, and going by the available details, it was able to slow down atrophy in comparison with the untreated muscles. The stated study even laid out a possibility of completely reversing the condition in some cases.

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