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Biomedical Admissions Test
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Biomedical Admissions Test
Question: 58
A colloid made from a liquid dispersing medium and gas dispersed phase is called
A. Aerosol
B. Emulsion
C. Sol
D. Solid Foam
E. Foam
Answer: E
Foams are colloids with a liquid dispersing medium and a gas dispersed phase.
An aerosol has a gas dispersing medium and dispersed phase. An emulsion has a
liquid dispersing medium and dispersed phase. A sol has a liquid dispersing
medium and a solid dispersed phase. A solid foam has a solid dispersed medium
and a gas dispersed phase.
Question: 59
Which of the following is not true about complex ions?
A. Complex ions are formed with a metal as the central atom
B. The other molecules that bond to the metal are called ligands
C. Ligands act as Lewis Acids
D. The coordination number of a complex ion refers to the number of bonds the
center atom forms
E. All of the above are true
Answer: C
Ligands, the compounds that bind to the central metal atom, always act as Lewis
Bases. Lewis Bases donate lone pairs of electrons to the Lewis Acid (the metal
ion). All other statements are true.
Question: 60
A fixed quantity of a gas undergoes a change in temperature from 100 K to 200 K
and a change in pressure from 2 atm to 1 atm. After theses changes, the volume of
the gas is
A. Half of the original volume
B. Unchanged
C. Twice the original volume
D. Four times the original volume
E. Eight times the original volume
Answer: D
The pressure, temperature, and volume of a gas are related by the ideal gas law,
PV=nRT. Solving for volume gives the equation V=(nRT/P). The molar quantity
of gas (n) is constant, so the equation reduces to V=T/P. In the context of the
question, temperature is doubled while pressure is halved, resulting in a four-fold
increase in volume.
Question: 61
When sodium acetate, NaCH3COO, is added to water the resulting solution is
basic. True or false?
A. True
B. False
Answer: A
The statement is true. In water, NaCH3COO forms Na+ and CH3CO ions. Na+ is
neutral, and does not affect the pH of the solution. CH3COO- is the conjugate
base of acetic acid, and reacts with water to form hydroxide ions. Therefore, the
resulting solution will be basic.
Question: 62
What do the letters in the S-T-A-R method of communication stand for?
A. Standard Target Acquisition Review
B. Situation, task, action, result
C. Start, train, act, review
D. Say it, try it, act on it, review it
E. They dont actually stand for anything.
Answer: B
STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. S - Explain the situation. T -
Describe the task that needed to be completed. A - What action did you take? R -
Describe the result. For example: I was brought in to lead a $1.5 million project
that was failing and management didnt understand why. My task was to bring the
project back on schedule. To do this, I analyzed why the project had fallen behind
schedule and discovered the team was in a matrixed organization and the
operational processes were taking precedence over this project. To solve the
problem, I worked with functional managers to free up time for key resources.
The result was that we got the project turned around and delivered on schedule.
Furthermore, we won an additional $500,000 contract because the client went
from being dissatisfied to very happy. Key Takeaway: STAR is an effective
technique to deliver a cohesive narrative of what you are doing or have done
Master it and you will win points in interviews and with senior managers. Have at
least 10 of these scenarios prepared. Try not to re-use any in one given day, no
matter how many interviews you have. At the end, people get together and
compare notes. Plus, in many cases, that perfect example you have wont fit the
question that is asked. If someone asks you about a time you managed a team
through adversity, you cant use your story about how you singlehandedly
increased earnings 20 percent while saving the CEOs grandmother from a
burning house.
Question: 63
A princess who is severely allergic to certain frogs is confronted with the
possibility that her prince may be a frog. There are 3 frogs in front of her. Shes
not sure shell be allergic to the frog until she kisses it. One frog is definitely safe
to kiss. Should she kiss a frog and risk death?
A. Yes
B. No
C. Maybe
Answer: C
Maybe is the best choice here. This is a somewhat absurd question, but its one an
editor had in an interview. It is designed throw you off. The question is at the end
of the day about risk. Businesses must take risks to succeed. Princesses may have
to in order to find their Prince Charming. Key Takeaway: The interviewer is
really asking you to analyze the risk and determine if it is worth it. This is an easy
question if you do not panic. Maybe a quick Q&A could lead to an answer here,
or you can propose something out of the box to manage this risk, like a big box of
Question: 64
How many molecules are in .275 grams of SO3?
A. 3.22x1020
B. 4.50x1021
C. 2.07x1021
D. 1.12x1020
E. 4.56x1022
Answer: C
Begin this problem by converting grams of SO3 to moles of SO3 using the molar
mass of SO3. Once you have obtained this value, use Avogadros number to
convert moles of SO3 to molecules of SO3. The final expression is (.275 grams
SO3) x (1 mol / 80.057 grams) x (6.022x1023 molecules / 1 mol), indicating that
the correct answer is 2.07x1021.
Question: 65
What volume of .250 M potassium hydroxide is needed to neutralize 1.25 liters of
.500 M hydrochloric acid?
A. 2.50 liters
B. 1.25 liters
C. .625 liters
D. .375 liters
E. 5.0 liters
Answer: A
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a strong, monoprotic acid. Potassium hydroxide
(KOH) is a strong base that contains one hydroxide anion per molecule. The
concentrations and volumes of these solutions are related by the formula
(Molarity1)(Volume1) = (Molarity2)(Volume2). Entering the variables into this
equation gives (.250 M)(Volume1) = (.500 M)(1.25 liters). Solve for Volume1 to
find the correct answer, 2.5 liters.
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Sat, 15 Aug 2020 01:13:00 -0500 en text/html
The Sustainable Importance of Platinum in Biomedical Applications

The world’s growing population is spurring the demand for increased access to advanced healthcare treatments. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the global population will surpass 9 billion by 2050, nearly 90% of which will be living in developing countries (Figure 1).1 With an aging and growing world population, there is expected to be a growing demand for healthcare products and services that use components made from platinum, other platinum group metals (PGMs), and their alloys. Increasing access to healthcare and advanced medical treatments in developing countries means platinum will play a key role in improving the quality of life of people around the world.

Among the implications of this growth trend is increased use of platinum in medical technology. Since the early 1970s, platinum has been used internationally in a variety of medical devices to treat ailments such as heart disease, stroke, neurological disorders, chronic pain, and other life-threatening conditions. The metal is used to make essential components for pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, catheters, stents, and neuromodulation devices among others. The properties of platinum that make it attractive for such applications include its biocompatibility, inertness within the body, durability, electrical conductivity, and radiopacity. The material can be used to manufacture components in a variety of forms, from rod, wire, and ribbon to sheet and foil, as well as high-precision micromachined parts. In 2010, it was estimated that 175,000 oz. of platinum was used in biomedical devices. Approximately 80% was usedin established technologies, such as guidewires and cardiac rhythm devices, while the remaining 20% was used in newer technologies, such as neuromodulation devices and stents.2

The Advantages of Platinum for Biomedical Uses

Platinum’s biocompatibility makes it ideal for temporary and permanent implantation in the body, which is exploited in a variety of treatments. As a metal, it can be fabricated into tiny, complex shapes, and it has some important properties not shared by base metals. It is inert, so it does not corrode inside the body, unlike metals such as nickel and copper that can sometimes cause allergic reactions. Modern, minimally invasive medical techniques often use electricity to diagnose and treat patients’ illnesses, and platinum’s conductivity makes it an ideal electrode material. It is also radiopaque, so it is clearly visible in x-ray images, enabling doctors to monitor the position of the device during treatment. Examples of areas where PGMs are used in medical devices, together with some of the manufacturers currently active in the medical device market, are shown in Table I.

Medical device markets Examples of application areas Major medical device companies
Surgical instrumentation Arthroscopic; ophthalmology; endo-laparoscopic;
Boston Scientific; Johnson & Johnson; Stryker; Tyco
Electro-medical implants Pacemakers; defibrillators; hearing assist devices;
heart pumps
Boston Scientific; Biotronik; Medtronic; St. Jude Medical
Interventional Stents; angioplasty; catheter ablation; distal protection Boston Scientific; Abbott Vascular; Johnson & Johnson;
Orthopaedics Spinal fixation; hip implants; knee implants Biomet; Johnson & Johnson; Stryker; Zimmer
Table I: Markets for Medical Devices and the Major Device Companies

For more than 40 years, platinum alloys have been employed extensively in treatments for coronary artery disease, such as balloon angioplasty and stenting, where inertness and visibility under x-ray are crucial. In the field of cardiac rhythm disorders, platinum’s durability, inertness, and electrical conductivity make it an ideal electrode material for devices such as pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, and electrophysiology catheters. More recently, its unique properties have been exploited in neuromodulation devices (including brain pacemakers, used to treat some movement disorders, and cochlear implants, to restore hearing) and in coils and catheters for the treatment of brain aneurysms.

Platinum in Biomedical Applications

Devices for Cardiac Rhythm Management. Abnormalities of the heart’s rhythm are common, often debilitating, and sometimes fatal. For example, bradycardia is a condition in which the heart’s “natural pacemaker” is too slow, resulting in fatigue, dizziness, and fainting. Other patients may be at risk of sudden cardiac death, a condition in which the heart’s lower chambers (the ventricles) fibrillate, or pulse in a rapid and uncoordinated manner. This prevents the heart from pumping blood and leads rapidly to death, unless the victim receives cardioversion (a strong electric shock to the heart that restores normal rhythm).

Applications Types of component Specification
Stimulation devices Rod for manufacture of machine components Diameters from 0.001 in. (0.0254 mm) to 0.125 in. (3.175 mm); Cut lengths from 0.02 in. (0.508 mm)
Balloon catheters; stent delivery; stimulation leads Guidewires; feed through wires; tip coils
Table II: Specifications and applications of platinum and platinum alloy rod, wire, and ribbon components.

These and other cardiac rhythm disorders can now be managed successfully using implanted devices such as artificial pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). These consist of a pulse generator, a small box containing a battery and an electronic control system that is implanted in the chest wall, and one or more leads that run through a large vein into the heart itself. The electrodes on these leads deliver electrical impulses to the heart muscle—in the case of a pacemaker, these ensure that the heart beats regularly and at an appropriate pace, while in the case of an ICD, a much stronger electrical shock is delivered as soon as the device detects a dangerously irregular heartbeat. Each lead typically has two or more electrodes made of a platinum-iridium alloy, while platinum components are also used to connect the pulse generator to the lead (Figure 2).

Catheters and Stents. Catheters are flexible tubes that are introduced into the body to help diagnose or treat illnesses such as heart disease. The doctor can perform delicate procedures without requiring the patient to undergo invasive surgical treatment, improving recovery time and minimizing the risk of complications. Many catheters incorporate platinum components: marker bands and guidewires that help the surgeon guide the catheter to the treatment site, or electrodes that are used to diagnose and treat some cardiac rhythm disorders (arrhythmias).

One of the most common coronary complaints in the developed world is atherosclerosis. Fatty deposits harden the artery walls; this can lead to angina and ultimately to a heart attack. Blockages in the coronary arteries are often treated using a procedure called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), also known as balloon angioplasty.This treatment uses a catheter with a tiny balloon attached at the end; this is guided to the treatment site, then inflated, crushing the fatty deposits and clearing the artery. Afterward, a small tubular device called a stent (Figure 3) is usually inserted to keep the newly cleared artery open.

Applications Types of component Specifications
Balloon catheters Radiopaque marker bands Inside diameter 0.0045 in. (0.1143 mm) to 0.250 in. (6.35 mm), (tolerance:
± 0.0005 in. (0.0127 mm));
Wall thickness 0.001 in. (0.0254 mm) to 0.005 in. (0.127 mm), (tolerance:
± 0.0005 in. (0.0127 mm));
Length 0.015 in. (0.381 mm) to 0.200 in. (5.08 mm), (tolerance: ± 0.003 in.
(0.0762 mm))
Electrophysiology catheters;
stimulation devices
Electrode rings
Table III: Specifications and applications of platinum, palladium, gold, and precious metal alloy thin-walled tube components.
Applications Types of component Specifications
Stimulation devices Electrodes; machine components; tip coils Thickness from 0.0007 in. (0.018 mm); Width from 1.0 in. (25.4 mm) to 3.75 in. (95.3 mm)
X-ray equipment Imaging filters (rhodium foils)
Table IV: Specifications and applications of platinum, platinum alloy and rhodium sheet and foil components.

The advent of the implantable metal stent, which can prop the artery open after angioplasty, reduced the occurrence of restenosis (renarrowing of the artery) by more than 25%. In 2003, FDA approved the first drug-eluting stent for use within the United States.This type of stent is aimed at further lowering the rate of restenosis following angioplasty procedures.

Platinum’s role in PTCA is to help ensure that the balloon is correctly located. The guidewire that the surgeon uses to direct the balloon to the treatment site is made of base metal for most of its length but has a coiled platinum-tungsten wire at its tip. This makes it easier to steer and ensures that it is visible under x-ray. Platinum is also used in marker bands, tiny metal rings placed on either side of the balloon to keep track of its position in the body.

Stents are usually made of base metals (typically stainless steel or cobalt-chromium). In 2009, however, Boston Scientific introduced a cardiac stent made of a platinum chromium alloy. According to Boston Scientific, the platinum alloy instills superior levels of strength, flexibility, and radiopacity. This stent has been approved in Europe, and has re cently received approval from FDA. It is described in the sidebar accompanying this article on page 40.

Catheters containing platinum components are also used to detect and treat some types of cardiac arrhythmia.Devices called electrophysiology catheters that contain platinum electrodes are used to map the electrical pathways of the heart so that the appropriate treatment—such as a pacemaker—can be prescribed.

Other catheters with platinum electrodes are used for a minimally-invasive heart treatment known as radio-frequency (RF) ablation. Arrhythmias are often caused by abnormalities in the conduction of electricity within the heart. It is often possible to cauterize part of the heart muscle to restore normal heart rhythm. For example, ablation is increasingly used to treat a very common heart problem called atrial fibrillation, in which the upper chamber of the heart (the atrium) quivers rapidly and erratically. Using a catheter equipped with platinum-iridium electrodes, the surgeon ablates, or makes small burns to, the heart tissue, causing scarring, which in turn blocks the superfluous electrical impulses that trigger the fibrillation.

Neuromodulation Devices. Neuromodulation devices deliver electrical impulses to nerves and even directly to the brain, treating disorders as varied as deafness, incontinence, chronic pain, and Parkinson’s disease. Many of these devices are based on an extension of heart pacemaker technology, and they are sometimes referred to as brain pacemakers. Like heart pacemakers, they have platinum-iridium electrodes and may also incorporate platinum components in the pulse generator.

In deep brain stimulation (DBS),the electrodes are placed in the brain itself. DBS may be used to treat pain and movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. It is also being investigated as a potential treatment for a range of other illnesses, including epilepsy and depression. Epileptic patients can also be treated using a vagus nerve stimulation device (the vagus nerve is situated in the neck).

A cochlear implant is used to restore hearing to people with moderate to profound hearing loss (many patients receive two implants, one in each ear). A typical device consists of a speech processor and coil, which are worn externally behind the ear; an implanted device just under the skin behind the ear; and a platinum electrode array that is positioned in the cochlea (the sense organ that converts sound into nerve impulses to the brain). The speech processor captures sound and converts it to digital information that is transmitted via the coil to the implant. This in turn converts the digital signal into electrical impulses that are sent to the electrode array in the cochlea, where they stimulate the hearing nerve. These impulses are interpreted by the brain as sound. It is believed that around 200,000 people worldwide have received one or more cochlear implants.

Other Implants. Platinum’s biocompatibility makes it well suited for temporary and permanent implantation in the body, a quality exploited in a variety of treatments in addition to the heart implants already discussed. Irradiated iridium wire sheathed in platinum can be implanted into the body to deliver doses of radiation for cancer therapy. This treatment takes advantage of platinum’s radiopacity to shield healthy tissues from the radiation, while the exposed iridium tip of the wire irradiates the tumor. Although this procedure is gradually being replaced by other forms of radio- and chemotherapy, it remains a useful weapon in the battle against cancer.

A more recent development is the use of coils made of platinum wire to treat aneurysms, which are balloonings in blood vessels caused by weaknesses in the vessel walls. If the patient’ s blood pressure rises, the vessel may rupture, causing a hemorrhage. Although this can occur anywhere in the body, platinum is mainly used to treat aneurysms in the brain, where surgery is difficult and fraught with risk. Platinum is used because it is inert, easy to shape, and radiopaque.

This treatment was first introduced in the late 1980s when a doctor and inventor, Guido Guglielmi,developed a detachable platinum coil that could be used to treat brain aneurysms. Coils are delivered to the site of the aneurysm by microcatheter, then detached using an electrolytic detachment process; once in place, the coils help coagulate the blood around the weak vessel wall, forming a permanent seal (Figure 4). Depending on the size of the aneurysm, between one and 30 coils are used; these are left inside the patient indefinitely. The Guglielmi Detachable Coil (GDC) device was approved in Europe in 1992 and in the United States in 1995. By 2009, it was estimated that this and subsequent generations of platinum coil technology were being used in 30–40% of patients treated for brain aneurysms in the United States.

The Manufacture of Platinum Biomedical Components

There are many technologies used to produce PGM components for biomedical applications, ranging from rod, wire, ribbon, and tube drawing, to sheet and foil manufacture and highly precise Swiss-type screw machining, or micromachining.

Rod and wire are manufactured in diameters ranging from 0.001 in. to 0.125 in. Dimensional consistency is assured by laser measurement. Rod products are used as the starting material for a variety of machine components, with most of the PGM parts being used in pacemaker, defibrillator, and other electrical stimulation products. Wire products are used primarily in three applications:

Platinum-tungsten and platinum-nickel fine wires are used on balloon catheters as guidewires for positioning the catheter in exactly the right location.

Other PGM wires are used as microcoils for neurovascular devices such as treatments for brain aneurysms.

Platinum-iridium wires are used as feed-through wires or connector wires that connect the pacemaker lead to the pulse generator.

Fine diameter platinum, platinum-iridium, and platinum-tungsten tubing (0.125 in. internal diameter and below) cut to specific lengths is used for markers or electrodes on angioplasty, electrophysiology and neurological catheter devices, aneurism tip coils, feed-through wires used to connect the pacing lead to the pulse generator (also known as the can) that houses the hybrid microelectronics and the battery, and pacemakers. Some applications of thin-walled precious metal tubing are shown in Table III.

Sheet and foil are mainly made from pure platinum, platinum-iridium alloys, or rhodium. It can be shaped, formed, and rolled to a variety of dimensions. Sheet or foil can be cut, formed, and placed on a catheter for marking in a way similar to ribbon. Rhodium foil is used exclusively as a filter inside x-ray mammography equipment to enhance the viewing image. Table IV shows some examples of applications of PGM sheet and foil.

Micromachined parts are complex and very small—some are only 0.006 in. in diameter and barely visible to the naked eye. Fabrication must be extremely precise to maintain the necessary quality and dimensional tolerances, which can be as low as ±0.0002 in. Highly specialized equipment and techniques such as computer numerical-controlled Swiss screw machines and electrical discharge machining must be used (Figure 6). The automated high-production Swiss screw machines are used to fabricate the main components, and EDM is used to achieve the fine details required for many platinum parts.

Specialty metal micromachined parts (0.8 in. diameter and smaller) are made from a variety of materials, including pure platinum, platinum-iridium alloys, and gold, as well as nonprecious metals and alloys such as stainless steel, titanium, MP35N cobalt-nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloy, Elgiloy cobalt-chromium-nickel alloy, Kovar iron-nickel-cobalt alloy, and materials such as Vespel, Delrin, and Teflon (see Table V for examples). These products serve device applications such as coronary stents, pacemaker and defibrillator pulse generator and lead components, heart-valve splices, endoscopic catheters, blood-gas analysers, kidney dialysis, and other medical devices and related equipment.

Applications Precious metals Other materials, metals, and alloys
Stimulation devices Platinum; platinum alloys; palladium; palladium alloys Nitinol; stainless steel; MP35N; Haynes alloy 25
(L605); polymers
Manufacturing fixtures Platinum; platinum alloys Stainless steel 303/304/316; polymers
Orthopaedic Platinum; platinum alloys Titanium; titanium alloys; stainless steel; ceramics
Cardiac implants Platinum; platinum alloys; karat golds Elgiloy; nitinol
Hypotubes Platinum; platinum alloys Stainless steel; nitinol
Precision pins, tips and rollers Platinum; platinum alloys; silver
Bushings, shafts, shims and spacers Platinum; platinum alloys Aluminum
Precision fixtures and assembly tools Platinum; platinum alloys; Biomed series palladiumrhenium
Brass; copper; Kovar
Table V: Applications and materials for precision-micromachined components.

Parts made from PGMs are often complemented with a coating technology. Precious metal powders, titanium nitride, or iridium oxide are applied to create a more porous surface structure. The creation of a porous coating reduces the electrical impedance from the lead to the battery and allows for a good electrical connection, while reducing the energy needed to run the battery. This helps the battery last longer. Most pacing lead systems manufactured today have some form of porous surface. The end-use applications for coated PGM parts are the same as described above for uncoated parts.


For more than 40 years, platinum and its alloys have been used in a wide range of medical treatments, including devices such as coronary and peripheral catheters, heart pacemakers, and defibrillators. Newer technologies such as neuromodulation devices and stents also rely on the biocompatibility, durability, conductivity, and radiopacity of platinum to make key components in a variety of forms. Medical device manufacturers continue to invest in new technologies to satisfy the need for advanced medical treatments in both the developed world and, increasingly, the developing world. Platinum, the other PGMs, and their alloys will inevitably play a vital part in these developments.


1. UNEP/GRID-Arendal, “Trends in population, developed and developing countries, 1750–2050 (estimates and projections),” UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library, 2009: (Accessed on 9th February 2011).

2. J Butler, “Platinum 2010 Interim Review,” Johnson Matthey, Royston, UK, 2010, p. 21–22.

3. WF Agnew, TGH Yuen, DB McCreery and LA Bullara, Experimental Neurology, 1986, 92, (1), 162.

4. SB Brummer and MJ Turner, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 1977, BME-24, (5), 440.

Further Reading

This text was adapted from an article titled “A Healthy Future: Platinum in Medical Applications” by A. Cowley and B. Woodward in Platinum Metals Review, 2011, 55, (2), 98–107; doi:10.1595/147106711X566816.

1. More information on this subject can be found in the sources below:

2. “Biomaterials Science: An Introduction to Materials in Medicine”, 2nd Edn., eds. B. Ratner, A. Hoffman, F. Schoen, and J. Lemons, Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 2004.

3. “Materials and Coatings for Medical Devices: Cardiovascular,” ASM International, Materials Park, OH, 2009.

Brian Woodward is currently the general manager of Johnson Matthey’s Medical Products business (San Diego). Alison Cowley works as principal analyst for Johnson Matthey’s Market Research department (London). 

Tue, 30 May 2023 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Including African data in drug discovery and development


Large biomedical databases house priceless patient-derived information, which, when combined with sophisticated analysis techniques such as machine learning, provide key insights into disease causes and progression, genetic variation in populations and drug target identification. This integrated information is supporting the emergence of precision medicine, and, when combined with advances such as organs-on-chips, could Boost preclinical screening models and thereby enhance the speed and effectiveness of drug research and development (R&D).

Unfortunately, African populations are less likely to benefit from these advances because they are largely absent from biomedical research. Reasons include the small proportion of clinical trials conducted on the African continent — currently only 3.7% of global trials — and the predominance of individuals with European ancestry in datasets1. The lack of data from African populations in drug R&D may result in medicines that are less effective and/or safe in African populations compared with populations that are better represented during drug development2.

Efforts to address this using the limited but growing datasets on African populations have focused on the pharmacogenomics of drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters3. Collectives such as the African Pharmacogenomics Consortium have revealed substantial diversity in genetic variants linked to drug responses even between African population groups2,3. So far, such research has identified opportunities to ‘retro-optimize’ the use of marketed drugs that show toxicity and/or low efficacy in individuals with particular genetic variants3, but use during drug R&D has not been a focus. In this article, we highlight the importance of collecting clinical trial and genetic data from African populations and discuss opportunities to harness this data to inform drug R&D.

Increasing African population participation in clinical trials

Data from clinical trials not only establishes the effectiveness and safety of drugs in patients; it also provides insights into variations in drug effects in population groups, facilitating the development of modelling tools for dosing and pharmacokinetics that support treatment optimization. It is well established that involving relevant population groups in drug development improves treatment outcomes for that population. The low participation of African populations in clinical trials restricts the applicability of such data and meta-data in drug R&D.

Historically, Africa has not been an attractive location for major funders of clinical trials. The reasons for this are varied, but long timelines and unpredictable regulatory and ethics approvals are two major contributing factors. In addition, each of Africa’s 54 countries represents a regulatory jurisdiction and a separate health-care market. Efforts to overcome this through collaboration among African sites are gradually growing, starting with the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) programme, the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF) and, more recently, the African Medicines Agency (AMA). There is a need for further standardization and mutual recognition, aligned to universally acclaimed certification, to help overcome the bureaucratic burden. Importantly, increasing clinical development capacity and strengthening and harmonizing the regulatory environment are synergistic; progress in one will encourage development in the other.

Efforts are ongoing to establish regional hubs focused on clinical trials to enable increased collaboration, visibility and capacity strengthening. For example, the Clinical Trials Community (CTC) maps out and connects the African clinical trial community, and the Pandemic Preparedness Platform for Health and Emerging Infections Response (PANTHER) aims to have clinical trial frameworks in place before a disease outbreak, with the remaining work focused on adapting trials to local contexts and disease characteristics. However, there is an urgent need for an African clinical trials forum to articulate the unique opportunities in the continent and its key role in the global R&D ecosystem.

Now is an opportune time for locations in Africa to become more popular for clinical trials. There are several factors driving this, including the recent FDA draft guidance pushing for an increase in racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials; the large number of patients (including treatment-naive patients), which may facilitate rapid recruitment; the unique and diverse genetics of patients; and the lower costs compared to countries in the Global North once clinical trial sites are established.

Collecting African genomic data that can inform drug R&D

A recent genomic survey of 426 individuals, from 50 ethnic groups in 15 African countries, identified ~3 million previously undescribed genetic variants, highlighting the extraordinary genetic diversity in Africa4. Such genetic variants might have various effects relevant to drug R&D, including effects on disease-associated proteins and pathways, on drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity (ADMET), and on the responses to drugs that modulate particular targets.

For example, studies of cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs) have revealed functional variants that are more common in some African populations, such as CYP2B6*6, an allele of CYP2B6 with reduced function that occurs at higher frequencies in African populations3. Patients with this allele are at higher risk of dose-related adverse effects from drugs metabolized by this enzyme, such as efavirenz. Polymorphisms in the same enzyme with unknown functional relevance that have not been observed beyond African populations have also been identified3.

In addition, the high genetic diversity and relatively low intermixing with non-African populations may make genetic variants associated with disease easier to find in African populations. This unexplored genetic information could include variants with previously unappreciated therapeutic relevance, which could lead to identification of new drug targets.

So, although understanding of the therapeutic relevance of genetic variation in African populations is currently limited, it could have a crucial role in both optimizing the use of existing drugs in patients from African populations and in developing future drugs that are safer and/or more effective in these patients. The Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) consortium and the Three Million African Genomes (3MAG) project are aiming to drastically increase the representation of Africans in large biomedical datasets, which could offer insights into African disease and support the growth of translational medicine on the continent5. This calls for the establishment of a robust translational medicine network in Africa to realize the potential value of its rich genomic diversity. For example, this could enable African researchers to initiate longitudinal real-world data studies to understand the role of the genomic diversity of African populations in disease progression and drug response.

Harnessing African data and African-centric drug discovery

Optimizing the use of available drugs in African populations is vital for improving therapeutic outcomes in the near term. Achieving this goal requires the expansion of pharmacogenomics capacity in the continent, bridging clinical trials to identify clinically relevant phenotypes in African populations, and support for the translation and implementation of African pharmacogenomics knowledge into routine medical use.

However, while the pharmacogenomics-based retro-optimization of the use of existing drugs in African populations recognizes the biases in biomedical data, it does not address the underlying issue — that data relevant to African populations need to be incorporated across the R&D process. To that end, drug discovery and development programmes should incorporate regionally relevant genetic and clinical trial data that reflect population-level genetic variations. For example, in the context of drug metabolism, it would be valuable to derive in vitro systems from African donors, selected to represent widespread Africa-specific genotypes. This would help identify and address potential sources of ADMET variability, and design ethnobridging strategies for drugs for which clinical development was conducted in other populations. In the broader drug discovery context, this would also need to include developing models based on cells derived from African populations, and the development of virtual African populations in pharmacometric approaches. In addition, for infectious diseases and cancer, when selective pressures could have a strong influence on genetic variants of potential drug targets, target sequences from relevant African populations should be used in the earliest stages of drug discovery.

In addition, clinical trials need to be designed with insights from African real-world data that capture the comorbidities of infectious and non-communicable diseases in African patients, in order to Boost understanding of the impact of drug–drug interactions on efficacy and safety. From such knowledge, African-centric drug discovery hypotheses around targeting disease could be derived. Frontloading African centricity into common drug discovery tools could be key to addressing inherent variability and optimizing and selecting preclinical candidates that could be more suitable for clinical trials in African populations.


Through ongoing advances in biomedical sciences and big-data analysis, it is hoped that drug discovery tools will become more representative of human physiology and disease biology and increase the likelihood of successful translation into the clinic. However, without suitable African biomedical data to feed into them, the potential of these tools to Boost the suitability of drugs for African patient populations will be undermined.

The United Nations projects that by 2050 nearly 25% of the world’s population will live in Africa, increasing the medical need and the market for drugs that are optimized for patients in these countries, as well as their diaspora. Given the continuing impact on health outcomes and economic losses due to medicines with suboptimal safety and efficacy, in addition to providing authentic, high-quality medicines, it is now prudent to revisit approaches to drug discovery and development in the spirit of health equity. Greater emphasis on improving the participation of Africans in clinical trials, increasing the representation of data derived from Africans in global data sets, and developing African-centric models and tools for early drug discovery and clinical development are required to allow African patients to derive maximum benefit from modern drug discovery and development. COVID-19 has emphasized the need to bolster Africa’s local innovative R&D and manufacturing capacity, as well as the need to strengthen and harmonize regulatory systems on the continent. Although it will not replace national medicine regulatory authorities, establishment of the AMA will increase harmonization of standards, reduce duplication and Boost the efficiency of regulatory processes in African countries. For African-centric drug discovery to blossom, increased effort, and investment by African governments to support R&D, eschewing nationalism, is needed to facilitate collection and sharing of biomedical data from African populations, and development of expertise in harnessing it for the benefit of patients in the continent and beyond.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Colin Pillai and David Mukanga (CTC), Nicola Mulder (H3Africa), Bernhards Ogutu (PANTHER), Collet Dandara and Collen Masimirembwa (African Pharmacogenomics Consortium), who provided valuable feedback during the preparation of this article. K.C. is the Neville Isdell Chair in African-centric Drug Discovery and Development and thanks Neville Isdell for generously funding the Chair.

Thu, 01 Jun 2023 03:41:00 -0500 en text/html
Hampton Roads biomedical research facility open to collaborating with scientists, entrepreneurs and community leaders

The region can be a hub for health care and biomedical innovation thanks to collaborative efforts to launch the Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium and its research facility.

The consortium recently opened a facility located at Old Dominion University’s Tri-Cities Center on the Suffolk-Portsmouth border. Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Eastern Virginia Medical School and Sentara Health make up the core of the group.

The facility is open to other scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs who also want to Boost community health and partner on projects.

And now the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Jefferson Lab, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, Virginia Department of Health, Open Cube Data and NASA Langley Research Center are collaborating on at least one research project, said Joseph Kosteczko, consortium director of operations.

Funded by the commonwealth and grants, the effort began in 2020 when lawmakers requested the universities, medical school and Sentara come together to research several local health care-related issues including inequities. Many researchers are graduate students, he said.

The facility offers four unique labs: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act lab for medical research, the Prototyping and Integration lab, 5G Digital Living lab and an AI (artificial intelligence) and Analytics lab.

The HIPAA lab is a secure room that allows researchers to examine patients’ medical records, including controlled unclassified information or personally identifiable information.

There is a wealth of medical data that can help in researching health disparities, Kosteczko said.

Currently, with the help of a grant, a study is being conducted to research gun violence in Portsmouth. In doing so, they need a secure lab to review police data, he said.

The 5G Digital Living lab will produce the means to measure the benefits of 5G and next-generation systems from open source ideas to high-end commercial solutions. The results will help researchers know where to invest their efforts in building applications and systems using the technology.

The Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium facility houses 3D printers capable of printing realistic human tissue and appendages that can be used for medical training.

The AI and Analytics Lab will soon be used by a researcher who will look into how to better help adults and children on the autism spectrum.

The Prototyping and Integration lab has 3D printers that can make lifelike items in a short time and for a fraction of the current cost, said Patrick Ball, core facilities manager.

One printer prints in layers, mixing different resins to create a limb that looks and feels like a real limb complete with muscle and fat and matching the user’s skin tone. It can also be used to make crowns for teeth and even dentures.

“It’s extremely accurate. Dental floss even fits,” Ball said.

There is a scanner that can take 1,000 pictures in a second to make photos to be used for 3D models.

Kosteczko said the printer could be used to make more lifelike CPR manikins. It can print digital anatomy to help with surgery preparation. Surgeons can practice a surgical procedure prior to performing it on a patient.

“That reduces cost with a better survival rate,” Ball said.

For more information, visit

Members of the board of directors for Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium celebrate the grand opening of the facility on April 7. From left, is Milton Brown, vice dean for research at Eastern Virginia Medical School; Barbara Hamm Lee, CEO of Sharing Info LLC; Alfred Abuhamad, president, provost and dean of the medical school, EVMS; Javaune Adams-Gaston, president, Norfolk State University; Brian O. Hemphill, president, Old Dominion University; Morris Foster, vice president for research, Old Dominion University; and Mike Gentry, former executive vice president and chief operating officer, Sentara Health.
Sun, 31 Dec 2000 10:00:00 -0600 Pilot Online en-US text/html
Promoting coherent minimum reporting guidelines for biological and biomedical investigations: the MIBBI project
  • Mon, 16 May 2022 20:49:00 -0500 en text/html
    Biomedical Refrigerators and Freezers Market is anticipated to record a CAGR of 5.9% from 2022 to 2032

    The biomedical refrigerators and freezers market is projected to record a CAGR of 5.9% during the forecast period, up from US$ 3.2 Bn in 2020 to reach a valuation of US$ 6 Bn by 2031

    Biomedical refrigerators and freezers are medical equipment, used for storing various biological samples such as biological reagents, blood, blood derivatives, medicines, vaccines, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), and flammable chemicals. Samples with biological origin require precise conditions for effective storage.

    In comparison with domestic refrigerators and freezers, biomedical refrigerators and freezers provide optimum conditions for efficient storage of samples with biological origin. Biomedical refrigerators and freezers are widely used in blood banks, hospitals, diagnostic centers, research laboratories, educational institutes, etc.

    Request a report sample to gain comprehensive insights at

    Based on temperature range, commercially available biomedical refrigerators and freezers offer different applications.

    For example, ultra-low temperature freezers with temperature range between -70 to -80 and low are used for prolonged storage of biomedical samples such as DNA and RNA. Plasma freezers offer temperature range between -30°C to -40°C and hence, are preferred for the storage of plasma products, whole blood and vaccines.

    Blood bank refrigerators are suited for the storage of whole blood or blood component products. However, the blood bank refrigerators segment contributes the largest market share for the global biomedical refrigerators and freezers market.

    The blood bank refrigerators segment is mainly driven by steady rise in the number of blood banks in developing and developed regions and the presence of stringent regulatory requirements. On the other hand, laboratory, medical freezers and pharmacy segments are expected to grow with fastest CAGR during the forecast period.

    The global biomedical refrigerator and freezer market is expected to grow at a single digit CAGR during the forecast period (2015-2025).

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    Global Biomedical Refrigerators and Freezers Market: Overview

    With rapid technological advancement and with augmentation of various technological and infrastructural up gradation of clinics, hospitals and research laboratories, the global biomedical refrigerators and freezers is expected to have a substantial growth in the forecast period (2015-2025).

    For more insights into the market, request a sample of this report Global Biomedical Refrigerators and Freezers Market: Key Players

    Key players in global biomedical refrigerators and freezers market are, Aegis Scientific, Inc., ARCTIKO A/S, ThermoFisher Scientific, Inc., Binder GmbH, BioMedical Solutions, Inc., Bionics Scientific Technologies (P) Ltd., Coldway, DESMON S.p.A, Eppendorf AG, Froilabo SAS, Panasonic Healthcare Co., Ltd., Philipp Kirsch GmbH, LabRepCo, Inc., Gram Commercial A/S, and Venktron Electronics Co. Ltd.

    The research report presents a comprehensive assessment of the market and contains thoughtful insights, facts, historical data, and statistically supported and industry-validated market data. It also contains projections using a suitable set of assumptions and methodologies. The research report provides analysis and information according to categories such as market segments, geographies, types, technology and applications.

    Global Biomedical Refrigerators and Freezers Market: Drivers and Restraints

    Factors driving the global biomedical refrigerators and freezers market, are increasing demand for blood transfusions, custom-made medicines and vaccines, and cellular therapies. In addition, rising research and development activities in the field of medical science are driving the acceptance of biomedical refrigerators and freezers in research and educational institutes.

    Also, with increased funding from various sources and R&D activities in the pharmaceutical sector up-surged the use of biomedical refrigerators and freezers.

    Factors restraining the global refrigerator and freezers market includes, presence of large number of local players offering cheaper products than branded products, and rising trend of using refurbished equipment worldwide due to its cheaper price.

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    Table of Content

    1. Executive Summary

    1.1. Global Market Outlook

    1.2. Demand-side Trends

    1.3. Supply-side Trends

    1.4. Technology Roadmap Analysis

    1.5. Analysis and Recommendations

    1. Market Overview

    2.1. Market Coverage / Taxonomy

    2.2. Market Definition / Scope / Limitations

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    Sun, 04 Jun 2023 19:00:00 -0500 en text/html
    What Does the New Frontier in Biomedicine Look Like?

    Some of Northwestern University’s brightest minds in biomedical science converged before a packed auditorium to discuss the hottest courses in their fields.

    Hosted by Provost Kathleen Hagerty, “The New Frontiers of Biomedical Science and Biomedical Engineering” explored wide-ranging matters related to improving the quality of human life, including advances in artificial intelligence (AI), new approaches to treating cancer, the quest for longevity, the potential of regenerative medicine, and the promise of bioelectronics. 

    From left: Guillermo Ameer, Shana Kelley, John Rogers

    The May 30 event — which took place at Hughes Auditorium on the Chicago campus — was one of two academic panels organized to discuss contemporary courses of importance of higher education as the University gears up for the inauguration of President Michael H. Schill.

    Panelists from Northwestern Engineering included Professors Guillermo Ameer, Shana Kelley, and John Rogers.

    “We’ve been thinking about this symposium for a while and what constitutes a ‘new frontier’ in biomedical science or biomedical engineering,” said Eric G. Neilson, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who moderated the event. “We thought the best way to talk about this was to identify scientists from Feinberg, McCormick, and Weinberg College to talk about the research areas they have been attracted to and have an informal discussion about hot courses in those areas.” 

    The secrets of aging

    To kick off the panel, Neilson asked Douglas Vaughan about aging and how far researchers can push human life expectancy.

    “We’re at a unique point of human history where we have a fundamental understanding of the biology of aging as well as an ability to precisely measure biological age,” said Vaughan, the Irving S. Cutter Professor and chair of the department of medicine at Feinberg, director of the Potocsnak Longevity Institute, and physician in chief at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Together, those give us an opportunity to potentially unravel this mystery that’s intrigued the human species since the beginning of our time on this planet.”

    Panel participants (from left) Douglas Vaughan, Shana Kelley, Eric G. Neilson, Abel Kho, Guillermo Ameer, and John Rogers.

    Vaughan said that advancements in science have opened the possibility to “alter the pace of aging” in humans. Although genetics play an important role, epigenetics are an even more important factor in determining the speed of aging. The environment a person lives in, food they eat and surrounding societal stresses all affect lifespan.

    Eradicating tumors with blood cells

    Kelley discussed the launch of the CZ Biohub Chicago as well as her work to use engineering-driven approaches to understand diseases, such as cancer. In recent studies, Kelley and her team pinpointed immune cells in blood that can recognize and destroy cancer cells. In an animal study, Kelley and her team leveraged these cells to completely eradicate solid tumors.

    “Our immune cells are constantly surveying the body, trying to figure out if there’s a disease or a cell that’s turned cancerous,” said Kelley, the Neena B. Schwartz Professor of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and McCormick, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at Feinberg, and president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago. “We know that immune cells eventually infiltrate into tumors to do hand-to-hand combat in there to get rid of tumor cells. But it had not been discovered previously that you can actually find these cells in the blood.”

    AI-driven precision medicine

    Research generates new data constantly, but are we making the most of it? Abel Kho and his team combine research data in novel ways and then leverages AI to mine big data to identify new methods for treating diseases, estimate population-level disease burden and perform high-throughput phenotyping. His team also explores ways to “responsibly apply” large language models to research challenges while avoiding bias or discrimination.

    “If you can mine multiple sources of data, you can find phenotypes of diseases — more specific types of disease — that might be more relevant for the person sitting in front of you,” said Kho, professor of medicine and preventive medicine at Feinberg, director of the Center for Health Information Partnership, and director of the Institute for Augmented Intelligence in Medicine. “Then you can precisely target therapeutics that would affect that person in front of you.”

    Engineering solutions for healing

    The field of engineering might not seem compatible with life and medicine, Ameer said, but engineers are helping turn regenerative medicine “into a reality.” Ameer discussed his group’s advances in regenerative engineering and how new smart regenerative systems can Boost outcomes of surgery. 

    “Historically, regenerative medicine relied on biology or biochemistry — the life sciences side of wisdom or knowledge,” said Ameer, the Daniel Hale Williams Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering, professor of surgery at Feinberg, and founding director of the Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering. “Within the past two decades, we saw engineers step in and demonstrate that, by bringing disparate fields into the picture, we can significantly Boost the chances of making these therapies a reality.” 

    Electrical insights

    To close the panel, Rogers showed multiple wireless, wearable, biocompatible devices that his team has developed in the laboratory to continuously monitor health. Among his many inventions, he showed a temporary tattoo-like device that sits on the skin to track biochemistry in sweat and a postage-stamp-sized device that softly adheres to the throat to collect the body’s vital signs. 

    We need the best and the brightest, from whatever background they might be. Guillermo Ameer 

    “Our goal is to develop new platforms that can be used to develop new insights into fundamental processes in biological systems as research tools but ultimately as new platforms for clinical medicine and patient care,” said Rogers, the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Neurological Surgery at McCormick and Feinberg, and the director of the Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics. “We want to Boost outcomes and reduce cost.”

    All of the panelists agreed on the importance of collaborating with researchers outside their own fields, integrating disciplines, and encouraging more diversity in the sciences.

    “We talk a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Ameer said. “I think it’s a necessity. We’re doing this out of need — not because it’s the right thing to do. We need the best and the brightest, from whatever background they might be.”

    Thu, 01 Jun 2023 07:01:00 -0500 en text/html
    Biocompatible microfibers developed as the basis for tissue engineering

    In biomedical technology, tissue engineering for the ex-vivo production of skin or organs is becoming increasingly important. This requires biocompatible microfibers with enclosed microcapsules of controlled size and shape, as the cells used for tissue engineering must be embedded in material that is as similar as possible to the natural arrangement in vivo.

    Until now, the production of such fibers at low output has been quite costly and time-consuming. Researchers at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) have now developed a new method for producing microfibers with the desired properties that can be used in pharmaceuticals and biomedicine, and which provides significantly higher yields than previous methods while requiring much less production effort.

    In a paper published in Physical Review Applied, Carole Planchette and her team from the Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer at TU Graz explain how their development can produce several meters of this microfiber in seconds. The current methods manage at most a few centimeters in the same period of time.

    This acceleration has been made possible by moving away from the production of microfibers in a liquid environment using microfluidic chips to a production that is possible in sterile room air. As a result, the necessary process steps as well as the costs were greatly reduced and potential sources of errors and blockages minimized.

    Droplets meet liquid jet

    In the new method, a regular stream of droplets containing cells or active substances is combined with a liquid jet of aqueous alginic acid solution. The alginic acid obtained from brown algae forms upon contact with calcium cations an elastic hydrogel called alginate—similarly to the process commonly used in molecular cuisine to form caviar pearls.

    This hydrogel is fully biocompatible and also prevents the embedded droplets from coalescing together. Therefore, to cure the alginic acid solution stream, a second stream with calcium cations is jetted continuously on top. The resulting fiber, which can be grown at up to 5 meters per second, can then simply be collected on a turntable. All these steps take place in the air and not in liquid microfluidic production as before.

    In a few years, it should be possible to produce a fiber assembly mimicking the skin from using this new method. The integration of cells into the microfiber is the next step for Planchette and her team. The expected result could be, for example, a great help for burn victims, as new and personalized skin for transplantation could be produced from a patient's own intact skin cells in a very short time.

    In this perspective, researchers at TU Graz are working together with the Medical University of Graz on research into the production of artificial skin. Looking much further into the future, certainly more than ten years, one day it may also be possible to produce artificial organs using this microfiber.

    Replacement for animal testing

    In addition to , the new and faster production method opens up other areas of application for the biocompatible microfiber, such as cell screening. In the near future, it will be possible to test new molecules for medical agents much more extensively on cells to determine whether or at what point they are toxic.

    Due to the available fiber length, different temperatures or concentrations could be tested in a single run. For such tests on a large scale, animal experiments have been used up to now, and this could be largely avoided.

    "For me, it is particularly interesting when I can use fundamental aspects of fluid mechanics to find new and innovative solutions to previously unsolved problems," explains Planchette.

    "This allows us to discover pathways to new applications and our manufacturing method of biocompatible microfibers with regular inclusions at high output and low cost demonstrates this. The possibilities for cell screening, tissue construction and eventually organ production that this opens up can be of great benefit to many disciplines. For me, this is also a clear sign of how important the role of basic and multidisciplinary research is, thereby creating the fundament for ground-breaking applications."

    More information: Francesco Marangon et al, In-Air Microfluidic Strategy for the Production of Sodium Alginate Fibers with Regular Inclusions at Very High Throughput, Physical Review Applied (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.19.054006

    Citation: Biocompatible microfibers developed as the basis for tissue engineering (2023, May 26) retrieved 6 June 2023 from

    This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

    Fri, 26 May 2023 02:08:00 -0500 en text/html
    Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories Ltd.

    Ken Takanashi

    COO, Representative Director & Vice President, Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories, Ltd.

    Currently, Ken Takanashi is COO, Representative Director & Vice President at Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories, Ltd. and Auditor at PPD-SNBL KK. Mr. Takanashi is also on the board of Wave Life Sciences Ltd., TMS Co., Ltd. and Satsuma Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

    In his past career Mr. Takanashi was Executive Director & General Manager at Suasa Kristal (M) Bhd., Chief Financial Officer at SNBL USA Ltd. and Manager-Business Development at Mitsubishi Corporation LT USA.

    Mr. Takanashi received an undergraduate degree from the University of Tokyo and an MBA from the University of Warwick.

    Mon, 15 May 2023 12:00:00 -0500 text/html
    'Every culture is different': Henrietta Lacks' family talks to researchers in San Antonio

    The first immortal human cells grown in culture were taken from an African American woman without her consent.

    Those cells have been crucial to life-saving medical developments, such as the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization and research in cancer, AIDS and stem cells. They were named HeLa, using the first two letters of her first and last name —  Henrietta Lacks. It would be decades before those outside the medical field learned about the young mom of five’s name would be made public.

    Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951 at the age of 31. But unlike other samples that died, her cells lived and continued to grow.

    Now, her family is keeping her legacy alive by sharing her story and raising awareness about equity and consent in biomedical research and healthcare. Her grandson, David Lacks Jr., and daughter-in-law, Shirley Lacks, were keynote speakers at the Global Health Symposium recently hosted by the Texas Biomedical Research Institute. The two-day event addressed health equality and ethics.

    READ MORE: SwRI, UTSA researchers find new way to produce antimalarial drug

    Scientists at Texas Biomed have used the cells in their own biomedical research. 

    Dr. Larry Schlesinger, Texas Biomed president and CEO, said the Lacks family members’ presence touched on cultural diversity and trust in the health and science community.

    “We’ve made mistakes, particularly for those individuals who are under-served or not seen enough,” Schlesinger said. “And I think we need to do better. I have hope for the future that we will do better as a community and translate science much more quickly and always in dialogue with the community, the real stakeholders of what we do.”

    He said recognizing and appreciating each individual is one of the Lacks’ messages.

    Schlesinger read a quote featured in the book by author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: “We must not see any person as an abstraction, instead we must see in every person a universe with their own secrets, with their own treasures and with their own sources of anguish and with some measure of triumph.” 

    Onstage at the Betty Kelso Center, images of Henrietta Lacks appeared on a large video screen as the pair shared details of her life. Her family described her as generous and selfless to strangers and friends alike. She dressed in fashionable attire, loved to dance and often fed guests at her home.  

    David Lacks said she was a giving woman in life and gave a gift to the world that continues to go on. 

    “It’s easier to say what the cells have not been used for than what they have been used for,” he said.

    He added there are two things that the family wants to do: educate and communicate. 

    “I look at it as we have people of the same race talking to each other so we can better understand what is going on,” Shirley Lacks said. “Because every culture is different.”

    READ MORE: Southwest Research Institute delivers device to study moon’s makeup for NASA’s Artemis program

    In 2010, Rebecca Skloot wrote a book titled, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” informing the world about the woman whose impact has been felt across the globe. HBO FILMS made a movie based on the book starring Oprah Winfrey as Lacks’ daughter Deborah Lacks. Her curiosity about who her mother was is at the heart of Skloot’s New York Times bestselling novel.

    The book changed the family’s lives dramatically. Shirley said the story helped her better understand Henrietta’s family.

    Lacks’ family was never compensated for her cells, which have been sold a million times over.

    In 2013, the family joined the HeLa Genome Data Use Agreement with bioethics, medical and science communities, taking an active role in decisions with genome research and discoveries. The information is put in a database on an annual basis. ccording to the National Institute of Health, researchers are required to apply to NIH for access to the full genome sequence data from the cells.

    “She never knew that cancer cells taken from her body would be used for medical breakthroughs and help so many people,” Shirley Lacks said. We never know what will become of us and what we will contribute to society.”

    Tue, 23 May 2023 09:42:00 -0500 en-US text/html

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