Stories tagged organ

Dec
01
2009

Vat grown meat?: In five years, it could be yours.
Vat grown meat?: In five years, it could be yours.Courtesy Jorren
These are confusing times we live in. Are vampires legitimate objects of sexual desire, or is wanting to make out with a 100-year-old man still weird? What are dolphins thinking about? And what will you be eating in ten years?

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? But Science Buzz is here to help. Here are the answers to the preceding pressing questions, in order: Yes, because when have millions of teenagers ever been wrong?; depends on the 100-year-old man, and if he’s interested too; sex, hunting, and horrible combinations of the two; and lab-grown meat.

We’ve talked about “artificial” meat here on the Buzz before, because it’s so weird, sciencey and awesome, but that was four years ago, and some wild things have developed since then.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, scientists in the Netherlands have created artificial muscles… for eating! The articles I found about the announcement were, unfortunately, pretty vague, and I’m not sure exactly what this muscle mass is like. It’s not a huge challenge to get a bunch of muscle cells to reproduce outside of a living animal, but getting them grow into a real muscle (and recognizable meat, instead of a formless mass of cells) is more difficult. It’s a similar problem to growing new organs for transplant, and similar methods have been tested; researchers are experimenting with using a collagen “skeleton” of a muscle for muscle cells to grow on. I think that the researchers in the Nethelands may have done something like this, because they’ve grown pig cells into what they’re referring to as “soggy pork,” a substance like “wasted muscle.” Just getting the structure right, it seems, is not quite enough for having lab-grown meat (or “in vitro meat”) that tastes and feels like the real thing. The scientists still need to figure out a way to “exercise” the bodiless muscle, but they think that they’re close enough to a solution that they claim the artificial meat could be on sale within five years. But, then again, that’s what this guy said five years ago, and in the 1930s, Winston Churchill said we’d be growing meat outside of animals within 50 years, so what do they know? Maybe they’re onto something this time, though—a sausage company is backing the research, and it’s thought that the first real fake muscles will be pretty small, and best used in ground meat applications. Like sausages.

It’s an interesting idea, in vitro meat. Unlike cloned meat, which still comes from a living, cloned animal, in vitro meat would never come from a whole animal, so there would be no animal cruelty. The original cells could be taken via biopsy, too, leaving the animal unharmed. It’s also hoped that meat-growing processes could eventually be better for the environment, because they wouldn’t require land to live on, or for growing feed crops, or as much fuel to move around, and they wouldn’t constantly be farting and producing methane (A very potent greenhouse gas). And while scientists in laboratories are doing these early experiments, commercial scale operations would be more like yeast- or yogurt-producing facilities. Even PETA, ever looking for trouble in the oddest places seems to be ok with the idea of in vitro meat, because it doesn’t require animals to be hurt or killed.

But would you eat it? Are you more or less comfortable with meat that was grown in a vat than with meat grown in an animal’s body?

Nov
29
2006

I'm new here and want to ask a question - not write a short story. If this is the wrong place for a question, please help me out.

Is the human egg really the largest cell in the body? That's what the human body movie said. But isn't a neuron a cell, and isn't the axon a part of it, so that a single neuron can be a yard long - as in the sciatic nerve? Wouldn't that be larger than an egg cell?

And while i'm at it, here's a comment: The movie said that the brain controls the GI tract, but my understanding is that although the brain can influence your stomach and bowels, through emotions for example, the GI tract operates pretty much on its own. In fact, Dr. Michael Gershon calls the GI tract "The Second Brain" in his wonderful book by that title.

All in all, i thought the movie was fantastic, and wish there had been much, much more of it!

Here's an interesting article about the ethics and hazards of living organ donation. You have two; would you be willing to give one of your kidneys to a friend or family member? How about a stranger?

Jun
06
2006


Pancreas: Courtesy Wikipedia Images

Where and more importantly, what is the function of the pancreas? This question has come up numerous times while working in Gunther van Hagens’ BODY WORLDS.

Location
The pancreas lies within the abdominopelvic cavity in the J-shaped loop between the stomach and the small intestine. Abdominopelvic means just how it sounds; a region including the abdominal cavity as well as the pelvic cavity. The pancreas lies posterior to the stomach, extending laterally from the duodenum toward the spleen.

Physical Characteristics
The human pancreas is a slender, pale (pinkish gray) organ with a nodular (lumpy) consistency. A pancreas has a length of about fifteen centimeters (six inches) and weighs about eighty grams (three ounces). The organ has a head (closest to the duodenum), body and a tail (reaching towards the spleen). A thin, transparent capsule of connective tissue wraps the entire organ.

Major Ducts
The pancreas has two major ducts: the pancreatic duct and the accessory pancreatic duct. The accessory pancreatic duct is a small branch extending from the pancreatic duct. The ducts deliver digestive enzymes and buffers to the duodenum.

Functions
The pancreas has two distinct functions; one endocrine and the other exocrine. Pancreas endocrine cells secrete insulin and glucagons into the bloodstream. The exocrine cells include the acinar cells and the epithelial cells which line pancreas ducts. Together, the exocrine cells create pancreatic juice (an alkaline mixture of digestive enzymes, water and ions). These enzymes do most of the digestive work in the small intestine, breaking down food particles for absorption. Every day, the pancreas secretes about 1,000 ml (1 qt.) of pancreatic juice.

Source: Martini, F.H. (2004) Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology: 6th Edition.

On May 11, 1987, doctors in Baltimore transplanted the heart and lungs of an auto accident victim to a patient who gave up his own heart to a second recipient. Clinton House, the nation's first living heart donor, died 14 months later. Want to know more about organ or body donation? Check the Buzz next week for a new feature!

First eye bank

by Liza on May. 09th, 2006
America's first eye bank opened on May 9, 1944, in New York. The eye bank was also the first organization founded to facilitate the transfer of human tissue from donor to patient. Interested in being an eye donor after your death? Try the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank.
May
04
2006

Delve into BODY WORLDS through the lenses of religion, art, and medicine. Experience the human drama of BODY WORLDS. The Science Museum of Minnesota presents three community forums on topics germane to this internationally acclaimed exhibition. Moderated by Science Museum of Minnesota President, Dr. Eric Jolly.

  • Where: 3D Cinema Auditorium at the Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Cost: $30 per forum (non-members); $22 per forum (members). Includes entry to BODY WORLDS and museum exhibitions. Admission the the forums ONLY is available for $13 (non-members), $12 (members). (Stories Behind Organ and Body Donation is FREE!)
  • REGISTER NOW: (651) 221-9444 or (800) 221-9444

Religious Views of the Human Body and Soul In and After Death
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Moderated by Science Museum of Minnesota President, Dr. Eric Jolly

As science advances, we know more about our bodies and how they work, but there are still questions for most of us about what happens in death and how to treat the dead. Religions offer their own perspectives on whether there is a soul and how it is related to the physical body. Is the soul part of the body or separate; can it be diminished when we remove a limb or an organ? Religious leaders and theologians will help us contemplate and compare the variety of religious belief systems about the body and soul and how BODY WORLDS fit into these schema.

Speakers:
Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel; Paul Wojda, Ph.D., University of St. Thomas; Brother Owais Bayunus, Islamic Center of Minnesota

Stories Behind Organ and Body Donation
FREE
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

When you get your driver's license, you have the option to become an organ donor. What's the difference between organ or tissue donation and whole body donation? What really happens to bodies donated to science? The BODY WORLDS exhibition raises the community's awareness about body donation. Organ donors, donors' families, and recipients will share their experiences of receiving donated organs and the personal meaning of donating one's body for science. Guests will be required to reserve a complimentary ticket in advance.

Speakers:
David Lee, Director, Anatomy Bequest Program, Medical School, University of Minnesota; Dr. Frazier Eales, Life Source

Human Body in Art: In the Anatomy Theater/Wrestling with the Real
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Moderated by Science Museum of Minnesota President, Dr. Eric Jolly

Much of the consternation about the touring exhibition, BODY WORLDS, hinges on the "realness" of the bodies on display. This talk will focus on the use of the actual body by artists since the 1940s, highlighting various artistic strategies and the possible cultural meanings of such use of the body. We will examine both the artists' intentions and the responses of the viewing public who in the end are forced to wrestle with the often disturbing reality of the re-contextualized human body.

Speakers:
Michael Gaudio, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Minnesota; Diane Mullin, Ph.D., Associate Curator, Weisman Art Museum