#sxsw @medialab Nanotech and Future of Bioengineering Live Notesle

Dr. Bob Langer presented; was supposed to be George Church.

Moderator Joey Ito (MIT Media Lab)

Convergence of engineering and medicine: Using materials to deliver drugs. First: Angiogenesis inhibitors.

Example of how the concepts of people of what can and cannot be done actually stop invention. Dr. Langer hadn’t heard you “could not do” what he has done.

Started with explanation of metasis of cancer and need to stop that process to stop cancer. Used polymer to deliver drug into tumor.

Key thing in science is reproducing results.

1976 published paper on polymers.

FDA has added Angiogensis therapy to list of approved cancer treatments.

NOVA video clip (KQED9)

Slide with Nanochip with microwells for drugs to be contained. Cover the drug with bio-inert, but that open with remote control.

Can take a chip, and communicate over an approved FCC and FDA chip, communicate with via a “Medical Implant Communications Service Band.” This helps with ADHERENCE.

Clinical trial done in Denmark.

Talked about treatment of using this for Osteoporosis. Huge patient compliance issue. Must be given at the right rate.

In Denmark did a small test and had excellent results [My comment: only 8 patients.]

[Dallas Buyer’s Club comes to mind in some of the sessions I am in this morning.]

Talked about ability to implant in “third world” women to control and able to plan families. “Personal Fertility Control System.” [This worries me as seems ripe for abuse.]

One of the things you learn is design. Make it a “design problem.”

Principle of therapy. Line surgical cavity with BCNU-polymer. BCNU half life in vivo = 12 minutes. Polmer protects BCNU from degradation. Explose only the cells you want to BCNU.

Money: Write proposals for grants to Fed Gov’t. But proposals were failing.

Showed a timeline showing the proposal bouncing around from 1981 to 1996, overcoming every “approach that will not work.”

Talked about how his post-docs and students all became heads of things, and leaders — whereas the reviewers did not become leaders. 🙂

Stents: causing recinosis (smooth muscle cells start proliferating.) Solve is to coat with a polymer. Elizar Edelman, professor at Harvard, did lot of work on this technology.

Example of liver failure and doing implantation with biodegradable polymer scaffold.

Speculates in 40 years plastic surgeons will be able to install a new nose.

Can use polymers to replace skin for burn victims, new bones, etc.

FDA approved for burn victims and diabetic patients.

Replacement spinal cords have been tested on mice. Implant plus stem cells makes replace better.

Showed control versus treated animals in laboratory settings. [Difficult to watch because on one hand, useful results. On other, cruel to those particular animals.]

In human trials, main success has been no adverse events.

Can do work at the interface of engineering of biology and medicine, to relieve suffering and prolong life.

Q&A with Joey Ito:

Internet start-ups are better posed to solve problems because no one told them they can’t do it.

Need to know the science? Depends on what you do in the company. It’s a team effort, doing different aspects of the work, very well. Role for all kinds of people in terms of the start-up culture.

Joey thinks of things connected together into a system. Our whole body is a system. System outside and drug compliance via social media. How important things like community and systems are.

Dr. Langer: My goal is to take concepts that seem impossible, but he feels can change the world. And move it to where it seems feasible.

How to fix the FDA? Bob Langer: FDA is very well-intentioned but under-staffed. They are not in a position to do things they’d like to do scientifically. If they make a slight mistake it echoes loudly, [so makes them a bit risk-averse.] Also the political changes affect. Having good role models is important.

Can bioengineering be used in entertainment? Polymer libraries. Some are used in hair care.

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