“The Remarkable Potential of Stem Cells” – a Hot Topic in the Biomedical World

“The Remarkable Potential of Stem Cells” by Phil Kesten

The author is Prof. Phil Kesten, Associate Professor of Physics, Santa Clara University (SCU) | Associate Vice Provost, SCU Undergraduate Studies.

This is a very nice article entitled: “The Remarkable Potential of Stem Cells” by Phil Kesten. It is laid out in an interesting and easy to read manner but shows where Stem Cell related therapies are headed and some potential applications.

Stem cell therapies, devices to deliver them, and other related technologies will be a new frontier for many years.  The potential for innovative therapies is huge, but seemingly “simple” problems remain.  One significant problem that I have studied involves retention of the stem cells at the target site after they are delivered to that site.

See the full article at either link in the Santa Clara University “Illuminate” publication of September 9, 2016:

https://legacy.scu.edu/illuminate/?c=23989  or at:  https://lnkd.in/bvu-a_H

The anatomy of a human cell is shown in this figure:


and Prof. Kesten goes on to say in this article:

Over the past few decades, talk of stem cells has often been in the news. What exactly are stem cells, and why all the excitement? Let’s wonder a bit about the science of cells—and the remarkable potential of stem cells.

All living things are made up of cells. There are more than a trillion cells—perhaps more than 30 trillion—in the human body, including many kinds of specialized cells. Bone cells, nerve cells, skin cells, blood cells … and, yes, stem cells.

All cells are self-contained, with their insides separated from their environment by a cell membrane. This enclosure keeps cytoplasm—a thick, gel-like substance that comprises the bulk of a cell—from leaking out. The cell membrane also allows nutrients to flow in, while keeping out material that might damage the cell.

Within each cell is a nucleus that holds the cell’s genetic material. Most cells also contain mitochondria—tiny organic batteries that serve as the cell’s power supply. And within each cell is a structure called the endoplasmic reticulum, a network of membranes within the cytoplasm that carries material, such as nutrients, throughout the cell.

There are critical differences among various kinds of cells, each having specific jobs and roles to play, for instance, in enabling you to breath, to walk, to fend off diseases. Yet with all this diversity among cell types, at the moment of conception, every living organism starts as a single cell. That cell divides into two, then four, then eight, and so on. And at this stage, when you were just a blob of cells, those were all embryonic stem cells.

The special, critical feature of stem cells is that, as they divide, they begin to differentiate. Some end up as nerve cells, some as blood cells, and some as muscle cells. While those specialized cells can only create more of their own kind of cell when they divide, stem cells give rise to any of the hundreds of kinds of specialized cells in your body.

Adults do have stem cells in their bodies. These adult stem cells are the body’s repair mechanisms. They can fix damaged tissues and organs by regenerating worn out or damaged or diseased cells, no matter what kind of specialized cells they are. Adult stem cells in your bone marrow, for example, can become red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets, which are the cells that make up your blood.



The real power of stem cells, however, is not simply in their versatility. It is, rather, that stem cells can be grown in a laboratory.

The real power of stem cells, however, is not simply in their versatility. It is, rather, that stem cells can be grown in a laboratory. And even more powerful, in the past few years, scientists have learned how to reprogram specialized cells to become like stem cells. Indeed, the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University for his work on converting mature skin cells into cells that closely resemble stem cells.

Scientists have already been exploring the use of stem cells to treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, as well as to repair spinal cord and bone injuries. It will certainly be many years before stem therapies are widely available, but we can look forward to a future in which scientists can grow, say, a new liver for a patient whose own liver is failing. A new liver that is a perfect match for that patient, because it is grown from his or her own cells. Stem cell research promises an exciting future for regenerative medicine.

Stanford Again Tops “Most Innovative Universities” Rankings – A Perspective

Having attended Stanford University myself for both a Master’s and PhD in Mechanical Engineering, I always feel a strong sense of pride when I see an article like this one related to “Most Innovative Universities”. Stanford is an amazing place, with so many “best in class” academic capabilities across many diverse fields. However, it is the medicine, science and engineering achievements that always catch my eye. When you look at how Stanford people have conceptualized and developed programs like the Medical Device Innovators series, the idea is always to break down the walls and collaborate across disciplines to identify needs, understand how they might be accomplished, and then develop devices and procedures to meet the goals.

The other thing that I look at is the number and diversity of fabulously successful companies and ideas that have come out of Stanford. The Silicon Valley ecosystem of top Universities, interest and drive to commercialize, and Venture Capital makes the entire area unique.

Here is the article by Thomson Reuters:

Stanford Again Tops “Most Innovative Universities” Rankings

Palo Alto, Calif. — Stanford University again tops this year’s newly released Reuters Top 100 ranking of the world’s most innovative universities, which aims to identify institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and help drive the global economy. MIT and Harvard round out the top three. The second annual rankings use proprietary data and analysis tools from Thomson Reuters to examine a series of patent and research-related metrics. “Stanford held fast to its first place ranking by consistently producing new patents and papers that influence researchers elsewhere in academia and in private industry,” the news serve wrote. The complete rankings are at the link below.

Concussion Mitigation in Pro Football with Advances in Helmet Technology

Pro Football players in the NFL are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before.  All of these characteristics increase the acceleration, force, and energy associated with contact between players.  When this contact occurs to the head it can translate into a concussion or just contribute to an ongoing series of cumulative smaller injuries.

Evidence is mounting that concussions or cumulative injuries have serious long-term effects.  This long-term effect applies not only to football, but also things like battlefield blast loading and similar events.

Discussion on sensor technology and helmet improvements.
Reference articles with further information:



Study: Dissolvable Stent as Good as Conventional Version

See the full article at:  Dissolvable Stent as Good as Conventional Version

Bare metal stents were the first generation in stent technology.  I got involved in medical devices in the mid-1990’s with a number of projects related to radial force, flexibility, and fatigue of these devices.  These stents improved rapidly in terms of efficacy and other parameters.

Drug-eluting stents came along next to further reduce the incidence of restenosis.

Now we have bioabsorbable stents! They are made of a bioabsorbable polymer and are intended to be delivered at full strength, and then gradually degrade over time so that nothing remains.

This study shows a target lesion failure rate of 7.8% for the Abbott Absorb stent.  This rate is comparable to the best of the permanent stents.

Study: Dissolvable stent as good as conventional version

How Material Testing can Assure Quality in Stent Manufacturing

QMED article from Sep.30, 2013 at:


From the article:

Comprised of biocompatible metal or biodegradable polymers, stents bear a complex geometry, enabling them to act as effective scaffolds. As they must be able to push against the internal walls of the blood vessel or other conduit into which they are placed, their mechanical integrity is of the utmost importance. An insufficient level of flexibility can result in tissue damage while insufficient rigidity inhibits the device’s capacity to support natural flow.

Designed to address specific applications, stents are available in a wide range of sizes, diameters, mesh patterns, and strengths.An intraluminal coronary artery stent is a small, self-expanding, metal mesh tube placed inside a coronary artery following a balloon angioplasty procedure. This particular type of stent is designed to prevent the artery from re-closing. As it is placed within an artery, it is subjected to rather large forces that must be thoroughly characterized during the product development cycle and as part of quality management initiatives.

Zwick PrecisionLine Vario system
The Zwick PrecisionLine Vario system

Drug-eluting stents are among the most recent types of stents approved for use. Coated with time release pharmaceutical compounds, drug-eluting stents are also utilized in cardiovascular procedures to maintain blood flow. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 500,000 patients in the United States are implanted with drug-eluting stents annually. A chief benefit is the reduced risk of repeat revascularization, a condition in which the patient requires additional cardiovascular procedures.

Is Zinc the Perfect Material for Use in Bioabsorbable Stents?

Much of the development around bioabsorbable stents and other bioabsorbable implants have focused on a polymer, PLLA (poly-L-lactic acid) as the base material.  Some new research indicates that a Zinc alloy may make a better bioabsorbable stent as compared to PLLA.  The Zinc would degrade through a corrosion mechanism.

For more information, see:

QMED Online, Jan.16, 2014:

  • http://www.qmed.com/mpmn/medtechpulse/stent-designers-think-zinc?cid=nl.qmed02

“…The most advanced absorbable stents available today are made from polylactic acid (PLLA). Based on nearly five years of clinical trial data, for example, Abbott Vascular’s bioresorbable Absorb scaffold compares favorably to the company’s metal-based XIENCE stent, the current industry standard for nonabsorbable drug-eluting stents….”

Also, see the link to research by Patrick Bowen, Jaroslaw Drelich, and others at Michigan Tech from April 30, 2013 with figures:

  • http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2013/april/story88993.html#idc-container

Patrick Bowen also indicates that a preprint of the paper accepted for publication in Journal of Advanced Materials, March 14, 2013, entitled: “Zinc Exhibits Ideal Physiological Corrosion Behavior for Bioabsorbable Stents”  is available at:

Some highlights of the discussion include:

Medical Device Patent Case: Jury Rules Medtronic Willfully Infringed TAVI Heart Valve Patent from Edwards Lifesciences

Smart phones and similar devices have very valuable patents and high-stakes patent litigation.  There are also high stakes in medical devices. Read about this jury verdict below:

Jury Rules Medtronic Willfully Infringed TAVI Heart Valve Patent from Edwards Lifesciences

This story was published in Medical Product Oursourcing (MPO) at:

Part of Heart Valve


Medtronic Inc.’s CoreValve system infringes on a patent of Edwards Lifesciences Corp., according to the ruling of a federal court jury in Delaware on Jan. 15. The ruling, part of an ongoing legal battle between the two companies, holds Medtronic liable for $393.6 million in damages.

CoreValve is used in a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) procedure, a minimally invasive treatment option for people with severe aortic stenosis. It received CE mark in Europe in 2007, but is not yet available in the United States. Minneapolis, Minn.-based Medtronic expects U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval by the completion of its 2014 fiscal year (end of April). Edwards has had the U.S. aortic valve market to itself since November 2011. Analysts expect TAVI to be a $3 billion worldwide market by the end of the decade.

Edwards and Medtronic are the two largest players in the European market for transcatheter aortic valves. And, perhaps as a result, the companies are no strangers to this sort of court battle. They have battled it out in U.S. and European courts before about patents held by Irvine, Calif.-based Edwards.