The signaling activity of CD14+ monocytes after hip replacement surgery in 32 patients correlated strongly with the patients’ reports of postsurgical pain and function. Stanford researchers reporting in the September 24, 2014 Science Translational Medicine exposed pre- and postsurgical blood samples from the 32 patients to mass cytometry and discovered that people whose CD14+ cells were highly active in specific ways after the operation recovered faster than those whose cells showed low activity.
The current findings can’t be used to predict prior to surgery which individuals will recover quickly or slowly, because the postsurgical CD14+ activity that correlated with clinical outcomes was present only after surgery. But further research on larger numbers of people could lead to “diagnostic signatures” to help predict individual recovery times and to therapeutic targets for improving patient recovery overall.
In a pre-clinical trial among five men with 50% to 90% of leg-muscle loss due to injury, researchers found that implanted cells from pig bladders formed a biologically active scaffold that recruited native stem cells to help rebuild skeletal muscle. The authors of the study, in Science Translational Medicine, said the peptides released as the pig cells degraded mobilized the patients’ own stem cells to the site of injury. Three of the five patients showed marked improvement in standing, walking, and stair climbing. All five had undergone unsuccessful prior surgeries and physical therapy (PT). Speaking of PT, all five patients received a specialized 12- to 16-week course of PT prior to the implantation and postoperative PT that lasted from 5 to 23 weeks. The authors also stressed that the implanted scaffold works only in a scar tissue-free area adjacent to healthy tissue that has nerve and blood supplies.
Dennis Sorensen considers himself fortunate to get a chance that most amputees won’t get: to regain some natural sensation in his left hand. About 10 years ago, his left hand was amputated after a fireworks accident. He recently traveled to Rome to try an experimental prosthetic hand that added sensors to each finger. Then surgeons inserted tiny electrodes into Sorensen’s arm that connected the finger sensors to sensory nerves in his upper arm. Almost immediately, Sorensen was able to feel shapes, sizes, and textures of objects, and he was able to control the strength of his grip. Sorensen has spent almost a year testing the device, and the results of the experiment were reported in a recent issue of Science Translational Medicine.