Currently showing posts tagged Bangor, Maine

  • Biotech in Maine - from printing bone and muscle to lung cancer testing

    Research and development in biotechnology is the main cause of the industry’s growth, and the latest biotech news reflects this. Inventions and innovations in 2016 span diagnostics, consumer electronics, artificial human tissue and cryopreservation.

    The latest biotechnology news demonstrates what the future of this field might hold for healthcare and beyond.

    3-D Bioprinting

    A team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center developed an integrated tissue-organ printer able to produce human-scale tissue of any shape, according toNature Biotechnology.

    The printer improves on previous attempts by using a technique that 3-D prints tissues that includes micro-channels, which allows nutrients to penetrate the tissue. Tissues are given a water-based gel, containing the cells and encouraging them to grow, according to the BBC.

    The study found that sections of bone, muscle and cartilage all functioned normally when implanted into animals. Scientists called it a significant advance for regenerative medicine, and Martin Birchall, a surgeon at University College London, told the BBC the results were “striking.”

    “The prospect of printing human tissues and organs for implantation has been a real one for some time, but I confess I did not expect to see such rapid progress,” Birchall said, predicting that it will be less than a decade before surgeons begin trials of customized printed organs and tissues.

    Google Glass Applications

    Stanford University graduate student Catalin Voss’ Autism Glass project won the $15,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize in 2016. The competition is open to new inventions in healthcare as well as transportation, food and agriculture or consumer devices.

    The 20-year-old inventor’s project adds emotion-recognition software for Google Glass that tells a child with autism whether a person the child looks at is happy, sad or angry, Scientific American explains. Autism Glass uses a smartphone with software to analyze data from the Google Glass and provide feedback to the user. It also records video for parents to review and to help children improve their learning.

    Scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital announced the remote monitoring of organs-on-chips via Google Glass, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. Organs-on-chips are microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living organs. They are used for drug testing and development as well as studying the function of healthy or diseased organs.

    The custom Google Glass application allowed researchers to monitor and control microfluidically sustained liver and heart tissues. They were able to oversee parameters like temperature, pH and morphology of organs-on-chips. They were also able to activate valves remotely to introduce pharmaceutical compounds to organoid tissues. The technology could make applications in biomedicine and healthcare safer (such as work with viruses, radioactive compounds and highly pathogenic bacteria) and more efficient.

    Lung Cancer Testing

    A fast and accurate test is able to detect biomarkers of lung cancer in saliva, according to Medical News Today. In just 10 minutes, patients can receive a result in the comfort of a doctor’s office.

    The breakthrough comes after 10 years of research, led by oral cancer and saliva diagnostics researcher David Wong of the School of Dentistry at UCLA. The “liquid biopsy” method searches for circulating tumor DNA in bodily fluids such as saliva and blood. The saliva test detects genetic mutations in a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which normally helps cells grow and divide. Mutations in the EGFR are associated with lung cancer.

    Trials in lung cancer patients are taking place in China, as of February 2016. Wong and his colleagues are looking at a saliva test for detecting mutations linked to cancers of the mouth and the back of the throat.

    Orchid Cryopreservation 

    A literature review from Biotechnology Advances details orchid cryopreservation efforts, focusing on recent advances in the development of orchid cryobiotechnology. This field applies a wide range of cryopreservation methods to orchid explants (cells, organs or pieces of tissue), such as the following applications.

    * Programmed freezing for pollen.

    * Encapsulation-dehydration and encapsulation-vitrification for seeds, protocorms and shoot tips.

    * Vitrification for seeds, cultured cells, shoot tips and protocorms.

    * Droplet-vitrification for shoot tips and protocorms.

    * Preculture-desiccation for shoot primordia and rhizomes.

    Successful development and application of cryobiotechnology extends to nearly 100 species and commercial hybrids of orchids. However, given the diversity of the orchid family (Orchidaceae), this covers less than 0.5 percent of the species. Further efforts are needed to safeguard genetic diversity of the socioeconomically important and culturally valuable orchid species. Orchids derived from cryogenically stored material can be propagated and later reintroduced into their native habitats.

    Orchids are used as food, flavorings, medicines, ornaments and perfumes. Recent clinical trials have proved the medicinal value of some traditional used orchid species. The presence of medicinally active chemicals such as polysaccharides and secondary metabolites including alkaloids, glycosides, phenolic compounds and many others have been also documented in orchid tissues. Orchids are most often used in the modern world as ornamentals and represent 8 percent of the global floriculture trade.

  • Bangor to have artists paint murals on Waterfront Concert fence

    The City of Bangor’s Cultural Commission and City Staff in conjunction with Waterfront Concerts are teaming up to create a community-based mural project to provide free walls for the community as a way to promote arts & culture along with beautification, community safety, youth empowerment and graffiti prevention in the City of Bangor.

    "Over the last 6 years Bangor has made tremendous progress in revitalizing our waterfront for the whole community. The new fence and the inclusion of an art/ mural project for young people and other community members is another positive step forward for us," said Former Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci, who currently serves as a City Councilor.

    The eight-foot-tall cedar board fence located at the rear of the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, running 320 feet, would offer area artists “an extraordinary canvas,” said Alex Gray of Waterfront Concerts. “Beyond the benefits of safety and security, we recognize the opportunity to foster local talent and showcase the region’s creative spirit.”

    The project is in the early planning stages with the first phase focused on the pavilion’s rear interior wall. The notion is to create ‘free walls’ for artistic expression, space for artists to paint legally and to share their work with a large and diverse audience.

    Gray and his team reached out to the City of Bangor’s Cultural Commission and City Staff who upon research discovered many many other mural projects and beautification initiatives across the country in which cities have worked with businesses, community-based programs, educators, and non-profits to help provide “safe spaces” for artists and to deter vandalism.

    Outdoor murals have proven effective in combatting destructive graffiti, supporting arts and culture, and contributing to economic development and will further compliment the fan experience at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

    “We applaud Waterfront Concerts for its continued commitment to the City of Bangor,” said Kierie Piccinnini, chair of the City’s Commission on Cultural Development. “The Commission is eager to support this bold vision and look forward to helping flesh out the details.”

    Artists and community-based groups interested in participating in the Free Walls project are encouraged to contact to learn more.

  • October is ARTober in Bangor, Maine, a local celebration of arts and culture

    Downtown Bangor, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    Planned by the Bangor City Council Commission on Cultural Development, the art celebration will showcase more than 80 events and exhibitions, including live performances, art exhibits, lectures and workshops at 30 venues.

    A complete listing of events is available on the city’s website at

    Venues for ARTober include the University of Maine Museum of Art, the Bangor Opera House, Bangor International Airport, Bangor Mall, Bangor Public Library, public parks and numerous local businesses.

    Most ARTober events will be free and open to the public. The variety of events was developed by reaching out to numerous arts and cultural organizations in Bangor.

    Last June, the cultural commission received a $10,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation for support and programming related to ARTober. That doubles the commission’s annual budget allocation from the City Council of $10,000.

    ARTober coincides with National Arts & Humanities Month, a nationwide recognition of the importance of culture in America.