Age of miracles?

Maybe, an amazing breakthrough in medicine:

For the first time, an animal has drawn a breath with lungs cultivated in the lab. Although preliminary, the results might eventually lead to replacement lungs for patients.

Tissue engineers are enthusiastic about a technique called decellularization that involves using detergent to remove all of the cells from an organ, leaving a scaffold consisting of the fibrous material between cells. The material serves as a template for fresh cells, orchestrating their assembly and growth into a new organ. The technique has yielded implantable liver grafts for rats.

The team started with decellularized adult rat lungs, which retain the organs’ branching airways and blood vessel network, and added a mixture of lung cells from newborn rats. Niklason says that the crucial step was nurturing the would-be lungs in a bioreactor that circulates fluid—simulating what would happen during fetal development—or air through them. The cells stuck to the scaffold in the right locations and multiplied. After up to 8 days in the bioreactor, they had coalesced into what the researchers’ tests indicated was functional lung tissue.

To determine whether the new organs worked, the researchers removed rats’ left lungs and stitched in lab-grown replacements. X-rays showed that the implanted lungs were inflating, though not fully. Tests of gas levels in blood flowing to and from the replacement organs showed that they were taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide at 95% of normal efficiency. The researchers allowed the animals to breathe with the lungs for up to 2 hours before euthanizing them because of blood clots.

Rats Breathe With Lab-Grown Lungs

Even if these are not fully artificial lungs, the fact that they can be made from cadaver parts means that the supply is greatly increased and that the risk of rejection is essentially eliminated. A fantastic breakthrough if the clotting problems can be resolved.

Maybe not, if the Federal Reserve is partying like it is 1937:

Commenter JimP has been hammering Obama on monetary policy almost since the beginning of this blog.  I suppose at times people might have thought JimP was a bit of a crackpot.  But guess what, Jim gets the last laugh.  Perhaps you didn’t notice a very telling fact presented in the article.  Look at the phrase “Key members of the five-man Board.”  That refers to the Board of Governors.  If you remember your money and banking classes you might think “doesn’t the Board have seven members?”  Usually it does, and it usually dominates the 12 man FOMC (which includes 5 regional bank presidents.)  But two seats were empty when Obama took office.  Did Obama rush to fill the seats so that monetary stimulus could provide support for fiscal stimulus?  No, he waited for over a year to even nominate anyone to the Board.  From this article, I infer that the recent nominees have not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

Obama’s most costly error

I all the suggested policies to deal with the recession, regulatory reform, fiscal stimulus, monetary stimulus, or doing nothing, I believe that monetary stimulus has the highest likelihood of helping and the lowest risks of subsequent harm. That said, if the recalculation story is right, it won’t help much, only time and clear policies will do so.

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