Like scaffolding that props up a building, scientists are now using temporary frameworks to create custom-designed, complex new organs, which they've successfully implanted in several patients. These breakthroughs were revealed in two extraordinary studies on the engineering of body parts published Thursday in The Lancet.
Here's the basics of how the process works: Doctors first extract cells from a patient's muscle and tissue, then use those cells to seed 3-D biodegradable scaffolding of the target organ that they've constructed from scans of the patient's body. After a few weeks in an incubator, the seed cells have spread across the scaffolding to produce a layer of tissue, and the new organ is implanted in the patient. The scaffolding is absorbed into the body as the cells continue to grow.
One team worked on creating nasal cartilage, while another grew new vaginas. "This is a move forward to even more challenging [organs]," Ian Martin, a professor of tissue engineering at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland and co-author of the nasal cartilage study, told CNN. "All these incremental steps finally have demonstrated that it is possible to engineer tissue that can help patients."
The reproductive organ study involves four teenagers born with a rare condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome. The women were all born either without or with a deformed uterus or vagina. According to CNN, after receiving their new sex organs, the patients all indicated that they had "normal levels of desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and painless intercourse." Two of the patients now also menstruate.
The patients in the nasal tissue study were all elderly and had recently undergone cancer surgery. Ordinarily, doctors reconstruct noses with big pieces of cartilage taken from the ear, septum, or ribs — a very painful process. This time, scientists removed a tiny piece of tissue from each patient's nasal septum — roughly half the size of the tip of a pen — and put it onto a scaffold. The cells formed a thin layer of cartilage that was then transplanted to the patient.
Scientists hope that these amazing findings will help more people in the future, including those who need replacement cartilage or whose reproductive systems have been damaged. "Tissue engineering is finally demonstrating that it can deliver on expectations," Martin said. Catherine Garcia
Team USA beat Canada in the Olympic women's hockey finals on Thursday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in a thrilling 3-2 shootout after a hard-fought game that had ended 2-2 even after a 20-minute overtime. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson fired in the game-winning shot past Canada's Shannon Szabados, and when U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney blocked the potential equalizing shot from Canada's Meghan Agosta, the U.S. women won their first gold medal since 1998, and their second ever. Canada had won the women's hockey gold in the past four Winter Olympics.
.@TeamUSA IS GOLDEN!
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 22, 2018
Canada led near the end of regulation time, before Monique Lamoreux-Davidson — Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson's sister — tied the score 2-2. Before Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson's game-winning shot, Americans Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel had scored, as had Canadians Agosta and Melodie Daoust. It was the first time the women's hockey gold medal had ever been decided in a shootout.
That medal feeling.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) February 22, 2018
The U.S. is now in 4th place with eight golds and 21 total medals, behind Norway (33 medals), Germany (24 medals), and Canada (22 medals, 9 golds). Peter Weber
Marco Rubio stakes new gun rights positions, endures fierce grilling from Parkland survivors at CNN town hall
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) participated in a CNN town hall in Sunrise, Florida, on gun violence and school shootings Wednesday night, and it was not a particularly friendly crowd.
Rubio actually announced some new positions on gun rights. "I absolutely believe that in this country if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle, and I will support a law that takes that right away," he said. He backed "a gun violence restraining order" in which a parent or caretaker petitions authorities to prevent family members from buying guns or take guns away. Rubio said he's "reconsidering" his opposition to limiting magazine clip size because "while it may not prevent an attack, it may save lives in an attack."
Still, people who lost loved ones in the Parkland shooting grilled him. Fred Guttenberg, who's daughter was one of the 17 people killed in the shooting, told Rubio his comments over the past week have been "pathetically weak" and asked him to support a ban on assault rifles. (Rubio argued such bans don't work because people find loopholes.)
Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, asked Rubio if he would continue taking donations from the NRA. (Rubio said the NRA and other donors "buy into my agenda.")
Rubio was booed a lot, but Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told the audience that Rubio showed "guts" by coming to the forum, when President Trump and Gov. Rick Scott (R) — Nelson's possible 2018 opponent — declined invitations.
Finally, Rubio said that, unlike Trump, he does not support arming teachers. "The notion that my kids are going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something that, quite frankly, I'm comfortable with," he said. He might want to borrow a line comedian Jimmy Kimmel tried out Wednesday night: "Can you imagine if teachers are allowed to guns to school and not peanut butter?"
On Wednesday, word came that "President Trump might be supporting a ban on bump-stocks and the strengthening of background checks — which is weird, right?" Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Trump might do something good. You know you don't know how to feel about that." Maybe Trump is softening his opposition to gun laws because "he's watching the same kids we've all been watching over the past few days — survivors of the shooting" in Parkland, Florida, Noah suggested.
"Most people who see those kids are impressed by how articulate they are and they're inspired by their passion," Noah said, but others "think it's suspicious that these kids say they don't want to be shot in the face." He focused on that second group, swatting down their various conspiracy theories.
"Here's what I find funny about this whole debate," Noah said: "Most of the arguments boil down to one idea — teenagers are too young, too emotional, too inexperienced to talk about guns. But as soon as they turn 18, they can own as many of those bad boys as they want. And I guess in a way, this is now you know these students having an effect: You've never seen gun advocates so desperate that they'd start attacking the victims of a mass shooting."
"There are always crackpots in situations like this who come out of the woodwork with this irrational, this paranoia-fueled nonsense — it happened after Sandy Hook, too," Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. But it isn't normal for people like Donald Trump Jr. and NRA board member Ted Nugent to be "perpetuating this kind of stuff."
Kimmel asked viewers, especially Trump supporters, if they believe these students "are actors who are part of some kind of deep-state, left-wing conspiracy," and if the answer was yes, he had "some bad news": "You're crazy. You're a crazy person." If not, he said, "you can't just sit there and let these scumbags spread these lies about these kids." Peter Weber
For about an hour on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump sat and listened as students, parents, teachers, and others directly affected by school shootings begged him to act before the next mass shooting. The participants in the White House meeting had ties to the shootings in Parkland, Florida; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; and Columbine High School in Colorado. They offered solutions including limiting assault rifle sales to people 21 and over, arming teachers and other school employees, ramping up mental health screening, and drilling students for active-shooter situations. "It's not going to be talk like it has been in the past," Trump told them. "Too many instances, and we're going to get it done."
Trump did not commit to any of the proposals, though he said "we're going to be very strong on background checks" and "we're going to go strong on age of purchase and the mental aspect." The proposal he seemed most enthusiastic about was arming teachers and coaches, an idea that got a mixed reception. Arming teachers "is an emotional response that we have heard before," Richard Myers, head of the law enforcement group Major Cities Chiefs Association, told Trump. "I don't know of any police chief who believes this is a good idea." The NRA, meanwhile, opposed raising the age limit for purchasing AR-15 and other assault rifles, on the grounds that doing so would deprive people 18 to 20 of "their constitutional right to self-protection."
The listening session was mostly polite and frequently emotional. "It's very difficult, it's very complex, but we're going to find the solution," said Trump, holding notes reminding him to say "I hear you" and ask participants about their experiences. "There are many different ideas. Some, I guess, are good. Some aren't good. Some are very stringent, as you understand, and a lot of people think they work, and some are less so." Peter Weber
Nearly 50 senators sign bipartisan letter asking Trump to support joint U.S.-Mexico-Canada bid for 2026 World Cup
It seems there are some fans of the world's most beautiful game lurking on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday, a group of nearly 50 senators sent a letter to President Trump asking him to support an effort for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to jointly host the FIFA 2026 World Cup. In the letter, the bipartisan group wrote that the so-called "United Bid" is "an exceptional opportunity to showcase our nations' shared passions for soccer" and praised soccer's "positive impact on our local communities and on the international stage."
The joint North American bid is expected to include at least 12 cities across the three countries, and the senators wrote that "[dozens] of U.S. cities that we represent have conveyed their interest in being part of the United Bid." The 2026 World Cup will expand from a 32-team bracket to a 48-team bracket, which the website for the United Bid notes "will require world-class facilities and infrastructure to ensure a successful tournament."
Some of the letter's more notable signatories include Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The deadline for bid proposals to be submitted is March 16, and FIFA will vote on the submissions June 13. Read the senators' letter below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Just joined 42 Senators in sending a bipartisan letter to President Trump in support of @United2026. Our GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL is for the US, Canada, and Mexico to jointly host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. pic.twitter.com/B06DnaPz3F
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) February 21, 2018
What does a star look like just before it explodes? Scientists have been asking this question for a long time — and thanks to the efforts of a self-taught astronomer from Argentina, they're one step closer to the answer.
Victor Buso, a locksmith from the Argentine city of Rosario, managed to capture an image of a rare, momentary celestial phenomenon known as a "shock breakout." It's the moment that marks the transition from a star into a supernova — something that scientists have theorized about but never actually witnessed before.
During a shock breakout, energy travels from the core of the star to its outer edge, creating a burst of light that directly precedes the star's explosion. Buso happened to be in his self-constructed observatory on Sept. 20, 2016, taking images of the night sky, when he noticed an extra blip of light in his pictures that didn't match up with any known celestial body. After confirming his suspicion that the bright spot was a shock breakout with another amateur stargazer, the two alerted professionals and sent along what they had seen. The discovery was finally published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
Buso's findings could help to answer "the fundamental question," said Melina Bersten, the lead author of the report: "What is the structure of the star at the moment of explosion?" Bersten added that Buso had only about a 1 in 10 million chance of capturing an image of a shock breakout like he did. Read more about the discovery at The Washington Post. Shivani Ishwar
Life after the White House has been kind to Keith Schiller, President Trump's former bodyguard and close confidante.
CNBC reported Wednesday that the Republican National Committee is paying Schiller's private security firm, KS Global Group, a handsome $15,000 a month. CNBC noted that Schiller's pay is apparently coming from the RNC's convention fund, rather than its campaign coffers, though former special counsel for the Federal Election Commission Stephen Spaulding warned that such accounts "are notorious for being operated as slush funds."
The RNC's most recent financial disclosure reveals that Schiller's firm has received $75,000 from the party since October, CNBC reported, which is apparently for "consulting on the site selection process" for the 2020 Republican convention. Spaulding said the sum was more akin to "a fat payout from the RNC and its deep-pocketed donors."
KS Global Group got its gig with the RNC only a few weeks after Schiller left the White House in September, CNBC said. The firm is apparently providing the RNC with "security services" in addition to its purported assistance with the 2020 convention. Read more about Schiller's cushy gig at CNBC. Kelly O'Meara Morales