Research Projects

Following an orthopedic procedure, surgeons usually rely on X-rays or MRIs to monitor the progress of their patient’s recovery. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Rensselaer, Albany Medical College, and UAlbany has collaborated to create a new, implantable sensor which can wirelessly transmit data from the site of a recent orthopedic surgery. The new sensors can give surgeons detailed, real-time information from the actual surgery site.
A major aspect of regenerative medicine is to develop tissue engineering techniques that allow a defective organ or tissue to be replaced with a normally functioning substitute. One key challenge of creating engineered tissue, however, is the lack of a perfused microvascular network which serves to supply oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. The endothelial cells forming this vascular network not only serve as pipes carrying blood through the tissue, they also play a critical role in the development and differentiation of cells comprising the tissue.
Today, more than 105 years since Alois Alzheimer identified amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease is still a major challenge. There is still uncertainly about what causes Alzheimer’s disease, and according to the American Health Assistance Foundation the only way at present to definitively diagnose the disease is through a brain biopsy. This is a problem because the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease begins 5-10 years before symptoms warrant a diagnosis.
Colorectal cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality, with more than 140,000 cases diagnosed annually in the United States. The incidence of colon cancer in New York state is 50 per 100,000 individuals, or about 4,000 cases every year. Instances of the disease are expected to increase as the national and state populations age. Despite the availability of several effective treatments, colon cancer is associated with a persistent mortality rate of about 35 percent. There is a clear need for new therapeutic strategies and effective preventive approaches for colon cancer.
The primary culprits in Alzheimer’s disease are toxic protein particles composed of many copies of the Alzheimer’s protein. Researchers are actively investigating new therapeutic strategies for treating Alzheimer’s disease by preventing formation of such toxic protein particles that are lethal to brain cells. While straightforward in theory, this approach has proven extremely difficult to achieve in practice.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and incurable neurodegenerative disease, and is the most widespread form of dementia. More than 5.3 million Americans, and more than 100 million people worldwide, have Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to quadruple by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is fatal, and today is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. While the disease is a major cause of dementia in the elderly, it is not the sole cause.
Chronic wounds, which do not behave or heal in an orderly progression like normal wounds, are a significant problem for patients and heath care providers around the world. Chronic wounds can take years to heal, or may never heal at all. They are known to be extremely painful, and can be debilitating in older patients or individuals who are obese or diabetic.
Recent estimates suggest that chronic pain affects approximately 116 million American citizens at an annual cost of around $600 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. Chronic neuropathic pain, often resulting from disease or nerve damage, is a widespread debilitating affliction that is notoriously difficult to treat. Drugs for treating chronic neuropathic pain only help about 40 percent of patients, but are associated with many efficacy-limiting side effects.
In November, 2011, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test screening for prostate cancer in healthy men. The task force said the potential risks of PSA testing outweigh the potential benefits, and said “there is little evidence PSA testing saves lives but rather that many men instead suffer from impotence, incontinence, heart attacks related to treatment of tiny tumors that would never kill them.”