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Behind The Scenes With The K-Team

BOSTON (Ivanhoe Newswire) --From Band-Aids for your heart to smart needles, a group of scientists and doctors are working hard to create innovations to solve unmet medical needs. Their inspiration and approach to help patients is much different than most. We take you inside the Karp Lab.

Like the A-team they solve problems, but this is the K-team. They’re visionaries not mercenaries.

“We have chemists, material scientists, immunologists, basic biologists. We also have a cardiovascular surgeon, gastrointestinal surgeon,” Jeffrey Karp, Co-director of regenerative therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital told Ivanhoe.

Chemical and Bio-engineer Dr. Jeffrey Karp is leader of the Karp Lab. While a lot of labs focus on a particular technology or disease, at this lab they’re tackling dozens. Their mission is to create technologies to solve big medical needs. Geckos’ gripping feet are the inspiration for one innovation--a nano scale adhesive.

“That can almost serve as like a duct tape or like a Band-Aid but for internal procedures,” Karp said.

It could be used after a variety of surgeries to prevent leaking or bleeding and to heal hearts after a heart attack.

Like your car’s GPS, the lab’s developing technology to tell transplanted cells where to go. Programming them would help more cells survive during bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

“We know the zip code of blood vessels in different tissues,” Karp explained.

Inspired by oil drilling, the needle they use has a clutch so it never overshoots its mark. An injectable gel is designed to go into an arthritic joint and wait to attack pain.

“And only in the presence of inflammation, when there’s lots of enzymes that are secreted this gel will then disassemble and release the payload,” Karp added.

The gel could also be used to prevent brain tumors from re-growing, a special cream could help you cope with a nickel allergy. Karp says about 15 percent of the population suffers from it, including himself.

“And it’s a burning, itching feeling,” Karp explained.

Made of nanoparticles just rub it into your skin.

“It’d be able to capture the nickel and prevent it from penetrating the skin,” Karp concluded.

These are just a few of the projects this team’s working on to improve your health and quality of life.

The Karp Lab’s work is funded in part by grants. Right now, money from the American Heart Association and the Brain Science Foundation is paying for some of the research. Karp tells us the nickel allergy cream could be available to the public within a year. Some of the other devices and technologies could take a few years or more to hit the market.

Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:

Jeffrey M. Karp, PhD
Assistant Professor in Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology
Harvard Medical School Director
Laboratory for Advanced Biomaterials and Stem-Cell-Based Therapeutics
Brigham & Women's Hospital

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Prior Reports
DBIS was a joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics from January 2005 - December 2011.
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