August 18, 2015

One of the many benefits of donating blood is that you get to find out your blood type.

But what exactly determines your type?

There are more than 20 blood group systems known today, but blood centers typically use the ABO and Rh systems to differentiate blood types. In those systems, your blood type can be A, B, AB or O, and either Rh positive or Rh negative.

The ABO types are determined by antigens and antibodies. Antigens are located on the surface of red blood cells and antibodies are in the blood plasma, the liquid that carries blood cells around the body:

August 10, 2015

A New York-based bioscience research company has received a grant to investigate the use of stem cells for treating the leading cause of blindness among older people in this country.

Caladrius Biosciences Inc. will conduct a three-year study of ways to use stem cells to treat macular degeneration, which affects more than 10 million people in the United States.

Macular degeneration is the gradual loss of vision caused by deterioration of a part of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for sharp, central vision.

There is no outright cure for macular degeneration, which is most likely to occur in people 55 and older.

August 5, 2015

From inspecting the far reaches of cornfields to delivering your latest electronics, researchers and businesses seem to be finding new uses for drones every day.

And now, medical science has taken flight with the use of what are known officially as “unmanned aerial systems.”

Researchers in the United States and in Uganda looked into the feasibility of using a drone to transport diagnostic lab specimens from remote areas to laboratories for testing.

They collected blood samples, then packed half of them and flew them in drones under normal flight conditions, including rough takeoffs and landings.

They then took all the samples to a laboratory for testing. The result: There was no appreciable difference between the samples that had been airborne and those that had not.

August 3, 2015

Among all the organs in your body, few are as good at repairing themselves as the liver. Sometimes, though, even the liver can’t fix damage caused by cirrhosis and acute failure.

Enter stem cells. A team of researchers in the United Kingdom has, for the first time ever, repaired a severely damaged liver in a lab mouse by transplanting liver stem cells that were grown in a laboratory.

The transplanted stem cells converted themselves into hepatocytes, the cells in the liver than produce proteins and break down toxins, restoring functionality to the organ.

“Revealing the therapeutic potential of these liver stem cells brings us a step closer to developing stem cell based treatments for patients with liver disease,” said Stuart Forbes, of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

July 29, 2015

Of the three typical components of blood donations – red blood cells, plasma and platelets – platelets are the most in demand.

The reason: They have a short shelf life. They are usable for just five days after donation.

That’s why the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center encourages platelet donation, both at its locations in San Antonio, New Braunfels and Victoria, and at specially designed buses for mobile drives. You can donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year.

Here are some facts about donating platelets:

Anyone who is at least 17 years of age, weighs at least 110 pounds and is in good general health may be eligible to donate platelets. Donation also depends on the body’s platelet count, which will be assessed before donation.