February 18, 2020

New UF-created technologies on the market

Simplified spinal implant to boost patient safety, comfort

A UF research team has developed a new spinal implant that back-surgery patients can wear in lieu of complex and accident-prone screws, plates and cages. It is one piece and allows patients a greater range of motion that mimics natural vertebrae. Sliding and rotating parts common in spinal implants can create a host of potential complications, so this piece eliminates the danger. Features include flexibility, increased comfort and reduced cost of back surgery.

Possible remedy to citrus greening disease limits pests’ ability to spread

Citrus greening disease is responsible for the destruction of millions of acres of U.S. crops. The Asian citrus psyllid is one insect that often carries and spreads this disease, for which there is no known remedy. In a previous study, UF scientists altered a citrus virus so that it expressed antimicrobial peptides in citrus, according to a UF news release. “Some of these antimicrobial peptides may be able to kill the bacteria that cause citrus greening disease,” according to the release. Now, the research group has used the same citrus virus to interrupt genes in the Asian citrus psyllid development. When the insects eat crops with the modified virus, or “viral vector” in it, it causes genetic modifications that limits the pests’ ability to spread.

Multiple sclerosis treatment boosts liver, halts disease progression

UF researchers have produced a new gene therapy treatment aimed at multiple sclerosis, in which a patient’s immune system attacks itself, resulting in neuron degeneration. Adeno-associated virus gene therapy (AAV therapy) has been proven effective, and the researchers developed a new type of the therapy that curtails the disease’s progression by helping the liver “generate cells that suppress harmful autoimmune responses,” according to a university news release.

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