September 08, 2015
It's Alive! All About Lab Grown Limbs
When it comes to advances in technology, it seems that there is no limit to what people can achieve. When we look at the news, we see talk of 3-D printing, high-speed railways, and the race to get humans to Mars. Perhaps the most impressive of all, however, is the news of lab-grown limbs. While it is still an emerging science, it promises to be one of the most important in the history of mankind.
Recently, American scientists, working out of Massachusetts General Hospital, were able to grow a macaque monkey arm in a laboratory. Taking human cells, researchers infused the "scaffold" of a monkey"s arm and began creating blood cells and vessels.
Prior to this, other body parts have been grown in the lab, including a rodent"s arm, a beating heart, and lungs. And while the monkey"s arm is not fully formed (so far, it is just the vascular system that has been created), the research being conducted could one day lead to organ and limb replacement in humans. This medical breakthrough could aid in increasing lifespans and providing new options for the disabled.
One thing we overlook when we think of these marvels of medicine and technology is the role that our industry plays in them. While we applaud the efforts of scientists, researchers, and inventors (and rightly so), the people behind the scenes are often forgotten. However, without the efforts of those of us in the reliability industry, many of these important advances would not be possible.
Consider the equipment required to undertake such a difficult task as growing a limb. Hours of intricate research would be involved, requiring functioning computers with cutting-edge hardware and cooling systems to prevent overheating and data loss. These same computers would require a high-speed network and redundancy system for backups and the transportation of information.
Speaking of cooling systems, organic material such as tissue and blood cells must be kept at exact temperatures. The slightest deviation could ruin samples along with hours of work and dedication. Having a well-maintained heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system that functions properly is key in this environment. An HVAC system that can also remove allergens, dust, and particles from the air is also important.
Another way facility managers can help in this type of medical setting is through the application of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Organization is pivotal in this setting, and having a centralized place to store documentation, track time, and schedule tasks is crucial. Being able to follow up on these tasks and monitor their progress is also important, as is providing reporting for budgetary and compliance concerns.
The same reporting tools a CMMS provides can also be used to measure the success of things such as clinical trials. Just as you could store vendor and warranty information in maintenance software, you could also input patient and donor data for safekeeping and easy access. The same goes for patient charts and files: No more disorganized manila envelopes and heavy filing cabinets!
So next time you marvel at the wonders of modern science, step back and take a moment to think of those men and women behind the scenes who make all of that magic possible: people like you and me and all of our colleagues in the facility management field!