Frontiers in Chemical Engineering.. Research Needs and by Amundson N.R., et al.

By Amundson N.R., et al.

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This naturally occurring enzyme dissolves blood clots as part of the normal healing process. By administering relatively large quantities of it, clot breakdown time can be shortened from about a week to under an hour. Normal circulating levels of tPA are low, so that to accomplish this dramatic clot breakdown one would need the amount of tPA contained in 50,000 liters of blood. This is clearly not practical. Instead, the molecule has been cloned and expressed in mammalian cells so that it can be produced in quantity.

The normal growth of tissues and organs is under a remarkable degree of natural control. When this is compromised by genetic or mutagenic alterations, pathological processes such as birth defects or cancer can result. We need a better basic understanding of this control process. Theoretical and systematic advances by chemical engineers in process control may be applicable to the study of this problem. While the mechanical performance of artificial materials in the human body can be predicted with some reliability, forecasting their biological performance is difficult.

By the mid-1970s, hemodialysis had graduated from an experimental procedure to a well-established, reliable, and safe means of sustaining patients suffering from acute and chronic renal failure. Today, hemodialysis and its companion process, hemofiltration, are standard hospital and clinical procedures and are responsible for major reductions in mortality and morbidity due to kidney failure (Plate 1). The success of the artificial kidney can be attributed to the relative simplicity of its task.

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