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Wearable robots getting lighter, more portable

May 9, 2013 3:26 am | by CARLA K. JOHNSON - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

When Michael Gore stands, it's a triumph of science and engineering. Eleven years ago, Gore was paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident, yet he rises from his wheelchair and walks across the room with help from a lightweight wearable robot.

Device can extract human DNA with full genetic data in minutes

May 6, 2013 1:15 pm | News | Comments

Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device. University of Washington engineers and NanoFacture, a Bellevue, Wash., company, have created a device that can extract human DNA from fluid samples in a simpler, more efficient, and environmentally friendly way than conventional methods.

Scientists build a living patch for damaged hearts

May 6, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

Duke University biomedical engineers have grown three-dimensional human heart muscle that acts just like natural tissue. The "heart patch" grown in the laboratory from human cells overcomes two major obstacles facing cell-based therapies—the patch conducts electricity at about the same speed as natural heart cells and it "squeezes" appropriately.  

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Medtronic launches two new implanted heart devices

May 6, 2013 10:51 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Medtronic has put two new implantable heart devices on the market after receiving approval from federal regulators. The FDrA approved the sale of the Viva heart resynchronization devices and Evera implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Cardiac resynchronization therapy devices are used to treat heart failure and implantable defibrillators are used to treat rapid heartbeats.

Printable “bionic” ear melds electronics and biology

May 1, 2013 5:39 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Princeton University used off-the-shelf printing tools to create a functional ear that can "hear" radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.  Standard tissue engineering involves seeding types of cells onto a scaffold of a polymer material called a hydrogel. But this method is not useful for complex 3D shapes, which is why researchers turned to 3D printing methods.

Study: Synthetic biology research community has grown significantly

May 1, 2013 10:02 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars have recently reported that the number of private and public entities conducting research in synthetic biology worldwide grew significantly between 2009 and 2013. Their findings, which include more than 500 organizations, are tracked on an interactive online map.

Zinc: The perfect material for bioabsorbable stents?

May 1, 2013 9:49 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological University | News | Comments

In 2012, more than 3 million people had stents inserted in their coronary arteries. But the longer a stent is in the body, the greater the risk of late-stage side effects. Studies have investigated iron- and magnesium-based bioabsorbable stents, but iron rusts and magnesium dissolves too fast. Recent research shows that a certain type of zinc alloy might be the answer.

Toddler is youngest to ever get lab-made windpipe

May 1, 2013 9:34 am | by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Hannah Warren has been unable to breathe, eat, drink or swallow on her own since she was born in South Korea in 2010. Until the operation at a central Illinois hospital, she had spent her entire life in a hospital in Seoul. Now, the 2-year-old girl born without a windpipe now has a new one grown from her own stem cells, the youngest patient in the world to benefit from the experimental treatment.

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Material loss protects teeth against fatigue failure

May 1, 2013 9:07 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations conducted in Germany have shown that the reduction of natural dental wear might be the main cause for widely spread non-carius cervical lesions—the loss of enamel and dentine at the base of the crown—in our teeth. The discovery was made by examining the biomechanical behavior of teeth using finite element analysis methods typically applied to engineering problems.

Germ-zapping robots: Hospitals combat superbugs

April 29, 2013 10:49 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

They sweep. They swab. They sterilize. And still the germs persist. In U.S. hospitals, an estimated 1 in 20 patients pick up infections they didn't have when they arrived. This causes hospitals to try all sorts of new approaches to stop their spread, including machines that resemble "Star Wars" robots and emit ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide vapors.

Antibacterial hydrogel offers protection from stubborn infections

April 24, 2013 5:00 pm | News | Comments

Coating medical supplies with an antimicrobial material is one approach that bioengineers are using to combat the increasing spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria. A research team in Singapore has now developed a highly effective antimicrobial coating based on cationic polymers. The coating can be applied to medical equipment, such as catheters.

Study aims to understand how neurons represent the world

April 23, 2013 11:49 am | News | Comments

To understand the development of sensory representations within our brain, we have to comprehend how electrical activation is linked to the sensory experience. For this reason, researchers in Italy have analyzed the behavior and the activation of neural networks in rats while carrying out tactile object recognition tests. The study represents the first time that the activity of multiple neurons has been monitored.

Lost your keys? Your cat? The brain can rapidly mobilize a search party

April 22, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that when we embark on a targeted search, various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track down a person, animal, or thing. That means that if we're looking for a youngster lost in a crowd, the brain areas usually dedicated to recognizing other objects shift their focus and join the search party.

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Scientists learn what makes nerve cells so strong

April 16, 2013 11:05 am | News | Comments

How do nerve cells—which can each be up to three feet long in humans—keep from rupturing or falling apart? Recent research reports that axons, the long, cable-like projections on neurons, are made stronger by a unique modification of the common molecular building block of the cell skeleton. The finding may help guide the search for treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

X-ray approach devised to track surgical devices

April 16, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a new tool to help surgeons use X-rays to track devices used in “minimally invasive” surgical procedures while also limiting the patient’s exposure to radiation from the X-rays.

Researchers turn skin cells directly into the cells that insulate neurons

April 15, 2013 1:00 pm | News | Comments

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells, the cells that wrap nerve cells in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate. The research was done in mice and rats, but if the approach also works with human cells, it could eventually lead to cell therapies for a variety of diseases of the nervous system.

Microtransistor prototypes map the mind

April 12, 2013 9:42 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell University | News | Comments

To make better mind maps, a group of French scientists—building on prototypes developed at the Cornell University NanoScale Science and Technology Facility—have produced the world’s first microscopic, organic transistors that can amplify and record signals from within the brain itself.

Cheers for a comfy chair

April 11, 2013 10:34 am | News | Comments

A new chair developed by engineering students at Rice University will make radiation therapy sessions for cancer patients more comfortable and more effective. In cooperation with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, five Rice students have developed a seat that helps patients relax as they stay perfectly still while precise beams of radiation attack tumors.

Implanted 'bracelet' helps treat chronic heartburn

April 11, 2013 10:31 am | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A tiny magnetic bracelet implanted at the base of the throat is greatly improving life for some people with chronic heartburn who get limited relief from medicines. It's a novel way to treat severe acid reflux, which plagues millions of Americans and can raise their risk for more serious health problems.

Doctors use brain scans to “see” and measure pain

April 11, 2013 3:24 am | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer | News | Comments

In a provocative new study, scientists reported Wednesday that they were able to "see" pain on brain scans and, for the first time, measure its intensity and tell whether a drug was relieving it. Though the research is in its early stages, it opens the door to a host of possibilities. For example, scans might be used someday to tell when pain is hurting a baby, someone with dementia, or a paralyzed person unable to talk.

Overcoming barriers to medical use of microrockets and micromotors

April 11, 2013 2:13 am | News | Comments

An advance in micromotor technology akin to the invention of cars that fuel themselves from the pavement or air, rather than gasoline or batteries, is opening the door to broad new medical and industrial uses for these tiny devices, scientists said here today. Their update on development of the motors—so small that thousands would fit inside this "o"—was part of the American Chemical Society national meeting.

Robot hot among surgeons but U.S. taking fresh look

April 9, 2013 6:10 pm | by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in America last year. But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it, and the high cost of using the robotic system. Is it time to curb the robot enthusiasm?

Robot hot among surgeons but US taking fresh look

April 9, 2013 2:02 pm | by LINDSEY TANNER - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in America last year—triple the number just four years earlier. But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it, and the high cost of using the robotic system.

Innovative method to treat Alzheimer's in mice

April 5, 2013 4:57 pm | News | Comments

Researchers from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute report that they successfully used a virus vector to restore the expression of a brain protein and improve cognitive functions, in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Because it is impossible to deliver genes directly to the brain without surgery, the researchers injected the virus in the left ventricle of the heart, as this provides a direct route to the brain.

MRI-guided laser treatment for brain tumors is promising

April 5, 2013 4:37 pm | News | Comments

The NeuroBlate Thermal Therapy System is a new device that uses a minimally invasive, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided laser system to coagulate, or heat and kill, brain tumors. The MRI basically "cooks" brain tumors in a controlled fashion to destroy them. The first-in-human study of the system finds that it appears to provide a new, safe and minimally invasive procedure for treating recurrent glioblastoma, a malignant type of brain tumor.

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