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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.

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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.

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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.

ORNL's awake imaging device moves diagnostics field forward

April 4, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

A technology being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory promises to provide clear images of the brains of children, the elderly, and people with Parkinson's and other diseases without the use of uncomfortable or intrusive restraints. Awake imaging provides motion compensation reconstruction, which removes blur caused by motion, allowing physicians to get a transparent picture of the functioning brain without anesthetics that can mask conditions and alter test results.

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Scientists develop biomaterial that mimics squid beak

April 3, 2013 11:05 am | News | Comments

Researchers led by scientists at Case Western Reserve University have turned to an unlikely model to make medical devices safer and more comfortable—a squid's beak. Many medical implants require hard materials that have to connect to or pass through soft body tissue. This mechanical mismatch leads to problems such as skin breakdown at abdominal feeding tubes in stroke patients and where wires pass through the chest to power assistive heart pumps. Enter the squid.

Telerobotic system designed to treat bladder cancer

April 3, 2013 9:18 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt University | News | Comments

Although bladder cancer is the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S. and the most expensive to treat, the basic method that doctors use to treat it hasn’t changed much in more than 70 years. A research team may soon be changing that dramatically after having developed a prototype telerobotic platform designed to be inserted through natural orifices—in this case the urethra—that can provide surgeons with a much better view, making it easier to remove tumors.

Obama proposes $100M for brain mapping project

April 2, 2013 12:35 pm | by Nedra Pickler, Associated Press | News | Comments

President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked Congress to spend $100 million next year on a new project to map the human brain in hopes of eventually finding cures for disorders like Alzheimer's, epilepsy and traumatic injuries. The BRAIN Initiative, he said, could create jobs and eventually lead to answers to ailments including Parkinson's and autism and help reverse the effect of a stroke.

Obama to propose $100M brain mapping project

April 2, 2013 9:46 am | by NEDRA PICKLER - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

President Barack Obama is proposing a new research investment to map the human brain in hopes of eventually finding treatments for traumatic injuries and disorders like Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy. The president planned to propose an initial $100 million investment next year during remarks Tuesday morning. The White House said in a statement that the goal of the project—called the BRAIN Initiative for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies—is "to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind" and create jobs.

New instrument will quickly detect biothreat agents

April 2, 2013 8:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a medical instrument that will be able to quickly detect a suite of biothreat agents, including anthrax, ricin, botulinum, shiga, and SEB toxin. The device, once developed, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and commercialized, would most likely be used in emergency rooms in the event of a bioterrorism incident.

3D scaffolds a new tool to fight cancer

April 1, 2013 4:16 pm | News | Comments

Porous polymer scaffolds fabricated to support the growth of biological tissue for implantation may hold the potential to greatly accelerate the development of cancer therapeutics. Researchers at Rice University, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Mount Sinai Medical Center reported that 3D scaffolds used to culture Ewing's sarcoma cells were effective at mimicking the environment in which such tumors develop.

Scientists get inside look at how AIDS virus grooms its assault team

April 1, 2013 1:20 pm | News | Comments

A new study by a team of scientists defines previously unknown properties of transmitted HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. The viruses that successfully pass from a chronically infected person to a new individual are both remarkably resistant to a powerful initial human immune-response mechanism, and they are blanketed in a greater amount of envelope protein that helps them access and enter host cells.

MicroRNA detection on the cheap

March 29, 2013 7:37 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Current methods of detecting microRNA (miRNA) can be time consuming and costly: The custom equipment used in such tests costs more than $100,000, and the limited throughput of these systems further hinders progress. Two Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni are helping to rectify these issues through their fast-growing, Cambridge-headquartered startup, Firefly BioWorks Inc., which provides technology that allows for rapid miRNA detection in a large number of samples using standard laboratory equipment.

A solution to antibiotic-resistant bacteria

March 28, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

Through the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, several types of bacteria have become resistant to drugs that were designed to kill them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that some of these "superbugs" are linked to tens of thousands of deaths in the United States annually, including 14,000 for C. difficile and 19,000 for MRSA. Technology developed by Purdue University researchers and commercialized through a Purdue Research Park-based firm could be effective against the increased number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in the world.

Scientists find new gene markers for cancer risk

March 27, 2013 2:37 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person's risk for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer, scientists reported Wednesday. The potential payoff for ordinary people is mostly this: Someday there may be genetic tests that help identify women with the most to gain from mammograms, and men who could benefit most from PSA tests and prostate biopsies.

Nanotechnology research study turns brain tumors blue

March 27, 2013 11:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Georgia Tech and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have developed a technique that assists in identifying tumors from normal brain tissue during surgery by staining tumor cells blue. The technique could be critically important for hospitals lacking sophisticated equipment in preserving the maximum amount of normal tissue and brain function during surgery.

Wyss Institute lands contract to advance “spleen-on-a-chip”

March 26, 2013 12:41 pm | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has been awarded a $9.25 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to further advance a blood-cleansing technology developed at the institute. The device uses magnetic nanobeads coated with genetically engineered proteins to cleanse pathogens from the bloodstream, and may one day be used in hospitals or the battlefield.

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