In 2010, telemedicine was used to guide the insertion of a chest tube in a 72-year-old South Dakota farmer who had been pinned by a cow. Physicians in Sioux Falls talked am inexperienced doctor through the steps to stop the bleeding and drain the blood collecting inside the man. It's a system that's gaining wider use across the rural U.S., where there are often few primary care doctors and even fewer emergency rooms.
Rice Univ. bioengineers are developing a simple, highly accurate test to detect signs of HIV and its progress in patients in resource-poor settings. The current gold standard to diagnose HIV in infants and to monitor viral load depends on laboratory equipment and technical expertise generally available only in clinics. The new research features a nucleic acid-based test that can be performed at the site of care.
Hospital germs can be fatal, since they are resistant to antibiotics. As a result, alternative methods of defense against bacteria are in demand. Fortunately, a German-French research team has been able to develop bone implants that keep the germs at bay. The solutions depends on a breakthrough that allows scientists to imbue apatite crystals with calcium phosphate.
Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. The disease can be caused by both external and internal factors; and, if the spread isn’t controlled, it can result in death. The annual cancer statistics report from the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 1,885,540 new cancer cases and 585,720 cancer deaths in the U.S. for 2014.
The human lymphatic system is a poorly understood circulatory system consisting of tiny vessels spread throughout the body. These vessels are filled with lymph, a clear liquid that lacks the natural contrast needed to show up on CT scanners or MRIs. A new technology developed in Texas can non-invasively image the human lymphatic system using a fluorescent dye, commercial laser dioded, and military-grade night vision devices.
Patients trying to navigate today’s complex medical system with its costly laboratory analyses might prefer a pain-free home diagnostic device, worn on the wrist, that can analyze, continuously record and immediately remedy low electrolyte levels. Runners, athletes in other strenuous sports and soldiers on long missions also might prefer immediate knowledge of their electrolytic states as an aid to improved performance.
Artificial joints have a limited lifespan. After a few years, many hip and knee joints have to be replaced. More problematic are intervertebral disc implants, which cannot easily be replaced after they “expire” and are usually reinforced, which restrict a patient’s movement. Researchers in Switzlernad have now succeeded in coating mobile intervertebral disc implants so that they show no wear and will now last for a lifetime.
New research from North Carolina State Univ. pinpoints the areas of the cerebral cortex that are affected in mice with absence epilepsy and shows that transplanting embryonic neural cells into these areas can alleviate symptoms of the disease by reducing seizure activity. The work may help identify the areas of the human brain affected in absence epilepsy and lead to new therapies for sufferers.
The first preclinical study of a new Rice Univ.-developed anticancer technology found that a novel combination of existing clinical treatments can instantaneously detect and kill only cancer cells without harming surrounding normal organs. The research reports that Rice’s “quadrapeutics” technology was 17 times more efficient than conventional chemoradiation therapy against aggressive, drug-resistant head and neck tumors.
A fast and cost-effective genetic test to determine the correct dosage of blood thinning drugs for the treatment of stroke, heart problems and deep vein thrombosis has been developed by researchers in Singapore. The new test, which uses gold nanoparticles mixed with DNA samples in solution, can quickly recognize three of the most common genetic variations associated with warfarin response.
Every year, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have little mesh tubes called stents inserted into their blood vessels to prop them open. The procedure has saved many lives, but it still has potentially deadly downsides. Now scientists are reporting that coating stents with vitamin C could lower the implants’ risks even further.
A new technology developed in Denmark uses the HIV virus as a tool in the fight against hereditary diseases and, in the long term, against HIV infection as well. The technology repairs the genome in a new and safer manner by using the virus as nanoparticles to manage the “cut and paste” approach to modifying the genome.
Deep brain stimulators, devices that zap Parkinson’s disease tremors by sending electrical current deep into nerve centers near the brain stem, may sound like they are cutting-edge, but Rice Univ.’s Caleb Kemere wants to give them a high-tech overhaul.
Scientists have recently combined optical coherence tomography (OCT) with other instruments to help doctors provide safer, less painful, and more effective care for women in labor and people with diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Their work, to be showcased at CLEO in San Jose, Calif., in June 2014, will enable precision-guided epidural needles and blood flow measurements without contrast agents.
Conventional radiographic procedures generate images based on the absorption of x-rays as they pass through tissue. Newly developed x-ray dark-field radiography uses new technology to monitor wave changes during tissue transmission to create higher resolution images. Researchers in Germany have recently tested this technique for the first time on a living organism and report that the method shows promise in detecting diseases earlier.
Doctors in Italy have designed a miniature dialysis machine for babies, used for the first time last year to save a newborn girl. Usually, doctors adapt standard dialysis machines for babies, but that can be risky since the devices can't always be accurately tweaked. About 1 to 2% of hospitalized infants have kidney problems that may require dialysis, which cleans toxins from the blood when the kidneys aren't working.
Researchers at the Univ. of Massachusetts will lead an international team of scientists in the development and implementation of a new optogenetic platform that can remotely activate neurons inside a free-moving organism. Using a new class of nanoparticles they propose to selectively turn on non-image forming photoreceptors inside mice and Drosophila, unencumbered by the fiber optic wires currently used in optogenetic technologies.
A chip-scale device that both produces and detects a specialized gas used in biomedical analysis and medical imaging has been built and demonstrated at NIST. Described in Nature Communications, the new microfluidic chip produces polarized (or magnetized) xenon gas and then detects even the faintest magnetic signals from the gas.
A Stanford Univ. electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators or new sensors and devices yet to be developed. The discoveriesculminate years of efforts to eliminate the bulky batteries and clumsy recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used.
To the relief of patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two new treatments late last year, and a few more are on the way. Now scientists are solving another side of the disease’s problem: identifying the millions more who have the virus but don’t know it—and unwittingly pass it on. A report in Analytical Chemistry describes a novel, scrapbook-inspired test that does just that.
When doctors perform an MRI, they administer a contrast agent: a chemical that, when injected into the bloodstream or ingested by the patient just before the MRI, improves the clarity of structures or organs in the resulting image. Researchers in Illinois have turned contrast agent technology “inside out” to develop a scalable new way of building multipurpose agents using nanoparticles.
Scientists have advanced a brain-scanning technology that tracks what the brain is doing by shining dozens of tiny LED lights on the head. This new generation of neuroimaging compares favorably to other approaches but avoids the radiation exposure and bulky magnets the others require, according to new research at Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St. Louis.
A new “lab-on-a-chip” platform developed at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain is capable of detecting detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. The device, just a few square centimeters in size, uses recent advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of Vienna have created an imaging system that reveals neural activity throughout the brains of living animals. This technique, the first that can generate 3-D movies of entire brains at the millisecond timescale, could help scientists discover how neuronal networks process sensory information and generate behavior.
Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have a potential solution for how to more effectively kill tumor cells using cancer-killing viruses. The investigators report that trapping virus-loaded stem cells in a gel and applying them to tumors significantly improved survival in mice with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common brain tumor in human adults and also the most difficult to treat.