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Artificial hand feels what you touch

February 6, 2014 12:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

It's not quite the bionics of science fiction, but European researchers have created a robotic hand that gave an amputee a sense of touch he hadn't felt in a decade. The experiment lasted only a week, but it let the patient feel if different objects were hard or soft, slim or round, and intuitively adjust his grasp.

The Laser-Sintering Effect

February 6, 2014 10:41 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Exposed on a vertical face, rock climbers rely on their instincts and experience just as much as their equipment for survival. Depending on the climb, an assortment of gear is used for a successful ascension to the top—carabineers, cams, harnesses, specialized climbing shoes. Different styles of footwear are used for finessing cracks, balancing on small toeholds or smearing sloping slabs, the choice depends on individual preference.

A microchip for metastasis

February 6, 2014 8:09 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Nearly 70% of patients with advanced breast cancer experience skeletal metastasis, in which cancer cells migrate from a primary tumor into bone. While scientists are attempting to better understand metastasis in general, not much is known about how and why certain cancers spread to specific organs. Now researchers have developed a 3-D microfluidic platform that mimics the spread of breast cancer cells into a bone-like environment.

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Bioengineer to create new nanoparticle to shore up arterial walls

February 5, 2014 12:21 pm | News | Comments

A Texas bioengineer has received a four-year, $1.4 million National Institutes of Health grant to create a nanoparticle system to shore up arterial walls following angioplasty and stenting procedures to treat coronary arterial disease. Kytai Nguyen discovered a way to use nanoparticles to help the arteries heal themselves more effectively.

Battelle to run CDC’s biological repository

February 5, 2014 9:07 am | News | Comments

In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) building on the outskirts of Atlanta, large metal vats are filled with a frozen array of specimens such as blood and DNA, many of them irreplaceable. Battelle has been awarded a five-year, $12.6 million contract to help manage this important biological repository, which contains 12 million biological samples.

A quicker, cheaper way to detect staph in the body

February 3, 2014 8:36 am | News | Comments

Chances are you won’t know you’ve got a staph infection until the test results come in, days after the symptoms first appear. But what if your physician could identify the infection much more quickly and without having to take a biopsy and ship it off for analysis? Researchers at the Univ. of Iowa may have found a way.

Stress turns ordinary cells pluripotent

January 29, 2014 12:20 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Japan have developed a new, surprisingly simple method for creating stem cell. In a pair of reports, the researchers show that ordinary somatic cells from newborn mice can be stripped of their differentiation memory, reverting to a state of pluripotency resembling embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. All that’s needed is a dose of sublethal stress.

Gold DNA strands close electric circuits in biosensors

January 29, 2014 12:06 pm | News | Comments

By letting DNA strands grow together with gold, scientists in Finland have developed a new concept for super-sensitive disease diagnostics. The method relies on growth of a DNA strand over a narrow gap between two electrodes in an electric circuit. The strand will only grow if a certain DNA molecule has bound to the surface of one electrode, which makes it possible to build diagnostic tests for detection of that specific DNA molecule.

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Want to get the flu? Volunteers sneeze for science

January 29, 2014 7:31 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Forget being sneezed on: Government scientists are deliberately giving dozens of volunteers the flu by squirting the live virus straight up their noses. It may sound bizarre, but the rare type of research is a step in the quest for better flu vaccines. It turns out that how the body fends off influenza remains something of a mystery.

Researchers open door to new HIV therapy

January 29, 2014 7:29 am | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

People infected with HIV can stave off the symptoms of AIDS thanks to drug cocktails that mainly target three enzymes produced by the virus, but resistant strains pop up periodically. Researchers have now focused on a fourth protein, Nef, that hijacks host proteins and is essential to HIV’s lethality. By blocking the part of a key host protein to which Nef binds, it may be possible to slow or stop HIV.

Expanding our view of vision

January 28, 2014 8:24 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Every time you open your eyes, visual information flows into your brain, which interprets what you’re seeing. Now, for the first time, Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists have noninvasively mapped this flow of information in the human brain with unique accuracy, using a novel brain-scanning technique. 

Facelift complications eased with help of 3-D imaging technique

January 28, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

Millions of people each year remove wrinkles, soften creases and plump up their lips by injecting a gel-like material into their facial tissue. These cosmetic procedures are sometimes called “liquid facelifts” and are said to be minimally invasive. It’s rare, but sometimes things go wrong. In a matter of minutes, patients’ skin can turn red or blotchy white and the injected area becomes painful.

Study: Biological donors should have access to own biobank data

January 24, 2014 11:54 am | News | Comments

Databanks containing information and biological materials from individuals are a crucial resource for research, but they are currently accessible only to researchers. In a recent paper published in Science, experts say that donors should have unrestricted access to data derived from their own material and that advanced technology means allowing such access is today a question of will rather than feasibility.

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New device prevents falls in the elderly

January 17, 2014 12:26 pm | News | Comments

Falls are a major problem for the elderly. Each year, one-third of adults over age 65 experience a fall, and one-third of those falls impact health and autonomy. The Swiss spin-off Gait Up just put an extremely thin motion sensor on the market which can detect the risk of a fall in an older person and is equally useful for sports and physical therapy.

Researchers investigating how to make PET imaging even sweeter

January 14, 2014 9:31 am | News | Comments

An international research team led by Mount Sinai Heart at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is testing its novel sugar-based tracer contrast agent to be used with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to help in the hunt for dangerous inflammation and high-risk vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque inside vessel walls that causes acute heart attacks and strokes.

Molecular nano-spies to make light work of disease detection

January 14, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

A world of cloak-and-dagger pharmaceuticals has come a step closer with the development of stealth compounds programmed to spring into action when they receive the signal. Researchers in the U.K. have designed and tested large molecular complexes that will reveal their true identity only when they’ve reached their intended target, like disguised saboteurs working deep behind enemy lines.

Turning up the heat on enzyme design

January 14, 2014 8:20 am | News | Comments

Without the help of enzymes, we couldn’t digest food or synthesize DNA: They make the right metabolic reactions happen at the right speed. But like Goldilocks, enzymes won’t tolerate conditions that are too hot or too cold. They typically function within a narrow temperature band. To give them greater range, and potentially more applications, a team of Yale Univ. engineers has developed a method for designing temperature-adaptive enzymes.

Weighing particles at the attogram scale

January 13, 2014 3:37 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have devised a way to measure the mass of particles with a resolution better than an attogram. Weighing these tiny particles, including both synthetic nanoparticles and biological components of cells, could help researchers better understand their composition and function.

Tweaking MRI to track creatine may spot heart problems earlier

January 13, 2014 10:41 am | News | Comments

A new MRI method to map creatine at higher resolutions in the heart may help clinicians and scientists find abnormalities and disorders earlier than traditional diagnostic methods, researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania suggest in a recent study. The preclinical findings show an advantage over less sensitive tests and point to a safer and more cost-effective approach than those with radioactive or contrasting agents.

Ultrasound directed to human brain can boost sensory performance

January 13, 2014 8:11 am | News | Comments

Whales, bats and even praying mantises use ultrasound as a sensory guidance system; and now a new study has found that ultrasound can modulate brain activity to heighten sensory perception in humans. Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have demonstrated that ultrasound directed to a specific region of the brain can boost performance in sensory discrimination. 

Researchers develop artificial bone marrow

January 10, 2014 12:51 pm | News | Comments

A new porous structure under development in German possesses essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of stem cells in the laboratory. The specific reproduction of these hematopoietic cells outside the body might facilitate new therapies for leukemia in a few years.

New way to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Target human cells instead

January 10, 2014 12:07 pm | News | Comments

As more reports appear of a grim “post-antibiotic era” ushered in by the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, a new strategy for fighting infection is emerging that targets a patient’s cells rather than those of the invading pathogens. The approach involves looking at a class of proteins called phosphatases that is crucial for bacterial but involves the use of the host cell’s machinery.

A Synthetic Solution Saves Lives

January 9, 2014 2:24 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In the 2nd century BC, Indian surgeon Sushruta used autografted skin transplantation in nose reconstruction, also known as rhinoplasty. This was the first reasonable account of organ transplantation recorded. The first successful human corneal transplant was performed in 1905 in the Czech Republic, and the first steps to skin transplantation occurred during World War I. The first successful kidney transplant happened in 1962 in the U.S.

Simple test can indicate cervical cancer

January 9, 2014 8:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Louisville have confirmed that using the heat profile from a person’s blood, called a plasma thermogram, can serve as an indicator for the presence or absence of cervical cancer, including the stage of cancer. To generate a plasma thermogram, a blood plasma sample is melted, producing a unique signature indicating a person’s health status.

Chemical imaging brings cancer tissue analysis into the digital age

January 8, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

A new method for analyzing biological samples' chemical makeup is set to transform the way medical scientists examine diseased tissue. When tests are carried out on a patient’s tissue today, such as to look for cancer, the test has to be interpreted by a histology specialist, and can take weeks to obtain a full result. Mass spectrometry imaging uses technologies that reveal how chemical components are distributed in a tissue sample.

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