“Can we grow organs instead of transplanting them?” — asks Anthony Atala, surgeon and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
The first organ transplant occurred in Boston in 1954. Since then, many advances have been made and many lives saved. But we still have an extreme shortage of organs. In the last decade alone, the number of patients requiring a transplant has doubled, whereas the number of available organs has remained constant – the result of an increasingly ageing population.
“We are just getting older”, says Anthony Atala. Yes, medicine is doing a great job in prolonging life, but as we age, our organs tend to fail more. What can we do about it?
Still shot from TED talk: Growing new organs, by Anthony Atala, who calls the shortage of organs available for transplant a “public health crisis”
What if doctors could grow a precise, functioning replica of a patient’s old, damaged organ? Continue reading →
The UK’s national synchrotron facility, Diamond Light Source, is now the first and only place in Europe where pathogens requiring Containment Level 3 – including serious viruses such as those responsible for AIDS, Hepatitis and some types of flu – can be analysed at atomic and molecular level using synchrotron light. The synchrotron produces beams of light that can be used to investigate the structure and properties of a wide range of tiny entities, such as proteins and viruses. Level 3 is one step down from the most dangerous types of infectious agent, such as Ebola, which can only be handled in the most secure government facilities.
Telehealth, the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies, has led to significant reductions in hospital re-admissions and bed days among early adopters such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM)— also referred to as home telehealth, telehomecare, and telemonitoring—can help improve coordination, improve patients’ experience of care, and reduce hospital admissions and costs. Such technologies remotely collect, track, and transmit health data from a patient’s home to a health care provider and can facilitate communication and help engage patients in the management of their own care (Broderick and Lindeman, 2013). Continue reading →
In 1832, Charles Darwin stood on the deck of the HMS Beagle in Tenerife and looked out to sea. He was amazed by the glow emanating from the ocean. On a night in January 1832, off the coast of Tenerife, a young Charles Darwin wandered up on to the deck of the HMS Beagle. As the young naturalist looked out to sea, he was struck by the unearthly glow emanating from the ocean.
“The sea was luminous in specks & in the wake of the vessel of an uniform slight milky colour. When the water was put into a bottle it gave out sparks for some few minutes after having been drawn up.” – Zoology notes, 1832-1836
Darwin was almost certainly describing the light emitted by tiny marine organisms called dinoflagellates, which hold the capacity of bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence refers to the light that some organisms emit from their cells, which comes from a chemical reaction in the living cells and can occur in the absence of light. Continue reading →
Matt Wall (Computing for Psychlogists) introduces the interactive ebook that’s just been released detailing the adventures of Ned the Neuron – a proper story-book, but with three interactive games built in, all with the aim of teaching kids about basic neuroscience.
“The Adventures of Ned the Neuron was designed with kids ages 7-11 in mind, but it is fun and educational for adults as well!” – say the developers
“Antibiotic use on farms is increasing not decreasing, so despite the initiatives and efforts we have heard about, the trends are heading in the wrong direction.”
The golden age of antibiotics has been short-lived but the move towards a post-antibiotic era has been slow to occur. We should have cut back on the use of antibiotics years ago, this would have enabled us to ‘save’ antibiotics for those extreme cases where infection is very difficult to treat otherwise. Instead, physicians have largely overlooked the looming threat of antibiotic resistance and patients have ignorantly continued to use them in scenarios where they are completely unnecessary.
For the first time since 1998, when a report was published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology on Antibiotics, the Parliament has last week finally drawn attention to the overuse of antibiotics and its consequences. Continue reading →
“The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, thereby inspiring the formation of new industries and the revitalization of markets that are currently stuck due to existing failures or a commonly held belief that a solution is not possible.” – X Prize website.
Founded in 1995, the X Prize Foundation is a non-profit organization, based in California, that designs and manages public competitions intended to encourage technological development that could benefit mankind.
X Prizes are monetary rewards to create incentive. It is aimed to encourage teams around the world to invest the intellectual and financial capital needed to solve difficult challenges. The idea is to offer money in order to promote creation and innovation.
This is a cross between a high-tech vending machine and an automated banking machine. But instead of sweets or cash, it dispenses drugs. And although I haven’t seen any in London (yet) – they do exist already and have been around for over a year now. In the UK included.Continue reading →
Telehealth keeps propping up on the web, more and more each week. This is a clear indication that it really is coming our way, and that we should all get on board to make the most of it! For those that missed the introductory post about telehealth, read up about it here. Alternatively – this definition will suffice for now: telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance, and telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. Think doctors visits without the actual visits.. straight from your living room by use of smartphone/computer. Think patient care from a distance.. Think use of robots to see, hear, talk and move around in a distant location.. as if you were there. And before your thoughts drift off to teleportation and you think ‘no way’, check this out. Continue reading →
VGo replicates a person in a distant location. See, hear, talk and move around as if you were there. — VGo website
Devon Carrow is a 7 year-old boy from NY, USA with allergies so severe he is not able to leave home and attend Winchester Elementary School. But he still sees his friends, still rushes to get to school before the morning bell, still has mum telling him to hurry-up and brush his teeth before the lesson starts. How???!!!!
Using the VGo (pronounced Vee-Go) robot, Devon is able to attend class, talk to his teacher and socialize, just like any, dare-I-say “normal” child. VGo is 100% remote-controlled from a laptop and has a 2-way video and audio communication system. The VGo is a mobile device that you call into that carries your presence. Using the software application downloaded to your computer, you can initiate connectivity. The VGo robot enables the user to not only see, hear and talk, but also to move around and be in distant locations.
Men can lose the ability to make sperm after chemotherapy. This is because cancer drugs are designed to target rapidly dividing cells, the typical feature of cancer. Unfortunately, other healthy rapidly dividing cells can also be killed – and these include the cells that produce sperm. The only viable option today is to freeze sperm samples prior to undergoing chemotherapy, and to use these at later date for artificial insemination. But this is not an option for young boys, who are yet to reach puberty and do not produce sperm.
Although prepubescent boys do not produce sperm, they do possess “spermatogonial” stem cells (SSCs) (i.e. undifferentiated male germ cells) that will eventually produce them in adulthood. Kyle Orwig, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and his team of researchers may have found a method by which to exploit the presence of these SSCs in young boys to restore fertility post-chemotherapy. Continue reading →
Dutch biotech company uniQure said last week that it would start selling the first available gene therapy in Europe by mid-2013. uniQure announced Monday 2nd November that it received approval from the European Commission for the gene therapy Glybera® (alipogene tiparvovec), a treatment for patients with lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD, also called familial hyperchylomicronemia) suffering from recurring acute pancreatitis.
LPLD is a rare, inherited disease that results in the build up of fat in the blood leading to abdominal pain and life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). The approval by the European Commission on October 25th 2012 means that Glybera can now be sold throughout Europe, the first treatment of its kind to be approved in Europe. The company are now seeking approval in USA and Canada.Continue reading →
“We’re moving to this integration of biomedicine, information technology, wireless and mobile now — an era of digital medicine. Even my stethoscope is now digital. And of course, there’s an app for that.” — Daniel Kraft, executive director for the FutureMed executive program
Healthcare technology is defined as the ‘prevention and rehabilitation, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and devices, medical and surgical procedures, and the systems within which health is protected and maintained’. Technology has long been revolutionizing our healthcare systems – bioengineering has produced artificial body parts and organs; robotics have enabled more precise and less invasive surgeries; advances in molecular genetics have unraveled causes of disease and have helped develop new therapies for their treatment.
Now with the development of the smartphone, medical practice could be placed directly into our hands.. quite literally. Patients could access medical help remotely, and doctors would no longer need face-to-face with patients to diagnose and treat them. In a nutshell, the transition from healthcare to tele-healthcare will create virtual medical practice. Continue reading →
3D4Medical.com sets the standard in the development of revolutionary design for medical, reference, and health and fitness applications. 3D4Medical.com’s latest apps offer exceptional interactivity and are medically approved, insuring that they provide intuitive and unique learning experiences. Continue reading →
Tiny electronic devices that are able to dissolve harmlessly into their surroundings after functioning a specified amount of time have been created by a team of biomedical engineers and researchers at Tufts University and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The team was led by Josh Rogers, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UIUC and Fiorenzo Omenetto, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts.
Six months ago researchers in Glasgow developed 3D printing technology to print customized drugs on demand. Today, it is possible to order a floating resin-cast 3D model of your live fetus that is created using a 3D printer. Whose behind this sci-fi technology? Well the Japanese, of course.
The discovery of a rapidly-spreading basal cell cancer in Sherrie Walter’s ear in 2008 required the removal of part of her ear, part of her skull and her left ear canal. But now, in a groundbreaking and complicated set of surgeries, Johns Hopkins doctors have attached a new ear made from Walters’ own tissue and grown on her forearm. Continue reading →
Modern drug discovery has focused on the interaction between a candidate drug and its immediate cellular target. That target is part of a vast and complex biological network, but because studying the drug in the context of a living system is profoundly difficult, scientists have largely avoided this approach. As a result, predicting the effects of a particular candidate drug in humans is currently all but impossible, and many initially promising drugs have been found to lack efficacy or to have unsupportable levels of toxicity- typically at a late stage of a clinical trial, at a cost of years of effort and up to $1 billion.
A growing understanding of cellular and tissue-level networks suggests that therapeutic and toxic effects of drugs can best be understood at a “systems level”. The effect of a drug on a network — positive or negative — can therefore only be fully understood in terms of multi-factorial and quantitative differences. Continue reading →
SmartPill Corporation is a leading manufacturer and developer of capsule-based medical devices that aid in the diagnosis, definition and therapeutic intervention of gastrointestinal (GI) motility disorders and diseases. Their blockbuster product – the SmartPill GI Monitoring System – features the SmartPill Capsule, a data receiver and a monitoring system.
The SmartPill Capsule is a single-use, small, ingestible medical device that is used to pinpoint the causes of GI tract disorders by recording the physical environment of the GI tract real-time.
The Capsule is swallowed in the doctors’ office, after which the patient is free to go. The Capsule travels through the gastrointestinal tract, recording pH, pressure and temperature. Site-specific data is captured real-time. The capsule contains two subminiature radio transmitters, which transmit the information to the data receiver, worn on the patient’s hip. The monitoring system is sat snuggly in the doctor’s headquarters and receives wirelessly transmitted information from the receiver. Regional profiles are used to assess the severity of motility abnormalities in functional GI disorders, such as gastroparesis (delayed passage of food through the stomach) and functional constipation. It eventually leaves from the colon, usually within 24 hours.