tech

Learn How Scientists are Decoding the Most Complex Object in the Universe: The Brain

Researchers from University College London (UCL) are working on a project with the lofty goal of analyzing the entirety of a brain’s neuronal activity in real time. Most estimates place the number of neurons in the average brain somewhere between 70 and 100 billion. Trying to record all of the relevant activity in one brain as it occurs will be difficult enough, but beyond that, the UCL team is planning to employ considerable processing power towards deciphering the meaning of each firing synapse. NeuroPixels, as the prototype probes are being called, are the width of a human hair and can monitor hundreds of neurons at once over multiple regions of the brain while simultaneously digitizing the signal on-board and sending the information to a database. Developed in collaboration with a consortium of leading non-profit organizations in neuroscience, these super-sensitive electrode sensors are already being studied in mice models, and are expected to be available for purchase by research labs in mid-2018. The researchers are already in the process of developing the next generations of these sensors. Click here to read more about this technology on the UCL News Outlet. Rafael Yuste, MD, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience at Columbia University, discusses the research goals of the brain activity map project. He explains the purpose of this ground breaking research is to develop tools that will allow scientists of the future to measure the activity of every neuron in the brain. The Brain Activity...

Using Geological Mapping to Sketch the Human Body

Jeroen Tromp, PhD, Associate Director of the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering, and Professor of Geosciences and Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University, has been leading a team of scientists in research that translates modern geological mapping technology to the imaging of the human body. The same computational algorithms Prof. Tromp’s team pioneered in the measurement of seismic waves are being applied to ultrasonic waves used in medical imaging. The algorithms compare wave models with actual wave measurement data and extrapolates a much-improved 3D model compared with current standards. This technique offers much more information than a standard ultrasound image, but without the additional cost and burden of MRI scans. Click here to read more about this research on Princeton Invention. This new technology transforms traditional ultrasound images into three-dimensional images that could improve the diagnosis of tumors, osteoporosis and other disorders. It combines recent advances in computational power with techniques originally developed for the study of earthquakes and subterranean structures. Now they are applying the same techniques to ultrasonic waves, which share many of the same characteristics. Today’s ultrasound imaging devices work by sending sound waves through the body and constructing an image from the waves that bounce off internal...

How This Hospital Used A $10 Microchip to Produce 3D Ultrasound Models

Joshua Broder, MD, associate professor of surgery at Duke Health, is helping to lead a team of physicians and engineers in an effort to improve the information captured by 2D ultrasound machines. The team has developed software that couples with a simple 3D-printed case attachment and a $10 sensor chip to convert 2D image slices into a contextual 3D ultrasound model. This technology would allow existing 2D machine owners to maintain the portability and ease of use of their imaging units while greatly increasing the usefulness of the image outputs. Dr. Broder hopes the technology will advance enough to one day allow patients to use a similar device on themselves with enough accuracy to eliminate the need for a trip to an office or hospital. Click here to read more about this research on Health Imaging: “With 2D technology you see a visual slice of an organ, but without any context, you can make mistakes,” said Joshua Broder, MD, an associate professor of surgery at Duke Health and one of the creators of the technology. “These are problems that can be solved with the added orientation and holistic context of 3D technology. Gaining that ability at an incredibly low cost by taking existing machines and upgrading them seemed like the best solution to us.” “With trauma patients in the emergency department, we face a dilemma,” Broder said. “Do we take them...

A New FDA-Approved Therapy That Treats Leukemia and Lymphoma

Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, or CAR-T, is a precision medicine approach to treating certain forms of leukemia and lymphoma. The patients own cells are filtered and separated, then mixed with a deactivated virus that causes the cells to grow an artificial receptor that will track down the CD19 antigen expressed by these cancers. The modified T-cells are then reintroduced to the patient’s blood stream to begin therapy. Click here to read the press announcement from the FDA Newsroom. The FDA’s August 2017 approval of the CAR-T therapy known as tisagenlecleucel for certain pediatric and young adult patients with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia was the first gene therapy approved in the United States. Less than two months later, the approval of axicabtagene ciloleucel expands the milestone further and reinforces the FDA’s willingness to support these novel therapies. Earlier this year, the FDA was in works to approve therapy which genetically alter’s a patient’s T-cells: The FDA may soon approve a new cancer therapy that genetically alters a patient’s own existing T-cells to fight leukemia. This new, investigational treatment is known as CTL019 and is a type of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy. CTL019 utilizes a process in which T-cells are carefully harvested from each individual leukemia patient. These patient-specific T-cells are then genetically reprogrammed to express a chimeric CD19 antigen receptor and subsequently transfused back into the specific patient from whom they were originally collected. Once back inside the patient, these reprogrammed T-cells multiply,...

Scientists Develop New Antibody to Target HIV Strains

In 2016, HIV continued to confound patients, physicians, and researchers while resulting in one million deaths due to AIDS-related illness worldwide. Additionally, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV and 1.8 million new HIV infections reported. HIV mutational ability generally inactivates the immune system leading to lethal virulence. As a result of a collaboration between Sanofi and the United States National Institutes of Health, research scientists have developed a revolutionary tri-specific antibody designed to target three separate components of HIV, disrupting resistance mechanisms that render accepted therapeutic paradigms ineffective. Preliminary studies reveal that in twenty-four monkeys treated with the antibody and then infected with HIV, no test subjects progressed to developing symptoms or advanced disease. Beginning in 2018, the tri-specific antibody will be tested in humans. HIV life expectancy is improving. A new study published in The Lancet reports advances in antiretroviral drug treatment (ART) that improve life expectancy for patients living with HIV. ART is the standard treatment regime for HIV patients. While ART cannot cure HIV, a combination of medications help patients live longer and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. ART was first introduced in 1996. One year after ART was introduced, the FDA approved Combivir, a combination drug taken as a single daily tablet, which made taking daily medication HIV patients easier. Since then, ART initiation has improved by leaps and bounds, making medication management easier for patients. Reference: Xu L, Pegu...

5 Ways How E-Learning Can Simplify Your Medical Studies

E-learning has brought about a great revolution in almost all fields of study, and none more so than in the medical fraternity. Learning from online medical courses has opened up new ways of studying, and brought about more opportunities for students to understand the subject material in a completely novel fashion. Traditional education is fraught with multiple limitations; chief amongst them being their shortage of resources at hand to teach a subject, as well as their relative inflexibility. The high cost and busy classrooms of many medical schools forbid effective learning in an aspiring student, killing their enthusiasm and the joy of learning that makes medicine beautiful, but, the rapid advances of digital technology throughout the world has led to a proliferation of services offering replacement, or supplemental, medical courses online. This has rapidly advanced the learning opportunities for medical students around the world and simplified medical studies. The following article lists the various ways in which online medical courses have simplified the task of delivering high-quality medical education to any willing learner. E-Learning gives students guidance Medicine is vast and often students get lost in that vastness without the right learning and guidance. Good e-learning courses offer an effective way out to master the medical program by providing a learning schedule. Moreover, keeping record of the students’ performance and measuring progress is essential to help students mastering the...

This Surgical Hydrogel Can Seal Wounds Without Stitches

Methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin, or MeTro, is an elastic hydrogel compound that can be applied to internal or external wounds during surgery or in emergency situations. Once treated with UV light, MeTro’s sealant properties are activated within seconds, effectively staunching blood flow and quickly closing wounds. The hydrogel can even be fine-tuned to different degrees of elasticity depending on the intensity of UV light exposure. In early phase research, MeTro was successfully tested on the arteries of rodents and lungs of pigs. Human clinical trials are expected to begin in 2018. The collaborating research teams from University of Sydney, Harvard University, and Northeastern University responsible for this compound are confident that MeTro will have a volume of uses beyond wound management. Click here to review the publication in Science Mag. How far have we come from surgery? Just two years ago, we were exploring surgery free cures for appendicitis. Recently, several studies in Europe have re-investigated this treatment option and determined that antibiotics can be used to treat appendicitis instead of appendix removal surgery, reports The New York Times. Of the 1,000 participants, 70% of those who took antibiotics needed no further surgery or treatment. Where antibiotics were not effective, subsequent surgeries were completed without any additional risks. Physicians who participated in the study proposed valuable questions regarding when to offer antibiotics and when is this treatment is most cost-effective. Given these unanswered questions and...

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