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The Doctor's Channel

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How Augmented Reality is Changing Medical School

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that combines the real world with computer generated enhancements, such as sound, video, and graphics to literally augment the world around you. I’m sure we’re all aware of the most recent phenomenon that attracted kids and adults alike to wander around streets and parks for elusive Pokemon. PokemonGo is the perfect example of augmented reality in action and used for a mainstream purpose.   This same technology that puts a cartoon Pikachu in the real grass in front of you is now being put to use in medical schools. This could completely change the way med students learn about anatomy and physiology. Students would be able to interact with a 3D representation of the human body, making it easier for students to transition to actual patients.   Image: Source   Cool, right? Check out the video below to see the technology in action!   Video: Source   3D4Medical‘s newest product, Complete Anatomy Lab (CAL), has the potential to completely transform the way medical students study anatomy and physiology. The software, with a little help from hardware, can place 3D representations of the human body in any space. The 3D models are composed of over 6,500 interactive body structures, complete with descriptions, related lectures, and other useful study tools the user can summon at any time.   The technology may help reduce the number of...

Scientists Introduce Hybrid Human-Pig Embryos

After many years of research, scientists have successfully produced the first-ever human-pig hybrid. Why is this important?   It could change the future of organ transplants for humans.   Many researchers have been working on growing the organs of one animal inside of a different species of animal. For example, scientists recently grew a mouse pancreas inside of a rat successfully. Using similar methods, it might be possible to grow human organs in a pig.   After testing about 1,500 pig embryos, they discovered that certain types of human stem cells would spread throughout the embryo. Many of the cells that took over would develop into the heart, liver, and kidneys.   Watch the video below to learn more about this incredible breakthrough.   Video: Source Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte at La Jolla’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and his team of researchers, have successfully introduced pluripotent human stem cells into pig blastocysts that then developed into a viable embryo. The stem cells took up residence in the spaces that would indicate development of human-compatible organs including the heart, liver, and kidneys. Current regulations prevent the scientists from allowing the embryo to continue to develop, but this research offers promise in the quest to one day eliminate organ transplantation waiting lists. Video of the Week on TDC.   Featured Image:...

Genetic Engineering, Salmonella and Brain Tumors

By Janet Taylor   Glioblastomas are tumors that form from the astrocytes in the brain. These tumors are aggressive and lethal largely because they can be composed of multiple types of tissues and because the brain provides such a large blood supply, which helps them to grow. While they rarely invade the body outside of the brain and spinal cord, they inflict their damage quickly. Patient survival is an average of two years, while those with more aggressive types are given a life expectancy of about fifteen months. The standards for treatment consist of surgery plus chemo or radiation but recurrence occurs quite often and because there are multiple cell types in each tumor, targeted therapy isn’t successful. Genetic biomarkers have been investigated to identify tumor changes as well as why some patients respond better than others with the same treatments. While several have been identified, their utility has yet to be seen for predictive factors or treatment alternatives.   Image: Source   Researchers at Duke University have taken an alternative approach to fighting this disease using genetically engineered Salmonella typhimurium. The bacteria contain a mutation that depletes their purine stores. Since tumor cells are loaded with purine, the Salmonella would be expected to seek out those tumors. Once inside the tumor, they rapidly reproduce. Second, the addition of a p53 tumor suppressor protein and Azurian allows the bacteria...

Tips For The New Semester

Ahh, a stack of new syllabi, unopened textbooks, unused notebooks, and fresh packages of pens, pencils, and highlighters…it’s the start of a new semester. Going in, you may think you have a plan, but somehow it always gets derailed. You find yourself pulling all-nighters, losing track of your diet, missing deadlines, and spending too much money on coffee. Then suddenly, you emerge after finals exhausted, surprised that you even made it to the end.   We’re here to change that!   Here are some tips to help you stay on track this semester.   1. Stay Organized If you find yourself forgetting deadlines or exam dates, it’s definitely time to think about more effectively organizing your school calendar. Make sure that you have a planner, calendar, or set reminders (or all of the above!) so that you never miss a beat. It really helps to look ahead at all of your assignments and exams for each class throughout the semester and note the important dates. You can even color code each class to make staying on top of your work even easier.   Image: Source   2. Make a Plan …And stick to it. If you often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, you should think about making a schedule. By carving out a schedule, ahead of time, you will be more likely to fit...

3D-Bioprinting Technology Produces Blood Vessels in Monkeys

3d-bioprinting is not a new concept, as we have seen in previous articles on Almost Docs. This fascinating technology has opened up countless possibilities, especially pertaining to the future of medicine. So far, bioprinting has successfully produced medical models, prosthetic parts, heart valves, and even organs. Now, this technology is able to produce something even more intricate: blood vessels.     In 2015, Chinese biotechnology company Revotek released a 3d-bioprinter that fabricates blood vessels using a bio-ink made from stem cells. Just before the close of 2016, Kang Yujian, chief scientist and CEO of Revotek, announced the first successful transplant of bioprinted blood vessels into the abdominal aortas of 30 rhesus monkeys.   As shown in the video below, this technology allows researchers to produce new layers of cells to fuse with the old ones. In just a month, the newly created cells had completely blended in.   Video: Source   All monkeys have survived thus far and the 3d-printed biomaterial has achieved regeneration of the endothelial and muscle cells that compose authentic blood vessels. The success of this experiment could one day have far reaching implications for the nearly two billion patients with cardiovascular disease.   Featured Image:...

Disease Diagnosis Via Breathalyzers?

By Janet Taylor A new instrument has recently been developed to diagnose disease in a non-invasive, cost effective manner. Based on the idea of the breathalyzers used to identify and quantify alcohol consumption, this device would allow for specific programmable disease detection in still healthy individuals. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are expressed by the body when pathologic processes occur.   By linking the exhalation of these chemicals to specific diseases, physicians will be able to diagnose disease in the early stages based on both presence and quantities exhaled and possibly identify individuals who are at high risk for development of specific diseases.   Figure 1. Schematic representation of the concept and design of the study. It involved collection of breath samples from 1404 subjects in 14 departments in nine clinical centers in five different countries (Israel, France, USA, Latvia, and China). The population included 591 healthy controls and 813 patients diagnosed with one of 17 different diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, gastric cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, idiopathic Parkinson’s, atypical Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and chronic kidney disease. One breath sample obtained from each subject was analyzed with the artificially intelligent nanoarray for disease diagnosis and classification, and a second was analyzed with GC-MS for exploring its chemical composition....

Preventing Burnout in Medical Students

By Janet Taylor Image: Source Medical school is an incredibly stressful endeavor with high stress levels and burnout among even first year students. The psychologist Herbert Freudenberge brought the term burnout to light in 1974 and describes it as “the loss of motivation, growing sense of emotional depletion, and cynicism” (Michel, 2016).   Students may prepare for the transition from undergraduate or graduate studies, but many find that the massive amount of material is difficult to take in in such a short time while the demand for success is always lingering. This leads to frustration, feeling incompetent and emotional exhaustion.   The problem here is that not being able to get a handle on these issues will have a psychological, social and emotional impact both short and long term. Personal relationships and physical health may suffer, as well as academics initially, but in the long term, patient care will also be affected.   Also, continuously stressed students run the risk of reworking the wiring of their brains, stressing the heart and jacking up their neuroendocrine systems. The Maslach Burnout Inventory is a tool used to measure burnout risk. As many as twenty percent of clinical year students in a study by Bugaj et al. ranked high enough to be marked at risk for burnout. “The scale evaluates burnout based on three key stress responses: an overwhelming sense of exhaustion,...