Tag Archives: medical

Pocket microscope – turn a cellphone into a microscope for $10

The #1 innovation of 2011 - the pocket microscope – is a marvel of the cellphone age. For $10 a phone can be turned into a laboratory and offer poor areas – with no hospital – access to sophisticated medical tests. From The Scientist:

Diagnosing malaria or other blood-borne illnesses used to require analyzing cell slides under a bulky, costly light microscope—which can be difficult to find in impoverished, remote locations. Enter LUCAS (Lensless, Ultra-wide-field Cell monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging), an easy-to-use, pocket-size holographic microscope that weighs less than 50g, uses inexpensive, off-the-shelf parts.

The parts attach to the camera and can analyze blood and saliva samples; testing for diseases like HIV and malaria and discovering water quality problems. Listen to Professor Aydogan Ozcan – the same one who discovered the 3D motion of sperm cells – explain it himself:

 

 

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Get ready for the Maser-Beam, older than a laser and more powerful

Move Over Lasers, It’s Maser Time

No, masers are not just a word that we came up with just now. They’ve actually been around since the 1950s, before lasers were invented. The problem is that they’ve always been impractical–that is, until the team of researchers came up with a device that could let masers over take lasers in the coolness race.

They have yet to determine what the maser can do, but like the laser the discoveries only happen when you shoot stuff.

The expectation is that the more precise maser can shoot through clouds (lasers can’t), detect extra-terrestrials, and turn into a surgical tool that can exactly attack a tumor.

From the August cover of Nature magazine:

The maser is the microwave-frequency precursor of the now ubiquitous laser. But it has had little technological impact compared with the laser, in large part because of inconvenience: masers typically require vacuum and/or low-temperature operating conditions.

Some researchers think they’ve solved that problem and have published a paper in Nature magazine, Room-temperature solid-state maser.

 

The preceding link gives the abstract. For more details read-on at:

 

 

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Timeline of government healthcare in the United States

The Supreme Court’s ruling on President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul comes after a century of debate over what role the government should play in helping people in the United States afford medical care. A look at the issue through the years:

1912: Former President Theodore Roosevelt champions national health insurance as he unsuccessfully tries to ride his progressive Bull Moose Party back to the White House.

1929: Baylor Hospital in Texas originates group health insurance. Dallas teachers pay 50 cents a month to cover up to 21 days of hospital care per year.

1935: President Franklin D. Roosevelt favors creating national health insurance amid the Great Depression but decides to push for Social Security first.

1942: Roosevelt establishes wage and price controls during World War II. Businesses can’t attract workers with higher pay so they compete through added benefits, including health insurance, which grows into a workplace perk.

Keep readingHealthcare reform’s long history in the U.S.

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Hybrid surgery, a major new medical trend, reduces need for cutting open

This reminds me of Star Trek as we discover new ways to heal patients without cutting them open. This method involves half-surgery and half-minimally-invasive techniques that also take much less time:

They performed a unique, high-risk hybrid procedure that combined minimally-invasive method with traditional surgical techniques. They stopped the massive balloon-like aneurysm, replaced a failed heart valve, repaired another valve and also closed a hole in Patricia Crawford’s heart.

Now, just a few weeks since the successful Feb. 7 procedure, Crawford is much more active and energetic, and only taking medications for her heart. Most importantly, she no longer needs a heart-lung transplant.

Such hybrid surgeries are the start of a major medical trend, said Dr. Jamil Aboulhosn, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center.

“We’re able to do more for high-risk patients like Patti than ever before. We’re performing more creative procedures that blend traditional surgery and minimally-invasive techniques to help patients who previously had few or no options.”

Dr. Hillel Laks and the operating room team started with traditional surgical methods, placing her on the heart-lung machine and opening the aneurysm by her heart.

Aboulhosn then employed the hybrid intervention by using a new balloon-mounted “melody valve” to replace her failing pulmonary valve and to close the hole in her heart. These two procedures, which normally would take more than an hour to complete surgically, only took 10 minutes thanks to the less-invasive valve-replacement technique.

learn moreUCLA Today

FDA ruling – cigarette makers must be transparent about chemical additives

A ruling by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires tobacco companies to be transparent about the chemicals in their products. This hasn’t yet happened, despite all the warnings and labels on cigarettes, and it’s no wonder considering:

“Over 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds are present in tobacco and the smoke that emanates from tobacco. A list of 93 HPHCs has been established by the FDA that tobacco companies will need to inform consumers about in their products sold throughout the country.”

The act, called the The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, requires “makers of tobacco products, as well as importers, to report what HPHCs (harmful and potentially harmful constituents) exist in their products or the smoke that comes from their products, by brand and sub-brand.”

“They will also have to back up any “reduced harm” claims with compelling proof, the Agency added.”

It will be interesting to see what the results of this are. I have smoked tobacco products sold in other countries, from Europe to the Caribbean, and noticed a vast difference in the quality. Not to mention a seemingly lower amount chemicals in them, meaning I cough less, have less aftertaste, and don’t get as addicted.

 

// Quotes from Medical News Today, thx to Amelia S.

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Why is Dentistry so out of date?

Brushing, flossing, white strips and mouthwash: Thanks for all the help, but your services may no longer be required. The end of the cavity could be upon us.

UCLA microbiologist Dr. Wenyuan Shi has developed a mouthwash that completely eliminates the most malevolent of the 1,000 species of bacteria that can live in your mouth—after just one use. In a clinical study, 12 subjects who rinsed just one time with the mouthwash experienced a nearly complete elimination of the baleful bacteria, Streptococcus mutans. Four days after the first rinse, their mouths remained mutans-free.

Shi’s mouthwash is currently being tested by the FDA . If the mouthwash passes that hurdle, it will be the first cavity fighter approved since fluoride 60 years ago.

“I actually had no dental training,” Shi recalls, laughing. But once he began teaching, he was struck by how, in a country where we can reduce the risk of heart attacks and diabetes, battle cancer and lower cholesterol, dentistry remained out of date. The scientist-scholar resolved to work toward converting dentistry from a surgical model to a medical model.

“Last year in American health spending, heart disease was No. 1, cancer was No. 2 and dentistry was No. 3,” Shi notes. “We spent about $100 billion. In part, because it’s so old-fashioned. Mechanical removal is still the primary tool.”

via UCLA Magazine

Steve Jobs Health, Forced Sabbaticals, and His Brilliance

“No one wants to die,” said Steve Jobs. “And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

Those words are from a famous keynote Steve gave at Stanford in 2005, nearly a year after his brush with cancer. It is well worth a listen to for it’s inspiring message of Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish (text version). A message that Steve says he wishes for himself and perhaps one he now is forced to live by.

Last week on Jan 17, 2011 Steve announced that he is taking a medical leave of absence from Apple. This is his third medical leave, with the previous two for removal of cancerous tumor and a liver transplant. One can only guess what painful problem the man is facing now. You could also guess how this changes a person, what it does to you. Facing death and triumphant returns over and over. It got me thinking what Steve has accomplished after each of these bouts with death.

To uncover this I did a little research and the story starts on July 9, 1997, when Steve was named interim-CEO of Apple. It was the first of his triumphant returns. Twelve years earlier he had been forced out of the company and watched it slowly turn into a disaster. Facing crippling financial losses, record low stock prices, and even a denouncement from Michael Dell, “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Then in 1997, an acquisition brought Steve back into the company and he quickly took the reigns as CEO. Not long after things starting happening like small tectonic shifts. Three major products were announced and soon the world was dramatically altered:

  • 1998 – iMac
  • 2001 – iPod
  • 2003 – iTunes Store

All three were huge successes and quickly put Apple back on top. The iPod sold over 100 million units, the iTunes Store sold over 10 billion songs, and the iMac breathed life back into their computers. Together they brought the company back to profitability and, individually, they revolutionized computers, consumer electronics, and music.

Then in July of 2004, Steve was again forced to leave Apple, this time due to a cancerous tumor. After having it removed via the  Whipple procedure, Steve triumphantly returned and released the following:

  • 2005-06 – MacBook
  • 2007 – iPhone
  • 2008 – App store

Three even more successful products. Each one revolutionizing laptops, mobile phones, and, for the app store, creating a whole new paradigm. At this point the company was on the move with the stock price catapulting and revenues soaring.

Then, in 2009, Steve’s third forced sabbatical hit. This time it was a liver transplant, a common ailment arising from the Whipple procedure. Upon returning he released the:

  • 2010 – iPad

Another extremely successful product which appears to be revolutionizing computer operating systems and the entire computer industry.

This takes us back to the present day and the announcement of Steve’s fourth sabbatical. To which many are predicting not a another leave of absence but a final departure into the sunset. After all, Tim Cook is at the helm as he has been in the two previous sabbaticals. Plus, Steve has no need to keep going since he has already accomplished so much and left the company in such a profitable condition.

I can see that happening, but I can also imagine another possibility. One that is in line with the “stay hungry, stay foolish” mantra. Is it possible that Steve has come to love these vacations?

I mean look at what he has accomplished after each one, not even a delay in success or a few years for the product “to hit.” The gratification is so instant it’s like a perfect test for Dr. Pavlov.

I’m not being callous about his health either. Pancreatic cancer is one of those rare, one-in-a-million forms that is completely curable. Most patients are known to have perfectly normal, healthy lives nearly indistinguishable from any other patient. However, there can be complications like liver failure, and this latest medical leave means something else is wrong.

All of these are painful problems and I empathize for Steve, but it does point out that he could likely be poised for another triumphant return.

Why not? Sabbaticals exist for this very reason. Leave at a point of high success and/or anxiety to recover and recoup. It’s a time honored tradition that is too often derided by others. Our community spirit says to work, work to death.

In some ways the move is inspiring. A CEO taking off time to improve his health, be with his family, and then return to change the world.

That is awesome. How many other examples like that do we have?

Have you ever taken a sabbatical?

What would it take for you to take some time off and recoup?

Photo by Peter Denton