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PC World (drawing on an article from 3DPrint.com) notes that inventor Pat Starace has released his plans for a 3-D printable prosthetic hand designed to appeal both to kids who need it and their parents (who can't all afford the cost of conventional prostheses). The hand "has the familiar gold-and-crimson color scheme favored by Ol' Shellhead, and it's designed with housings for a working gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and other "cool sensors", as well as a battery housing and room for a low-power Bluetooth chip and charging port." It takes about 48 hours in printing time (and "a lot" of support material), but the result is inexpensive and functional.
64 comments | yesterday
The WSJ reports that 800 doses of an experimental vaccine for Ebola, developed over a decade at Public Health Agency of Canada’s main laboratory in Winnipeg, will be shipped to the World Health Organization in an effort to help fight the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa: The vaccine will be shipped by air from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to the University Hospital of Geneva via specialized courier. The vials will be sent in three separate shipments as a precautionary measure, due to the challenges in moving a vaccine that must kept at a very low temperature at all times. ... The vaccine had shown “very promising results in animal research” and earlier this week, Ottawa announced the start of clinical trials on humans at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the U.S. ... The government has licensed NewLink Genetics Corp. , of the U.S., through its wholly owned subsidiary BioProtection Systems Corp. to further develop the vaccine for use in humans. The government owns the intellectual property rights associated with the vaccine.
98 comments | 2 days ago
Lucas123 (935744) writes U.S. robotics researchers from around the country are collaborating on a project to build autonomous vehicles that could deliver food and medicine, and telepresence robots that could safely decontaminate equipment and help bury the victims of Ebola. Organizers of Safety Robotics for Ebola Workers are planning a workshop on Nov. 7. that will be co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Texas A&M, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. "We are trying to identify the technologies that can help human workers minimize their contact with Ebola. Whatever technology we deploy, there will be a human in the loop. We are not trying to replace human caregivers. We are trying to minimize contact," said Taskin Padir, an assistant professor of robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
87 comments | 2 days ago
MTorrice writes: Many drugs that treat bacterial and fungal infections were found in microbes growing in the dirt. These organisms synthesize the compounds to fend off other bacteria and fungi around them. To find possible new drugs, chemists try to coax newly discovered microbial species to start making their arsenal of antimicrobial chemicals in the lab. But fungi can be stubborn, producing just a small set of already-known compounds.
Now, one team of chemists has hit upon a curiously effective and consistent trick to prod the organisms to start synthesizing novel molecules: Cheerios inside bags. Scientists grew a soil fungus for four weeks in a bag full of Cheerios and discovered a new compound that can block biofilm formation by an infectious yeast. The chemists claim that Cheerios are by far the best in the cereal aisle at growing chemically productive fungi.
77 comments | 3 days ago
blottsie writes WikiLeaks has released an updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chapter on intellectual property. The new version of the texts, dated May 2014, show that little improvement has been made to sections critics say would hurt free speech online. Further, some of the TPP's stipulations could have dire consequences for healthcare in developing nations. The Daily Dot reports: "Nearly all of the changes proposed by the U.S. advantage corporate entities by expanding monopolies on knowledge goods, such as drug patents, and impose restrictive copyright policies worldwide. If it came into force, TPP would even allow pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. whenever changes to regulatory standards or judicial decisions affected their profits. Professor Brook K. Baker of Northeastern U. School of Law [said] that the latest version of the TPP will do nothing less than lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent monopolies on vital medications."
130 comments | 4 days ago
HughPickens.com writes Pamela Engel writes that Americans need only look to Nigeria to calm their fears about an Ebola outbreak in the US. Nigeria is much closer to the West Africa outbreak than the US is, yet even after Ebola entered the country in the most terrifying way possible — via a visibly sick passenger on a commercial flight — officials successfully shut down the disease and prevented widespread transmission. If there are still no new cases on October 20, the World Health Organization will officially declare the country "Ebola-free." Here's how Nigeria did it.
The first person to bring Ebola to Nigeria was Patrick Sawyer, who left a hospital in Liberia against the wishes of the medical staff and flew to Nigeria. Once Sawyer arrived, it became obvious that he was ill when he passed out in the Lagos airport, and he was taken to a hospital in the densely packed city of 20 million. Once the country's first Ebola case was confirmed, Port Health Services in Nigeria started a process called contact tracing to limit the spread of the disease and created an emergency operations center to coordinate and oversee the national response. Health officials used a variety of resources, including phone records and flight manifests, to track down nearly 900 people who might have been exposed to the virus via Sawyer or the people he infected. As soon as people developed symptoms suggestive of Ebola, they were isolated in Ebola treatment facilities. Without waiting to see whether a "suspected" case tested positive, Nigeria's contact tracing team tracked down everyone who had had contact with that patient since the onset of symptoms making a staggering 18,500 face-to-face visits.
The US has many of these same procedures in place for containing Ebola, making the risk of an outbreak here very low. Contact tracing is exactly what is happening in Dallas right now; if any one of Thomas Eric Duncan's contacts shows symptoms, that person will be immediately isolated and tested. "That experience shows us that even in the case in Nigeria, when we found out later in the timeline that this patient had Ebola, that Nigeria was able to identify contacts, institute strict infection control procedures and basically bring their outbreak to a close," says Dr. Tom Inglesby. "They did a good job in and of themselves. They worked closely with the U.S. CDC. If we can succeed in Nigeria I do believe we will stop it here."
381 comments | 5 days ago
vinces99 writes "Under the rule of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, thousands of Romanian children were placed in overcrowded orphanages with bleak conditions and minimal human contact, a legacy that continued even after the 1989 revolution. Only recently have research and public concern caused policy changes.
University of Washington research on children who began life in these institutions shows that early childhood neglect is associated with changes in brain structure. A paper published this month in Biological Psychiatry shows that children who spent their early years in these institutions have thinner brain tissue in cortical areas that correspond to impulse control and attention. "These differences suggest a way that the early care environment has dramatic and lasting effects for children's functioning," said lead author Katie McLaughlin, a UW assistant professor of psychology.
Since 2000, the Bucharest Early Intervention Project has worked to document and treat the children's health. McLaughlin joined the team about six years ago to focus on brain development. This study is among the first in any setting to document how social deprivation in early life affects the thickness of the cortex, the thin folded layer of gray matter that forms the outer layer of the brain. The study provides "very strong support" for a link between the early environment and ADHD, McLaughlin said.
87 comments | 5 days ago
HughPickens.com writes German was the dominant scientific language in 1900. Today if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English. Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. How did English come to dominate German in the realm of science? BBC reports that the major shock to the system was World War One, which had two major impacts. According to Gordin, after World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists organized a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western European journals. "Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German, which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is mostly English and French," says Gordin.
The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in 1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept the country. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German speakers. World War One changed all that. "German is criminalized in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," says Gordin. The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did, according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the US resulting in a generation of future scientists who came of age with limited exposure to foreign languages. That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the world. "The story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of scientific communication," concludes Gordin.
323 comments | about a week ago
sciencehabit writes Clostridium difficile infections kill approximately 14,000 Americans every year, often because the diarrhea-causing bacteria are highly resistant to standard antibiotics. Now, scientists have found an unusual way to combat the bugs: human feces in pill form. In the new study, researchers show that frozen fecal matter encapsulated in clear, 1.6 g synthetic pills was just as safe and effective as traditional fecal transplant techniques at treating C. difficile. Within 8 weeks or less, 18 out of 20 participants saw a complete resolution of diarrhea after consuming 30 or 60 of the feces-filled capsules. "It's probably not the best experience of your life," says team leader Ilan Youngster, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Harvard University. "But it beats getting a tube stuck down your throat or a colonoscopy or having C. diff."
135 comments | about a week ago
New submitter Strangely Familiar writes "A letter in the Lancet calls for alternatives to randomized trials for Ebola treatments: "Leading health experts today urge the deployment of alternative trial designs to fast-track the evaluation of new Ebola treatments. In a letter to The Lancet, 17 senior health professionals and medical ethicists, from Africa, Europe, and USA, argue that although randomised controlled trials (RCTs) provide robust evidence in most circumstances, the lack of effective treatment options for Ebola, high mortality with the current standard of care, and the paucity of effective health care systems in the affected regions means that alternative trial designs need to be considered."
193 comments | about two weeks ago
First time accepted submitter kwiecmmm writes A group of Harvard scientists reported that they have figured out how to turn embryonic stem cells into beta cells capable of producing insulin. This discovery could cure diabetes. From the article: "'It's a huge landmark paper. I would say it's bigger than the discovery of insulin,' says Jose Olberholzer, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois. 'The discovery of insulin was important and certainly saved millions of people, but it just allowed patients to survive but not really to have a normal life. The finding of Doug Melton would really allow to offer them really something what I would call a functional cure. You know, they really wouldn't feel anymore being diabetic if they got a transplant with those kind of cells.'"
100 comments | about two weeks ago
BarbaraHudson writes Thomas Duncan, the ebola patient being treated in Texas, has died. "It is with profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment that we must inform you of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan this morning at 7:51 am," hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said in an emailed statement. If he had survived, he could have faced criminal charges in both the US and Liberia for saying on an airport screening questionnaire that he had had no contact with an Ebola patient. UPDATE: Reports of a possible second Ebola victim in Texas are coming in. From the article: "The patient was identified as Sgt. Michael Monning, a deputy who accompanied county health officials Zachary Thompson and Christopher Perkins into the apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan stayed in Dallas. The deputy was ordered to go inside the unit with officials to get a quarantine order signed. No one who went inside the unit that day wore protective gear."
480 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: Medical researchers hope an experimental vaccine for Ebola can help protect against infection and slow the spread of the disease. Efficacy trials for the vaccine begin in a few months, and it's forcing some difficult decisions for health care officials. The first test will involve front line health care workers, who, as a group, are at the gravest risk of infection. But every trial needs a control group, and scientists are bitterly divided over whether the vaccine should be withheld from a portion of those putting their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. Development of the vaccine has been vastly accelerated already, due to the virus's spread and its mortality rate.
"The leading alternative is a design known as step-wedge, which essentially uses time to create a control group. In this design, researchers take advantage of the inescapable reality that large-scale trials can't give everyone the vaccine on the exact same date; they compare the rates of infection in people already vaccinated with those who have yet to receive the shots. Barney Graham, a virologist ... says "people are more comfortable" with the step-wedge design, because everyone in such a study would get the Ebola vaccine. But statistically speaking, this design makes it more difficult to determine the vaccine's worth, and it takes longer." NY Mag has a related story summarizing the treatments currently being used to fight Ebola.
178 comments | about two weeks ago
Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.
21 comments | about two weeks ago
Dave Knott writes U.S.-British scientist John O'Keefe and Norwegian married couple May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discovering the "inner GPS" that helps the brain navigate through the world. O'Keefe, currently director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre in Neural Circuits and Behaviour at University College London, discovered the first component of this system in 1971 when he found that a certain type of nerve cell was always activated when a rat was at a certain place in a room. He demonstrated that these "place cells" were building up a map of the environment, not just registering visual input. Thirty-four years later, the Mosers, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, identified another type of nerve cell — the "grid cell" — that generates a coordinate system for precise positioning and path-finding, These findings on rats — and research suggests humans have the same system in their brains — represent a paradigm shift in our knowledge of how cells work together to perform cognitive functions and could help scientists understand the mechanisms behind Alzheimer's disease.
33 comments | about two weeks ago
BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes The headline sounds like something from the tabloids — "Woman becomes first to give birth from transplanted womb — using one donated from her own mother.'" But it's from The National Post, quoting The Lancet: "The breakthrough was reported by The Lancet medical journal on its website last night. It is thought the birth occurred within the last month after doctors transplanted wombs into several women who had a rare genetic condition that meant they were born without their own womb. In January, one of the patients underwent in-vitro fertilization treatment that resulted in an embryo being transferred to her new womb. The donated womb came from the woman's own mother, so the baby is also the first born to a woman using the same womb from which she emerged herself. In wake of the Lancet article, the Swedish team refused to confirm a baby had been born, saying: "As soon as there is a scientific peer-reviewed paper, we will comment on this. I will provide you with information as soon as we have some." Eight of Dr. Brannstrom's patients received their wombs from close relatives, reducing the risk of their bodies rejecting them." There's nothing at The Lancet online yet." There is, though, an article at the BBC.
120 comments | about two weeks ago
chicksdaddy writes "The Security Ledger reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued final guidance on Wednesday that calls on medical device manufacturers to consider cyber security risks as part of the design and development of devices. The document, "Content of Premarket Submissions for Management of Cybersecurity in Medical Devices," asks device makers seeking FDA approval of medical devices to disclose any "risks identified and controls in place to mitigate those risks" in medical devices. The guidance also recommends that manufacturers submit documentation of plans for patching and updating the operating systems and medical software that devices run. While the guidance does not have the force of a mandate, it does put medical device makers on notice that FDA approval of their device will hinge on a consideration of cyber risks alongside other kinds of issues that may affect the functioning of the device. Among other things, medical device makers are asked to avoid worst-practices like 'hardcoded' passwords and use strong (multi-factor) authentication to restrict access to devices. Device makers are also urged to restrict software and firmware updates to authenticated (signed) code and to secure inbound and outbound communications and data transfers.
26 comments | about three weeks ago
As reported by Bloomberg News, The Washington Post, and other outlets, the Liberian patient whose diagnosis of Ebola infection marks him as the first such case to have been first diagnosed within the United States may have had contact with more people than previously estimated, and 80 people in the Dallas area are now believed to have come into contact with him. While Bloomberg reports that this larger group of potential contacts is "being monitored for symptoms," the Washington Post's slightly later story says that, in keeping with the best current knowledge about Ebola's spread, "Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson said that these [newly identified contacts] are not being watched or monitored and are not showing any symptoms of the illness. Only the immediate family members of the victim are being regularly monitored for Ebola symptoms; they've been ordered to stay at home and avoid contact with others."
258 comments | about three weeks ago
HughPickens.com writes Reuters reports that your medical information, including names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information, is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market. Fraudsters use this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers, according to experts who have investigated cyber attacks on healthcare organizations. Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected. Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, says Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company. He obtained the data by monitoring underground exchanges where hackers sell the information. Plus "healthcare providers and hospitals are just some of the easiest networks to break into," says Jeff Horne. "When I've looked at hospitals, and when I've talked to other people inside of a breach, they are using very old legacy systems — Windows systems that are 10 plus years old that have not seen a patch."
78 comments | about three weeks ago
concertina226 writes Engineering students from the University of Toronto have developed a 3D bioprinter that can rapidly create artificial skin grafts from a patient's cells to help treat burn victims. In severe burn injuries, both the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and the dermis (inner layer) are severely damaged, and it usually takes at least two weeks for skin cells to be grown in a laboratory to be grafted onto a patient. As both layers of skin are made from completely different cells that have different structures, it is very difficult for the body to regenerate itself and burn victims can die if their wounds cannot be closed quickly enough. So instead of trying to replicate a real human skin graft, the PrintAlive Bioprinter creates a type of "living bandage" from hydrogel.
26 comments | about three weeks ago