Medical Tech 

Nanotechnology In Medicine: Huge Potential, But What Are The Risks?

Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular scale to create materials with remarkably varied and new properties, is a rapidly expanding area of research with huge potential in many sectors, ranging from healthcare to construction and electronics. In medicine, it promises to revolutionize drug delivery, gene therapy, diagnostics, and many areas of research, development and clinical application. This article does not attempt to cover the whole field, but offers, by means of some examples, a few insights into how nanotechnology has the potential to change medicine, both…

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Medical Tech 

A Cheap, Portable Test Developed for Zika Virus Infection

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a point-of-care device for detecting the Zika virus for under $2 a pop. It’s about the size of a can of coke and can be operated by just about anyone, and even outside the clinic. A patient simply spits into the receptacle and after a while a paper test strip changes its color to a shade of blue if a Zika virus is detected. Previously available tests either take a lot of time, produce too many false negatives, or require expensive equipment…

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Medical Tech 

Microfluidic Device to Test Electric Fields on Cancer Cells

At the post-grad research collaboration called Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), a team has developed a microfluidic device for testing how electric fields influence living cells. The main goal for the technology is to identify the nature of the electric fields that best disrupt the activity of cancer cells, the growth and multiplication of which has been shown in the past to be influenced by external electric fields. Potentially, there’s a chance that electrodes could be used in the future to simply stop and even kill cancer cells completely from outside the…

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Medical Tech 

Medtronic’s New Guardian Connect Smartphone Powered Glucometer

Medtronic won EU approval to introduce its Guardian Connect continuous glucose monitoring system for diabetics taking injected insulin. The wearable stick-on glucometer wirelessly connects to the Guardian Connect app via a Bluetooth, updating the iPhone with the latest readings on a regular basis. It takes readings every five minutes, which equates with 288 samplings every day. Sugar levels that fall outside preset boundaries raise an alarm through the phone app, and it can also send SMS messages to loved ones and caretakers when that happens as well. The app can upload a complete…

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Medical Tech 

Nanoparticle lung vaccine protects against HIV, herpes

Scientists have created a type of nanoparticle that they say can effectively deliver vaccines to the lungs, protecting against numerous infectious diseases. This is according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say the nanoparticle vaccine could help protect againstinfluenza and other respiratory diseases, as well as prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, human papilloma virus and herpes simplex virus. The scientists note that many viruses and bacteria infect humans through mucosal surfaces, such as those in the lungs. Therefore, they wanted to develop vaccines that are…

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Medical Tech 

Designing ultrasound tools with Lego-like proteins

Ultrasound imaging is used around the world to help visualize developing babies and diagnose diseases. Sound waves bounce off the tissues, revealing their different densities and shapes. The next step in ultrasound technology is to image not just anatomy, but specific cells and molecules deeper in the body, such as those associated with tumors or bacteria in our gut.   A new study from Caltech outlines how protein engineering techniques might help achieve this milestone. The researchers engineered protein-shelled nanostructures called gas vesicles — which reflect sound waves — to…

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New diagnostic instrument sees deeper into the ear

A new device developed by researchers at MIT and a physician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center could greatly improve doctors’ ability to accurately diagnose ear infections. That could drastically reduce the estimated 2 million cases per year in the United States where such infections are incorrectly diagnosed and unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed. Such overprescriptions are considered a major cause of antibiotic resistance.   The new device, whose design is still being refined by the team, is expected ultimately to look and function very much like existing otoscopes, the devices most…

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Medical Tech 

Remote Controlled Microbots for Medical Uses Inside Body

Researchers at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have developed a technique for building “mobile micromachines” inspired by origami that can be controlled and powered remotely using magnets. The goal is to eventually use the technology to create diagnostic and therapeutic devices that can travel through the body and perform specific actions, reaching areas and doing tasks that are difficult with existing techniques. The investigators’ approach allows for a wide variety of tiny robots that change shapes in different ways and respond…

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Medical Tech 

E. coli: The ideal transport vehicle for next-gen vaccines?

Most people recoil at the thought of ingesting E. coli. But what if the headline-grabbing bacteria could be used to fight disease? Researchers experimenting with harmless strains of E. coli — yes, the majority of E. coli are safe and important to healthy human digestion — are working toward that goal. They have developed an E. coli-based transport capsule designed to help next-generation vaccines do a more efficient and effective job than today’s immunizations. The research, described in a study published today (July 1) in the journalScience Advances, highlights the capsule’s…

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Medical Tech 

Robotic rectum helps doctors get a feel for prostate exams

Prostate exams aren’t exactly an enjoyable experience, but if you ever need one, you’ll want the doctor to know what they’re doing. Unfortunately, the procedure is difficult for med students to learn, thanks to the internal nature of the examination and a lack of willing test subjects. Scientists at Imperial College London wanted to solve that problem by developing a robotic rectum that recreates the feel of the real thing and even provides haptic feedback. The cheek-clench-inducing procedure involves a doctor snapping on a glove and probing a man’s back…

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