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Airline And Health Care Industries Team Up

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The airline industry has long been a paradigm example of safety, but it was not always that way. The transition occurred over the second half of the 20th century and was marked by rigorous equipment testing and procedures, such as the strict incorporation of checklists. Healthcare is an industry that recently has become quite interested in the possibility of implementing airline industry standards to improve patient safety and care delivery (read the books The Checklist Manifesto and Why Hospitals Should Fly if you’d like a solid overview of this phenomenon)

This month Lockheed Martin and Johns Hopkins, two institutional leaders in the fields of aviation and healthcare, respectively, announced a partnership to bring cutting-edge systems integration to the intensive care unit (ICU).  According to the press release: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Abiomed Announces An Upgrade Of Their Current LVAD

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Abiomed‘s Impella left ventricular assist device, an endovascular percutaneously-delivered LVAD, will soon be getting a more powerful new model. The current model is capable of delivering an augmentation of cardiac output by up to 2.5 liters a minute, but the new Impella cVAD should do around 3.5 L/m, and possibly up to 4 L/m in the not too distant future.

The new device, and above numbers, were announced at Abiomed’s investor day conference and the company hopes to have the device available to clinicians by the Summer of 2012.

Here are the bullet points about Impella cVAD that were provided to us by Abiomed: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Video Game Provides Framework For Solving Genomic Sequence Alignment Problems

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Over the past year our genetic understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer has been accelerated by thousands of video gamers thanks to an online flash game called Phylo. Phylo is a video game created by Dr. Jérôme Waldispuhl of the McGill Centre for BioInformatics and collaborator Mathieu Blanchette. The game itself is a framework for solving the common problem of multiple sequence alignments in comparative genomics and leverages the visual problem solving skills of online gamers.

The Phylo website explains the background to game: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Neuron Transplants Help Obese Rats To Lose Weight

7c76dhu5 Completing the Circuit to Curb ObesityObesity is the most significant chronic healthcare crisis facing the United States, as well as other countries. Already 1 out of every 3 adults, and 1 out of every 6 children or adolescents, in the U.S. is obese! Leptin is a hormone that has received considerable attention since its discovery in 1994 for its role in regulating metabolism (like a thermostat, or adipostat) and implications for obesity. High leptin levels are associated with feeling satiated and an active metabolism. Though many overweight people have high levels of circulating leptin, it’s been found that their hypothalamic neurons do not receive the signal – a phenomenon known as “leptin resistance.” An animal model that mirrors this is db/db mice, which lack leptin receptors on the surface of they hypothalamic neurons and are therefore morbidly obese (see image).

Reporting in Science this past week, researchers at Harvard Medical School transplanted neurons with the leptin receptor into the hypothalami of db/db mice and as a result were able to partially restore leptin sensitivity and ameliorate their obesity. Two to three months after transplanting 15,000 (a relatively small number) fluorescently-tagged, leptin sensitive neurons into the db/db mice hypothalami, they observed statistically significant drops in blood sugar levels, leptin concentration, and fat mass. In terms of the mechanism and implications, the team concludes: Read more »

Study Explores New Method Of Fluorescing Cancer Cells In Tumors

00299er743jf73u Two months ago we reported on the first ovarian cancer surgeries performed with fluorescence guidance. As described in the Nature Medicine paper, the international team of researchers from The Netherlands, Germany, and Indiana used folate coupled to fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) to make ovarian cancer cells glow so they could be easily identified.

Now, in this week’s issue of Science Translational Medicine, another international team from Japan and Maryland reports their development of a spray-on probe that may provide even better sensitivity and fluorescent contrast than the folate-FITC counterpart. The editors of STM summarize this work well in the following note: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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