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Cardiologist Expresses Doubt About Implications Of New Leadless Pacemaker

From Medgadget via The Medical Quack:

EBR Systems, a start-up out of Sunnyvale California, and Cambridge Consultants, the technology design and development firm, have developed a leadless pacemaker system for patients with advanced heart failure. The Wireless Cardiac Stimulation System (WiCS) comprises two units, an implantable electrode and an external control unit. The electrode incorporates an ultrasonic, wireless receiver and delivers an electrical stimulus to the heart based on triggering signals from the external control unit.

In its current iteration the WiCS system is designed to work with conventional pacemakers/defibrillators pacing the right ventricle of patients requiring biventricular pacing. The WiCS external control unit senses the pacing stimulus delivered to the right ventricle and initiates a burst of stimulus from the electrode implanted in the left ventricle. According to the company, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Regenerative Medicine And Printing Human Tissue

Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, returned to TED 2011 a couple weeks ago to give updates on his breakthroughs in regenerative medicine. In addition to explaining the process of growing bioengineered organs, valves, and tissues, he also demonstrates how he’s using printing technology to fabricate body parts and even print skin tissue directly onto a patient’s wound. Other highlights of the talk include a live demo of a kidney-shaped mold being printed on the TED stage, and a reunion with a young patient who was one of the first recipients of a bioengineered bladder from Dr. Atala’s lab.

Be sure to also check out Dr. Atala’s talk from TEDMED 2009…

Additional comments from WFIRM…

More on Dr. Atala from TED…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Anesthesia Medications Automatically Delivered During Surgery

A team of French anesthesiologists has developed an automatic delivery system of propofol and remifentanil, which they recently tested in a multi-center trial involving 196 surgical patients. The researchers reported in Anesthesia & Analgesia that the system, which uses a Bispectral Index (BIS) monitor as a guide, performed better than manual administration:

We have developed a proportional-integral-derivative controller allowing the closed-loop coadministration of propofol and remifentanil, guided by a Bispectral Index (BIS) monitor, during induction and maintenance of general anesthesia. The controller was compared with manual target-controlled infusion.

The controller allows the automated delivery of propofol and remifentanil and maintains BIS values in predetermined boundaries during general anesthesia better than manual administration.

 Abstract in Anesthesia & Analgesia: Closed-Loop Coadministration of Propofol and Remifentanil Guided by Bispectral Index: A Randomized Multicenter Study


*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Identifying Skin Cancer With Light

Duke University scientists have been successfully testing a new laser system they developed to identify cancerous skin moles. Two lasers in the system are used to identify the presence of eumelanin in biopsy slices and a future version of the device may work directly without having to sample the mole. According to an article in Science Translational Medicine, “the ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin captured all investigated melanomas but excluded three-quarters of dysplastic nevi and all benign dermal nevi.” From the press release:

The tool probes skin cells using two lasers to pump small amounts of energy, less than that of a laser pointer, into a suspicious mole. Scientists analyze the way the energy redistributes in the skin cells to pinpoint the microscopic locations of different skin pigments.

The Duke team imaged 42 skin slices with the new tool. The images show that melanomas tend to have more eumelanin, a kind of skin pigment, than healthy tissue. Using the amount of eumelanin as a diagnostic criterion, the team used the tool to correctly identify all eleven melanoma samples in the study.

The technique will be further tested using thousands of archived skin slices. Studying old samples will verify whether the new technique can identify changes in moles that eventually did become cancerous.


Malignant melanoma under the new laser light. Clear deposits of eumelanin (red) appear in unhealthy tissue.

Press release: Lasers ID Deadly Skin Cancer Better than Doctors …

Abstract in Science Translational Medicine: Pump-Probe Imaging Differentiates Melanoma from Melanocytic Nevi

Flashback: Diagnosing Skin Cancers with Light, Not Scalpels

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Detecting Circulating Tumor Cells With Gold Nanoparticles

Our modern armamentarium for treating cancer is impressive, but sometimes despite our best treatments, tumor cells continue to lurk in the bloodstream, seeding metastases throughout the body. Researchers at Emory have developed a way to monitor for these circulating tumor cells using gold nanoparticles.

This technique has been used before, but difficulty was encountered because white blood cells are close to the same size as some tumor cells, so they would both be tagged, necessitating a laborious multi-antibody staining process.

“The key technological advance here is our finding that polymer-coated gold nanoparticles that are conjugated with low molecular weight peptides such as EGF are much less sticky than particles conjugated to whole antibodies,” says Shuming Nie, Ph.D., a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “This effect has led to a major improvement in discriminating tumor cells from non-tumor cells in the blood.”

Once these tumor cells are tagged with the gold nanoparticles, laser illumination reveals which cells are tumors in the bloodstream. This technique was tested on 19 patients with head and neck cancer, and showed excellent correlation with previous techniques. If this method can be validated in larger studies, it shows promise as a faster, more economical method to detect circulating tumor cells.

Full story: Nanoparticles May Enhance Circulating Tumor Cell Detection …

Abstract in Cancer Research : Quantification of circulating tumor cells in peripheral blood using EGFR-targeting gold nanoparticles

*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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