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Latest Posts

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*

Liquid Material May Someday Be Used To Restore Damaged Soft Tissue

Yesterday, I came across this press release from Johns Hopkins regarding a new composite material which may someday be used to restore damaged soft tissue.  (photo credit)

The liquid material is a composite of biological and synthetic molecules which is injected under the skin.  Transdermal light is then used to “set” the material into a more solid structure.

The results of the early experiments in rats and humans has been reported in the July 27 issue of Science Translational Medicine (full reference below).

It is hoped that the new liquid material is a biosynthetic soft tissue replacement composed of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and hyaluronic acid (HA).

From the press release Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Curing Type 2 Diabetes: Surgical Vs. Non-Surgical Weight Loss

Science Translational Medicine

Science Translational Medicine

The April 27, 2011 issue of Science Translational Medicine included a study titled “Differential Metabolic Impact of Gastric Bypass Surgery Versus Dietary Intervention in Obese Diabetic Subjects Despite Identical Weight Loss.

Melissa Bagloo, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, NYP/Columbia, explains the context and importance of this study.

Q: What did this study find?

Dr. Bagloo: For years, surgeons have observed that gastric bypass surgery cures diabetes in over 80% of patients with diabetes. This improvement in blood sugar levels happens almost immediately after surgery, and far before any significant weight loss occurs. What’s more, studies have found that when patients lose the same amount of weight through diet as other patients lose after surgery, those who had surgery experience significantly better improvement in their diabetes than those who lost weight non-surgically. So we know surgery dramatically improves or resolves diabetes, but we do not know why this happens.

This recent study in Science Translational Medicine found an important clue as to why this effect may occur. The researchers found that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

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*

Glucose Monitor: From On The Belt To In The Belly?

Researchers led by bioengineering professor David Gough at the University of California-San Diego have reported, in a paper in Science Translational Medicine, that they implanted a wireless telemetry continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in two pigs (222 and 520 days, respectively) and the device was successfully reporting glucose levels to an external receiver.

Following human testing and FDA approval, devices such as these could replace similar systems that are external to the body with a needle attachment that pierces the skin to take measures. Combined with potential transdermal or intranasal insulin administration, this technology could lead to less sticking and poking of people with diabetes. 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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