The CRISPR Revolution [ungated: 1,2,3] - "Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has quickly become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering. Utilizing a modified bacterial protein and a RNA that guides it to a specific DNA sequence, the CRISPR system provides unprecedented control over genes in many species, including perhaps humans. This control has allowed many new types of experiments, but also raised questions about what CRISPR can enable." [more inside]
The nurses and doctors summoned to the hospital room of 16-year-old Pablo Garcia early on the morning of July 27, 2013, knew something was terribly wrong. Just past midnight, Pablo had complained of numbness and tingling all over his body. Two hours later, the tingling had grown worse.
A five part series from Backchannel at Medium.
Part One - How Medical Tech Gave a Patient a Massive Overdose
Violet Pietrok was born with a Tessier Cleft, a skull defect. Surgeons at Boston Children's Hospital used 3-D prints of her skull to practice before cutting into Violet's own skull to repair the damage.
The annual James Dyson Award is open to current and recent design engineering students. The winner this year is James Roberts with his inflatable incubator MOM. The device costs around £250 compared to £30,000 for modern incubators and could prevent up to 75% of fatalities in premature birth cases in the developing world.
Direct brain-to-brain communication in humans has been demonstrated for the first time. DARPA begins work on miniaturized implants to control and regulate the nervous system. Researchers study using brain signals to operate drones. [more inside]
In pain and forced to use a wheelchair, a young woman opts to amputate her clubfeet. "New prosthetics have made active life possible for many with injuries and congenital defects." [Via]
A new 3D printed membrane acts like an artificial pericardium to continuously monitor and regulate the heart's beating
What do 3D printing, jelly, liver transplants, chainmail, dental fillings, ferrofluids, and the Six Million Dollar man have to tell us about our future? Materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik lets us know in this Royal Institution lecture.
Earlier this year, six scientists and doctors filed a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration alleging that the FDA had secretly monitored their personal e-mail accounts after they (legally) warned Congress that the "agency was approving medical devices that they believed posed unacceptable risks to patients." The agency said it had done so to "investigate allegations that the employees had leaked confidential information to the public." At the time, the FDA indicated their computer monitoring was limited to five scientists. But now, the New York Times is reporting that "what began as a narrow investigation" "quickly grew in mid-2010 into a much broader campaign to counter outside critics of the agency’s medical review process.". [more inside]
"We measure, in a single experiment, both the radiation pressure and the torque due to a wide variety of propagating acoustic vortex beams. The results validate, for the first time directly, the theoretically predicted ratio of the orbital angular momentum to linear momentum in a propagating beam. We experimentally determine this ratio using simultaneous measurements of both the levitation force and the torque on an acoustic absorber exerted by a broad range of helical ultrasonic beams produced by a 1000-element matrix transducer array." In other words, science has created the sonic screwdriver, and it could mean new advances in non-invasive surgery. [more inside]
Using a 3-D petri dish, Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island have built a completely functional artificial human ovary that will allow doctors to harvest immature human egg cells (oocytes) and grow them into mature, ready-to-be-fertilized human eggs outside the body. (In vitro) The advance could eventually help preserve fertility for women facing chemotherapy or other medical treatments that may be destructive to ovarian folliculogenesis. Press Release. Article link. (paywall) [more inside]
Interesting developments in med-tech: gene testing machines for doctors, a plan to engineer stem cells to kill HIV, a new way to repair damaged nerves, the next generation of retinal implants, and the first bionic fingers up for sale. (Bonus for those uninterested in medicine: the newest take on a Minority Report-style interface, courtesy of MIT.)
Practical gene therapy treatment emerges. Prosthetics that feel. Circumventing paralysis with brain implants.
The practical possiblility of augmented reality contact lenses. Contact lenses that reshape the eye. Bone-anchored hearing aids. Voice box transplant plans.
Although a cellphone is about as close to a Star Trek communicator as you can get, something more practical has come along to make you feel like you're finally living in the future. The Standoff Patient Triage Tool (SPTT) is nearly a Starfleet medical tricorder: it can detect pulse, body temperature, and respiration from an injured person at a distance of forty feet, allowing first responders to identify the injured before setting foot into a dangerous situation.
Scientists Repurpose Adult Cells - "Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research." [nature abstract, nature writeup, audio announcement]
Dr. President: "The next president of the United States of America will control a $150 billion annual research budget, 200,000 scientists, and 38 major research institutions and all their related labs. This president will shape human endeavors in space, bioethics debates, and the energy landscape of the 21st century." With the coming election, the AAAS has created a new website and devoted a section of their journal Science to the Democratic and Republican candidates' positions on science and technology issues. But to help further clarify their positions, some people are calling for the candidates to have a presidential debate on science and technology. [Via The Intersection and Wired Science.]
Historical medicine and health images - there's some fun browsing for aficionados of antique medical technologies, such as orthapedic devices, anatomical illustrations and models, public health materials, and much more. Each image can be enlarged and has explanatory text. (Just a small part of the 30,000+ image database of the wonderful site ingenious, previously brought to our attention by Fat Buddha.)
VeinViewer is an infrared-absorption interactive "X-ray" device using advanced real time signal processing and a projector. Google video. YouTube video with short explanation.
THE ULTIMATE SELF LINK: MY BRAIN. Use this excellent little MRI program to open .hdr 3d-scan files. Endless, disturbing fun.
Seven hot technologies that we'll soon see on the market, according to MIT's Tech Review magazine. The spam blocker sounds like it might work. But the babelfish?
Professor becomes world's first cyborg Surgeons have carried out a ground-breaking operation on a cybernetics professor so that his nervous system can be wired up to a computer. It is hoped that the procedure could lead to a medical breakthrough for people paralysed by spinal cord damage, like Superman actor Christopher Reeve. Prof Warwick believes it also opens up the possibility of a sci-fi world of cyborgs, where the human brain can one day be upgraded with implants for extra memory, intelligence or X-ray vision. The medical possibilities with this are amazing, so why does it make me feel so uneasy?