"Any urge to hasten the War on Cancer—however justified that urge may be—must grapple with the risk of promising anecdotes curdling into hideous truths."
Alexander Nazaryan on the state of cancer medicine: http://nyr.kr/12Bxgv8
Woman With Quadriplegia Feeds Herself Chocolate Using Mind-Controlled Robot Arm
In a study published in the online version of The Lancet, the researchers described the brain-computer interface (BCI) technology and training programs that allowed Ms. Scheuermann, 53, of Whitehall Borough in Pittsburgh, Pa. to intentionally move an arm, turn and bend a wrist, and close a hand for the first time in nine years.
Less than a year after she told the research team, “I’m going to feed myself chocolate before this is over,” Ms. Scheuermann savored its taste and announced as they applauded her feat, “One small nibble for a woman, one giant bite for BCI.”
“This is a spectacular leap toward greater function and independence for people who are unable to move their own arms,” agreed senior investigator Andrew B. Schwartz, Ph.D., professor, Department of Neurobiology, Pitt School of Medicine. “This technology, which interprets brain signals to guide a robot arm, has enormous potential that we are continuing to explore. Our study has shown us that it is technically feasible to restore ability; the participants have told us that BCI gives them hope for the future.”
In 1996, Ms. Scheuermann was a 36-year-old mother of two young children, running a successful business planning parties with murder-mystery themes and living in California when one day she noticed her legs seemed to drag behind her. Within two years, her legs and arms progressively weakened to the point that she required a wheelchair, as well as an attendant to assist her with dressing, eating, bathing and other day-to-day activities. After returning home to Pittsburgh in 1998 for support from her extended family, she was diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration, in which the connections between the brain and muscles slowly, and inexplicably, deteriorate.
An experimental gene therapy program in Pennsylvania has helped numerous patients fight leukemia by using a disabled form of HIV to reprogram their bodies.
See on Scoop.it - The future of medicine and health
Moldable, Injectable Sponges Left: A fully collapsed square-shaped cryogel rapidly regains its original memorized shape, size, and volume upon hydration. Right: Photos show the placement of a cryogel inside a 1-mL syringe, and the recovery of a square gel after injection through a normal 16-gauge needle. Courtesy of Sidi Bencherif
A new class of gel-based sponges can be molded to any shape, soak up drugs or stem cells, shrink down and be injected into the body, where they inflate to their original size and leak out their contents. They work kind of like those “dinosaur egg” sponges you can get at museum gift shops, where contact with water inflates little pellets into soft dino-shapes. Only they’ll be inside your body.
Bioengineers at Harvard and Caltech designed the sponges, which are primarily made from alginate, a gel made from algae. They can be molded into any shape or size and contain large pores, which allow liquids and large molecules to pass through. The pores can also hold cells, proteins and small-molecule drugs, which can then pass into the body when the alginate starts to break down.
See on popsci.com
The New Medicine: Hacking Our Biology is part of the series “Engineers of the New Millennium” from IEEE Spectrum magazine and the Directorate for Engineering of the National Science Foundation. These stories explore technological advances in medical inventions to enhance and extend life.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Tufts University say they have invented functional electronic implants that can dissolve after programmable time periods. To demonstrate the system, which could aid in healing during the first few crucial days after an operation, they implanted one in a rat. It created a temporary temperature increase to sterilize a wound, and then it dissolved after 15 days. The researchers reported the development this week in the journal Science.
Biomedical researchers are turning to the idea of “programmable degradation” because it is difficult to develop materials that remain compatible with human tissue over the long term. Medical implants or drug-delivery systems that do their work and then disappear are ideal. To develop the electronic implants, the researchers encased them in silk. That material’s characteristics, particularly its crystallinity, can be adjusted so that its degradation time can be anywhere from seconds to years.
The electronics inside the silk were based on nanometers-thick sheets or ribbons of silicon, called silicon nanomembranes. The materials have been previously used to make experimental transistors, diodes, complementary logic devices, and photocells for flexible surfaces. Whereas a conventional silicon wafer or a chip would take about a thousand years to dissolve in biofluids, says John A. Rogers, who led the research at the University of Illinois, a nanomembrane is gone in a couple of weeks.