Allergies, Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Stanford, Technology / 03.03.2018 Interview with: Kavita Sarin, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Dermatology Stanford University Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Drug reactions occur in the majority of patients undergoing cancer therapies. Half of serious drug reactions are detected after market approval which can result in painful complications and interruption in therapy. Post-market drug surveillance platforms such as FDA monitoring rely on medical publications and physician reporting and take time to identify trends. We sought to determine if we could identify trends in patient discussions in internet health forums to more rapidly identify chemotherapeutic drug reactions. We chose skin reactions as a proof-of-principle because patients can more easily describe what they see on their skin. Julia Ransohoff, a medical student, and Azadeh Nikfarham, an informatics postdoctoral fellow trained a computer to recognize when a patient undergoing anti-cancer treatment with PD-1 antagonists or EGFR-inhibitors described a drug reaction in their internet forum posts. (more…)
Author Interviews, Social Issues, Technology / 02.03.2018 Interview with: Jeffrey A. Hall, Ph.D. Associate Professor The University of Kansas Relationships and Technology Lab What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The idea that new forms of media displace our face-to-face relationships with close friends and family is an old idea.  Two decades ago, when the internet experienced a period of rapid growth, the most recent form of the social displacement hypothesis emerged. Studies from that time ended up finding little to no evidence of displacement by the internet. The main findings of this study focus on displacement by social media.  The first study was conducted with a longitudinal, nationally representative sample of Americans from 2009-2011.  This study found that during a period of rapid social media adoption, there was little to no association between adopting and using social media and direct social contact over the three years of the study.  Furthermore, using more social media did not result in lowered well-being. The second study in this paper looked at data from 2015, and found that using social media in a day had little bearing on who people communicated with and how they communicated. That is, passive social media use did not seem to displaced face-to-face communication with close friends and family.  (more…)
Author Interviews, End of Life Care, Heart Disease, JAMA, Technology / 27.02.2018 Interview with: Larry A. Allen, MD, MHS Associate Professor, Medicine Associate Head for Clinical Affairs, Cardiology Medical Director, Advanced Heart Failure Aurora, CO 80045 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Deciding whether or not to get a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is one of the most challenging medical decisions created by modern medicine. LVADs improve overall survival but also come with serious risks and lifestyle changes. Particularly for older patients with multiple medical problems, this is a complex choice. Our research group at the University of Colorado spent years systematically developing unbiased pamphlet and video decision aids for patients and caregivers. We also developed a clinician-directed decision support training for LVAD program staff. The DECIDE-LVAD trial studied the implementation and effectiveness of this decision support intervention with patients and their caregivers in 6 hospitals in the U.S. When compared to previously used education materials, the decision aids appeared to improve patients’ decision quality and lowered the total number of patients getting LVADs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Radiology, Technology / 17.02.2018 Interview with: Eric Karl Oermann, MD Instructor Department of Neurosurgery Mount Sinai Health System New York, New York 10029 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Supervised machine learning requires data consisting of features and labels. In order to do machine learning with medical imaging, we need ways of obtaining labels, and one promising means of doing so is by utilizing natural language processing (NLP) to extract labels from physician's descriptions of the images (typically contained in reports). Our main finding was that (1) the language employed in Radiology reports is simpler than normal day-to-day language, and (2) that we can build NLP models that obtain excellent results at extracting labels when compared to manually extracted labels from physicians.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Stroke, Technology / 14.02.2018 Interview with E. Paul Zehr PhD Professor & Director Centre for Biomedical Research, Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, McKinnon Division of Medical Sciences Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD)| Affiliate, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, UBC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: For many years we explored the role of the spinal cord in regulating rhythmic arm and leg movements like we do during walking, running and swimming.  Although we humans tend to move and locomote around on our two legs as bipeds, we are basically quadrupeds in terms of how our nervous system controls our limbs during walking. We have an extensive network of brain and spinal cord connections that help coordinate our limbs while we move. A lot of our work showed that using the arms rhythmically, like during arm cycling, strongly affected the activity of the spinal cord controlling leg muscles. Getting the spinal cord for leg muscles more coordinated and activated is a major goal of rehabilitation  of walking after neurotrauma so we wanted to see if training the arms could help with this. This is particularly important because a lot of the time, the arms are not engaged at all in rehabilitation training for the legs. We found that after only 5 weeks of arm cycling (3 x 30 minutes each week), neural excitability, strength, and leg function were increased along with enhanced clinical tests of balance and walking ability. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Imperial College, Technology / 14.02.2018 Interview with: Marcus Dorner, PhD Non-Clinical Senior Lecturer in Immunology Wellcome Trust Investigator Imperial College London Department of Medicine, Section of Virology School of Medicine London United Kingdom What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection globally affects over 250 million people and is currently not curable. This infection can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and is among the leading causes for liver transplantation. Unfortunately, HBV is among the most difficult viruses to study in the laboratory, since model systems are not very good at recapitulating what happens in infected humans. We have just described the first model to effectively change this. Using an artificial “Liver-on-a-Chip”, we have developed a tool, which can potentially revolutionise how we study viral infections by merging the study of viruses with tissue engineering. This model is over 10,000-fold more susceptible to HBV infection and accurately mimics, what happens in an infected patient. This can now be utilised to develop novel and potentially curative therapies, which would benefit millions of people currently living with chronic HBV infection.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Electronic Records, Technology / 08.02.2018 Interview with: Lowe, Timicoin CEO Mr. Lower discusses the first cryptocurrency blockchain mobile platform for storing medical records that can be safely accessed from anywhere. What is the background for this announcement? Would you briefly explain what is meant by blockchain technology? How does it allow for more efficient storage and transmittal of encrypted medical records? Response: We do not store the data on any cloud storage to avoid any threat to data security and server overhead for data processing as well as to avoid temporary potential data unavailability. When a certain kind of data is queried by the consumer, our cloud engine first passes on the query to each of the providers (our gateway applications that are running on their node) and see if there are enough query results, it shows a sample to the consumer and if consumer decides to pay, it creates a Blockchain channel between the providers and the consumer that queried the data and all the provider nodes propagate the queried data onto that channel. So a common trust is built between the nodes and the consumer on that Blockchain channel and the shared query stays there as the trust builder. Then the consumer can anytime access the data needed from that blockchain channel. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hearing Loss, Pediatrics, Technology / 05.02.2018 Interview with: Niki Katerina Vavatzanidis MSc Department of Neuropsychology Max Planck Institute for Human and Cognitive Brain Science Leipzig, Germany Technische Universität Dresden, Germany What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Cochlear implants (CIs) are a way of providing hearing to sensorineural deaf individuals. The implant works by first picking up sounds from the environment and transforming them into an electric signal. Via an array of electrodes the implant then transmits the signal directly to the auditory nerve, which then leads to auditory sensations in the brain. In our study, we were interested to see how language acquisition is affected when language immersion occurs at an untypically late age. Children with cochlear implants that grow up in exclusively or predominantly hearing environments will have their first language encounter at the time of implantation, which nowadays is roughly between the age of one and three. Besides the later starting point in language acquisition, children with CIs are facing a compromised input quality compared to typical hearing. We know from typically hearing children that it is around the age of 14 months that their vocabulary becomes robust enough to react to name violations. That is, when a picture is labelled incorrectly, their brain waves will display with the so-called N400 effect. In our study we were interested whether children with CIs would also show the N400 effect and if so, how many months of hearing experience are necessary. We measured the brain activity of children implanted between the age of one and four at three time points: 12, 18, and 24 months after implant activation. To our surprise, congenitally deaf children whose only language input had been via the cochlear implant already displayed the N400 effect after 12 months of language immersion, i.e. earlier than seen in typically hearing children.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Surgical Research, Technology / 05.02.2018 Interview with: Dr. Dimitri Amiras, FRCR Consultant radiologist Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Dr. Philip Pratt PhD Research Fellow Department of Surgery & Cancer Imperial College London at St Mary's Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have used the Microsoft HoloLens to assist with complex reconstructive surgery on several patients at a major trauma centre at St Marys Hospital. We believe this is the first report of such a use in reconstructive surgery. From dedicated CT scans we have been able to construct patient specific 3D models of the vascular channels supplying the skin to help the surgeon plan their surgical approach for the harvest of these skin flaps. These 3D models are then projected onto the patient as holograms using the Microsoft HoloLens making the information available and directly relevant at the time of the procedure. The technique helps the surgeon in planning his approach for the patient as well saving time locating the correct vessels at the time of surgery.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Nature, Technology / 02.02.2018 Interview with: Dr. Sarav Rajan, PhD Scientist Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering MedImmune What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: During an infection, B cells (a type of white blood cell) create antibodies against antigens present on a pathogen. These cells can be extremely rare, and finding them among the millions of other cells is extremely challenging. Existing methods to examine B cells require a trade-off: either capture the full sequence repertoire by next-generation sequencing but functionally screen just a subset, or culture a subset of B cells and fully screen them. Instead, our method captures the complete repertoire within a typical blood draw and screens all its members to identify the rare antigen-positive antibodies. Using a new microfluidic approach, we recovered the antibody genes from one million B cells encapsulated in picoliter-scale droplets, breaking through a widely-published view that amplifying from single cells in such small volumes is inefficient. The resulting library seamlessly integrates into our high-throughput screening infrastructure to enable rapid isolation of desired antibodies. Using this method, we were able to isolate a panel of rare cross-reactive antibodies targeting influenza. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dental Research, Technology / 02.02.2018 Interview with: “chipped tooth” by bagaball is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Ming Yang Key Laboratory of Microsystems and Microstructures Manufacturing, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Self-healing materials and coatings are smart solutions to environmental and energy problems. There are heavy demands for these materials in many productions such as consumer electronics, the automotive industry and healthcare. Current coatings that can self-heal are typically soft. This means they are not as anti-scratch as rigid surfaces and the benefit of the ability to repair themselves could be overwhelmed by their limited robustness vulnerable to normal mechanical contact. It would be very useful to have a self-healing coating with a hardness that can be comparable or even outperform rigid coatings. This is normally difficult because mechanical hardness and self-healing are two conflicting properties with the opposite dependence on polymer dynamics. One good example in this context is many soft tissues can self-heal, but a notable exception is tooth enamel, which is the hardest part in our body but has no way to recover after decay. A new design will be needed to circumvent the fundamental limitation. We find that by mimicking the structure of epidermis, it is possible to combine two contradictory properties into an artificial coating, namely, self-healing ability and high hardness. The success relies on the placement of a hard layer containing graphene oxide on top of a soft sublayer with a seamless interface for interlayer diffusion. This allows a similar healing mechanism as that in skin, but the coating is not soft and has a hardness that even approaches tooth enamel.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Memory, Technology, UC Davis / 31.01.2018 Interview with: Halle Dimsdale-Zucker University of California, Davis Center for Neuroscience | Ph.D. Candidate Dynamic Memory Lab What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study sought to test competing models for how different types of retrieved contextual information (spatial, episodic - which is spatial AND temporal information) are supported by the hippocampus and its subfields. We only found differences between the subfields when people were spontaneously reactivating episodic, but not spatial information. This is surprising because a dominant view of the hippocampus is that it is specialized to represent spatial information. What this suggests is that when there is more than just spatial information that can be remembered that the hippocampus is able to flexibly represent whatever information is most task-relevant for remembering and distinguishing items from one another. Intriguingly, we found that different subfields represented shared episodic contextual information and item-unique contextual information. This highlights that our memories need to both link together common features of related events while retaining the event-specific details. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 30.01.2018 Interview with: Lieutenant Commander Matthew Doubrava Senior Medical Officer, Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton, Ohio What is the background for this research? What types of problems will be investigated using the Osprey? Response: The U.S. Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft will be used to conduct static aerospace medical research in an effort to provide solutions toward preventing musculoskeletal injury to tilt-rotor aircraft crew and en route care training at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Naval Medical Research Unit – Dayton (NAMRU-Dayton) has been tasked as the lead agency for the Navy to investigate tilt-rotor aircrafts potential effects of flight and vibration on aircrews. NAMRU-Dayton scientists will be partnering with the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, who will be investigating en route care training to figure out the best way for the crew to use the aircraft for that purpose. (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Technology / 26.01.2018 Interview with: David Brandman, MD, PhD Postdoctoral research associate (neuroengineering), Brown University Senior neurosurgical resident Dalhousie University BrainGate Website What is the background for this study? Response: People with cervical spinal cord injuries, ALS, or brainstem stroke, may lose some or all of their ability to use their arms or hands. In some cases, they may even lose the ability to speak. One approach to restoring neurologic function is by using a brain computer interface (BCI). BCIs record information from the brain, and then translate the recorded brain signals into commands used to control external devices. Our research group and others have shown that intracortical BCIs can provide people with tetraplegia the ability to communicate via a typing interface, to control a robotic limb for self-feeding, and to move their own muscles using functional electrical stimulation. Use of a BCI generally requires the oversight of a trained technician, both for system setup and calibration, before users can begin using the system independently. An open question with intracortical BCIs is how long it takes people to get up and running before they can communicate independently with 2 dimensional cursor control. The goal of this study was to systematically examine this question in three people with paralysis. As part of the ongoing BrainGate2 clinical trial, each study participant (T5, T8, and T10) had tiny (4x4 mm) arrays of electrodes implanted into a part of their brain that coordinates arm control. Each participant used motor imagery – that is, attempted or imagined moving their body – to control a computer cursor in real time. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Sleep Disorders, Technology / 24.01.2018 Interview with: “social media” by Jessie James is licensed under CC BY 2.0Jean-Philippe Chaput, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa Research Scientist, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute Ontario, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: No studies to date have examined the association between social media use (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and sleep duration in a representative sample of middle and high school students, who are a vulnerable age group that has reported high levels of social media use and insufficient sleep, writes Buzzoid. Our findings suggest an important association between the use of social media and short sleep duration among student aged 11-20 years. Using social media for at least one hour per day was associated with short sleep duration in a dose-response manner.    (more…)
Author Interviews, Stroke, Technology / 23.01.2018 Interview with: Professor Alireza Gharabaghi Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Alireza Gharabaghi Ärztlicher Leiter Sektion Funktionelle und Restaurative Neurochirurgie Neurochirurgische Universitätsklinik Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people suffer stroke worldwide each year. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are permanently disabled. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. About half of all stroke survivors will never be able to use their affected hand for activities of daily living again. The current study investigates a novel technology which may lead to new therapeutic options for these patients.  (more…)
Author Interviews, CT Scanning, Heart Disease, Technology / 23.01.2018 Interview with: Cardiologist Mark Rabbat, MD, FSCCT Who pioneered the use of FFRct at Loyola Medicine and was first author of an international expert panel of leading cardiologists and radiologists from centers in the United States, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands on how to interpret and report the tests published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography What is the scope of the problem? Response: Coronary artery disease is a very large healthcare burden. Over sixteen million individuals in the United States have coronary artery disease.  Coronary artery disease may result in your heart not getting enough blood and increases your risk of a heart attack. Historically, we have been faced with either using tests we knew were not always accurate or putting a patient through an invasive angiogram just to determine whether they would need another invasive procedure to restore blood flow.  The CT-derived fractional flow reserve (FFRct) analysis is the first technology that bridges the gap between the non-invasive and invasive tests within one platform.  Any patient with symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, fatigue, or shortness of breath without known coronary artery disease may be a candidate for the FFRct study.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Ophthalmology, Technology / 22.01.2018 Interview with: Ireneusz Grulkowski, PhD Assistant Professor Bio-Optics & Optical Engineering Lab Institute of Physics Nicolaus Copernicus University What is the background for this study? Response: The ophthalmic diagnostics has undergone a revolution over the last 30 years. The access to new modalities allowed to understand the process of development of different eye diseases of the retina and the anterior segment. In particular, optical coherence tomography (OCT) demonstrated the feasibility in visualization of microarchitecture of the ocular tissues. However, most of the ophthalmic equipment is dedicated either to imaging the anterior segment of the eye (e.g. the cornea) or to retinal imaging. This is due to the fact that the eye is composed of the elements, such as the cornea and the lens, that refract the light. In this report, we wanted to address that challenge. We compensated the refractive power of the eye by the application of the tunable lens. The focus tunable lens is the example of active optical element that changes its focal distance with the applied electric current. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 21.01.2018 Interview with: Jacob Crandall PhD Associate Professsor, Computer Science Brigham Young University What is the background for this study? Response: As autonomous machines become increasingly prevalent in society, they must have the ability to forge cooperative relationships with people who do not share all of their preferences.  Unlike the zero-sum scenarios (e.g., Checkers, Chess, Go) often addressed by artificial intelligence, cooperation does not require sheer computational power.  Instead, it is facilitated by intuition, emotions, signals, cultural norms, and pre-evolved dispositions.  To understand how to create machines that cooperate with people, we developed an algorithm (called S#) that combines a state-of-the-art reinforcement learning algorithm with mechanisms for signals. We compared the performance of S# with people in a variety of repeated games. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Diabetologia, Technology / 18.01.2018 Interview with: Silvia Conde, PhD CEDOC, NOVA Medical School Faculdade de Ciências Médicas Universidade Nova de Lisboa Lisboa What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In 2013, Silvia Vilares Conde and her research group described that the carotid body, a paired organ that is located in the bifurcation of the common carotid artery and that is classically defined as an oxygen sensor, regulates peripheral insulin sensitivity and that its dysfunction is involved in the development of metabolic diseases. This first study (Ribeiro et al. 2013, Diabetes, 62:2905-16) and others afterwards performed by her group in diabetic rats (Sacramento et al. 2017, Diabetologia 60(1):158-168) showed that the bilateral resection of the carotid sinus nerve, and therefore the abolishment of the connection between the carotid body and the brain, restore insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Although efficient this surgical irreversible approach has disadvantages, since the carotid body possesses other physiological functions as the response to the lack of oxygen (hypoxia) or the adaptation to exercise. Silvia Conde’s team also described that the carotid body is over-activated in animal models of type 2 diabetes, suggesting that decreasing the activity of the organ could be a good therapeutic strategy. In this new work (Sacramento et al. 2018, doi: 10.1007/s00125-017-4533-7), her group in collaboration with Galvani Bioelectronics (former Glaxo Smith Kline Bioelectronics) demonstrated that is possible to electrically modulate the carotid sinus nerve to maintain glucose homeostasis in diabetic animals without significant adverse effects.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Stem Cells, Technology / 14.12.2017 Interview with: Osipov PhD Insilico Medicine and Dmitry Klokov PhD Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Chalk River, Ontario, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cells and tissues can be damaged when exposed to ionizing radiation. In case of radiotherapy, it is a desirable effect in tumor cells. In case of occupational, medical and accidental exposures, typically to low-dose radiation, this may pose health risk to normal cells and tissues. In both cases, short-term assays that quantify damage to DNA and help evaluate long-term outcome are key to treatment/risk management. One such short-term assay is based on quantification of a modified histone protein called gH2AX in exposed cells up to 24 hrs after exposure. This protein marks sites in DNA that have both strands of the DNA helix broken or damaged. This assay is also widely used for various applications, including determination of individual radiosensitivity, tumor response to radiotherapy and biological dosimetry. With the advent of regenerative medicine that is based on stem cell transplantation, the medical and research communities realized that there is a need to understand how stem cells respond to low-dose diagnostic radiation exposures, such as CT scans. Stem cell therapies may have to be combined with diagnostic imaging in recipient patients. The gH2AX assay comes in very handy here, or at least it seemed this way. We exposed mesenchymal stem cells isolated from human patients to low or intermediate doses of X-rays (80 and 1000 mGy) and followed formation of gH2AX in their nuclei. First we found that residual gH2AX signal in cells exposed to a low dose was higher than in control non-irradiated cells. If the conventional assumptions about this assay that it is a surrogate for long-term detrimental effects was followed it would mean that the low-dose exposed cells were at a high risk of losing their functional properties. So we continued growing these cells for several weeks and assayed gH2AX levels, ability to proliferate and the level of cellular aging. Surprisingly, we found that low-dose irradiated cells did not differ from non-irradiated cells in any of the measured functional end-points. This was in contrast to 1000 mGy irradiated cells that did much worse at those long-term end points. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Ophthalmology, Technology / 13.12.2017 Interview with: Dr. Tien Yin Wong MD PhD Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore National Eye Center, Duke-NUS Medical School, National University of Singapore Singapore What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Currently, annual screening for diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a universally accepted practice and recommended by American Diabetes Association and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) to prevent vision loss. However, implementation of diabetic retinopathy screening programs across the world require human assessors (ophthalmologists, optometrists or professional technicians trained to read retinal photographs). Such screening programs are thus challenged by issues related to a need for significant human resources and long-term financial sustainability. To address these challenges, we developed an AI-based software using a deep learning, a new machine learning technology. This deep learning system (DLS) utilizes representation-learning methods to process large data and extract meaningful patterns. In our study, we developed and validated this using about 500,000 retinal images in a “real world screening program” and 10 external datasets from global populations. The results suggest excellent accuracy of the deep learning system with sensitivity of 90.5% and specificity of 91.6%, for detecting referable levels of DR and 100% sensitivity and 91.1% specificity for vision-threatening levels of DR (which require urgent referral and should not be missed). In addition, the performance of the deep learning system was also high for detecting referable glaucoma suspects and referable age-related macular degeneration (which also require referral if detected). The deep learning system was tested in 10 external datasets comprising different ethnic groups: Caucasian whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, Chinese, Indians and Malaysians (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, JAMA, Technology / 13.12.2017 Interview with: Babak Ehteshami Bejnordi Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Radboud University medical center, NijmegenBabak Ehteshami Bejnordi Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Radboud University medical center, Nijmegen What is the background for this study? Response: Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a crucial role in health care. Advances in a family of AI popularly known as deep learning have ignited a new wave of algorithms and tools that read medical images for diagnosis. Analysis of digital pathology images is an important application of deep learning but requires evaluation for diagnostic performance. Accurate breast cancer staging is an essential task performed by the pathologists worldwide to inform clinical management. Assessing the extent of cancer spread by histopathological analysis of sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) is an important part of breast cancer staging. Traditionally, pathologists endure time and labor-intensive processes to assess tissues by reviewing thousands to millions of cells under a microscope. Using computer algorithms to analyze digital pathology images could potentially improve the accuracy and efficiency of pathologists. In our study, we evaluated the performance of deep learning algorithms at detecting metastases in lymph nodes of patients with breast cancer and compared it to pathologist’s diagnoses in a diagnostic setting. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Sleep Disorders, Technology, Weight Research / 13.12.2017 Interview with: “Video Game Addicts” by Michael Bentley is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Marsha Novick, MD Associate professor of pediatrics and family and community medicine, Penn State College of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The results of this study solidify some well-established data concerning childhood obesity – namely that children who watch more television and have a more sedentary lifestyle are more likely to have an overweight or obese BMI compared with those who are more active. The survey results highlight some associations between increased technology use and difficulty with sleep quantity in children and adolescents. The data suggest:
  • ​​Increased technology use at bedtime, namely television, cell phones, video games and computers, is associated with a decrease in the amount of sleep children are getting. These children were more likely to be tired in the morning and less likely to eat breakfast.
  • Specifically, children who reported watching TV or playing video games before bed got an average of 30 minutes less sleep than those who did not, while kids who used their phone or a computer before bed averaged an hour less of sleep than those who did not.
  • The data also suggests that children with overweight or obesity were more likely to have trouble falling asleep and trouble staying asleep than their normal BMI counterparts
  • When children were reported by their parents to use one form of technology at bedtime, they were more likely to use another form of technology as well.
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Technology / 12.12.2017 Interview with: Dr Ian Stephen PhD Senior Lecturer Department of Psychology ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Perception in Action Research Centre Macquarie University, Sydney NSW, Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since the 1990s, the dominant view of attraction in the scientific community has been that it is an evolved mechanism for identifying appropriate, healthy, fertile mates. People who are attracted to appropriate, healthy, fertile people are more likely to have more, healthy offspring and therefore any genes for having these preferences will become more common. On the other hand people who are attracted to inappropriate, unhealthy, infertile people will be less likely to pass on their genes to the next generation, so genes for this attraction pattern will become less common. However, for this model to be correct, two things have to be true. First, we should be able to identify cues in the face and body that people find attractive/healthy looking. And second, these cues must be related to some aspect of actual physiological health. The first part of this is well established - cues like symmetry, skin color, body shape are all related to looking healthy and attractive. But there is much less research on the second part. The computer modeling techniques that we use allowed us to build a model based on 272 African, Asian and Caucasian face photographs that identifies three aspects of physiological health - body fat, BMI (a measure of body size) and blood pressure - by analysing facial shape. We then used the model to create an app that predicts what different faces would look like if those individuals increased or decreased their fatness, BMI or blood pressure. We gave this app to some more participants and asked them to make the faces look as healthy as possible. We found that, to make the faces look healthy, the participants reduced their fatness, BMI and (to a lesser extent) blood pressure. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Technology / 08.12.2017 Interview with: “Cici loves full screen video on the XO” by Mike Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sarah E. Domoff, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychology Central Michigan University Research Faculty Affiliate Center for Human Growth and Development University of Michigan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There has been growing concern that children may become "addicted" to screens, such as tablets and other mobile devices. Children at younger ages are now "owning" their own mobile devices and have increased access to gaming apps and other rewarding functions of these devices. Until now, there hasn't been a parent report form available to capture addictive like use of screen media in children. The Problematic Media Use Measure (PMUM) assesses addictive-like use of screen media in children under 12 years and has strong psychometrics. We found that the PMUM does a better job in predicting psychosocial difficulties in children, over and above hours of screen time. (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, Surgical Research, Technology / 06.12.2017 Interview with: Suresh Vedantham, M.D. Principal Investigator, ATTRACT Trial Professor of Radiology & Surgery Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology Washington University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:   About 300,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis, DVT) for the first time.  In total, about 600,000 Americans have a DVT each year, as noted in the 2008 Surgeon General’s Call to Action. Despite the use of standard treatment (blood thinning drugs and compression stockings), about 40% of DVT patients develop a long-term complication called post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS).  PTS impairs patients’ quality of life and typically causes chronic pain and swelling of the leg that occur on a daily basis. In many patients, this leads to major disability the prevents them from walking, working, or conducting normal daily activities. Some patients develop painful open sores on the leg called “venous ulcers”, that are difficult to heal. Pharmacomechanical catheter-directed thrombolysis (“PCDT”) is a minimally-invasive treatment that removes blood clots through a tiny (2-3 mm) incision using the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) along with catheter-based devices that can chew up the clots. The benefits and risks of PCDT have not before been evaluated for DVT treatment in a rigorous study.      The final results of the ATTRACT Trial, which was primarily sponsored by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are being published in The New England Journal of Medicine.  ATTRACT, the most rigorous study to date of clot-busting treatment for DVT, was a multicenter randomized controlled trial comparing PCDT and standard therapy versus standard therapy alone in 692 patients with above-knee DVT. This landmark study, conducted in 56 U.S. hospitals, was led by Principal Investigator Dr. Suresh Vedantham, Professor of Radiology & Surgery at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis, along with outstanding DVT researchers at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario [Canada]), the Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA), and the Mid America Heart Institute (Kansas City, MO).   The primary study result is that for most patients with DVT, the addition of PCDT to standard therapy does not prevent the development of PTS.  Because the use of PCDT involves a small but significant increase in major bleeding complications, it should not be routinely used as first-line DVT treatment.  However, PCDT did reduce the severity of PTS and appeared likely to provide better relief of DVT-related leg pain and swelling.  Further analyses will determine which DVT patients are most likely to experience these benefits. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology / 29.11.2017 Interview with: Nenad Bursac PhD Professor of Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor of Medicine Duke University Durham, NC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Every year about 1 million new people in US suffers from heart attack, resulting in death of hundreds of millions of cardiac muscle cells. This massive cell loss leads to gradual deterioration of heart function, which for many patients results in the occurrence of heart failure that ultimately will require heart transplant. Heart transplantation is complicated and expensive procedure and donor hearts are in short supply, rendering this disease to be not only highly prevalent but ultimately lethal. For almost 30 years, researchers have been exploring transplantation of stem cells into injured hearts as a means to replace dead cardiac muscle with new muscle cells that would yield improved heart function. However, injections of stem cells in the heart have so far met with limited clinical success and surgical implantation of pre-made heart muscle tissue in a form of a "cardiac patch" has been explored as an alternative strategy with a proven benefit of enhancing transplanted cell survival. Others and we have engineered cardiac tissue patches in a dish starting from human pluripotent stem cells, which have advantage of being able to become bona fide contracting cardiac muscle cells. So far, however, no one has been able to engineer a highly functional cardiac muscle patch of a size that is large enough to be used in human therapies for heart disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pharmaceutical Companies, Technology / 29.11.2017 Interview with: HITLab Mr. David Moore MBA Senior Vice President, Commercial Novo Nordisk Mr. David Moore presented the keynote presentation “Breaking Through Barriers in Innovation” at the 4th Annual HITLAB Innovators Summit, NYC November 28, 2017. How did you become interested in incorporating technological advances into the sales and marketing end of pharmaceutical delivery? Response: Part of our message today is that we understand that there is an opportunity to improve outcomes if we have a better focus on collaboration and integration through engagement with the patient rather than through medications alone. We continue to innovate in diabetes pharmaceutical care but are also focusing more on meeting the patient in their journey through everyday life. The opportunity to connect, collaborate and integrate is what digital health is all about. As manufacturers, we are still early in the integration process. When we think about technological changes from the patient’s perspective, health care has become much different. The patient no longer just goes to the doctor’s office for a conversation or opinion, with the doctor keeping all the notes. Now the patient has access to a broad range of medical information and usually their own medical records. There is an element of needing things to be user-friendly. As with any consumer product or service with choices, if the choice isn’t user-friendly, the consumer won’t use it. We are looking for ways to make the delivery of pharmacologic products user-friendly to both the patient and provider. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 26.11.2017 Interview with:  <a href="">“Virtual Reality”</a> by <i> <a href="">fotologic</a> </i> is licensed under <a href=""> CC BY 2.0</a>Professor Robert G. Parton FAA Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland Brisbane, Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have combined whole cell microscopy with image analysis and virtual reality visualization to allow a user to explore the surface of a cancer cell and then to move inside the cell and interact with the organelles vital for cellular function. The study utilized serial blockface electron microscopy data of a migratory breast cancer cell (combining thousands of electron microscopic images into one 3D dataset) together with to-scale animations of endocytic processes at the cell surface. Through the use of low-cost commercial VR headsets, the user could then ‘walk’ over the alien landscape of the cell surface, observe endocytic processes occurring around them in real-time, and then enter a portal into the cell interior. We provide guidelines for the use of VR in biology and describe pilot studies illustrating the potential of this new immersive experience as an educational too (more…)