Author Interviews, Macular Degeneration, Ophthalmology, Technology / 17.05.2017 Interview with: Dr Felicity de Cogan PhD Institute of Inflammation and Ageing University of Birmingham What is the background for this study? Response: The University of Birmingham has a unique approach to developing technologies. By locating chemists, engineers, biologists and clinicians in the same department it revolutionised the way research problems are solved. Initially, Felicity de Cogan was researching cell penetrating peptides (CPP) and their uses in microbiology. However, after joining forces with Neuroscientists, Dr Lisa Hill and Professor Ann Logan at the National Institute for Health Research Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (NIHR SRMRC) together with the clinicians and Vision Scientists, Dr Mei Chen and Professor Heping Xu at the Queen’s University Belfast it became evident that there was huge potential to deliver drugs in the eye. This was the start of the project and it developed rapidly from there. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emory, Mental Health Research, Technology / 10.05.2017 Interview with: Jessica Maples-Keller Emory University School of Medicine. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  This manuscript is a review of the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology within psychiatric treatment. VR refers to an advanced technological communication interface in which the user is actively participated in a computer generated 3-d virtual world that includes sensory input devices used to simulate real-world interactive experiences. VR is a powerful tool for the psychiatric community, as it allows providers to create computer-generated environments in a controlled setting, which can be used to create a sense of presence and immersion in the feared environment for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Genetic Research, Technology / 03.05.2017 Interview with: Chance York, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Mass Communication Kent State University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This research used twin study survey data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) to investigate the relative influence of genetics and environment on social media use. While the research cannot directly examine the gene-level influence on social media behavior, I was able to leverage known levels of genetic relatedness between identical and fraternal twins to suss out how much genetic traits and environmental factors impact frequency of using social media with some help from the Buzzoid boys. The results showed that between one- and two-thirds of variance in social media use is explained by genes, while environmental factors (parental socialization, peers, work, school, individual characteristics, etc.) explained the rest. In other words, this very specific communication behavior—social media use—is partially guided by our genetic makeup. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Technology / 01.05.2017 Interview with: Frederick W. Kron, MD President and Founder of Medical Cyberworlds, Inc Department of Family Medicine,Ann Arbor, MI and Michael D. Fetters, M.D., M.P.H., M.A. Professor of Family Medicine University of Michigan What is the background for this technology and study? Dr. Kron: Communication is the most important component of the doctor-patient relationship. I know that through research, but also through personal experience. As a cancer survivor, I’ve seen first-hand the difference that outstanding communication skill can make to a vulnerable patient. At the beginning of the project, we asked medical educators about the challenges they had in assessing and training communication competency. They told us that technical skills are easy to teach and assess, but communication skills are mainly behavioral skills that involve verbal and nonverbal behaviors, facial expressions, and many other cues that pass between patient and provider. That’s hard to teach and assess. Activities like role play with standardized patients (SPs) have been widely used, but it’s impossible for SPs to accurately portray these behaviors, or for faculty to fully assess the nuanced behaviors of both learner and patient. Supporting this idea is a lack of evidence proving that SP encounters translate in behavioral changes or transfer into clinical settings. Developments in virtual reality provided us with a great opportunity for assessing and teaching of communication behaviors. Working with a national group of experts, we created computer-based Virtual Humans that interact with learners using the full range of behaviors you’d expect from two people talking together. They are so behaviorally realistic and compelling, that they trigger emotional responses in learners, and make learners want to learn so they can do their best. Dr. Fetters: Our team has particular interest in doctor-patient communication in the context of cancer. There are many critical aspects of cancer communication: breaking the bad news to the patient, negotiating sometimes conflicting family opinions about treatment, and communication among team members about the patient's care, just to name a few. We’ve begun building out those scenarios in the technological platform we developed, Mpathic-VR. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma, Technology / 27.04.2017 Interview with: Laura Korb Ferris, MD, PhD Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute Director of Clinical Trials Department of Dermatology University of Pittsburgh Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We found that a non-invasive adhesive patch applied to the skin over a pigmented skin lesion allowed us to capture enough genetic material from the lesion to analyze and predict if that lesion is likely to be melanoma, meaning a biopsy is warranted, or if it is likely benign, meaning the patient would not need a skin biopsy. In this study, we asked dermatologists to use their clinical judgement to decide if they would recommend biopsying a skin lesion based on photos and information about the lesion and the patients, such as the patient's age, personal and family history of skin cancer, and if the lesion was new or changing. We then provided them the read out of the gene test and asked them how this influence their decision. We found that with this test result, dermatologists were more accurate in their decision making, meaning they were more likely to recommend biopsy of melanomas and less likely to biopsy harmless moles than they were without the test. This is important as it means this test has the potential to reduce the number of unnecessary skin biopsies performed, saving patients from undergoing a procedure and having a scar as a result, without increasing the risk of missing a melanoma. (more…)
Author Interviews, Stem Cells, Technology / 26.04.2017 Interview with: Sang Jin Lee, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Wake Forest School of Medicine Wake Forest University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I received my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea in 2003 and took a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratories for Tissue Engineering and Cellular Therapeutics at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine where I am currently a faculty member. My research works have focused on development of smart biomaterial systems that support the regenerative medicine strategies and approaches. These biomaterial systems combined with drug/protein delivery system, nano/micro-scaled topographical feature, or hybrid materials that could actively participate in functional tissue regeneration. Recently my research works utilize 3D bioprinting strategy to manufacture complex, multi-cellular living tissue constructs that mimic the structure of native tissues. This can be accomplished by optimizing the formulation of biomaterials to serve as the scaffolding for 3D bioprinting, and by providing the biological environment needed for the successful delivery of cells and biomaterials to discrete locations within the 3D structure. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 22.04.2017 Interview with: Aylin Caliskan PhD Center for Information Technology Policy Princeton University, Princeton, NJ What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Researchers have been suggesting that artificial intelligence (AI) learns stereotypes, contrary to the common belief that AI is neutral and objective. We present the first systematic study that quantifies cultural bias embedded in AI models, namely word embeddings. Word embeddings are dictionaries for machines to understand language where each word in a language is represented by a 300 dimensional numeric vector. The geometric relations of words in this 300 dimensional space make it possible to reason about the semantics and grammatical properties of words. Word embeddings represent the semantic space by analyzing the co-occurrences and frequencies of words from billions of sentences collected from the Web. By investigating the associations of words in this semantic space, we are able to quantify how language reflects cultural bias and also facts about the world. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Technology / 17.04.2017 Interview with: Paul J.D. Whiteside, doctoral candidate and Dr. Heather Hunt, assistant professor of bioengineering University of Missouri What is the background for this technology? What are the barriers to the use of conventional laser treatment of tattoos? Response: Traditional laser treatments rely on the concept of selective photothermolysis (laser-induced heating) to specifically target certain structures for treatment, while leaving other parts of the skin unaffected. The problem with traditional laser treatments is that the laser needs to transmit through the epidermis, which acts as a barrier to laser transmission both due to its reflective properties and because it is filled with light-absorbing melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its color. Sonoillumination acts to change the properties of the epidermis temporarily using painless ultrasound technology, thereby allowing more laser light to penetrate deeper into the skin to impact desired targets, such as hair follicles, tattoos, and blood vessels. Funding for clinical trials is currently being sought to provide evidence for what we surmise may be benefits of this technology relative to traditional laser treatments. These benefits may include being able to treat darker-skinned people more effectively, being able to provide laser therapy with less risk of scarring or pigment changes, and being able to do treatments with less discomfort, fewer treatments, and lower laser energy settings. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Technology / 04.04.2017 Interview with: Chandra Y. Osborn, PhD, MPH VP, Health & Behavioral Informatics One Drop Informed Data Systems, Inc. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There are over 1,500 mobile apps for people with diabetes, but minimal evidence on their benefit. The One Drop | Mobile app launched in April 2015. Users manually and automatically track their blood glucose and self-care activities via One Drop's | Chrome glucose meter, other Bluetooth-enabled meters, CGMs or other health apps. Users leverage One Drop’s food library, medication scheduler, automatic activity tracking, educational content, recipes, health tips, user polls, and peer support (‘likes’, stickers, and data sharing), and can set blood glucose, medication, carbohydrate intake, and activity goals, receive data-driven insights to draw connections between their behaviors, goals, and blood glucose readings. They can also self-report and track their hemoglobin A1c (A1c) and weight. In July 2016, we queried data on ~50,000 people using One Drop | Mobile. In March 2017, we queried data on >160,000 users. Only users who had entered an A1c value when they started using the app, and entered a second A1c at least 60 days apart, but no more than 365 days apart, were included. In July 2016, people with diabetes using One Drop | Mobile reported a nearly 0.7% reduction in A1c during 2-12 months of using One Drop. In March 2017, users reported a 1.0% reduction in A1c for the same timeframe. A more recent diabetes diagnosis and using One Drop to track self-care activities was associated with more A1c improvement. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Ophthalmology, Technology / 21.03.2017 Interview with: José Cunha-Vaz, M.D., Ph.D. Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology University of Coimbra, Portugal President of AIBILI Association for Innovation and Biomedical Research on Light and Image Editor-in-Chief of Ophthalmic Research Coordinator, Diabetic Retinopathy and Retinal Vascular Diseases, European Vision Institute Clinical Research Network ( What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this study, we evaluated the clinical utility of quantitative measures of microvasculature in optical coherence tomographic angiography (OCTA). Although several studies have demonstrated the potential value of measures of microvasculature in the management of diabetic retinopathy (DR), our study uses the ROC curve to compare the overall value of different approaches. In this age matched population with a range of disease, the mean vessel density measured in the SRL had the highest AUC, indicating that it is best among the methods tested at differentiating normal eyes from eyes with diabetic retinopathy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Technology / 09.03.2017 Interview with: Indrajeet Patil PhD former PhD student at SISSA, Trieste and currently a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University What is the background for this study? Response: Human societies are built on mutually beneficial cooperation, which relies on our prosocial and altruistic impulses to help each other out. Psychologists have been trying to understand the psychological basis of altruistic behavior for a while now, but studying costly altruism - a kind of helping behavior in which the altruist pays a heavy price to help others - has been difficult to study in lab settings given the ethical problems associated with creating any paradigm where participants stand to get hurt. Thus, the question is how do you study the motivation behind acts that involve a very high risk of physical injury to the self while helping others? Such situations are common in emergency contexts where people can be faced with the choice of either saving their own life or risking it to save someone else's life. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC, Mayo Clinic, Technology / 27.02.2017 Interview with: What is the background for this study? Response: Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC): Clinical Electrophysiology (JACC CEP) publication entitled, “Novel Electrophysiology Recording System Enables Specific Visualization of the Purkinje Network and Other High-Frequency Signals” reports important findings obtained using BioSig Technologies’ PURE EP System during a series of pre-clinical studies conducted at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. These studies are part of a company-funded Advanced Research Program announced on March 28, 2016. The JACC CEP manuscript provides an excellent example of the PURE EP System’s ability to record challenging high frequency signals known as Purkinje potentials. These signals are of great interest to electrophysiologists when assessing arrhythmia syndromes dependent on the Purkinje network. (more…)
Author Interviews, Stroke, Technology / 23.02.2017 Interview with: Michel Piotin, MD PhD Principal investigator and Interventional Neuroradiologist Rothschild Fondation Hospital, Paris What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Mechanical thrombectomy (MT) with a stent retriever (SR), in association with intravenous rtPA, is now the standard of care in anterior circulation ischemic stroke caused by large vessel occlusion Thrombectomy (MT) with a stent retriever (SR), in association with intravenous (IV) rtPA, is now the standard of care in anterior circulation ischemic stroke caused by large vessel occlusion. Favorable outcome is strongly associated with the successful reperfusion status. New techniques for MT such as ADAPT (A Direct first pass Aspiration Technique) is promising to increase reperfusion status and clinical outcome in retrospective studies. Our study objective was to determine which technique should be used in frontline strategy (ADAPT or Stent Retriever) to achieve maximum reperfusion. The ASTER study is the first independent large randomized controlled trial focusing on ADAPT technique with blinded assessment data. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Technology / 23.02.2017 Interview with: Ricardo A Hanel, MD PhD Endovascular and Skull Base Neurosurgery Director, Baptist Neurological Institute Endowed Chair, Stroke and Cerebrovascular Surgery Jacksonville, FL What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Medtronic Pipeline Embolization Device has been approved for carotid artery aneurysms over 10mm in size, from the petrous to clinoid segment but given the efficacy of results on these larger lesions, it has been widely utilized for treatment of smaller lesions. PREMIER came from the need of assessing the results , safety and efficacy, of pipeline for use of aneurysms under 12mm, located on the carotid artery, all segments, and V3 segment of the vertebral artery. PREMIER enrolled 141 patients treated at 22 centers (21 US, 1 Canada). Primary Safety effectiveness defined as total aneurysm occlusion, core lab adjudicated , at 1 year was 83.5%; with safety endpoint of major stroke/death at 30 days of 1.4% (2 patients), with 1-year major stroke and death rate of 2.1%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health, Technology / 16.02.2017 Interview with: Dr. Krychman is Executive Director, President, and CEO of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Irvine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is a Member of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) and a Certified Sexual Counselor by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). He served as a member of the Standards Committee for the International Society for Sexual Medicine during their 2016 International Consensus Meeting.  What is the background for this technology and study? What are the main findings? Response: Viveve Medical, Inc. is a women's health and wellness company committed to advancing new solutions to improve women's overall well-being and quality of life.  The internationally patented Viveve® technology and the GENEVEVE™ treatment, incorporates clinically-proven, cryogen-cooled monopolar radiofrequency (CMRF) energy to uniformly deliver non-ablative, deep penetrating volumetric heat into the submucosal layer of the vaginal introitus (opening) while gently cooling surface tissue to generate robust neocollagenesis.  One 30-minute in-office session tightens and restores the tissue around the vaginal introitus addressing the common medical condition of vaginal laxity and can improve a woman’s sexual function. VIVEVE I is a landmark study.  Results of the VIVEVE I clinical study, "Effect of Single-Treatment, Surface-Cooled Radiofrequency Therapy on Vaginal Laxity and Female Sexual Function: The VIVEVE I Randomized Controlled Trial," were recently published in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine (JSM) under the Female Sexual Function category.   Some of my high-level thoughts to reiterate from this study are: It is the first-ever large, randomized, sham-controlled study to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of energy-based procedures in gynecological applications, including vaginal laxity, which is a significant medical condition affecting millions of women worldwide that may lead to a reduction in sexual function. The primary endpoint of the VIVEVE I study was a comparison of the proportion of women reporting no vaginal laxity in the treatment group versus the sham group at 6 months post-treatment. Subjects receiving the active treatment were three times more likely to report no vaginal laxity at six months versus the sham group (p-value = 0.006). Statistically significant and sustained improvement in sexual function (baseline FSFI total score ≤26.5) after a single treatment, with an adjusted mean difference in the active group vs sham group of 3.2 at 6 months (p-value = 0.009). "Placebo Effect" in the sham group did not rise above dysfunctional (FSFI ≤26.5) and diminished at 6 months. Statistically significant improvement in sexual function was achieved in 93% of subjects in the active group vs the sham group in two individual key domains of FSFI (p-value = 0.007). Bottom line: Geneveve is a safe effective treatment that can be performed as an outpatient in one 30-minute visit to improve sexual function as it has been affected by vaginal laxity. (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Mental Health Research, PLoS, Technology / 12.02.2017 Interview with: Dr. Ujwal Chaudhary, PhD Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany What is the background for this study? Response: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which causes an Individual to be in Locked-in state (LIS), i.e. the patients have control of their vertical eye movement and blinking, and ultimately in Completely Locked-in state (CLIS), i.e, no control over their eye muscle. There are several assistive and augmentative (AAC) technology along with EEG based BCI which can be used be by the patients in LIS for communication but once they are in CLIS they do not have any means of communication.  Hence, there was a need to find an alternative learning paradigm and probably another neuroimaging technique to design a more effective BCI to help ALS patient in CLIS with communication. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Technology / 09.02.2017 Interview with: Lazaros Gonidis PhD candidate Postgraduate Researcher University of Kent In general, why do we tend to underestimate time when we are distracted versus when we are doing something boring? Is the adage that “time flies when you’re having fun” true? Response:  In order to be accurate at time “keeping” we need to attend to it. Anything that distracts us makes us less accurate, and to be more specific, it makes us underestimate the duration of events. In simple terms when we experience an event that last 10 minutes a distraction could make it feel like 5 minutes. On the other hand when we are bored, let’s say during a non-interesting event, we tend to focus more on time keeping looking forward for the event to finish. In this case we would overestimate the event and 10 minutes could feel like 15 minutes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Technology / 09.02.2017 Interview with: Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson PhD Professor of Psychology Stetson University What is the background for this study? Response: The degree to which screen time influences youth across a variety of behavioral outcomes has been a source of debate and contention for decades. For many years the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended to parents that they allow older children no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. However, this number was never clearly based on good data. And in 2014 one study (Przybylski, 2014 in Pediatrics) suggested that ties between screen time and behavioral outcomes were very weak, and only seen for the most extreme screen users. So I was curious to see if these results would replicate for a large sample of US youth. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Technology / 01.02.2017 Interview with: Vasileios Vavourakis Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow Centre for Medical Image Computing Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering Front Engineering Building, Malet Place University College London WC1E 6BT, London, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is already known that chemical factors play an important role in pathological angiogenesis, the process whereby cancer induces the formation of new blood vessels to provide it with nutrients. However, there is little knowledge about how mechanical forces induced by tumour growth affect the development and functionality of this pathological vasculature. By developing a mathematical & computational model – also referred in the research community as in-silico model – of the physical and chemical interactions occurring during angiogenic cancerous growth, we aimed to provide insights about how mechanical forces influence cancer-induced angiogenesis. The most important finding of our study is that mechanical forces play a key role in solid tumour-induced angiogenesis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Technology / 27.01.2017 Interview with: Lucas Marzec MD Instructor of Medicine Section of Cardiac Electrophysiology Division of Cardiology University of Colorado School of Medicine Aurora, CO 80045 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The addition of cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) to an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) reduces the risk of mortality and heart failure events in select patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Given these benefits, it is important to ensure patients who have a guideline recommendation for CRT are considered for this therapy at the time of ICD implantation. Previously, little data were available on the contemporary use of CRT among guideline eligible patients undergoing ICD implantation. Although ICDs alone reduce the risk of mortality in patients with heart failure and reduced systolic function, prior work shows these devices are not uniformly provided to eligible patients and that rates of ICD implantation vary widely by hospital. Prior to our study, it was unknown whether similar variation in the use of the combination of ICD and CRT (CRT-D) exists. We analyzed data from the National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) ICD Registry to identify patient, provider, and hospital characteristics associated with CRT-D use and to determine the extent of hospital level variation in the use of CRT-D among patients eligible for CRT undergoing implantation of an ICD. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Technology / 23.01.2017 Interview with: Dr Marcus Lind Associate Professor of Diabetology at the University of Gothenburg Gothenburg, Sweden Chief Physician of Diabetology, Uddevalla Hospital Uddevalla, Sweden What is the background for this study? Response: This was a randomized trial over 16 months (cross-over study with 26 weeks of each treatment and a between wash-out period of 17 weeks) of 161 persons with type 1 diabetes. The main purpose was to evaluate whether a “diabetes tool”, denoted continuous glucose monitoring improves the glycaemic control, known to be essential to lower risks for diabetic complications such as injuries on eyes, kidneys, nerves and the cardiovascular system. The study also evaluated whether the glucose could be stabalised, i.e. having less fluctutations (beside the average level per se) and whether well-being, treatment satisfaction and feeling more confident in the daily living to avoid low glucose values which lead influence the cognitive function and can lead to unconciousness. Earlier trials exist of this therapy in connection to insulin pumps. But it has not been tested in randomized trials with persons only using multiple daily insulin injections to administer insulin which is the most common therapy among adults with type 1 diabetes. Another novelty is that the current CGM-system (DexCom G4) has earlier shown a high accuracy and positive treatment experience among persons with type 1 diabetes, but it has not been tested in long-term randomized trials. Of note this trial was performed among adults with type 1 diabetes. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a system where the patient has a sensor subcutaneously that he/she easily can change every week. It estimates the glucose level every minute and shows values on a hand-held small monitor (size of a small cell-phone) and whether the glucose levels are rising or declining. The hypothesis with the study is that if the patient has continuous information of the glucose level and trends it will improve treatment variables. The comparison group was that patients got information of their glucose control via capillary finger sticks which has been the general treatment for a long time period but can only be made at certain occasions since a procedure where blood must be taken from the finger tips. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin K / 17.01.2017 Interview with: Adrienne R. Minerick, Ph.D. Associate Dean for Research & Innovation, College of Engineering Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Development Professor, Chemical Engineering Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 49931 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: With seed funding from the Gerber Foundation, we asked two scientific questions. 1. Are vitamins present in tears and could we reliably detect them? 2. Do the vitamin levels in tears correlate with the vitamin levels in blood? This research, conducted by recent PhD graduate Maryam Khaksari, illustrated that vitamins are present in tears. The majority of the essential vitamins are water soluble, which were present in tears in higher concentration than fat soluble vitamins. Given that tears are 98% water, this result wasn’t surprising. This study developed up protocols to reliably detect both water and fat soluble vitamins. The limits of detection and limits of quantification did vary by vitamin, so there is ample room to improve this technique. The second question was answered by a small clinical trial with UP Health: Portage Hospital’s Pediatric Clinic. During the 4-month well-baby check-up, willing parents and their infant each donated both a blood sample and a tear sample. Vitamin concentrations were determined in the samples and correlations quantified. Fat soluble vitamin K showed the strongest concentration correlation between blood and tears. The strength of additional vitamin correlations were noted. These early-stage results demonstrate that vitamin screening from a single drop of tears (35uL or microliters) is feasible – with additional refinement. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hospital Acquired, Infections, Surgical Research, Technology / 10.01.2017 Interview with: Alex Carignan, MD, MSc Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although reports of iatrogenic transmission directly linked to surgical power tools (SPTs) are rare, the decontamination of such instruments is challenging due to their complex designs, which may restrict access to cleaning and sterilization agents, and because they often become contaminated after use. Most studies on infection risk with ultrasonic surgical power tools include patients who underwent phacoemulsification surgeries,but it is logical to assume that lumen contaminants, including bacteria and proteinaceous material from previous operations, may be found in neurosurgery SPTs as well. During June 2015, the infection control department at our institution was notified of an increase in the number of surgical site infection cases following craniotomy since January 2015. We investigated an outbreak of neurosurgical SSIs at a tertiary care hospital in Quebec, Canada, to identify the outbreak’s cause, and our investigation strongly suggests that modifying the reprocessing procedure of an ultrasonic surgical aspirator caused the outbreak. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Nature, Technology / 08.01.2017 Interview with: Hyo-Jick Choi, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering University of Alberta Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 1H9 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Respiratory diseases such as influenza transmitted either through breathing aerosols exhaled/coughed out by an infected person or through direct contact. Despite controversy over its efficacy, surgical mask has been widely used by general public during the past respiratory disease outbreaks because of low cost, easy wearability, and widespread use in normal day-to-day situation. Critical issue is that virus captured on the filter of the mask still maintains infectivity for long time, raising concerns of secondary infections and transmissions. This led us to develop a strain-nonspecific and reusable airborne virus deactivation system based on salt recrystallization principle. Salt recrystallization is hypothesized to cause deactivation of viruses transmitted through aerosols via two successive processes: 1) salt on filter fiber dissolves upon exposure to the pathogenic aerosols and 2) salt crystallizes as aerosols evaporate. To demonstrate the concept, we coated the fiber of the surgical mask filter with sodium chloride (NaCl) salt crystal and tested its performance using three different types of influenza viruses. Salt-treated filter provided higher filtration efficiency compared to non-treated regular filter and successfully destroyed multiple subtypes of influenza viruses trapped on the filter within few minutes, leading to significant infectivity loss. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 06.01.2017 Interview with: Lukas Bereuter, PhD Candidate University of Bern ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research Bern, Switzerland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Today, most electronic implants are powered by primary batteries. After battery depletion, the whole implant has to be replaced by a surgery. This causes repeated interventions in a patients’ life, which bears the risk of complications and is costly. To overcome this problem, several groups presented prototypes of implants that are powered by solar cells that are implanted under the skin. However, precise knowledge of the actual light exposure and expectable power output of such an implant in everyday life was lacking so far. With this study, we investigated the real-life feasibility of a solar-powered implant for the first time. For this, we developed portable light measurement devices that feature solar cells and continuously measure a subcutaneous solar cell’s output power when powered by AGM Solar Batteries. The measurement devices were worn by volunteers in their daily routine in summer, autumn and winter. The study showed, that subcutaneously implanted solar cells could generate enough power in everyday-life to fully power e.g. a cardiac pacemaker. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Technology / 01.01.2017 Interview with: Prof. David A. Weitz Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Harvard University What is the background for this technology study? What are the main findings? Response: Currently, it is very time-consuming and expensive to develop new drugs. One reason is that many drugs fail in clinical trials after animal studies, simply because animals are very different from humans. One promising means of solving this problem is to replace animal experiments with artificial human tissues that can be used to directly screen a drug. However, it is a challenge to construct artificial human tissues, as almost all human tissues are composed of multiple types of cells and extracellular matrices in 3D structures. In our studies, we have successfully developed a droplet-based microfluidic technique to fabricate large numbers of monodisperse, portable microtissues. We spatially assemble different types of cells in a 3D core-shell structure and construct an artificial human microtissue in each individual drop. The specific structures we create in the microdoplets are designed to mimic the behavior of the liver, and hence we call these structures a ‘liver in a drop.’  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, Nature, Technology, University of Michigan / 27.12.2016 Interview with: James Moon, PhD John Gideon Searle Assistant Professor University of Michigan Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Biointerfaces Institute Ann Arbor, MI, 48109 What is the background for this study? Response: The field of cancer immunotherapy has recently made a breakthrough with the clinical success of immune checkpoint inhibitors, which work by removing the brakes on immunosuppressed T-cells. However, these approaches generally work by augmenting pre-existing T-cell immunity and benefit only a subset of patients. In addition, because the majority of somatic mutations in cancer cells are unique to each patient, cancer immunotherapy may benefit from a personalized approach. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nature, Neurological Disorders, Technology / 16.12.2016 Interview with: Bin He, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Engineering in Medicine Director, Center for Neuroengineering Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Biomedical Engineering Medtronic-Bakken Endowed Chair for Engineering in Medicine University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This work is aimed at developing a noninvasive brains-computer interface to allow disabled patients to control their environment by just thinking about it. We found 8 human subjects were able to accomplish 3D reach and grasp tasks without using any muscle activities but just thinking about it. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hematology, Memory, Pediatrics, Technology / 09.12.2016 Interview with: Steven J. Hardy, Phd Licensed Clinical Psychologist Divisions of Hematology and Oncology Children’s National Health System Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences Washington, DC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Children with sickle cell disease exhibit neurocognitive deficits as a consequence of either silent or overt cerebral infarction or disease-related non-infarct central nervous system effects (likely resulting from chronic anemia and hypoxic events). These complications often lead to impairment in executive functioning (e.g., working memory, attention, inhibition, cognitive flexibility), which can make it difficult to focus in class, plan for long-term school projects, remember and carry out multi-step tasks or assignments, and stay organized. The literature on interventions to reduce neurocognitive sequelae of sickle cell disease is extremely limited. Our research team investigated a promising home-based, computerized cognitive training program (Cogmed) involving repeated practice on performance-adapted exercises targeting working memory with a sample of youth (ages 7 – 16) with sickle cell disease. Of the participants who have enrolled in the study (n = 70), 49% exhibited working memory deficits (<25% in the general population have a working memory deficit) and were randomized to an eight-week waitlist or to begin Cogmed immediately. Participants who used Cogmed demonstrated significant improvements on multiple measures of working memory, while those randomized to the waitlist group only exhibited such improvements after receiving Cogmed. Approximately 25% of participants completed the recommended number of Cogmed sessions (20 – 25 sessions). However, analyses revealed that participants who completed at least 10 sessions (about 50% of the participants) showed comparable levels of working memory improvement. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Anemia, Author Interviews, Hematology, Surgical Research, Technology / 05.12.2016 Interview with: Allan Doctor, MD Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Professor of Pediatrics and (Associate) Biochemistry Washington University School of Medicine & Saint Louis Children’s Hospital St. Louis, Missouri What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our research team has developed the first nanoscale artificial cells designed to emulate vital functions of natural red blood cells. If ultimately confirmed safe for use in humans, this nanotechnology-based product, called ‘ErythroMer’, could represent a new and innovative alternative to blood transfusions that would be especially valuable in situations where stored blood is needed, but difficult to obtain or use, such as in pre-hospital or battlefield settings. The artificial cells are designed to be freeze-dried, stored for extended periods at ambient temperatures, and simply reconstituted with water for immediate use. This year, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that 30,000 civilian trauma deaths/year are preventable and of these, two-thirds arise from hemorrhage in the pre-hospital phase of care. One key goal for our team is to advance treatment for trauma victims or soldiers in austere environments by initiating resuscitation in the field, particularly when transport is prolonged. ErythroMer could be a blood substitute that medics carry in their pack and literally take it out, add water, and inject. There are currently no simple, practical means to bring transfusion to most trauma victims outside of hospitals. Delays in resuscitation significantly impact outcomes; it is our goal to push timely, effective care to field settings. (more…)