Author Interviews, Education, Pediatrics, Technology / 01.12.2016 Interview with: Dr Katie (Katherine) Twomey ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellow, Lancaster University Senior Research Associate, ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although we know that toddlers can quickly work out what new words mean, it's not yet clear exactly how they do it. For example, when they see a new object alongside their favorite toy truck and hear a new word "block", we know that they will link "block" to the new object. They could do this by thinking in detail about what they already know, for example "if my toy is called "truck", then "block" must be the name of the new object". Equally, however, they could quickly link the new word to the new object without thinking about it in-depth. We tested this second possibility using iCub, a humanoid robot which learns by making quick associations between what it sees and what it hears, without the ability to think in detail about what it already knows. We replicated two studies of toddlers' early word learning with iCub and found that even though it can only learn through making simple links between words and objects, it behaved exactly as children did in the original experiments. (more…)
Author Interviews, MRI, Technology / 28.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Heron Werner Junior Clínica de Diagnóstico por Imagem – CDPI Rio de Janeiro - Brazil What is the background for this study? Response: A growing number of technological advancements in obtaining and viewing images through noninvasive techniques have brought major breakthroughs in fetal medicine. In general, two main technologies are used to obtain images within the uterus during pregnancy i.e. ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 21.11.2016 Interview with: YuHao Liu (Howard) Materials Research Laboratory University of Illinois Urbana Champaign What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our research group has been working on developing the next-generation wearable technology - integrating electronic tattoos on human skin for healthcare monitoring. This novel platform allows us to explore new sensors and actuators that are better than the commercially available ones. We have developed sensors that can measure temperature, pressure, hydration, electrophysiology..etc. However, no one ever think about capturing sound from the body until our team developed this new technology. In fact, body sounds can be important indicator in healthcare monitoring or even disease diagnostic. (more…)
Author Interviews, Ophthalmology, Technology / 20.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Andrew Bastawrous, Ophthalmologist Rolex Awards for Enterprise United Kingdom Dr. Bastawrous’ smartphone-based portable eye examination system, Peek Vision, allows patients in low resource setting, to be screened for vision problems and eye diseases, enabling accurate diagnosis and treatment. What is the background for Peek Vision? What are the main findings of your work with this system? Response: Mama Paul has been blind for almost 20 years, most of her time is spent within the safety of her tiny home. It is basic, but in her mind’s eye she can still picture where the door is, her son - Paul, lives next door and is always willing to help. Losing sight is the sense most people fear losing most. I am severely visually impaired, I am also fortunate to have perfect vision when wearing corrective glasses or contact lenses and privileged to be in the profession of ophthalmology where centuries of research and practice have brought us to a time when so much of blindness is now curable or preventable. There is no feeling like it: when the eye patch comes off someone who hasn’t seen for years, the sheer wonder as they take in their surroundings and their anticipation to see faces that have become voices and places that have become memories. Back in 2011, as I pondered and planned for the challenges that lay ahead of us in Kenya, I had the continual thought that there must be an easier way to reach people, a way that is less expensive, less resource hungry and therefore could be used on a much wider scale. In Kenya, and much of Africa, more people have access to a mobile phone than they do clean running water. It had to be possible to harness this connectivity. (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, NEJM, Technology / 19.11.2016 Interview with: Mariska Van Steensel PhD Nick F. Ramsey, Ph.D. Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery Brain Center Rudolf Magnus University Medical Center Utrecht Utrecht, the Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients who are severely paralyzed due to for example ALS or brain stem stroke are often unable to speak (also called ‘ Locked-in State'), and therefore need assistive devices, such as an eye tracker, for their communication. When these devices fail (e.g. due to environmental lighting or eye movement problems), people may indicate yes or no with eye blinks in response to closed questions. This leaves patients in a highly dependent position, since questions asked may or may not represent their actual wish or comment. In the current study, we used a technology called brain-computer interfacing (BCI), to allow a patient with late-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to control a communication device using her brain signals. The patient was implanted with subdural electrodes that covered the brain area that is normally responsible for hand movement. The electrodes were connected with wires, subcutaneously, to an amplifier/transmitter device that was placed subcutaneously under the clavicle. The patient was able to generate a signal equivalent to a mouse-click with this brain-computer interface by attempting to move her hand, and used it to make selections of letters or words on her communication device, with high accuracy and a speed of 2 letters per minute. She used the brain-computer interface system to communicate whenever she was outside, as her eye-tracker device does not function well in that situation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Compliance, Gastrointestinal Disease, Pharmacology, Technology / 18.11.2016 Interview with: C. Giovanni Traverso, MB, BChir, PhD Gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer Division of Gastroenterology at BWH Instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We developed a drug delivery system capable of safely residing in the stomach for 2 weeks. Furthermore we demonstrated the capacity of the novel dosage form, in the shape of a star, to protect the drug from the acidic stomach environment and also slowly release drug over the course of 14 days. We applied this new technology towards efforts targeting the elimination of malaria. Specifically, we focused on a drug called ivermectin that has been used to treat parasites but also has the benefit of being toxic to malaria-carrying mosquitos when they bite someone who has ivermectin in their system. (more…)
Author Interviews, Personalized Medicine, Technology / 16.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Kezheng Chen Lab of Functional and Biomedical Nanomaterials College of Materials Science and Engineering Qingdao University of Science and Technology Qingdao China What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: From a view point of practical applications, superparamagnetism is usually highly desirable, because it can prevent the magnetic particles from irreversible aggregation and ensure an excellent dispersity once the applied magnetic field is removed. Up to now, the largest size of reported superparamagnetic clusters is around several hundreds of nanometers, which are composed of numerous nanocrystals, and hence exhibiting polycrystalline nature. In this sense, how to realize well pronounced superparamagnetism in large-size single crystals is of great interest to the general public. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, Technology / 11.11.2016 Interview with: Krista Kelly, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow Crystal Charity Ball Pediatric Vision Evaluation Center Retina Foundation of the Southwest Dallas, TX 75231 What is the background for this study? Response: Amblyopia is one of the most common causes of monocular impairment in children, affecting 1 or 2 children in every US classroom. Patching of the fellow eye has been used for decades to improve visual acuity in the amblyopic eye. But patching does not always restore normal vision and does not teach the two eyes to work together. A novel technique originally designed by Drs Robert Hess and Ben Thompson at McGill University that works to reduce interocular suppression by rebalancing the contrast between the eyes has shown promising results in amblyopic adults. Dr Eileen Birch at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest worked with Dr Hess to adapt this contrast re-balancing approach to an iPad game platform suitable for children. Her research showed that the games were successful in improving visual acuity in amblyopic children as well. However, these initial games were rudimentary and resulted in low compliance. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics, Sleep Disorders, Technology / 01.11.2016 Interview with: Dr Ben Carter PhD Senior Lecturer in Medical Statistics Statistics Editor for the Cochrane Skin Group (Honorary Associate Professor, Nottingham University) Institute of Primary Care and Public Health Cardiff University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study leads from the growing use of mobile and media device use in children. We report the impact of devices leads to poorer sleep outcomes. What should readers take away from your report? Response: Using or even merely access to your mobile and media device should be restricted 90 minutes prior to bedtime. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Orthopedics, Technology / 26.10.2016 Interview with: Jason Busse PhD Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesia McMaster University Hamilton, ON What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our group previously reviewed the evidence regarding the effectiveness of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) for fracture healing. We found moderate to very low quality evidence for LIPUS in accelerating functional recovery among patients with fracture, and that most trials only explored effects on surrogate outcomes (e.g. radiographic healing); only five of 13 trials directly assessed functional end points - of these, one was positive. We concluded that large trials of high methodological quality, focusing on patient important outcomes such as quality of life and return to function, were needed to establish the role of LIPUS in fracture healing. We have now completed such a study. Our large, international trial of LIPUS for surgically managed tibial fractures found the addition of LIPUS does not improve functional recovery or accelerate radiographic healing. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Infections, Technology / 19.10.2016 Interview with: Ying Kong Ph.D. Assistant Professor University of Tennessee Health Science Center Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Biochemistry Memphis, TN 38163 What is the background for this study? Response: Tuberculosis (TB) is a public health concern worldwide, with high morbidity and mortality. The causative agent of TB, M. tuberculosis, grows very slowly in culture. For research of TB, we need to quantitate bacterial numbers in order to evaluate drug and vaccine efficacy or to identify bacterial genes that are critical for survival in hosts or causing disease. M. tuberculosis divides every ~20 hours, which is much slower than other bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella typhimurium, which divide every 20 minutes. Conventionally, quantitation of M. tuberculosis needs to spread M. tuberculosis on agar plates and wait for four weeks to obtain visible colonies, and then to count colony forming units. For the fast-growing bacteria, it takes only 18 hours to obtain visible colonies on agar plates. We and other groups have developed fluorescent protein labeled M. tuberculosis strains in order to quantitate M. tuberculosis in real time by measuring fluorescence. In this way, we are able to estimate bacterial number right after fluorescence measurement, which only takes a few minutes. However, this technology is not a diagnostic tool for clinical use, because the M. tuberculosis strains that we used were recombinant strains transformed with fluorescent protein genes. Another imaging technology that we have developed, REF, is for diagnosis purpose, which has been described in details in our other papers (Xie H, et al. Rapid point-of-care detection of the tuberculosis pathogen using a BlaC-specific fluorogenic probe. Nat Chem. 2012 Oct;4(10):802-9. Cheng Y, et al. Fluorogenic probes with substitutions at the 2 and 7 positions of cephalosporin are highly BlaC-specific for rapid Mycobacterium tuberculosis detection. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2014 Aug 25;53(35):9360-4.). (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease, Technology / 15.10.2016 Interview with: Dr. Ngai-yin Chan Princess Margaret Hospital Lai Chi Kok, Hong Kong What is the background for this study? Response: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained heart rhythm disorder which can cause stroke, heart failure and an increased risk of death. The risk of stroke can be reduced substantially with drug treatment. However, a quarter of patients with AF causing stroke have silent and asymptomatic AF before stroke. The current guidelines recommend opportunistic screening for AF. Whether systematic community screening for AF with a convenient smartphone ECG can reduce the burden of AF remains unknown. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Technology / 12.10.2016 Interview with: Ateev Mehrotra, M.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior research has highlighted that physicians make diagnostic errors roughly 10 to 15 percent of the time. Over the last two decades, computer-based checklists and other “fail-safe” digital apps have been increasingly used to reduce medication errors or streamline infection-prevention protocols. Lately, experts have wondered whether computers might also help reduce diagnostic errors. In the study, 234 internal medicine physicians were asked to evaluate 45 clinical cases, involving both common and uncommon conditions with varying degrees of severity. For each case, physicians had to identify the most likely diagnosis along with two additional possible diagnoses. Each clinical vignette was solved by at least 20 physicians. The same cases were also evaluated using 19 symptom checkers, websites or apps that use computers that help patients determine potential diagnoses for what is wrong based on their symptoms. The physicians vastly outperformed the symptom-checker apps, listing the correct diagnosis 72 percent of the time, compared with 34 percent of the time for the digital platforms. Eighty-four percent of clinicians listed the correct diagnosis in the top three possibilities, compared with 51 percent for the digital symptom-checkers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Electronic Records, JAMA, NYU, Technology / 07.10.2016 Interview with: Saul Blecker, MD, MHS Department of Population Health New York University Langone School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016 [email protected] What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The identification of conditions or diseases in the electronic health record (EHR) is critical in clinical practice, for quality improvement, and for clinical interventions. Today, a disease such as heart failure is typically identified in real-time using a “problem list”, i.e., a list of conditions for each patient that is maintained by his or her providers, or using simple rules drawn from structured data. In this study, we examined the comparative benefit of using more sophisticated approaches for identifying hospitalized patients with heart failure. (more…)
Author Interviews, Imperial College, Stroke, Technology / 06.10.2016 Interview with: Dr Paul Bentley MA MRCP PhD Clinical Senior Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience Honorary Consultant Neurologist Neurology Dept Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust Charing Cross Hospital London What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: gripAble was designed to help people with arm disability practise physiotherapy when a physiotherapist is not available, or in between physiotherapy sessions. We know that the amount of physiotherapy provision in the UK, after stroke or arm injury, is typically below that which is recommended by professional bodies. Furthermore, increasing research suggests that higher-intensity training can boost functional outcomes. The innovation was designed to help people with a range of disabilities including severe paralysis engage with computer games with their weak arm. At the same time its designed to be portable for use at home or in bed, and low-cost. gripAble also enables remote measurement and monitoring of arm function, by setting users a series of calibrated tasks played out on the tablet screen. This way doctors and physiotherapists can assess the needs of a patient, and gain an idea of how well a patient is responding to home physiotherapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Technology, UCLA / 05.10.2016 Interview with: Dr. Andrea M Armani PhD Fluor Early Career Chair and Associate Professor Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California What is the background for this study? Response: The “Internet of Things” (IoT) has seen an explosion in online sensor technologies, including UV sensors and monitors; for example, those from Apple and Samsung. However, they require connectivity and power, and they are integrated into delicate electronic systems that are not compatible with outdoor, athletic activities such as swimming, which is precisely when you should monitor UV exposure. Therefore, somewhat ironically, the technologies developed to meet the demands of the IoT are not ideal for cumulative UV exposure detection. Our goal was to develop a single use patch – like a smart “band-aid” – for the beach to alert users when they had been in the sun for an hour and needed to re-apply sunscreen or get out of the sun altogether. This application required a rugged system that was waterproof, bendable, and compatible with sunscreen. Additionally, the sensor readout needed to be easy to interpret. These requirements influenced our design and material selection. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Education, Technology / 03.10.2016 Interview with: Barak Ariel, PhD Jerry Lee Fellow in Experimental Criminology and Lecturer in Experimental Criminology University of Cambridge Alex Sutherland, D.Phil. RAND Europe What is the background for this study? Response: The very first randomised-controlled experiment on cameras in Rialto (California) was originally intended to ‘cut red tape’, but Rialto Police Department decided instead to look at whether wearing the cameras could help reduce complaints and police use-of-force. That study found that cameras did cut use-of-force and complaints, with the latter almost to zero in the 12 months of the experiment. Given that each complaint costs, millions of dollars in the US, there was a lot of interest following that study, and that research was seen as crucial in the widespread adoption of Body-Worn Cameras in the US and other countries. Although Rialto is typical of a lot of mid-sized police forces in the US, it is just one location at one time – so the roll out that was taking place had a very weak evidence base. The same results might not be found in other locations and given that many police forces started to roll out cameras without evidence, there was a strong justification for replicating the study. This paper (and two others already published) report results from x10 RCTs that took place in the UK and US, with more than 2 million residents, over a period of a year. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology / 23.09.2016 Interview with: biotricityWaqaas Al-Siddiq, Founder and CEO of Biotricity Would you tell us a little about yourself? How did you get interested in combining healthcare with technology? Response: I am the president and CEO of biotricity which is a healthcare technology company dedicated to providing diagnostic and post-diagnostic solutions for both the physician and consumer for long-term chronic care management. I got interested in combining healthcare and technology while I was doing research for monitoring remote environments in critical scenarios. I thought that it would be very interesting to apply that to healthcare because it’s a problem that no one has figured out how to solve yet. And it’s a problem that is driving healthcare costs out of control. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Nature, Technology / 23.09.2016 Interview with: Natalie Artzi PhD principal research scientist MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and Assistant professor of medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital With co-authors: Avital Gilam, João Conde, Daphna Weissglas-Volkov, Nuria Oliva, Eitan Friedman, Noam Shomron What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Metastases are the primary cause for mortality in breast cancer, the most common cancer in women regardless of ethnicity. Recent studies show that germline sequence variants, such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in miRNA-binding sites, can disrupt the downregulation by miRNAs, with a profound effect on gene expression levels and consequentially on the phenotype, including increased risk for cancer. In the current study, we aimed to determine the potential effect of SNPs within miRNA-binding sites on metastatic breast cancer progression and their potential use as suppression targets to prevent metastasis. Our collaborators at Tel-Aviv Universityin a research led by Dr. Noam Shomron found that the SNP, rs1071738, located in a target site for miR-96 and miR-182 on the 3’-UTR of the PALLD gene, encodes the Palladin actin-associated protein, which is a documented player in breast cancer motility. In vitro experiments revealed a functional downregulation of Palladin levels by miR-96 and miR-182, which subsequently reduces migration and invasion abilities of breast cancer cells. My lab then showed in an in vivo experiment that the use of nanoparticles embedded in a hydrogel scaffold as a miRNA delivery vehicle enables an efficient and specific delivery of miR-96/miR-182 directly to breast tumours, which results in marked reduction of breast cancer metastasis. We then proceeded to study the effect of combination therapy in which we will use a chemotherapy drug to shrink the primary tumor and the miRNAs to prevent metastasis. The intercalation of a chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, to the miR-conjugated nanoparticles further improved the effect, leading to significant reduction in both primary tumour growth and metastasis. Our study highlights the therapeutic potential of miRNAs, and specifically miR-96 and miR-182, and support the importance of Palladin regulation in breast cancer metastasis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Technology / 23.09.2016 Interview with: Grace G. Bushnell PhD candidate Department of Biomedical Engineering University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study builds off of previous work from the Shea and Jeruss laboratories at the University of Michigan, which reported that implanted scaffolds can capture early metastatic cells in vivo prior to the colonization of other organs and serve as a platform for early detection of metastatic disease. Furthermore, the presence of a scaffold reduced the tumor burden in other metastatic locations. In this work, the major finding was that early detection using a scaffold combined with a therapeutic intervention led to a survival advantage relative to mice that did not receive a scaffold. The scaffolds had been designed to persist in vivo for longer periods of time than in the original study. Additionally, the scaffold was implanted prior to the inoculation of metastatic cancer cells in the mouse. The role of the immune system in the process was further refined, as the immune cell composition at the scaffold changed significantly after disease initiation. These studies demonstrate that early intervention in a metastatic setting can lead to enhanced survival. This principle of early intervention is well established for the primary tumor, and these studies suggest that this principle may be extended to metastatic disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, ENT, Surgical Research, Technology / 22.09.2016 Interview with: Alfred Marc Calo Iloreta, MD Assistant Professor Skull Base Surgery and Rhinology Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, New York Would you tell us a little about yourself? How did you become interested in ENT and your subspecialty in particular? Response: I am a ENT/Head and Neck Surgeon practicing in Manhattan at the Mount Sinai Hospital. I trained here in New York City for residency and also completed a fellowship in Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery. I chose this field and sub-specialty because of the intricate and complex anatomy of the head and neck. In addition rhinology and skull base surgery utilizes multiple advanced technologies from high definition optics, to neuronavigation to allow us to work with this complex anatomy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Case Western, MRI, Radiology, Technology / 19.09.2016 Interview with: Dr. Pallavi Tiwari PhD Assistant Professor biomedical engineering Case Western Reserve University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: One of the biggest challenges in neuro-oncology currently is distinguishing radionecrosis, a side-effect of aggressive radiation, from tumor recurrence on imaging. Surgical intervention is the only means of definitive diagnosis, but suffers from considerable morbidity and mortality. The treatments for radionecrosis and cancer recurrence are very different. Early identification of the two conditions can help speed prognosis, therapy, and improve patient outcomes. The purpose of this feasibility study was to evaluate the role of machine learning algorithms along with computer extracted texture features, also known as radiomic features, in distinguishing radionecrosis and tumor recurrence on routine MRI scans (T1w, T2w, FLAIR). The radiomic algorithms were trained on 43 studies from our local collaborating institution - University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and tested on 15 studies at a collaborating institution, University of Texas Southwest Medical Center. We further compared the performance of the radiomic techniques with two expert readers. Our results demonstrated that radiomic features can identify subtle differences in quantitative measurements of tumor heterogeneity on routine MRIs, that are not visually appreciable to human readers. Of the 15 test studies, the radiomics algorithm could identify 12 of 15 correctly, while expert 1 could identify 7 of 15, and expert 2, 8 of 15. (more…)
Author Interviews, Frailty, Geriatrics, Lancet, Technology / 19.09.2016 Interview with: Anat Mirelman, PhD Director- Laboratory of Early Markers of Neurodegeneration (LEMON) Center for the study of Movement , Cognition and Mobility (CMCM) Department of Neurology Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv 64239, Israel What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The main aim of this research was to evaluate the efficacy of using a motor cognitive training using virtual reality in reducing fall frequency and fall risk in older adults. Falls are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in older adults. The prevalence of falls is huge, with one out of every 3 adults aged 65 years or older will fall at least once per year, with approximately half of these fallers suffering multiple falls in this period . These statistics are even higher in neurodegenerative conditions such as in Parkinson’s disease and in people with cognitive impairments. For example, studies have shown that as much as 80% of people with Parkinson’s disease fall each year. So many older adults are falling. The consequences of falls are huge. The most dramatic result is hip fracture. But this is relatively rare. However, even in the absence of a fracture or other injury, falls often lead to fear of falling, social isolation, and depression, which in turn often leads to inactivity, muscle weakness, impaired balance and gait, more falls, more social isolation. In other words, falls often start a vicious cycle, which has many important negative health consequences. Falls are associated with morbidity and mortality and they also have a huge economic impact. In many western countries, 1-2% of healthcare dollars are spent on falls. For many years, age-associated changes in muscle strength, balance and gait were viewed as the key factors that contribute to the risk of falls. However, more recently, we and others showed that certain aspects of cognition are also critical to safe ambulation. For example people with AD often fall, almost to the same amount as people with PD, highlighting the cognitive component of falls. This makes sense intuitively if we Imagine the cognitive skills we need just to cross a busy intersection. These tasks require executive function, specially, planning, the ability to avoid obstacles, and the ability to perform two or more tasks at the same time. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Mental Health Research, Psychological Science, Technology / 15.09.2016 Interview with: Yu Chen, Ph.D. Post-doc researcher Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: College students are facing increasing amount of stress these days. We are interested in leveraging information technology to help them become happier. We week to implement happiness-boosting exercises in positive psychology using technology in a lightweight way. Since college students frequently take photos using their smartphones, we started to investigate how to use smartphone photography to help students conduct the happiness-boosting exercises. Participants were divided into three groups and instructed to take a photo per day in one of the following three conditions: 1) a smiling selfie; 2) a photo of something that makes himself/herself happy; 3) a photo of something that makes another person happy, which is then sent to that person. We found that participants have become more positive after purposefully taking the assigned type of photo for three weeks. Participants who took photos that make others happy also became calmer. Some participants who took smiling selfies reported becoming more confident and comfortable with their smiles. Those who took photos to make themselves happy reported becoming more reflective and appreciative. Participants who took photos to make others happy found connecting with strong ties help them reduce stress. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Pediatrics, Technology / 14.09.2016 Interview with: Jesus Pujol, MD Director of the MRI Research Unit. Department of Radiology. Hospital del Mar Barcelona What is the background for this study? Response: The pros and cons of video gaming in children have been extensively debated. There are relevant amounts of data indicating both the positive and negative effects of video games. Nevertheless, a key question for many parents remains unanswered: How long should children play? To provide some clarity, we have investigated the relationship between weekly video game use and certain cognitive abilities and conduct-related problems. (more…)
Author Interviews, Ophthalmology, Pharmacology, Technology / 08.09.2016 Interview with: Heather Sheardown PhD PEng FCAE Scientific Director 20/20 NSERC Ophthalmic Materials Network Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering Canada Research Chair in Ophthalmic Biomaterials McMaster University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Putting drops in the eye is well accepted from the standpoint of practitioners but is problematic for many patients. Therefore, particularly in cases where multiple drops are required in a day such as is the case with certain infections for example or a lifetime of drops is required such as is the case with diseases like glaucoma, patient compliance is a real issue. In addition, as much as 95% of any drop instilled in the eye is lost within the first 5 minutes, meaning that drug concentrations within the drop need to be higher to ensure that the required dose gets into the patient’s eye. Therefore there is a real need for a better alternative to traditional eyedrops is needed. We have developed a new method of formulating drugs for delivery as drops that adhere to the mucous layer of the tear film, allowing for smaller amounts of drug to be delivered over a prolonged period of time. This means that fewer drops with lower drug concentrations can be delivered. This is a micelle based system that allows for the formulation of more hydrophobic drugs. A mucoadhesive component associated with the micelle binds to the mucin layer of the tears, meaning that the residence time on the eye is similar to that of this layer - between 4 and 7 days. Drug is slowly released from the micelle, allowing for prolonged treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Technology / 04.09.2016 Interview with: Adam G Alani, PhD Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences College of Pharmacy Oregon State University-Oregon Health & Science University Affiliate Assistant Professor Department of Biomedical Engineering School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University Oregon State University-Portland Campus at OHSU Portland Oregon What is the background for this study? Response: Current chemotherapeutic regimens while effective are difficult for patients and affect their quality of life. Our research tackles this issue by designing a nanotherapy that can deliver multiple chemotherapeutic agents by targeting the entire tumor microenvironment and not just the cancer cells and by reducing drug resistance. This, then is intended to simplify the treatment regimen, reduce drug related side effects and extends the life of the drugs by preventing resistance should the patient need it in the future. Thus, the ultimate underlying goal is to improve the patient’s quality of life by not just maximizing the drug’s efficacy but also trying to decrease its impact on the overall lifestyle of the individual. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, NEJM, OBGYNE, Technology / 19.08.2016 Interview with: Professor Helen Murphy and Dr Zoe Stewart Institute of Metabolic Science University of Cambridge What is the background for this study? Response: Controlling blood glucose levels is a daily challenge for people with Type 1 diabetes and is particularly crucial during pregnancy. Previous research shows that women with type 1 diabetes spend only 12 hours per day within the recommended glucose target levels, leading to increased rates of complications including preterm delivery and large for gestational age infants. National surveys show that one in two babies suffer complications related to type 1 diabetes in the mother. The hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy make it difficult for women to predict the best insulin doses for every meal and overnight. Too much insulin causes low glucose levels harmful for the mother and too little causes problems for the developing baby. The artificial pancreas automates the insulin delivery giving better glucose control than we can achieve with currently available treatments. Previous studies show that the closed-loop system also known as artificial pancreas can be used safely in children and adults and our study aimed to investigate whether or not it was helpful for women with type1 diabetes during pregnancy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology, Weight Research / 18.08.2016 Interview with: Katherine Tweden Ph.D. Vice President, Clinical and Regulatory EnteroMedics® Inc St. Paul, Minnesota 55113 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This report summarizes 2 year outcomes of the pivotal study that evaluated the safety and efficacy of EnteroMedics’ vagal blockade (vBloc Therapy) delivered by our Maestro Rechargeable System neuromodulation device for the treatment of obesity. The study demonstrates that the device continues to have a promising safety profile and that the weight loss achieved through 2 years is clinically meaningful as shown by the positive impact of vBloc Therapy on participant’s co-morbid conditions, quality of life, and eating behaviors. Specifically, the study showed 21% excess weight loss and approximately 50% reduction in pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome for those participants who presented with the syndrome at baseline. In addition, cardiovascular parameters improved in those at risk with approximately 10 mmHg drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to baseline in participants with elevated blood pressure and 16 and 46 mg/dL drop in LDL and triglycerides, respectively, in participants with elevated lipids compared to baseline. In addition, metabolic parameters improved with a reduction in hemoglobin A1c of 0.3 percentage points. Participants’ quality of life improved by 20 units compared to baseline and their control over their eating behavior, such as hunger and the ability to control the amount they eat, was significantly improved by approximately 50% compared to baseline. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology / 16.08.2016 Interview with: Dr. Theodore L. Schreiber MD President of the Detroit Medical Center Heart Hospital and DMC Cardiovascular Institute. Doctor Schreiber is involved in ongoing research in carotid artery stenting, has been the principal or co-principal investigator on numerous cardiovascular research studies and has written dozens of book chapters, articles and abstracts on interventional cardiology. Abbott announced July 5, 2016 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the company's Absorb bioresorbable heart stent, What is the background for this stent? What are the main advantages? Response: The Absorb™ bioresorbable vascular scaffold is an advance in the treatment of coronary artery disease, which affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death worldwide despite decades of therapeutic advances. For this reason, DMC Heart Hospital, which serves a population at high risk of cardiovascular disease, was among the first in the state of Michigan to adopt this new stent. While stents are traditionally made of metal, the Absorb™ stent is made of a naturally dissolving material, similar to dissolving sutures. Absorb™ disappears (except for two pairs of tiny metallic markers that remain in the artery to enable a physician to see where the device was placed) in about three years, after it has done its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the treated artery segment. By contrast, metal stents are permanent implants. (more…)