Author Interviews, Dermatology, Technology / 11.08.2016 Interview with: Alexander Golberg, PhD Senior Lecturer Head of Environmental Bioengineering Laboratory Porter School of Environmental Studies Tel Aviv University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Wound care costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $20 billion each year, and care required to combat skin scarring represents an additional $12 billion burden. Hypertrophic scarring after trauma and burn injury remains a major clinical challenge that leads to physical, aesthetic, functional, psychological, and social stresses in thousands of patients. This is a stubborn clinical problem very difficult to solve. Inspired by previous works that pulsed electric fields kill cells precisely in tissue (procedure called irreversible electroporaiton, developed by UC Berkeley group of Boris Rubinsky and Rafael Davalo) and these ablated tissues regenerate with minimal scarring, we decided to test whether pulsed electric fields can reduce the scar formation if we treat the wound during healing. We found that partial irreversible electroporation using 200 pulses of 250 V and 70 µs duration, delivered at 3 Hz every 20 days during a total of five therapy sessions after the initial burn injury resulted in a 57.9% reduction of the scar area in comparison with untreated scars and structural features approaching those of normal skin. Noteworthy, unlike humans, rats do not develop hypertrophic scars. Therefore, the use of a rat animal model is the limiting factor of this work. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Technology / 29.07.2016 Interview with: Lauren P. Wallner, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Online communication tools like email and social media could be used to support patients through their cancer treatment decision making and ongoing care. Yet, we know very little about whether and how newly diagnosed cancer patients use these tools and whether using online communication influences patients appraisals of their treatment decision making process. We surveyed 2,460 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer as part of the iCanCare Study about their use of email, texting, social media and web-based support groups following their diagnosis. Our findings suggest that women who more often used these online communication tools deliberated more about their surgical treatment and were more satisfied with their treatment decision. However, the use of social media in this diverse population was lower than we expected (12%), and was less common in older women, those with less education, and Black and Latina women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Dermatology, Science, Technology / 28.07.2016 Interview with: Mei X. Wu, Ph.D. Associate Professor Wellman Center for Photomedicine Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Department Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? Response: An abnormally low count of platelets, a disorder called thrombocytopenia, is life-threatening owing to a high risk of uncontrollable bleeding. The disorder can be caused by a variety of conditions like trauma, an autoimmune disorder that attacks platelets, side-effects of some drugs especially chemotherapeutic drugs, and in premature newborns and patients with HIV-infection or a genetic defect leading to insufficient platelet generation. Platelet transfusion is the most effective modality to treat the disorder, but it is associated with complications including allergic reaction, fever, infection, and immunosuppression and limited only to the most severe patients. Several FDA-approved drugs are currently used in the clinics or clinical trials to increase platelet levels, which however must be carefully dosed to avoid excessive platelet production that is also dangerous and are not suitable to many forms of thrombocytopenia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy, Nature, Technology / 27.07.2016 Interview with: Natalie Artzi PhD Assistant Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School Associate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. What is the background for this study? Response: We have shown in the last years that dendrimer:dextran adhesive hydrogels represent a platform with ahuge potential for delivery. In 2015, we were able to report that these gels doped with smart nanoparticles could sense and differentially react with the disease microenvironment (e.g. can sense the tissue microenvironment by detecting the expression of specific genes related with multidrug resistance, Conde et al. PNAS 2015), potentiating targeted drug release and uptake in certain disease settings. Later, these hydrogels prove to be incredibly useful for miRNA delivery by using the self-assembly of a triple-helix forming miRNA structure that lead to nearly 90% levels of tumor shrinkage two weeks post-gel implantation (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016a). Here, we took a step-forward, and used these hydrogels to develop a prophylactic patch for gene, chemo and phototherapy in a triple-combination approach to achieve complete tumor resection when applied to non-resected tumors and to the absence of tumor recurrence when applied following tumor resection (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016b). This study also identifies the molecular and genetic pathways triggered in response to the three therapeutic modalities − photo-, gene- and chemo-therapy − by tumor gene expression profiling in treated mice. (more…)
Author Interviews, Orthopedics, Science, Technology / 21.07.2016 Interview with: Emilia Morosan PhD,  Professor Rice University Physics and Astronomy Houston TX 77005 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Dr. Morosan: My group works mainly on searching for compounds with magnetic properties. The first step in the characterization of such compounds is powder X-ray diffraction, which requires grinding the samples to fine powder. When we discovered such a compound based on (titanium) Ti and (gold) Au, we were unable to grind it because of its apparent hardness. This prompted the hardness measurement on the magnetic compound (with equal amounts of Ti and Au) and also on other mixtures of the two metals. The main result of this study was that the particular compound beta-Ti3Au was the hardest among all Ti-Au mixture in our study and compared to previous hardness measurements on these binary alloys. Most remarkable was the four-fold increase in hardens in beta-Ti3Au over Ti, or most other biocompatible engineering alloys. Furthermore, beta-Ti3Au also has higher wear resistance, meaning its durability extends beyond that of other alloys. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Infections, Technology / 19.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Kerry Zang Founder of the Arizona Institute of Footcare and Dr. Robert Sullivan Clinical Director, Midleton Foot Clinic Editor's note: Dr. Zang and Dr. Sullivan discuss the recent announcement of FDA approval of the Lunula Laser for the treatment of Onychomycosis. What is the background for this new technology? Response: “For two decades, Erchonia Corporation studied the clinical utility of low-level laser devices for the treatment of numerous medical ailments. Dr. Sullivan and I worked with Erchonia on the Lunula laser to revolutionize the way the medical community treats onychomycosis. Lunula underwent four independent clinical investigations for the treatment of onychomycosis. More than 500 subjects participated with increasingly effective results and each completed without a single adverse event.” - Dr. Kerry Zang Response: “There has never been a non-pharmaceutical treatment for onychomycosis. When I became aware that there was a small study completed by Dr. Zang, I became interested in the potential of this new technology. Erchonia was very helpful in bringing me up to speed with what this technology may do. The results of my extended study were unbelievable.” -Robert Sullivan (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Technology / 18.07.2016 Interview with: What is the background for this study? Response: For the past 5 years or so, my collaborators and I have been working on several issues leading to the realization of the so-called “Windows to the Brain (WttB)” platform. WttB are transparent nanocrystalline yttria-stabilized-zirconia (nc-YSZ) cranial implants capable of replacing portions of the skull to allow non-invasive optical interrogation of the brain on an ongoing recurring basis. This new technological advancement could eventually afford for: a) advancing understanding of the brain, by facilitating the clinical translation of emerging optogenetic neurotechnologies; and b) facilitating the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of brain pathologies and neurological disorders, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain cancer, and others. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Pediatrics, Technology / 18.07.2016 Interview with: Lauren J. Myers, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Psychology Department Lafayette College Easton, Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? Response: Many families with young children use video chat to connect with family and friends--but what do children understand about the on-screen people and content of these interactions? The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen time for kids under 2 years because children who watch a lot of media often have poor language skills, and they miss out on other activities that would be more developmentally appropriate. However, in this study we wondered whether there is a difference between putting a baby in front of a television and having an interactive exchange via video chat. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Diabetologia, Technology / 05.07.2016 Interview with: Dr Hood Thabit and Co-author: Dr Roman Hovorka University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science Cambridge UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Type 1 diabetes is an insulin-deficient condition, therefore people with type 1 diabetes need to be on life-long insulin therapy to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Currently insulin is delivered either by injections (with an insulin pen) or by infusion (with an insulin pump). In addition, they have to monitor their blood glucose regularly by performing fingerprick measurements several times a day, to avoid over- or under-dosing with insulin. Hypoglycaemia, or low blood glucose, can occur as a result of giving too much insulin; if severe or prolonged can lead to the patient being unconscious and in some cases sudden death. Hyperglycaemia, or high blood glucose, can occur as a result of giving too little insulin, and chronic hyperglycaemia can lead to diabetes related complications such as blindness, kidney failure and heart disease. Maintaining blood glucose within a normal range poses a daily challenge and struggle for many people with type 1 diabetes, who have to juggle with the variability and unpredictability of their glucose levels and insulin requirements due to meals, physical activity and stress. People with type 1 diabetes have on average 3 episodes of severe hypoglycaemia per year which requires third party assistance and sometimes hospitalisation. In the UK, the average HbA1c for people with type 1 diabetes is around 8.5% (69mmol/mol), which puts them at risk of diabetes complications and developing significant disability affecting their lives. There is therefore an unmet need of a novel therapeutic approach to be able to automatically modulate and change the amount of insulin delivered, based on real-time glucose levels. The artificial pancreas, or closed-loop insulin delivery, is an emerging technology which couples real-time sensor glucose levels with insulin delivery under the direction of a control algorithm, and automatically steps-up insulin delivery when glucose levels are going up, and reduces or suspends insulin delivery when glucose levels are going down. The longest home study to date was recently performed by researchers at the University of Cambridge and showed that compared to best available therapy, the artificial pancreas significantly improved long-term glucose control (HbA1c) and reduces the risk of hypoglycaemia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Melanoma, Technology / 21.06.2016 Interview with: Orit Markowitz, MD Director of Pigmented Lesions and Skin Cancer The Mount Sinai Hospital and Assistant Professor of Dermatology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Director of Pigmented lesions clinic Brooklyn VA, Adjunct Professor, Dermatology SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY Chief of Dermatology Queens General Hospital, Jamaica, NY Editors’ Note: As part of an ongoing series of occasional article on cancer prevention, Dr. Markowitz from The Mount Sinai Hospital discusses skin cancer and the use Optical Coherence Tomography in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. How common is the problem of non-melanoma skin cancer? Are they difficult to detect and treat? Dr. Markowitz: Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Non melanoma skin cancers, including basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, are the most common malignancies of the skin, constituting around 80 percent of all skin cancers. The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion, with $3.3 billion for melanoma. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Ophthalmology, Technology / 20.06.2016 Interview with: Jeff C. Rabin, O.D., M.S., Ph.D., F.A.A.O., Dipl. Vision Science Professor and Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, Research and Assessment Chief, Visual Neurophysiology Service University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry San Antonio, TX What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rabin: The use of hand-held cellphones during driving has been widely banned but the impact of hands-free communication on visual performance remained unclear. Therefore, we used a standard automobile Bluetooth device suspended above our visual display and determined that hands-free communication significantly delayed response time to detect low contrast black-white and color targets. Moreover, hands-free communication decreased sensitivity of “color-blind” subjects to detect targets corresponding to their color deficiency and all subjects showed a tendency for decreased sensitivity for detection of small, low contrast black-white targets. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology, Yale / 17.06.2016 Interview with: Dr. James V. Freeman MD Assistant professor of cardiology and Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing Internal Medicine Yale School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Freeman: Randomized trials of left atrial appendage (LAA) closure with the Watchman device have shown varying results, and its cost-effectiveness compared to anticoagulation has not been evaluated using all available contemporary trial data. We used a Markov decision model to estimate lifetime quality-adjusted survival, costs, and cost-effectiveness of LAA closure with Watchman, compared directly with warfarin and indirectly with dabigatran, using data from the long-term (mean 3.8 year) follow-up of PROTECT AF and PREVAIL randomized trials. Using data from PROTECT AF, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) compared to warfarin and dabigatran were $20,486 and $23,422 per quality adjusted life year (QALY), respectively. Using data from PREVAIL, LAA closure was dominated by warfarin and dabigatran, meaning that it was less effective (8.44, 8.54, and 8.59 QALYs, respectively) and more costly. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, HIV, Sexual Health, Technology / 15.06.2016 Interview with: Dr. James M. Smith Ph.D Laboratory Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, Georgia What is the background for this study? Dr. Smith: Our laboratory has been developing a macaque model for testing drug release, safety and efficacy of intravaginal rings (IVR) for preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) against HIV for several years. The initial studies involved both matrix rings, where the drug is dispersed in the silicone matrix of the device, and reservoir rings, which are essentially a polymer tube filled with drug. In collaboration with the Oak Crest Institute of Science and Auritec Pharmaceuticals, Inc., we began testing a new type of intravaginal ring, the pod-IVR. In this innovative design the ring itself is a scaffold that contains compressed polymer-coated drug tablets, or pods, within the ring. Each pod is separate, allowing for a customizable release rate for each drug by varying the number and diameter of the drug release ports for each individual pod. The macaque pod-IVR can accommodate up to six pods whereas the human pod-IVR can accommodate up to 10 pods. The IVR design was developed to allow the delivery of drug combinations and for simple, cost-effective manufacturing. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Infections, Technology, University of Pittsburgh / 13.06.2016 Interview with: Donald S. Burke, M.D. Dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Burke: At the University of Pittsburgh we developed a unique method for detecting antibodies in the blood of patients in a proof-of-principle study that opens the door to development of simple diagnostic tests for diseases for which no microbial cause is known, including auto-immune diseases, cancers and other conditions. We used a technique pioneered by co-author Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D., of the Scripps Research Institute, that synthesizes random molecular shapes called “peptoids” hooked onto microscopic plastic beads. The technique can produce millions of molecular shapes. The peptoids are not organic, but if they match to the corresponding shape on an antibody, that antibody will connect to them, allowing the scientist to pull out that bead and examine that peptoid and its corresponding antibody. My team chemically generated a huge library of random molecular shapes. Then, using blood from HIV-infected patients and from non-infected people, we screened a million of these random molecular shapes to find the ones that bound only to antibodies present in the blood of HIV-infected patients, but not the healthy controls. No HIV proteins or structures were used to construct or select the peptoids, but the approach, nonetheless, successfully led to selection of the best molecular shapes to use in screening for HIV antibodies. We then resynthesized that HIV-antibody-targeting peptoid in mass and tested it by screening hundreds of samples from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), a confidential research study of the natural history of treated and untreated HIV/AIDS in men who have sex with men (supported by the National Institutes of Health). Study co-author Charles Rinaldo, Ph.D., chair of Pitt Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and director of the Pittsburgh arm of the MACS, selected the samples, but blinded the testers to which samples were HIV-positive or -negative. The test distinguished between the samples of HIV-positive blood and HIV-negative blood with a high degree of accuracy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Technology / 22.05.2016 Interview with: Albert Mihranyan, PhD Pharm Professor of Nanotechnology Wallenberg Academy Fellow Nanotechnology and Functional Materials Department of Engineering Sciences Uppsala University Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mihranyan: We describe for the first time a paper filter that can remove even the worst-case viruses from water with high efficiency and at industrially relevant rates. The filter is produced from 100% naturally derived cellulose and is formed into paper sheets using very simple processing, which is essentially the same as that for making paper on a large scale. Filter paper is used ubiquitously in every day life from coffee filters to chemistry classrooms but these filters have normally too large pores to retain microbes, let alone viruses. We show for the first time that we can remove viruses as small as 20 nm! How is it possible? We use cellulose nanofibers from green algae and we possess know-how to control the distribution of the pores inside the paper to be able to remove such small particles. One important aspect, which we discuss in detail in the article, is the special internal layered structure of the filter, which is remarkably similar to French pastry mille-feuille- hence, the name mille-feuille filter. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Infections, Technology / 18.05.2016 Interview with: Sushanta K. Mitra, PhD, PEng Associate Vice-President Research Kaneff Professor in Micro & Nanotechnology for Social Innovation FCSME, FASME, FEIC, FRSC, FCAE, FAAAS Y York University Toronto What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mitra: As a mechanical engineer I got interested in the water problem when I had discussions with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India and the tertiary public health centre doctors near Mumbai, where the doctors had to deal with large number of patients with water-borne diseases. This was hugely a challenge from resource point of view as the doctors would much preferred to have their attention focused on more pressing diseases. They approached me about developing tools for rapid detection of water-borne pathogen in drinking water. Hence, my journey started on water quality monitoring. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mitra: Here, we have developed a low-cost compact E. coli and total coliform detection system, which uses commercially available plunger-tube assembly. We incorporate a hydrogel (porous matrix) inside the tube so that the plunger-tube assembly act as a concentrator and a detector at the same time. Specially formulated enzymatic substrates are caged inside the hydrogel so that an E. coli cell trapped within the hydrogel will be lysed and react with the  enzymatic substrates to produce a red color. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Ophthalmology, Technology / 17.05.2016 Interview with: Sheldon J.J. Kwok MD/PhD Candidate Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology | Harvard Medical School Yun Bio-Optics Lab Wellman Center for Photomedicine MGH What is the background for this study? Response: Corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL) using UV light and riboflavin has become a popular and effective technique for treating corneal ectatic disorders, such as keratoconus, by mechanically strengthening the corneal stroma. We were interested in enhancing the capabilities of CXL using the principle of two-photon excitation, which uses a femtosecond laser to confine crosslinking to only where the laser is focused.  By scanning the laser, this allows us to crosslink any arbitrary three-dimensional region deep inside tissue. With two-photon collagen crosslinking (2P-CXL), treatment of thin corneas is possible without affecting the underlying endothelium. Irradiation can also be patterned to improve keratocyte viability. Furthermore, selective crosslinking in three dimensions offers the possibility of modulating corneal curvature for refractive error correction. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 13.05.2016 Interview with: Dr. Shuhei Miyashita PhD Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics Department of Electronics University of York, Heslington York, UK What is the background for this device? What are some of the  obstacles you and your team face in the development? Dr. MiyashitaWe are developing medical technology that is less invasive and more autonomous and thus can provide safe and consistent outcomes. The biggest challenge is how to build a capable medical robot that is clinically safe. Addressing this challenge requires finding bio-compatibe materials, safe means of transportation in the body, a way to reconfigure the robot from pill shape to unfolded shape, and precise multi-mode control for the location and function of the robot. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome, Nature, Technology / 12.05.2016 Interview with: Prof. Dr. Paul Wilmes Associate Professor Head of the Eco-Systems Biology Research Group Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine University of Luxembourg Luxembourg What is the background for this intestinal model? Dr. Wilmes: Changes in the human gastrointestinal microbiome are associated with several diseases. To infer causality, experiments in representative models are essential. Widely used animal models exhibit limitations. Therefore, we set out to develop the HuMiX model which allows co-culture of human and microbial cells under conditions representative of the gastrointestinal interface. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Johns Hopkins, Nature, Technology / 11.05.2016 Interview with: Natalia Trayanova PhD, FHRS, FAHA Murray B. Sachs Endowed Chair Professor of Biomedical Engineering Joint Appointment, Medicine Johns Hopkins University Institute for Computational Medicine Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Trayanova: The methodology for modeling cardiac electrical function has matured sufficiently that we can now create computational models of the electrical functioning of the entire heart. My research is focused on translating this methodology into the clinic. The goal is to create, if you will, "a virtual heart for every patient", that will enable the physician to play our scenarios that manifest the heart dysfunction in the given patient, and to enable physicians to make personalized decisions about patient treatment. The present paper is the first application of this overall vision. The motivation for this particular paper was that determining which patients are at risk for sudden cardiac death represents a major unmet clinical need. Patients at risk receive life-saving implantable defibrillators (ICDs), but because of the low sensitivity and specificity of current approach (based on low ejection fraction), risk assessment is inaccurate. Thus, many patients receive ICDs without needing them, while others die of sudden cardiac death because they are not targeted for ICD therapy under the current clinical recommendations. Our goal was to develop a non-invasive personalized virtual-heart risk assessment tool that has the potential to ultimately prevent sudden cardiac death and avoid unnecessary ICD implantations. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology, University Texas / 11.05.2016 Interview with: Sanghamitra Mohanty, MD MS FHRS Director, translational research, Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute and Associate Professor (affiliate) Dell Medical School What is the background for this study? Dr. Mohanty: In patients with atrial fibrillation, Focal Impulse and Rotor Modulation (FIRM)-ablation alone or in combination with pulmonary vein (PV) isolation has been documented to possibly be a better alternative to PV isolation only. However, none of those trials had a randomized study design. The current study was the first attempt to compare 3 ablation strategies namely FIRM ablation alone (group 1), FIRM +PV isolation (group 2) and PV isolation combined with ablation of non-PV triggers (group 3) in a randomized controlled trial in persistent and long-standing persistent AF. What are the main findings? Dr. Mohanty: Our main findings were the following: 1)      Procedure time was significantly shorter in group 3 (no FIRM ablation) compared to group 1 and 2 (with FIRM ablation) 2)      FIRM-ablation alone had very poor outcome in terms of arrhythmia recurrence (86%) 3)      FIRM ablation plus PV isolation had significantly longer procedure time and lower efficacy than PV isolation + non-PV trigger-ablation (52.4% vs 76%, p=0.02). (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Technology, Telemedicine / 05.05.2016 Interview with: Lori Uscher-Pines, PhD RAND Corporation Arlington, Virginia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although many communities in the U.S. are underserved by dermatologists, access is particularly limited among Medicaid patients. Teledermatology may be one solution to improve access. Our goal with this study was to assess the effect of a novel teledermatology initiative on access to dermatologists among enrollees in a Medicaid Managed Care Plan in California’s Central Valley. Among all patients who visited a dermatologist after the introduction of teledermatology from 2012-2014 (n=8614), 49% received care via teledermatology. Among patients newly enrolled in Medicaid following Medicaid expansion in 2014, 76% of those who visited a dermatologist received care via teledermatology. Patients of primary care practices that engaged in teledermatology had a 64% increase in the fraction of patients visiting a dermatologist (vs. 21% in other practices) (p<.01). Compared with in-person dermatology, teledermatology served more patients under age 17, male patients, nonwhite patients, and patients without comorbid conditions. Conditions managed across settings varied; teledermatology physicians were more likely to care for viral skin lesions and acne whereas in-person dermatologists were more likely to care for psoriasis and skin neoplasms. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Colon Cancer, Technology / 27.04.2016 Interview with: Dr. Elodie Sollier PhD Chief Scientific Officer at Vortex Biosciences What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Vortex Biosciences has developed a fast and simple way to isolate and collect intact circulating tumor cells (CTCs) directly from whole blood in less than an hour using a process based on microfluidics. To better understand the utility of the technology for the clinical setting, PCR-based Sanger sequencing was used to profile the mutations of CTCs isolated from blood from metastatic Colorectal cancer patients. The mutations were compared to primary tumor biopsies, secondary tumor biopsies and ctDNA. There are 3 primary take-aways:
  1. The Vortex technology captures CTCs with enough purity to perform sensitive and accurate PCR-based Sanger sequencing.
  2. Mutations present in primary and secondary tumors can be identified in both CTCs and ctDNA making liquid biopsies a valuable alternative to tissue biopsies.
  3. While there is general consistency of mutations identified, some mutations are only identified in CTCs while others only in ctDNA demonstrating how these are indeed complimentary.
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology / 31.03.2016 Interview with: Dr. Nicola Gaibazzi Department of Cardiology Parma University Hospital Parma Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gaibazzi: As clinical and research cardiologists we have never accepted that cardiac arrests are so frequently deadly throughout the world (sudden cardiac arrest is the world’s leading cause of death) because many of such events could be easily reversed by early defibrillation if only witnessed by a bystander who could quickly call emergency in place of the incapacitated subject. This would be lifesaving for most of them, gaining quick  access to defibrillation within the golden 8-10 minutes (in the Oregon state study 6.5 minutes is the average time from call to defibrillation). While this issue of early defibrillation access is not easy to be solved for cardiac arrest in the general population, it was surprising to us that there was no available tool to date to automatically alert emergency contacts for people who regularly practice outdoor sports alone, such as running or cycling, and may undergo sudden and unexpected sports-associated cardiac arrest. It is a rare event, but it may happen during exercise, when cardiac arrest is actually several times more frequent than during resting condition, both in sedentary and active subjects. It was surprising to us seeing all people practicing with their earbuds, listening to music from their last-generation smartphone, often used only as if it were an old music cassette “walkman”, while it is a powerful and wireless-connected portable computer with an incredible potential for emergency rescue. Consequently, in 2015 we founded a startup company ( or temporary new site and started building an app that could take advantage of the capabilities of modern smartphones to automatically detect sports-associated cardiac arrest, specifically aiming at recognizing ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. This was not an easy task, since we wanted to use simple, cheap and commercially-available hardware, possibly already at hand for sportspeople; otherwise too few subjects would use it and you would not impact such infrequent disease with only few sportsmen using it, since sports-associated cardiac arrest is rare (2/100000 athletes/year) but not negligible, with 2450 deaths in US only each year. We finally chose to use as the only additional required hardware a BT+ heart rate monitor chest strap (a chest strap can be bought if not already owned at 40$), which is cheap, reliable, able to transmit heart rate with trivial battery drainage detected through cardiac electrical signal with trivial battery drainage, and much more reliable than pulse-plethysmographic methods which fully depend on the device contact with the arm or wrist skin to collect a correct signal. We could not afford in our lifesaving app that a wrong wrist or arm device contact would cause absence of pulse signal detection erroneouslytriggering a cardiac arrest alert or not doing so when a cardiac arrest is truly present. Chest straps on the contrary send heart rate sensed from electrical heart activity and are almost impossible to displace even in case of an unconscious subject falling down. We built and tested our Parachute app for the iPhone during 2015, through long testing in the outdoor field and with arrhythmia simulators and at the ACC congress we present just part of the data collected from such tests in athletes running and cycling and with advanced arrhythmia simulators. Parachute was incredibly accurate both to avoid false positives and false negatives, thanks to continuously combined chest strap heart rate data and motion or, better, detection of “no motion”, corresponding to a possible incapacitated subject. These two mechanisms act together and complete each other, they are synergic, since while our patent-pending algorithm using heart rate data is very sensitive for serious arrhythmias, motion detection can easily exclude false positives during outdoor sports, where motion is by definition almost continuous. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Technology, UCLA / 26.03.2016 Interview with: DrDavid Wong D.M.D, D.M.S.C Professor Associate Dean for Research Director for UCLA Center for Oral/Head & Neck Oncology Research (COOR) Felix and Mildred Yip Endowed Chair in Dentistry UCLA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wong: The EFIRM technology is an electrochemical technology developed for the optimal detection of saliva targets for molecular diagnostics. It is a multiplexible platform (nucleic acid and proteins) that has sensitivity and specificity that comparable with PCR and luminex-based assays. It permits direct target detection in bio-samples without processing. (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Pulmonary Disease, Surgical Research, Technology / 18.03.2016 Interview with: Dr. Ariel Drori MD Hadassah Medical Center What is the background for the ThoraXS device? Dr. Drori: The initial recognition of the need for a device like ThoraXS first came to me on an operational deployment during my reserve service where I serve as a military doctor. While serving on the Gazan border, I was called to a battle scene to treat a soldier who was suffering from pneumothorax after being shot in the chest.  A quick evacuation by helicopter meant that I didn't have the time to perform the entire procedure and I was forced to hand over a partially-treated patient whose condition was unstable. The reality of constant combat injuries mixed with a rising number of daily civilian terror attack casualties led us to understand that we need to provide a cheap, easy to use, robust and reliable solution that on the one hand can withstand the most extreme combat conditions and on the other, be used by any paramedic and in any pre-hospital and hospital setting. This line of thought eventually led to the adoption of ThoraXS's simple yet sophisticated mechanical mechanism that ticks all the boxes. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Ovarian Cancer, Technology / 29.02.2016 Interview with: Janet A. Sawicki, Ph.D. Deputy Director and Professor Lankenau Institute for Medical Research 100 Lancaster Ave. Wynnewood, PA 19096 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sawicki: This study addresses the need for a more effective therapy for ovarian cancer. HuR is an RNA-binding protein that is present in high amounts in ovarian tumor cells compared to amounts in normal cells. HuR regulates the expression of thousands of genes that promote the survival of tumor cells. Thus, it is an ideal therapeutic target to suppress ovarian tumor growth. In this study, we used a small interfering RNA (siRNA) to investigate the impact of suppressing HuR expression on ovarian tumor growth in an ovarian cancer mouse model. We made use of the ability to conjugate a novel DNA dendrimer nanocarrier, 3DNA®, to both siHuR and a tumor-targeting moiety to suppress HuR expression specifically in tumor cells following systemic administration while avoiding toxicity in healthy cells. Systemic administration of siHuR-conjugated FA-3DNA to ovarian tumor-bearing mice suppressed tumor growth and ascites development, and significantly prolonged lifespan. Gene expression analysis identified multiple HuR-regulated genes in tumor cells as evidenced by changes in their expression upon HuR inhibition. These HuR-regulated genes function in multiple essential cellular molecular pathways, a finding that sets this therapeutic approach apart from other therapies that target a single gene. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Technology / 26.02.2016 Interview with: Professor Tilak Dias College of Art & Design and Built Environment, School of Art & Design and Dr. Pasindu Lugoda Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Experimental Physics Electronic and Communication Engineering Nottingham Trent University Medical Research: Why are diabetics more prone to foot ulcers?  How prevalent is the problem? Response: Diabetic neuropathy contributes to foot ulcers that increases the chances of amputations if not treated. Every 30 seconds a limb is lost to diabetics. Medical Research: What is the background for the Siren Smart Sock System? What information is transmitted via the socks? Does the information go to the patient or a health care provider? Response: The temperature difference in between different points of the two feet are transmitted from the sensors in the sock. The information can be sent to the doctor or the patient’s mobile phone depending on what is needed.   (more…)