medicine

An Innovative New Cancer Therapy Hijacks Bacteria to Fight Tumors

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zq9xmldag6mehi5p7e08Researchers from South Korea have engineered a strain of bacteria that infiltrates tumors and fools the body’s immune system into attacking cancer cells. In experiments, the modified bacteria worked to reduce cancer in mice, raising hope for human trials.

In a study published today in Science Translational Medicine, a research team led by biologists Joon Haeng Rhee and Jung-Joon Min from Chonnam National University in South Korea describe a new immunotherapy in which a bioengineered strain of Salmonella is converted into a biological version of the fabled Trojan Horse. Once inside an unsuspecting tumor, the modified bacteria transmits a signal that triggers nearby immune cells into launching an attack on the malignant cells.

By George Dvorsky | Gizmodo

Image Credit: NIH

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How to spot misleading health news

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p04s67yxWhen the UK newspaper, the Independent, analysed the 20 most shared stories in the past year with cancer in the headline, more than half included claims which health authorities or doctors had discredited. Yet many millions of people had considered them interesting enough to share on social media.

If fake news stories about politics can influence voting patterns, then could health stories about unproven treatments result in people eschewing their current medical treatment in favour of the latest recommendation in an article they see? Some fear these articles could be dangerous.

By Claudia Hammond | BBC

Image Credit: Getty Images

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The Robots Are Coming for Your Heart

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Red low poly human heart on a black background. Abstract anatomy blood organ. Heart in 3D polygon style.The robots are coming. They’re coming to drive your car, they’re coming for your job, and they’re coming for your heart. Like, you may literally have a robotic heart one day.

That is, if a peculiar new device is any indication. Researchers have developed a robotic sleeve that fits over the heart (well, a pig’s heart at the moment) and pumps like the organ would itself. The idea is that if a patient is going into cardiac arrest, the best way to help the heart is to be the heart. One day that may mean patients with cardiac problems could get their own robotic heart to kick in if their ticker starts to give way.

By  | Wired

Image Credit: Wired

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Google’s training AI to catch diabetic blindness before it’s too late

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downloadDiabetes is no joke, regardless of what Wilford Brimley memes you’ve seen. The disease’s associated foot ulcers can lead to amputation of the limb while diabetic retinopathy (DR) can rob people of their sight. Some 415 million diabetics worldwide are at risk of this visual affliction and many of those living with it in the developing world lack sufficient health care access to treat it. That’s why Google is training its deep learning AI to spot DR before it becomes a problem — and without the help of an on-site doctor.

Since the disease is most readily diagnosed by examining a picture of the back of the eye, the Google team has spent the past few years developing a dataset of 128,000 individual images, each examined by 3-7 ophthalmologists from a panel of 54. By marking damaged areas of the eye — microaneurysms, hemorrhages and the like — and then feeding that data into a machine learning system, Google managed to build a highly reliable diagnostic tool. When tested with 12,000 images, the system’s diagnosis was “on-par with that of ophthalmologists” according to the Google Research Blog post.

By Andrew Tarantola | engadget

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Artificial Intelligence Could Dig Up Cures Buried Online

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aaeaaqaaaaaaaaedaaaajge3ztnmzwvmlwywzwutngjkny05mgu1ltdlyta2ywi2mdu3zaThis Summer, Riva-Melissa Tez was searching online for research that might help her father. He’d gone into a coma after suffering a stroke, and she wondered what the latest recommendations said—whether playing music to him in his native language could keep him connected to this world, or if giving him Prozac could boost his chances of recovery as it had done for mice in a study last year. Doctors are so busy saving lives, she thought, that they couldn’t possibly keep up with all the papers published every day.

Her concern is shared by doctors, who wonder what they could be missing in the 2.5 million scientific papers published every year. Popular sites like MedCalc and UptoDate are useful tools for doctors to consult diagnostic criteria and double check on treatment guidelines. But there’s plenty of room for improvement, and some believe artificial intelligence could be a solution to science overload: machine learning assistants to read incoming papers, distill their information, and highlight relevant findings.

By Bahar Gholipour | Wired

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How Nanotech Bandages Could Supercharge First Aid

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100343_gettyimages579203958It all started as a painless callus on Donna Morrow’s left foot. Since she knew her diabetes made her susceptible to foot ulcers, she saw her podiatrist, who shaved down the callus as a precaution. A few months later, her foot swelled so much she could barely walk. The callus had unfurled into gaping, infected ulcers whose appearance made her sick to her stomach. The former retiree from outside Philadelphia, now a director and founder of Victory Nutrition, spent months hooked to an antibiotic IV drip, hardly able to stand or shower, and underwent three skin grafts. “Is this ever going to end?” she wondered. Fears of amputation plagued her.

Morrow’s foot took more than a year to heal. She’s not alone: About half of all diabetics suffer from nerve damage, or neuropathy, which might mean a blister or a cut escapes notice until it progresses into something more serious. Diabetes also can lower blood circulation and immunity, which may slow healing. Now, researchers are devising solutions by upgrading run-of-the-mill balms, dressings and sutures with nanotechnology designed to speed and improve healing. The latest innovations include ointments that contain nanoparticles loaded with substances that trigger the migration of new skin cells to a targeted area, as well as scaffolds for these cells to populate. One “smart bandage” fluoresces to alert doctors of infection long before clinical symptoms appear.

By Melissa Pandika | OZY

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By 2030, Hospitals May Be a Thing of the Past

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by-2030-hospitals-may-be-a-thing-of-the-past-600x315As the world of medicine is increasingly changed by biology, technology, communications, genetics, and robotics, predicting the outlook of the next few decades of medicine becomes harder. But that is exactly what Melanie Walker of the World Economic Forum does, and she predicts a bright new future for healthcare.

Walker is the co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Future Council on neurotechnology and brain science and has been a doctor for the past 20 years.

“Nearly 20 years ago, when I graduated from medical school, the world of healthcare was dominated by breakthroughs in the field of biology,” Walker said in the article. “But, that is changing quickly because biology is being eaten by robotics and genetics as we evolve deeper into the networked age.”

The lynchpin of Walker’s predictions is the increasing adoption of new healthcare technologies, not just in hospitals but in homes. In fact, she says the rise of personalized medicine means we’re moving from hospitals to “home-spitals.”

By Jelor Gallego | Futurism

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