MedFusion Discussion Group: Nanomedicine

November 28, 2006

Will nanotechnology revolutionize medicine?

Time: 12-1pm
Location: SUB 212
Description: This week, we will be discussing the exciting medical applications of nanotechnology, such as nanoparticle drug delivery, molecular nanotechnology (MNT) and nanovaccinology! You are all welcome to come and share something interesting you have read or heard in local news or learned in class, or just listen to the articles that we will be sharing. Also, feel free to bring your lunch and friends! There will be snacks and drinks for members!

Read the rest of this entry »


German Health Card

November 21, 2006

This year, members of public health insurance in Germany can expect to receive a health smartcard. The smartcard – called the eGK – is fundamentally used for authentication, authorization and secure data storage. Its first application is planned to include prescription information. Its use is voluntary by patients and has potential to reduce administrative effort and expense.

Integrated healthcare based on gematik specifications
German Health Card

Stem cells the core cancers?

November 21, 2006

Not exactly a medical informatics article but very interesting nonetheless!

A spate of new discoveries about the basic biology of cancer is pushing researchers toward an astonishing conclusion: For decades, efforts to cure the disease may have targeted the wrong cells.

Current therapies treat all cancer cells the same. They’re aimed at shrinking tumours on the basis that the various cells within them all have similar powers to spawn new cancers and spread destruction.

But mounting evidence suggests that cancer’s real culprits — the roots of perhaps every tumour — are actually a small subset of bad seeds known best to the world as stem cells.

Globe And Mail

Bionic Man

November 20, 2006

Here’s another interesting article about bionic limbs, similar to Sherry’s posting World’s First “Bionic Woman”, about the woman who received a prosthetic arm that she can move with her thoughts. This one is about a Bionic Man đŸ™‚

While covering the Iraq war, BBC producer Stuart Hughes lost his leg. His new prosthetic foot is so advanced, it may even allow amputee soldiers back into battle.

[…]It uses sensors and a built-in microprocessor to mimic some of the actions of a human foot. […] The sensors detect whether the user is walking on level ground, going uphill or downhill or climbing steps.

Read more… 

Use of EMR/EHR may rise

November 19, 2006

Some doctors have been weary to adopt electronic health records (EHR) due to the high price tag of implementing such a system in their practice. It often costs more than USD$20,000 per physician per software and hardware (wow!) and as a result less than 20 percent of doctors have integrated an electronic medical system in their offices. Well, this may all change now because the federal officials (down in the States) have recently donated electronic medical record systems to many physicians who where not financially able to purchase them. The industry has also agreed on a “technology standard” allowing software made by different manufacturers to be able to share data with each other (thank you software vendors for not being greedy!). I must say that this is great news and I hope that more and more practices (and hospitals) will join this new trend.

John Cascone, M.D. enters medical records at his office in North Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006.

Yahoo! News

Human-cow embryos

November 18, 2006

BBC News reports:

UK scientists have applied for permission to create embryos by fusing human DNA with cow eggs.

Though controversial, I don’t think this is as appalling as it might sound to some (for example, those who think of it producing a human-cow chimera).

The problem is that human eggs for research are in short supply and to obtain them women have to undergo surgery.

That is why scientists want to use cows’ eggs as a substitute.

They would insert human DNA into a cow’s egg which has had its genetic material removed, and then create an embryo by the same technique that produced Dolly the Sheep.

The resulting embryo would be 99.9% human; the only bovine element would be DNA outside the nucleus of the cell.

Of course, a big ethical debate surrounds the whole story. But I tend to think, since it’s just used for research and is not going to be used to produce human tissues, why not as long as it has practical benefits?

Non-invasive Mind-Machine interface not too distant in the future

November 18, 2006

By now, controlling prosthetic limbs or video games by thoughts alone aren’t really news anymore. It sounds cool, but undergoeing surgery just for that does sound a little over the edge. But according to Wired News, that won’t even be necessary soon:

Hitachi’s new neuroimaging technique allows its operator to switch a train set on and off by thought alone, and the Japanese company aims to commercialize it within five years.

Hitachi’s system doesn’t invasively co-opt the nervous sytem, instead using a topographic modelling system to measure blood flow in the brain, translating the images into signals that are sent to the controller. So far, this new technique only allows for simple switching decisions, but Hitachi aims to commercialize it within five years for use by paralyzed patients and those undergoing “cognitive rehabilitation.”