Thermo Mirror

Posted by on January 20th, 2011


NEC subsidiary NEC Avio has developed a thermometer [JP] that measures the user’s temperature without them having to touch the device. As the world’s first device of its kind, it captures your temperature via a built-in infrared sensor and integrates a desktop mirror (hence the name “Thermo Mirror”).

All you need to do is to look at the mirror and your temperature will be measured automatically, and when it detects someone who is feverish, an alarm goes off.

Via crunchgear.

Could Swine Flu Hold the Key to a Universal Flu Vaccine?

Posted by on January 20th, 2011

The virus that doesn’t give up, from Environmental Graffiti:

In the ever evolving drama of nature, however, the influenza virus has found its own response to the immune resistance. It reconfigures into a new viral strain by rearranging its binding protein. By doing this, the virus avoids pre-existing antibody immunities. The body is forced to generate a new model of antibodies, which gives the virus time to spread.

However, in a strange twist of fate, it seems that the H1N1 Swine Flu virus is about to close the drama by adding a new character. The antibodies produced in the body for this virus work on swine flu, but they also work for other influenza viral strains. Survivors of swine flu appear to be immune from all forms of influenza for many years into the future.

The researchers from the National Institute of Health who discovered this flu virus immunity are now working with the antibodies to create a universal vaccine. Such a vaccine, once administered, would last 10 years, or perhaps longer. It could be easily given to the population at large.

DNA: Next Military Battleground?

Posted by on January 19th, 2011

Combine cheaper DNA sequencing prices with the fact that U.S. soilders are not protected by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and this happens:

The report, prepared by a defense science advisory panel known as JASON and reported by Secrecy News and HuffPost’s Dan Froomkin, among others, recommends that the military take advantage of the rapidly falling cost of gene sequencing by preparing to engage in the mass sequencing of the genomes of all military personnel. …

Specifically, the report recommends that the Pentagon begin collecting sequencing soldiers’ DNA for “diagnostic and predictive applications.” It recommends that the military begin seeking correlations between soldiers’ genotypes and phenotypes (outward characteristics) “of relevance to the military” in order to correlate the two. And the report says — without offering details — that both “offensive and defensive military operations” could be affected.

Article via the Huffington Post.

Microsoft patents altering parasites to fight disease

Posted by on January 18th, 2011

slashdot reports:

“In its just-published patent application for Adapting Parasites to Combat Disease, Microsoft lays out plans to unleash ‘altered parasitic organisms’ on humans, including mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, bed bugs, leeches, pinworms, tapeworms, hookworms, heart worms, roundworms, lice (head, body, and pubic), and the like.

‘Irradiated mosquitoes can be used to deliver damaged Plasmodium to individuals,’ explains Microsoft. ‘Instead of contracting malaria, an individual receiving the damaged Plasmodium develops an immune response that renders the individual resistant to contracting malaria.’ Don’t worry about runaway breeding, advises Microsoft — ‘a termination feature [that] can include programmed death’ makes this impossible.

The Human Biological Clock

Posted by on January 11th, 2011

from wikipedia

We see things differently

Posted by on January 11th, 2011

We’re 11 days into 2011 and I’m watching the north of my country drown on live-television, as they in turn switch between exhausted officals giving press conferences, to reports straight from social media. In fact, they’re just sending viewers straight to #qldfloods. But, look.. SHINY!

Let’s face it, we’re going to need ever better methods to record disaster pr0n and navigate our way through it. OK, we don’t need them, but some kind of distraction is needed now and again. What have we got so far this year?

Augmented reality HUDS? Check. This was just released for skiers:

Introducing  Transcend, Recon Instruments’ collaboration with Colorado’s Zeal Optics. Transcend is the world’s first GPS-enabled goggles with a head-mounted display system.

Minimum interaction is required during use, sleek graphics and smart optics are completely unobtrusive for front and peripheral vision making it the ultimate solution for use in fast-paced environments.

Transcend provides real-time feedback including speed, latitude/longitude, altitude, vertical distance travelled, total distance travelled, chrono/stopwatch mode, a run-counter, temperature and time. It is also the only pair of goggles in the world that boasts GPS capabilities, USB charging and data transfer, and free post-processing software all with a user-friendly, addictive interface.

Just like the dashboard of a sports car or the instruments of a fighter jet, Transcend’s display provides performance-enhancing data, but only when you choose to view it. Safe, smart, fun…all wrapped up in the hottest goggle frame of 2010/11.

Now, of course you ask, but how will I best show my friends a panoramic, interactive recording of that sick black run (or train for the next one)? Sony has just the thing:

Besides looking über futuristic, Sony’s “virtual 3D cinematic experience” head mounted display (aka ‘Headman’) sports some fairly impressive specs. The tiny OLED screens inside are head HD resolution (1280 x 720), and the headphones integrated into the sides of the goggles are outputting high quality simulated 5.1 channel surround sound.

OK, that’s just a prototype. But something like it will be coming soon, so leave some space for it in your underground bunker.

But m1k3y, you say.. “those are great and all, but WHERE’S MY CLATTER?!” Well, I saved the best for last:

In 2008, as a proof of concept, Babak Parviz at the University of Washington in Seattle created a prototype contact lens containing a single red LED. Using the same technology, he has now created a lens capable of monitoring glucose levels in people with diabetes.

It works because glucose levels in tear fluid correspond directly to those found in the blood, making continuous measurement possible without the need for thumb pricks, he says. Parviz’s design calls for the contact lens to send this information wirelessly to a portable device worn by diabetics, allowing them to manage their diet and medication more accurately.

Lenses that also contain arrays of tiny LEDs may allow this or other types of digital information to be displayed directly to the wearer through the lens. This kind of augmented reality has already taken off in cellphones, with countless software apps superimposing digital data onto images of our surroundings, effectively blending the physical and online worlds.

Making it work on a contact lens won’t be easy, but the technology has begun to take shape. Last September, Sensimed, a Swiss spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, launched the very first commercial smart contact lens, designed to improve treatment for people with glaucoma.

The disease puts pressure on the optic nerve through fluid build-up, and can irreversibly damage vision if not properly treated. Highly sensitive platinum strain gauges embedded in Sensimed’s Triggerfish lens record changes in the curvature of the cornea, which correspond directly to the pressure inside the eye, says CEO Jean-Marc Wismer. The lens transmits this information wirelessly at regular intervals to a portable recording device worn by the patient, he says.

Like an RFID tag or London’s Oyster travel cards, the lens gets its power from a nearby loop antenna – in this case taped to the patient’s face. The powered antenna transmits electricity to the contact lens, which is used to interrogate the sensors, process the signals and transmit the readings back.

Each disposable contact lens is designed to be worn just once for 24 hours, and the patient repeats the process once or twice a year. This allows researchers to look for peaks in eye pressure which vary from patient to patient during the course of a day. This information is then used to schedule the timings of medication.

Parviz, however, has taken a different approach. His glucose sensor uses sets of electrodes to run tiny currents through the tear fluid and measures them to detect very small quantities of dissolved sugar. These electrodes, along with a computer chip that contains a radio frequency antenna, are fabricated on a flat substrate made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a transparent polymer commonly found in plastic bottles. This is then moulded into the shape of a contact lens to fit the eye.

Parviz plans to use a higher-powered antenna to get a better range, allowing patients to carry a single external device in their breast pocket or on their belt. Preliminary tests show that his sensors can accurately detect even very low glucose levels. Parvis is due to present his results later this month at the IEEE MEMS 2011 conference in Cancún, Mexico.

“There’s still a lot more testing we have to do,” says Parviz. In the meantime, his lab has made progress with contact lens displays. They have developed both red and blue miniature LEDs – leaving only green for full colour – and have separately built lenses with 3D optics that resemble the head-up visors used to view movies in 3D.

Parviz has yet to combine both the optics and the LEDs in the same contact lens, but he is confident that even images so close to the eye can be brought into focus. “You won’t necessarily have to shift your focus to see the image generated by the contact lens,” says Parviz. It will just appear in front of you, he says. The LEDs will be arranged in a grid pattern, and should not interfere with normal vision when the display is off.

For Sensimed, the circuitry is entirely around the edge of the lens (see photo). However, both have yet to address the fact that wearing these lenses might make you look like the robots in the Terminator movies. False irises could eventually solve this problem, says Parviz. “But that’s not something at the top of our priority list,” he says.

So close… And Terminator eyes? That’s a feature, not a bug. YES PLEASE!

iPhone ECG

Posted by on December 31st, 2010

Ultraportable pocket ECG?  Yeah there’s an app for that.  Well, an app and a special case for your iPhone 4. (The biofeedback app is pretty cool as well.)  The iPhonECG will debut at the CES show in Las Vegas next week. The intent is that it will be available to consumers and not just medical professionals.

Russia approves sale of New Zealand-developed, seaweed-coated xenotransplantation diabetes treatment

Posted by on December 19th, 2010

(Don’t you just love the 2010s?)

From New Scientist:

THE world’s first xenotransplantation treatment – where animal cells are transplanted into humans – has been approved for sale in Russia.

The treatment, developed by Living Cell Technologies in New Zealand, is for type 1 diabetes. It consists of insulin-producing pig cells coated in seaweed, says Bob Elliott of LCT.

LCT’s treatment involves surgically implanting the replacement cells into the pancreas. The “seaweed” coating is alginate, which prevents the immune system from attacking the foreign cells.

In Russian trials, eight people with type 1 diabetes received the treatment in June 2007, while continuing to have daily injections of insulin. After a year, six showed improved blood glucose control and were able to lower their daily dose of insulin. Two of them stopped injections entirely for eight months. One person left the trial and another showed no improvement, which LCT believes was due to problems inserting the cells into the pancreas.

Viral Nootropic Parody Ad

Posted by on December 11th, 2010

Bleeding Cool’s Vicki Isitt writes:

The marketing minds supporting Neil Burger’s Limitless have released a viral video advertising NZT – The Clear Pill. The film will star Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a copywriter who discovers a drug that gives him supernatural powers and this ad sells that drug.

[Via: Bleeding Cool]

Spray-On Stem Cell Treatment for Burn Victims

Posted by on November 30th, 2010

Cardiothoracic surgeon Amit Patel and burn care surgeon Amalia Cochran are overseeing experimental procedures utilizing this new “bedside stem cell technique.” By combining a patient’s own cells with a few other chemicals thrown in, the research team is able to create a sort of bio jelly that can be sprayed directly onto a wound. Preliminary trials have shown some promising results at accelerating the healing process

From Gearlog.

Skin patch could offer pain relief with every flinch

Posted by on November 26th, 2010

Via John Evans at NewScientist:

Unyong Jeong’s team at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, covered a flexible rubber film with a sheet of corrugated microporous polystyrene, with gutters around 3 micrometres wide and 1 micrometre deep. The gutters were then filled with a liquid and sealed with another rubber film. Finally, the first rubber film was peeled away to expose the underside of the liquid-filled polystyrene gutters. Flexing the patch distorts the polystyrene tunnels enough to reduce their volume, squeezing the solution out through the pores in the plastic. Once the strain is removed, the tunnels spring back into shape, ready for the next use

He envisages the first practical use will be skin patches for treating muscle pain and rheumatism. “Current [skin patches] are designed to just continuously release the active agents,” he says. “If we can control the release rate responding to the motion of our muscles, it will make the patches more effective and prolong the time of use.” He is also hoping to develop biodegradable strain-release patches to heal organs and damaged muscles inside the body.

TED Talks: The bio-future of joint replacement

Posted by on November 16th, 2010


DNA Fingerprinting Traces Global Path of Plague

Posted by on November 5th, 2010

Keim, director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics and division director of Translational Genomics Research Institute, said that while the plague is less of a threat to humans than at other periods in history, such as the Middle Ages, the current plague research can be applied to ongoing health threats around the world.

This type of DNA fingerprinting can be used to characterize both natural and nefarious plague outbreaks — which is crucial when a bacterium is used as a biological weapon.

“This work is more of a model for our control of epidemic diseases such as Salmonella, E. coli and influenza,” Keim said. “Plague took advantage of human commercial traffic on a global scale, just as the flu and food-borne diseases do today. Future epidemiologists can learn from this millennium-scale reconstruction of a devastating disease to prevent or control future infectious disease outbreaks.”

Via ScienceDaily.

‘Skin Printer’

Posted by on November 4th, 2010

Via, a machine that prints layers of cells mixed with fibrinogen, type 1 collagen and thrombin has been reported by

The system, which lays down cells with the same fluid-based inkjet technology used in many printers, could print large swathes of living tissue directly onto the injuries of soldiers wounded on the battlefield. Covering burns and related wounds is of critical importance because, the scientists note, “any loss of full-thickness skin of more than 4 cm in diameter will not heal by itself.”

See also:

Hat-tip to @catvincent!

Electronic implant allows the blind to see

Posted by on November 3rd, 2010

From New Scientist – Health:

Eberthart Zrenner and colleagues at the University of Tübingen in Germany have developed a microchip carrying 1500 photosensitive diodes that slides into the retina where the photoreceptors would normally be. The diodes respond to light, and when connected to an outside power source through a wire into the eye, can stimulate the nearby nerves that normally pass signals to the brain, mimicking healthy photoreceptors.

The team reports that their first three volunteers could all locate bright objects. One could recognise normal objects and read large words. …

…. As a safety precaution, the implants in this first pilot study were removed after several weeks, says Walter Wrobel, head of Retina-Implant, a company based in Reutlingen, Germany, formed by the researchers to eventually market the implant. “Based on the results of this study, we have designed a new system, which is being implanted permanently, or as long as patients like it.”

In the new system, the power source connects to the retinal implant via a mechanical coupling through intact skin, not via a wire through an incision in the skin as the earlier system did. “That means they can shower easily, leave the hospital and go around town on their own,” says Zrenner. “They can go out for a meal, and really see things, like a nice glass of beer.”

See also:

First human liver grown in lab

Posted by on November 1st, 2010

From Science Daily:

Researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have reached an early, but important, milestone in the quest to grow replacement livers in the lab. They are the first to use human liver cells to successfully engineer miniature livers that function — at least in a laboratory setting — like human livers. The next step is to see if the livers will continue to function after transplantation in an animal model.

To engineer the organs, the scientists used animal livers that were treated with a mild detergent to remove all cells (a process called decellularization), leaving only the collagen “skeleton” or support structure. They then replaced the original cells with two types of human cells: immature liver cells known as progenitors, and endothelial cells that line blood vessels.

The cells were introduced into the liver skeleton through a large vessel that feeds a system of smaller vessels in the liver. This network of vessels remains intact after the decellularization process. The liver was next placed in a bioreactor, special equipment that provides a constant flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the organ.

After a week in the bioreactor system, the scientists documented the progressive formation of human liver tissue, as well as liver-associated function. They observed widespread cell growth inside the bioengineered organ.

The ability to engineer a liver with animal cells had been demonstrated previously. However, the possibility of generating a functional human liver was still in question.

via The Grumpy Owl (Who has a much more humorous take on this)

Q Sensor – new wrist device to monitor stress

Posted by on October 28th, 2010

As reader Tzagash Shal-Goram said, on sending this in, File this one under “shriekyware“. I have to agree.

Developed to help caregivers monitor the mood of autistic children, it’s easy to see other uses for this – from personal alarms to livebloggin’ a night out.

More details from Technology Review:

[The] device developed by Affectiva, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, detects and records physiological signs of stress and excitement by measuring slight electrical changes in the skin. While researchers, doctors, and psychologists have long used this measurement–called skin conductance–in the lab or clinical setting, Affectiva’s Q Sensor is worn on a wristband and lets people keep track of stress during everyday activities. The Q Sensor stores or transmits a wearer’s stress levels throughout the day

When a person–autistic or not–experiences stress or enters a “flight or fight” mode, moisture collects under the skin (often leading to sweating) as a sympathetic nervous system response. This rising moisture makes the skin more electrically conductive. Skin conductance sensors send a tiny electrical pulse to one point of the skin and measure the strength of that signal at another point on the skin to detect its conductivity.

More still in this video from Technology Review.

Italian surgeons perform double hand transplant, aided by patient’s stem cells.

Posted by on October 25th, 2010

From Italy Magazine:

Double hand transplant in Monza, ItalyItalian surgeons have achieved another medical first during a double hand transplant operation carried out on 52-year-old Carla Mari in the San Gerardo Hospital in the city of Monza [Lombardy].

Although this is not the first time that a double hand transplant has been carried out in the world, it is the first time that a new, anti-rejection technique involving cells from the patient’s own bone marrow has been used.

These cells were re-introduced into the woman’s body during the 24 hours following the operation. Dr Andrea Biondi of the San Gerardo “Cell Factory” told Corriere della Sera that these cells act, in a way that scientists do not yet fully understand, on the body’s immuno-suppressive system. In the coming days signora Mari will also receive a transplant of adipose tissue, again from her own body, and a skin graft from her back.

Signora Mari, who is married with two children, had undergone amputation of her hands and feet because she was suffering from sepsis, a whole-body inflammatory state with infection. The artificial hands with which she was fitted were causing her distress and she was placed on the list for hand transplants in 2008. On Monday night, a 58-year-old woman who died in Cremona became the donor.

(Pix by marcogiannini)


Dutch researchers create new Body Area Network (BAN) for telehealth monitoring

Posted by on October 9th, 2010

From New Scientist:

Dutch research organisation IMEC, based in Eindhoven, this week demonstrated a new type of wireless body area network (BAN). Dubbed the Human++ BAN platform, the system converts IMEC’s ultra-low-power electrocardiogram sensors into wireless nodes in a short-range network, transmitting physiological data to a hub – the patient’s cellphone. From there, the readings can be forwarded to doctors via a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. They can also be displayed on the phone or sound an alarm when things are about to go wrong, giving patients like me a chance to try to slow our heart rates and avoid an unnecessary shock.

Julien Penders, who developed the system, says it can also work with other low-power medical sensors, such as electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor neurological conditions or electromyograms to detect neuromuscular diseases. Besides helping those already diagnosed with chronic conditions, BANs could be used by people at risk of developing medical problems – the so-called “worried well” – or by fitness enthusiasts and athletes who want to keep tabs on their physiological processes during training.

IMEC’s technology is not the first BAN, but integrates better than earlier versions with the gadgets that many people carry around with them. IMEC has created a dongle that plugs into the standard SD memory card interface of a cellphone to stream data from the sensors in real time and allow the phone to reconfigure the sampling frequency of sensors on the fly. The associated software runs on Google’s Android cellphone operating system.

FDA approves telescopic eye implant

Posted by on September 11th, 2010

For a measley $15K elder Boomers can now repair another symptom of aging; “macular degeneration, a disease that…is a leading cause of vision loss for people over 60″. CBC News has more:

Two versions of the implantable miniature telescope can replace the natural lens and provide an image that is magnified by 2.2 or 2.7 times, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The telescope magnifies and projects images onto a healthy portion of the retina, but can be used in one eye only; the other eye is needed for peripheral vision.

The telescope is intended for patients 75 and older with severe to profound vision impairment caused by blind spots, the FDA said. Because the brain must merge the views from two eyes into a single image, patients will need rehabilitation after the surgery to make it work, the FDA said.

A clinical test of the telescope involving 219 patients found that 75 per cent had their vision improve from severe or profound impairment to moderate impairment.

Due to the size of the device, implantation can cause other problems, including the need for a corneal transplant, the FDA warned.

Picture via Gizmodo. Thanks for the tip-off Prophesise!