Posts Tagged ‘el-camino-hospital’

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Develop Gene Therapy to Boost Brain Repair for Demyelinating Diseases

Develop Gene Therapy to Boost Brain Repair for Demyelinating Diseases

A number of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, end up with damaged oligodendrocytes that make myelin that in turn protects axons of nerve cells.myelin-producing-cells

The consequences are debilitating and cause all kinds of terrible side effects, but researchers at Caltech have developed a therapy, so far tested in a mouse model, that can help replace damaged oligodendrocytes.

Details from the announcement:

The therapy uses leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), a naturally occurring protein that was known to promote the self-renewal of neural stem cells and to reduce immune-cell attacks to myelin in other MS mouse models.

“What hadn’t been done before our study was to use gene therapy in the brain to stimulate these cells to remyelinate,” says Paul Patterson, the Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences at Caltech and senior author of the study.

According to the researchers, LIF enables remyelination by stimulating oligodendrocyte progenitor cells to proliferate and make new oligodendrocytes. The brain has the capacity to produce oligodendrocytes, but often fails to prompt a high enough repair response after demyelination.

“Researchers had been skeptical that a single factor could lead to remyelination of damaged cells,” says Deverman. “It was thought that you could use factors to stimulate the division and expansion of the progenitor population, and then add additional factors to direct those progenitors to turn into the mature myelin-forming cells. But in our mouse model, when we give our LIF therapy, it both stimulates the proliferation of the progenitor cells and allows them to differentiate into mature oligodendrocytes.”

In other words, once the researchers stimulated the proliferation of the progenitor cells, it appeared that the progenitors knew just what was needed—the team did not have to instruct the cells at each stage of development. And they found that LIF elicited such a strong response that the treated brain’s levels of myelin-producing oligodendrocytes were restored to those found in healthy populations.

The researchers note, too, that by placing LIF directly in the brain, one avoids potential side effects of the treatment that may arise when the therapy is infused into the bloodstream.

PASADENA, Calif.—Our bodies are full of tiny superheroes—antibodies that fight foreign invaders, cells that regenerate, and structures that ensure our systems run smoothly. One such structure is myelin—a material that forms a protective, insulating cape around the axons of our nerve cells so that they can send signals quickly and efficiently. But myelin, and the specialized cells called oligodendrocytes that make it, become damaged in demyelinating diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), leaving neurons without their myelin sheaths. As a consequence, the affected neurons can no longer communicate correctly and are prone to damage. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) now believe they have found a way to help the brain replace damaged oligodendrocytes and myelin.

The therapy, which has been successful in promoting remyelination in a mouse model of MS, is outlined in a paper published February 8 in The Journal of Neuroscience.

“We’ve developed a gene therapy to stimulate production of new oligodendrocytes from stem and progenitor cells—both of which can become more specialized cell types—that are resident in the adult central nervous system,” says Benjamin Deverman, a postdoctoral fellow in biology at Caltech and lead author of the paper. “In other words, we’re using the brain’s own progenitor cells as a way to boost repair.”

The therapy uses leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), a naturally occurring protein that was known to promote the self-renewal of neural stem cells and to reduce immune-cell attacks to myelin in other MS mouse models.

“What hadn’t been done before our study was to use gene therapy in the brain to stimulate these cells to remyelinate,” says Paul Patterson, the Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences at Caltech and senior author of the study.

According to the researchers, LIF enables remyelination by stimulating oligodendrocyte progenitor cells to proliferate and make new oligodendrocytes. The brain has the capacity to produce oligodendrocytes, but often fails to prompt a high enough repair response after demyelination.

“Researchers had been skeptical that a single factor could lead to remyelination of damaged cells,” says Deverman. “It was thought that you could use factors to stimulate the division and expansion of the progenitor population, and then add additional factors to direct those progenitors to turn into the mature myelin-forming cells. But in our mouse model, when we give our LIF therapy, it both stimulates the proliferation of the progenitor cells and allows them to differentiate into mature oligodendrocytes.”

In other words, once the researchers stimulated the proliferation of the progenitor cells, it appeared that the progenitors knew just what was needed—the team did not have to instruct the cells at each stage of development. And they found that LIF elicited such a strong response that the treated brain’s levels of myelin-producing oligodendrocytes were restored to those found in healthy populations.

The researchers note, too, that by placing LIF directly in the brain, one avoids potential side effects of the treatment that may arise when the therapy is infused into the bloodstream.

“This new application of LIF is an avenue of therapy that has not been explored in human patients with MS,” says Deverman, who points out that LIF’s benefits might also be good for spinal-cord injury patients since the demyelination of spared neurons may contribute to disability in that disorder.

To move the research closer to human clinical trials, the team will work to build better viral vectors for the delivery of LIF. “The way this gene therapy works is to use a virus that can deliver the genetic material—LIF—into cells,” explains Patterson. “This kind of delivery has been used before in humans, but the worry is that you can’t control the virus. You can’t necessarily target the right place, and you can’t control how much of the protein is being made.”

Which is why he and Deverman are developing viruses that can target LIF production to specific cell types and can turn it on and off externally, providing a means to regulate LIF levels. They also plan to test the therapy in additional MS mouse models.

“For MS, the current therapies all work by modulating or suppressing the immune system, because it’s thought to be a disease in which inflammation leads to immune-associated loss of oligodendrocytes and damage to the neurons,” says Deverman. “Those therapies can reduce the relapse rate in patients, but they haven’t shown much of an effect on the long-term progression of the disease. What are needed are therapies that promote repair. We hope this may one day be such a therapy.”

The work done in this study, “Exogenous Leukemia Inhibitory Factor Stimulates Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cell Proliferation and Enhances Hippocampal Remyelination,” was funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the McGrath Foundation.

Source:http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/13495

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Cool Nano Loudspeakers Could Make for Better MRIs, Quantum Computers

Cool Nano Loudspeakers Could Make for Better MRIs, Quantum Computers

Researchers from Joint Quantum Institute (National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland, College Park), the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Harvard University have described a theoretical system that may allow the detection of very small electrical signals by utilizing laser light.nanoloudspeakers

The technology framework uses a nano scale mechanical membrane that vibrates in response to an electrical signal, with the frequency proportional to the signal strength. Shining a laser onto the membrane will let you measure the vibration frequency, identifying the nature of the original signal. Because these sensors can be very small and remain cool, it may be possible to reduce the size, energy requirements, and improve all sorts of characteristics of MRI machines when their superconducting magnets are no longer necessary.

From the study abstract:

We explore a method for laser cooling and optical detection of excitations in a room temperature LC electrical circuit. Our approach uses a nanomechanical oscillator as a transducer between optical and electronic excitations. An experimentally feasible system with the oscillator capacitively coupled to the LC and at the same time interacting with light via an optomechanical force is shown to provide strong electromechanical coupling. Conditions for improved sensitivity and quantum limited readout of electrical signals with such an “optical loud speaker” are outlined.

A team of physicists from the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Harvard University has developed a theory describing how to both detect weak electrical signals and cool electrical circuits using light and something very like a nanosized loudspeaker.* If demonstrated through experiment, the work could have a tremendous impact on detection of low-power radio signals, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and the developing field of quantum information science.

The JQI is a collaborative venture of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland, College Park.

“We envision coupling a nanomechanical membrane to an electrical circuit so that an electrical signal, even if exceedingly faint, will cause the membrane to quiver slightly as a function of the strength of that signal,” says JQI physicist Jake Taylor. “We can then bounce photons from a laser off that membrane and read the signal by measuring the modulation of the reflected light as it is shifted by the motion of the membrane. This leads to a change in the wavelength of the light.”

Present technology for measuring the wavelength of light is highly sensitive, which makes it ideal for detecting the nanoscopic motions of the loudspeaker caused by extremely faint electrical signals.

And the ability to detect extremely faint electrical signals may someday make MRI medical procedures much easier.

“MRI machines are so big because they are stuffed with really powerful superconducting magnets, but if we can reduce the strength of the signals we need for a reading, we can reduce the strength, and the size, of the magnets,” Taylor says. “This may mean that one could get an MRI while sitting quietly in a room and forgo the tube.”

The same setup could be used to generate information-carrying photons from one qubit to another, according to Taylor.

One popular quantum information system design uses light to transfer information among qubits, entangled particles that will exploit the inherent weirdness of quantum phenomena to perform certain calculations impossible for current computers. The ‘nanospeaker’ could be used to translate low-energy signals from a quantum processor to optical photons, where they can be detected and transmitted from one qubit to another.

Source:http://jqi.umd.edu/news/293-cool-nano-loudspeakers-could-make-for-better-mris-quantum-computers.html

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New first aid kit being developed at Natick

New first aid kit being developed at Natick

The U.S. Army has been trying to improve first aid medical response of soldiers in the field, and has developed the latest Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK, to meet the unique needs that presented themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan.First Aid Kit

But the IFAK is bulky and gets in the way of other equipment, so developers at Natick Soldier Systems Center have completely redesigned the pack to store it in the small of the back while making it easily accessible from either side by the soldier injured or another trying to help him.

“It supports all the critical items to the individual Soldier’s medical needs,” Landry said. “The beauty of this system, compared to the old one, is that it allows the Soldier to place it on (his or her) body in a spot where it can be easily accessible, which is the critical piece, but also not get in the way of other important tactical pieces of equipment.”

Landry said 30 new IFAKs recently underwent evaluation at Fort Polk, La., where a platoon of Soldiers carried them through a training rotation. The early feedback has been positive, he added.

“We’re very sure this is the direction the Individual First Aid Kit is going to go, hopefully, for all services, but you never know,” Landry said. “That would be icing on the cake.”

The new IFAK carries even more medical gear than the first version, including two Combat Application Tourniquets. Still, its lower profile allows a Soldier to wear it comfortably in the small of his or her back under the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, or MOLLE, Large or Medium backpack.

“And that’s critical for us, because the big picture in load carriage is the backpack piece,” Landry said. “That’s where a large percentage of the load and bulk comes from. And it’s critical that we still have to be able to carry that.

“All you do is reach back and pull (the IFAK) out, and it doesn’t matter what side you pull it out from,” Landry said. “So if this hand is injured, you can reach behind with this (hand) and pull it out, or your buddy can get to it.”

“We designed it literally about three or four months ago,” said Rich Landry, individual equipment designer with the Load Carriage Prototype Lab, Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, at NSSC. “The medical community said, ‘Awesome idea. Let’s move out with it.’ Overwhelmingly, they thought this was a huge improvement over the current IFAK.”

As Landry pointed out, the current IFAK, developed rapidly in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom to fulfill a critical need, has proved rather unwieldy.

“This thing is just kind of a brick on your side that gets in the way of everything,” said Landry of the current bulky IFAK, which was built into an existing Squad Automatic Weapon ammo pouch. “It was very, very quick, because they needed them right away.”

More thought has gone into the new IFAK, a streamlined, two-piece system that features a pouch with an insert that slides out to allow easy access to medical equipment from either side.

“It supports all the critical items to the individual Soldier’s medical needs,” Landry said. “The beauty of this system, compared to the old one, is that it allows the Soldier to place it on (his or her) body in a spot where it can be easily accessible, which is the critical piece, but also not get in the way of other important tactical pieces of equipment.”

Landry said 30 new IFAKs recently underwent evaluation at Fort Polk, La., where a platoon of Soldiers carried them through a training rotation. The early feedback has been positive, he added.

“We’re very sure this is the direction the Individual First Aid Kit is going to go, hopefully, for all services, but you never know,” Landry said. “That would be icing on the cake.”

The new IFAK carries even more medical gear than the first version, including two Combat Application Tourniquets. Still, its lower profile allows a Soldier to wear it comfortably in the small of his or her back under the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, or MOLLE, Large or Medium backpack.

“And that’s critical for us, because the big picture in load carriage is the backpack piece,” Landry said. “That’s where a large percentage of the load and bulk comes from. And it’s critical that we still have to be able to carry that.

“All you do is reach back and pull (the IFAK) out, and it doesn’t matter what side you pull it out from,” Landry said. “So if this hand is injured, you can reach behind with this (hand) and pull it out, or your buddy can get to it.”

Such innovation is Landry’s calling card at Natick. A former Pathfinder with the 82nd Airborne Division, he began tinkering with outdoor equipment at a young age.

“My sister taught me how to sew,” Landry recalled. “Every backpack I got, every piece of equipment I got, was modified in some way, shape or form. That’s just how my brain works. Nothing can be left alone. Nothing’s perfect in my mind, as far as outdoor equipment, and that’s a curse.”

It’s also been a blessing for Soldiers, who have worn equipment all around the world that Landry developed in his lab.

“The ability to know what they need, as opposed to what they want, is a little bit different,” Landry said. “That’s just what I do. It’s what I love. I’m in a perfect place to do that.”

Source:http://www.army.mil/article/73004/New_first_aid_kit_being_developed_at_Natick/

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DuoFertility Decodes Messages Between Armpit, Ovaries

DuoFertility Decodes Messages Between Armpit, Ovaries

Cambridge Temperature Concepts Ltd. received 510(k) approval for their DuoFertility ovulation Monitor. The DuoFertility monitor has been featured previously onMedgadget and comprises a wearable sensor and reader unit for measuring ovulation patterns. The sensor is worn under the armpit and measures subtle changes in basal body temperature which is indicative of ovulation. The reader wirelessly receives the sensor data and predicts when you are most likely to become pregnant up to six days in advance. A number of additional parameters can also be entered into the reader unit to improve the prediction quality. The recorded data can be visualized by connecting the reader unit to a PC, as shown in the video below.

The DuoFertility has been commercially available in Europe since 2009 and was the subject of aresearch paper published last year which demonstrated its efficacy in some couples eligible for IVF.

From the product website:

The study followed the first 500 couples using DuoFertility from launch in 2009, including 242 who qualified for IVF/ICSI treatment, of whom 90 had previously had the procedure. The one-year clinical pregnancy rate for those who qualified for IVF was 39%, which is higher than either the UK or EU clinical pregnancy rates for a cycle of IVF (26% and 28% respectively), whilst the corresponding rate for those who had already been through a cycle of IVF/ICSI was 28%.

The study included couples with unexplained infertility, as well as those with mild to moderate male and female factor infertility. This accounts for approximately 80% of all infertile couples, and half of all IVF patients.

At the Future Health Mission 2011 in San Francisco last week, we were offered a chance to check out some of the latest and most promising medtech startups from the United Kingdom, who came for a tour of Silicon Valley.
Here’s one technology that impressed us a lot. DuoFertility is an ovulation pattern temperature monitor from Cambridge Temperature Concepts Ltd. The DuoFertility technology wasprofiled by us back in 2008 when it was in prototype stage. Now it is a fully developed device that has an auxiliary temperature monitoring patch and a receptacle that downloads temperature data from the patch and sends it to a service center. The idea is to use the temperature variations of a woman to extrapolate the best day(s) for her to conceive. According to the company’s CEO and founder Dr Shamus Husheer, the device is already selling quite well in emergent markets such as Middle East and Asia, and is on its way to wider use in Europe. And, of course, the company is hoping to obtain US FDA approval sometime in the near future.

The system is based on a sophisticated version of the body basal temperature (BBT?) measurement method (the small upward shift in basal body temperature which is associated with ovulation). The system identifies when you are most likely to get pregnant, up to six days in advance. This gives you plenty of time to plan intercourse for the best time of the month.
Temperature measurements are made automatically up to 20,000 times per day by the DuoFertility sensor. In addition, personal fertility related data you provide such as menstruation? dates, ovulation pain, etc are also added into the fertility analysis to give you the most accurate predictions possible.

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Abiomed Analyst Day Reveals Pipeline Potential, Reinforces Positive Moat Trend Rating

Abiomed Analyst Day Reveals Pipeline Potential, Reinforces Positive Moat Trend Rating

Abiomed‘s Impella left ventricular assist device, an endovascular percutaneously-delivered LVAD, will soon be getting a more powerful new model. The current model is capable of delivering an augmentation of cardiac output by up to 2.5 liters a minute, but the new Impella cVAD should do around 3.5 L/m, and possibly up to 4 L/m in the not too distant future.Impella

  • Percutaneous, Left-Side support platform
  • Higher level of hemodynamic support for the Cath Lab
  • Peak Flow > 3+ L/min
  • Roadmap to increase to > 4L/min
  • 9 Fr catheter / 14 Fr pump
  • U.S. commercial availability Summer 2012

Abiomed ABMD held its investor day on Friday, and after hearing more details on its expansion plans, we are raising our fair value estimate to $17 per share from $15. About $1 of that increase is related to the firm getting closer to sustainable free cash flows while the other half relates to higher longer-term expectations associated with new expansion projects. These projects not only reinforce our positive moat trend rating on the firm, but could help Abiomed attract more attention from potential acquisitors, which is reflected in our modestly higher acquisition-scenario valuation.

With the Impella product set growing 40% in the second quarter of fiscal 2012, we already saw room for ongoing high growth at Abiomed, especially after hemodynamic support with Impella was included in PCI guidelines this fall. We see this inclusion in the 2011 American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCH)/American Heart Association (AHA)/Society for Coronary Angiography Interventions (SCAI) guidelines for PCI procedures as key for Impella’s expansion to a broad audience of interventional cardiologists. The firm highlighted this guideline inclusion in early November, so we’d expect significant Impella expansion due to that catalyst for at least the next year.

Beyond the expansion of Impella due to the rising awareness of its clinical benefits, three major projects could help Abiomed grow in the long term and potentially help it dig an economic moat. First, the firm is developing a next-generation Impella device, which it will call Impella cVAD. If Abiomed can successfully launch this product, we’d grow more comfortable with its ability to introduce new products that generate sustainable returns over capital costs in the long term, helping it dig a moat. The Impella cVAD aims to boost the power of the device up from 2.5 liters per minute to over 3.5 liters per minute this generation and over 4.0 liters per minute in subsequent generations. Being able to mimic a normally functioning heart at 5.0 liters per minute while still inserting the device percutaneously would be a great achievement. The Impella cVAD is being developed under the 510(k) regulatory process, and Abiomed aims to receive approval by the summer of 2012. We see this device primarily as a line extension of the Impella 2.5, which should help Abiomed treat more high-risk percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and heart attack patients in a minimally invasive fashion.

Abiomed aims to enter the Japanese market with Impella in calendar 2013. Abiomed is targeting a patient population of around 25,000 annually in high risk PCI procedures in Japan; on the upside, the Japanese market could represent more than $1 billion in annual sales, including acute myocardial infarction patients. We currently give Abiomed a 50% chance of expanding successfully in Japan with Impella. If we gave it 100% chance of reaching about 10% of the target PCI market in Japan within five years of launch, our base case valuation would increase by $1 per share.

Perhaps the most exciting, and most risky, expansion project detailed at the meeting was Abiomed’s development-stage product for chronic heart failure patients, Symphony. Abiomed’s long-term mission is to help patients recover use of their native hearts, and this product could push it into the chronic heart failure niche that Thoratec Laboratories THOR currently dominates. The Symphony would target chronic heart failure patients in the Class IIIb category of the NYHA classification system, which have symptoms of fatigue with minimal physical activity. Abiomed’s management team estimates that this target patient population in the U.S. represents about 90,000 patients and more than $2 billion in potential sales annually. This device would take over pumping of the heart at a rate of 3.0 liters per minute, so Symphony would provide partial support, allowing the heart muscle to rest somewhat in these easily fatigued patients.

The most intriguing part of the Symphony device is that, unlike traditional VADs, it wouldn’t require a highly invasive procedure to implant the device, such as a thoracotomy or sternotomy. In fact, the device could be placed in a pacemaker pocket in the infraclavicular fossa, which is much less invasive technique than required for traditional VAD implantation. It is also the most common place for cardiac device placement, which should make it easy for cardiac surgeons to adopt in their practices. Because of the ease of implantation, this device could substantially open up the VAD market to earlier-stage chronic heart failure patients. So far, traditional VADs haven’t been able to meet their full potential for a variety of reasons, including the complexity (for the surgeon) and severity (for the patient) of the implantation procedure.

However, Symphony has had only one human recipient so far, and this PMA regulatory candidate in the U.S. likely will require many more years of study before reaching the market. Also, although it provided that first patient with significant benefits while the device was implanted, it remains to be seen what, if any, long-term benefits can be achieved. So while we are excited to see what this device can do, many questions regarding the long-term usefulness and cost effectiveness remain unanswered. We currently assume only a 25% probability of success with this product and a launch date in fiscal 2016. If we assume a 100% probability of success and sales more than $200 million within five years of launch, our base-case valuation for Abiomed increases by $1 per share. We’d caution that there are many potential timelines and clinical outcomes for this product, both positive and negative, which could cause us to adjust our outlook substantially for Symphony in the future.

Source:http://medgadget.com/2011/12/abiomed-reveals-a-new-more-powerful-impella-cvad-heart-pump.html, https://www.morningstar.ca/globalhome/industry/news.asp?articleid=449693

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Biochemical signature predicts progression to Alzheimer´s disease

Biochemical signature predicts progression to Alzheimer´s disease

Afflicting millions of patients, Alzheimer’s disease is becoming a growing burden to healthcare systems around the world. The condition is typically diagnosed after symptoms of mild cognitive impairment arise. Not all patients with mild cognitive impairment, however, develop Alzheimer’s. To understand what sets Alzheimer’s patients apart, scientists at the VTT Technical Research Centre (Espoo, Finland) set out to use biomarkers to look at the molecular changes behind the disease.

The new research indicates that a biochemical assay from a serum sample could be used to predict Alzheimer’s disease months or years before symptoms begin to take a toll on a patient. Professor Matej Orešič from the VTT Technical Research Centre believes that the disease is preceded by a molecular signature indicating potential involvement of hypoxia and an up-regulated pentose phosphate pathway.

The research could lead to the development of a clinical test that could complement the neurocognitive assessment now used by physicians to help diagnose Alzheimer’s.Game Controller Uses Your Guns to Find the Princess

As the announcement explains:

The team used metabolomics, a high-throughput method for detecting small metabolites, to produce profiles of the serum metabolites associated with progression to AD. Serum samples were collected at baseline when the patients were diagnosed with AD, MCI, or identified as healthy controls. 52 out of 143 MCI patients progressed to AD during the follow-up period of 27 months on average. A molecular signature comprising three metabolites measured at baseline was derived which was predictive of progression to AD. Furthermore, analysis of data in the context of metabolic pathways revealed that pentose phosphate pathway was associated with progression to AD, also implicating the role of hypoxia and oxidative stress as early disease processes.

The unique study setting allowed the researchers to identify the patients diagnosed with MCI at baseline who later progressed to AD and to derive the molecular signature which can identify such patients at baseline.

Though there is no current therapy to prevent AD, early disease detection is vital both for delaying the onset of the disease through pharmacological treatment and/or lifestyle changes and for assessing the efficacy of potential AD therapeutic agents. The elucidation of early metabolic pathways associated with progression to Alzheimer’s disease may also help in identifying new therapeutic avenues.

Alzheimerin tauti on yksi suurimmista terveydenhuollon ja talouden haasteista kehittyneissä maissa. Miljoonat potilaat kärsivät taudista, ja sairastuneiden määrä lisääntyy väestön ikääntyessä.

Alzheimerin tauti etenee asteittain, ja oireettoman vaiheen uskotaan kestävän jopa parikymmentä vuotta. Varhaisessa dementian vaiheessa eli lievässä kongnitiivisessä heikentymisessä (mild cognitive impairment, MCI) ilmenee lieviä muistihäiriöitä. Lievää muistihäiriötä pidetään normaalin ikääntymisen ja Alzheimerin taudin välivaiheena ja se lisää riskiä sairastua Alzheimerin tautiin. Kyseessä on kuitenkin tila, joka voi edetä hyvin vaihtelevasti tai jopa palautua normaaliksi.

Millaisia ovat molekyylimuutokset ja prosessit, jotka määrittävät ne MCI-potilaat, joilla on suuri riski sairastua Alzheimerin tautiin? VTT:n Matej Orešičin johtama tutkimusryhmä sekä Hilkka Soininen Itä-Suomen yliopistosta tarttuivat tähän kysymykseen tutkimuksessaan, jonka tulokset julkaistiin 13.12.2011 Translational Psychiatry -julkaisussa.

Tutkimusryhmä hyödynsi metabolomiikkaa, joka on tehokas menetelmä pienikokoisten aineenvaihduntatuotteiden määrittämiseen. Havaintojen perusteella kartoitettiin Alzheimerin taudin etenemiseen liittyvä veren aineenvaihduntatuotteiden profiili keräämällä verinäytteet henkilöiltä, jotka oli diagnosoitu Alzheimerin tautia sairastaviksi, MCI-potilaiksi tai terveiksi verrokeiksi. Tutkimukseen osallistuneista 143 MCI-potilaasta 52 potilaan tila eteni Alzheimerin taudiksi 27 kuukautta kestäneen seurantajakson aikana. Tutkimuksessa löydetyistä kolmesta aineenvaihdunnan merkkiaineesta kehitettiin Alzheimerin taudin etenemisen ennustava malli. Aineenvaihduntareittien analysoinnin yhteydessä tutkijat saivat lisäksi selville, että pentoosifosfaattireitti liittyy Alzheimerin taudin etenemiseen, mikä osoittaa hypoksian (keskushermoston hapenpuute) ja oksidatiivisen stressin (solujen hapetuspelkistystilan epätasapaino) merkityksen taudin synnyssä.

Ainutlaatuisen tutkimusasetelman ansiosta tutkijat löysivät ne molekyylimerkkiaineet, joiden avulla voitiin tunnistaa jo varhaisessa vaiheessa ne MCI-potilaat, joiden sairaus eteni myöhemmin Alzheimerin taudiksi.

Vaikka Alzheimerin tautia ei tällä hetkellä voida ehkäistä, varhainen taudin havaitseminen on silti erittäin tärkeää sairauden puhkeamisen viivyttämiseksi lääkehoidon ja/tai elämäntapamuutosten avulla tai uusien Alzheimerin tautiin käytettävien lääkkeiden tehon arvioimiseksi. Alzheimerin taudin etenemiseen liittyvien varhaisten aineenvaihduntareittien selvittäminen voi myös auttaa kehittämään uusia hoitokeinoja.

Source:http://medgadget.com/2011/12/biochemical-test-could-diagnose-alzheimers-disease-years-in-advance.html,http://www.vtt.fi/news/2011/20111214_predicting_progresstion_to_alzheimers.jsp

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LifeStraw

LifeStraw

Here at Medgadget we cover the latest in high tech medicine, so it is no surprise that many of the devices we profile help doctors save lives, but cost millions of dollars. That is due primarily to the fact that the developed world has overcome diseases and conditions, such as diarrhea and dysentery, that continue to ravage large swathes of the Third World. Yet cheap technological solutions exist that can save millions right now, and LifeStraw from Vestergaard Frandsen, is a perfect example. The Swiss company that makes it has been supplying mosquito nets to regions suffering from malaria and is now addressing diseases arising from dirty water with a device that purifies it at the point of consumption.lifestraw-family-water-filter-africa

We recently had a chance to sit down with  Elisabeth AnneMarie Wilhelm from Vestergaard Frandsen, who gave us an overview of the company’s efforts. Because a lack of clean water, and the infrastructure to supply it, is typically due to more structural issues within the affected nations, there is often no hope that water treatment plants are going to be built and pipes installed any time soon.  And so for decades entire regions around the world have been resorting to boiling water using locally chopped wood as their only option of purification.  Not only is this probably not very good for the environment, the amount of time and labor spent harvesting wood could be going into other tasks, like laying pipe for example.

The LifeStraw Family is a cheap, easy to use, and highly effective filtration system that will remove just about all pathogens (99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of viruses, and 99.9% of protozoan parasites) from water that is poured through it.  The device requires no electricity and is a purely mechanical filter that relies on the weight of the water in the 1 meter tall column to perform the filtration.  Because of the design of the device and, unlike the previous iteration, the fact that it does not use any chemicals for water treatment, it has been shown to work effectively for at least 18,000 liters (that’s three years for a family of four), and possibly for a lot longer if proper regular cleaning using the blowback pump is performed.  And unlike a multi-million dollar water treatment plant, the LifeStraw does this for about $25 and without the local government having to be competent or caring.

One current project that doesn’t require any private charity or government assistance that revolves around the Lifestraw is Carbon for Water. Vestergaard Frandsen, a for-profit firm, has been able to distribute about four million Lifestraws throughout a province in Kenya by collecting funds via carbon credits that are traded in exchange for the saved carbon from all the firewood that would have been burned.  Whatever your view on global warming and carbon credits, not having to have four million people burn firewood everyday while improving their lives and their health is not a bad proposition.

LifeStraw™ is a simple device, still in a prototype phase, designed for those unfortunate people in the third world who do not have access to clean drinking water. The pipe is composed of two textile filters, followed by a chamber with beads impregnated with iodine

Functionality and use of design:
What first meets the water when sucked up is a pre-filter of PE filter textile with a mesh opening of 100 micron, shortly followed by a second textile filter in polyester with a mesh opening of 15 micron. In this way all big articles are filtered out, even clusters of bacteria are removed. Then the water is led into a chamber of iodine impregnated beads, where bacteria, viruses and parasites are killed. The second chamber is a void space, where the iodine being washed off the beads can maintain their killing effect. The last chamber consists of granulated active carbon, which role is to take the main part of the bad smell of iodine, and to take the parasites that have not been taken by the pre-filter or killed by the iodine. The biggest parasites will be taken by the pre-filter, the weakest will be killed by the iodine, and the medium range parasites will be picked up by the active carbon. The main interest to everyone is the killing of bacteria, and here our laboratory reading tells us that we have a log. 7 to log 8 kill of most bacteria. This is better than tap water in many developed countries.
Drawbacks of life improvement:
If we were not able to control the output of iodine there could have been a draw back there, but with the existing iodine deficiency in most 3rd world communities, WHO would have appreciated if we had had a higher release of iodine. We have, however, chosen to put in so much granulated active carbon, that no consumer shall discard the filter due to chemical taste.

Source:http://medgadget.com/2011/12/lifestraw-saving-lives-sometimes-by-saving-the-environment.html,http://medgadget.com/2005/05/lifestraw.html

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Grant to Fund Development of New Imaging Equipment

Grant to Fund Development of New Imaging Equipment

Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Engineering received a grant to develop a new medical imaging technology to detect tumors and pathogens. The method is based on the terahertz block of the electromagnetic spectrum. The scarcely researched terahertz band lies between microwave and optical and all these spectral frequencies can be used for imaging. Although terahertz radiation can penetrate many different materials, including clothing, but not metal, it does not do ionizing damage to cell tissues and DNA like X-rays.

The custom-made spectral imager will emit electromagnetic radiation and analyze how the spectra are absorbed and reflected by various materials, such as cell tissues and chemical compounds. No instrument with the spectral imager’s proposed capabilities currently exists. It will enable scientists and engineers to expand the frontiers of research in areas such as medical imaging of tumors and pathogens and detection of specific chemicals such as explosives.

“It will be a unique instrument in an area that is really starting to grow. There are jobs now being created in the terahertz area because people are interested in systems such these imaging devices.breast-cancer

You get some depth of penetration with terahertz, for example into skin and through clothes. You can’t do that with visible light. We’ll be sending out these terahertz signals and receiving signals back and trying to interpret them.”

One possible application for a terahertz spectral imager is in skin cancer surgery. Determining the extent of a melanoma can be difficult when using harmful X-rays. Similarly, the instrument development team is interested in using terahertz waves to detect the presence in cells of disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Different bugs have different spectral signatures.

No instrument with the spectral imager’s proposed capabilities currently exists at any university. It will enable scientists and engineers to expand the frontiers of research in areas such as medical imaging of tumors and pathogens, detection of specific chemicals such as explosives, and the study of metamaterials, which are engineered materials that do not occur in nature.

The principal investigator for the three-year project, professor of electrical and computer engineering Richard Ziolkowski, expects the imager to attract high-tech industries and high-caliber researchers to UA.

“It will be a unique instrument in an area that is really starting to grow,” Ziolkowski said. “There are jobs now being created in the terahertz area because people are interested in systems such these imaging devices.”

Terahertz radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, just like light, radio waves and X-rays. The scarcely researched terahertz band lies between microwave and optical frequencies and is known as the “terahertz gap.” All these spectral frequencies can be used for imaging: For instance, astronomers use light and radio telescopes to study the emission spectra of celestial phenomena, and doctors use X-rays to see deep into body tissue.

Although terahertz radiation can penetrate many different materials, including clothing, but not metal, it does not damage cell tissue and DNA like X-rays. Many of the imagers in airports use terahertz waves.

“You get some depth of penetration with terahertz, for example into skin and through clothes,” Ziolkowski said. “You can’t do that with visible light.”

The terahertz spectral imager is thus an ideal tool for peering into various materials to see what lies beneath. All matter – whether in space, your body or your baggage – has a unique “spectral signature” or specific pattern of scattering and reflecting any electromagnetic waves directed at it.

“We’ll be sending out these terahertz signals and receiving signals back and trying to interpret them,” Ziolkowski said.

One possible application for a terahertz spectral imager is in skin cancer surgery. “One of the questions with melanomas,” Ziolkowski said, “is how far has the cancer extended around what you actually see?”

Determining the extent of a melanoma can be difficult when using harmful X-rays is not an option. “You can see it with terahertz,” he said.

Similarly, the instrument development team is interested in using terahertz waves to detect the presence in cells of disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Different bugs have different spectral signatures, Ziolkowski said.

Product control in the pharmaceutical industry could also benefit from terahertz spectral imaging. “A lot of pills now are time-release, and the thickness of the capsules is important for that time release,” Ziolkowski said. “You can actually see the thickness of the pill casings with terahertz.”

He said quality engineers can also examine computer chips and electronic circuits the same way to determine whether there are breaks in the circuits or whether layers and other components are the right depth.

Ziolkowski also expects a lot of interest from security agencies because various kinds of explosives have their own terahertz signatures. Thanks to the uniqueness of spectral signatures, the list of applications for a terahertz imager is virtually limitless. One application area is metamaterials, which are engineered materials with unique properties desired for specific physics and engineering applications.

Some of the metamaterials being researched by Ziolkowski, for example, will be integrated into the imager because of the way they emit terahertz waves when hit by pulses of laser light. The objective is to create an efficient and reliable terahertz beam that can be directed into the materials under investigation.

Source:http://medgadget.com/2011/12/university-of-arizona-receives-grant-to-develop-a-new-terahertz-spectral-imager.html,http://uanews.org/node/43536

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Microsulis Medical’s ablation device used in first microwave assisted robotic liver resection

Microsulis Medical’s ablation device used in first microwave assisted robotic liver resection

Microsulis Medical is reporting that its Acculis microwave thermal ablation system has been successfully integrated with the da Vinci robotic surgical system and used to perform a minimally invasive hepatectomy.

The Acculis Accu2i pMTA applicator delivers microwave energy at 2.45 GHz while pumping cooling fluid through the applicator needle to keep the device within operating temperatures.acculis-accu2i-applicator

Some details about the procedure:

The patient, a 60-year-old female, presented with a liver lesion measuring 3.5cm. Dr Legaspi used the da Vinci’s state-of-the-art robotic technology to operate through tiny incisions in the patient’s abdomen. Using intra-operative ultrasound and direct visual guidance he located the target coagulation zones and used the da Vinci system to place the Accu2i pMTA along the line he intended to cut in order to minimise blood loss. In total he conducted six 120 watt, two minute burns.

Dr Legaspi then proceeded to cut out the lesion with minimal blood loss while carrying out three further two minute burns at 180 watts. At the end of the operation the removed tissue measured approximately 5.5cm, providing an excellent margin, and the collection canister was empty, with only trace amounts of blood in the suction tubing. In total, the patient was in theatre for two and half hours.

Microsulis is a medical device developer specialising in minimally invasive microwave technology for the coagulation, or destruction, of soft tissue. Clinicians have successfully used the company’s devices to coagulate tissue in the liver, lung, kidney and bone.
The recent hepatectomy involving the da Vinci Surgical System and Accu2i pMTA was carried out by Dr Adrian Legaspi, MD, at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Florida.
The patient, a 60-year-old female, presented with a liver lesion measuring 3.5cm. Dr Legaspi used the da Vinci’s state-of-the-art robotic technology to operate through tiny incisions in the patient’s abdomen. Using intra-operative ultrasound and direct visual guidance he located the target coagulation zones and used the da Vinci system to place the Accu2i pMTA along the line he intended to cut in order to minimise blood loss. In total he conducted six 120 watt, two minute burns.
Dr Legaspi then proceeded to cut out the lesion with minimal blood loss while carrying out three further two minute burns at 180 watts. At the end of the operation the removed tissue measured approximately 5.5cm, providing an excellent margin, and the collection canister was empty, with only trace amounts of blood in the suction tubing. In total, the patient was in theatre for two and half hours.
After the case Dr Legaspi said: “I feel that the capability of pre-coagulation with microwave ablation for robotic surgery is going to help reduce operative time and improve patient outcomes.”
Stuart McIntyre, Chief Executive of Microsulis Medical Ltd, said: “We are delighted that the versatility of the Accu2i pMTA applicator has been highlighted as part of this technologically advanced, minimally invasive procedure.”
The Accu2i pMTA applicator – part of the Acculis Microwave Tissue Ablation (MTA) system – is the most powerful soft tissue ablation product available, combining extreme ease of use with the widest range of clinical applications. It is a single high power, high frequency 2.45GHz, saline-cooled needle that is between three to 10 times faster than other devices. It can coagulate tissue masses of up to 5.6cm in size in just six minutes.
Mount Sinai Medical Center is the largest private independent teaching hospital in South Florida and has used Microsulis Medical’s Acculis MTA system since April 2011.
Dr Legaspi is working on a full write up of this liver resection case for publication in the near future.
Microsulis’ microwave tissue ablation devices have been used in more than 100 hospitals world-wide.

Source:http://medgadget.com/2011/12/microsulis-microwave-thermal-ablation-system-now-used-in-robotic-liver-resection.html,http://www.microsulis.com/content.php?page=news&i=72.

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Gene therapy achieves early success against hereditary bleeding disorder

Gene therapy achieves early success against hereditary bleeding disorder

Hemophilia is a rare blood-clotting disease famously known for afflicting the royal families throughout Europe. One type, Hemophilia B, also called Christmas disease after Stephen Christmas, the first patient described with it, is caused by a defect in the eponymous gene on the X chromosome that leads to less than 1 percent of normal expression of Factor IX (FIX), an important blood clotting factor. Hence patients, who are usually male because they only have one X chromosome, require regular intravenous transfusions of Factor IX to prevent internal bleeding, or hemorrhage. These injections cost an individual patient about $300,000 a year, which may add up to around $20 million over a lifetime.

That may soon change due to a “landmark” study published this weekend in the New England Journal of Medicine. An international research team led by scientists at the University College London successfully used gene therapy (adeno-associated viral vectors) to replace the defective or missing copy of the FIX gene in a small cohort of patients, prompting the New York Times to write that Hemophilia B may be “the first well-known disease to appear treatable by gene therapy, a technique with a 20-year record of almost unbroken failure.” The viral vector used by the team inserted the replacement gene into the liver cells of the hemophiliac patients, carefully avoiding the chromosomes to reduce the risk of inducing cancerous mutations, and induced physiologically relevant expression of the coagulation factor up to 22 months post-therapy. As the authors summarize in NEJM:hemophilia-B-gene-therapy

The development and widespread use of clotting factor concentrates for the treatment of hemophilia in the early 1970s dramatically improved the life expectancy for patients with the disease. Subsequent development of recombinant clotting factor concentrates has improved their safety profile, but there remains a strong interest in treatment strategies that would eliminate the need for long-term intravenous infusions and that would be available to the hemophilia population throughout the world. This study documents a critical step toward that goal and shows that sustained therapeutic expression of a transferred factor IX gene can be achieved in humans. The increase in FIX levels in our study participants was roughly dose-dependent, with the high dose of the vector scAAV2/8-LP1-hFIX (2×1012 vg per kilogram) mediating peak expression at 8 to 12% of normal levels. After peripheral-vein administration of scAAV2/8-LP1-hFIXco, four of the six participants were able to stop using prophylaxis with FIX concentrate without having spontaneous hemorrhage, even when they undertook activities that had provoked bleeding in the past. For the other two participants, the interval between prophylactic FIX concentrate injections was extended, but prophylaxis was not completely discontinued…

In summary, we have found that a single peripheral-vein infusion of our scAAV2/8-LP1-hFIXco vector consistently leads to long-term expression of the FIX transgene at therapeutic levels, without acute or long-lasting toxicity in patients with severe hemophilia B. Immune-mediated, AAV-capsid–induced elevations in aminotransferase levels remain a concern, but our data suggest that this process may be controlled by a short course of glucocorticoids, without loss of transgene expression. Follow-up of larger numbers of patients for longer periods of time is necessary to fully define the benefits and risks and to optimize dosing. However, this gene-therapy approach, even with the associated risk of transient hepatic dysfunction, has the potential to convert the severe bleeding phenotype into a mild form of the disease or to reverse it entirely.

Study of gene therapy developed at UCL and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital offers first proof adults with haemophilia B benefit from treatment, reducing need for injections with clotting factor to prevent bleeds.

Symptoms improved significantly in adults with the bleeding disorder haemophilia B following a single treatment with gene therapy developed by researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, US and demonstrated to be safe in a clinical trial conducted by UCL.

The findings of the six-person study mark the first proof that gene therapy can reduce disabling, painful bleeding episodes in patients with the inherited blood disorder. Results of the Phase I study appear online ahead of print today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research is also scheduled to be presented on 11 December at the 53rd annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego, US.

Four study participants stopped receiving protein injections to prevent bleeding episodes after undergoing the therapy and have not suffered spontaneous bleeding. Several have also participated in marathons and other activities that would have been difficult prior to gene therapy. The study participants were all treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London under the care of Professor Edward Tuddenham, a pioneer in the field of blood coagulation and a study co-author.

“The first patient has been followed for the longest time, and his levels have remained at 2% for more than 18 months. These results are highly encouraging and support continued research. More patients are scheduled to be enrolled in future trials scheduled to begin later this year,” Davidoff said.

One of the participants who received the highest dose of the vector underwent successful, short-term steroid treatment after his liver enzymes rose slightly after the vector infusion. The rise signalled mild liver damage. The volunteer remained otherwise healthy, his Factor IX levels remain above pre-infusion levels and his liver enzymes have returned to normal. Liver enzymes also rose slightly, but remained in the normal range, for the other participant who received the highest dose of the vector. The participant also received a short course of steroids.

Researchers believe an immune response targeting the vector triggered the elevated enzyme levels. A similar response was reported in earlier gene therapy trials conducted by other investigators using a different vector.

The vector used in this study was produced at the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility on the St. Jude campus. The GMP operates under government-approved manufacturing guidelines and produces highly specialized medicines, vaccines and other products that pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to pursue. The vector can also now be produced in a similar facility at UCL.

The research was funded in part by The Katharine Dormandy Trust, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, NHS Blood and Transplant and the UCLH/UCL National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre, all in the UK. In the US, the research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Assisi Foundation of Memphis and ALSAC.

Source: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1112/111209-haemophilia-gene-therapy-study,http://medgadget.com/2011/12/hope-for-hemophiliacs-gene-therapy-stops-the-bleeding.html

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