The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering recently launched the “NIBIB Bionic Man,” an interactive Web tool that allows students and the public to learn about cutting-edge research in biotechnology.
The bionic man features 14 technologies currently being developed by NIBIB-supported researchers. Examples include a powered prosthetic leg that helps users achieve a more natural gait, a wireless brain-computer interface that lets people with paralyzed legs and arms control computer devices or robotic limbs using only their thoughts, and a micro-patch that delivers vaccines painlessly and doesn’t need refrigeration.
When it comes to protecting themselves from HIV, women need more options.
About 84 percent of all women diagnosed with HIV contract the virus through heterosexual sex. And right now, the female condom is the only contraception available that stops HIV — and is controlled by the woman. These devices can be hard to find and tough to use.
Now engineers at the University of Washington in Seattle have come up with an experimental technologythat may one day make HIV protection for women as easy as using a tampon.
For years, scientists have been developing gels or creams that contain anti-HIV drugs known as microbicides. But these topical ointments can be problematic. They’re messy to apply. They can leak. And the medication absorbs slowly, so women have to use the gels or creams at least 20 minutes before sex.
A new delivery method could solve all these problems, say bioengineers Cameron Ball and Kim Woodrow. The secret? An electrically spun fabric.
Photo: Better than Egyptian cotton: This electrically spun fabric contains anti-HIV drugs and dissolves rapidly when it gets wet. (Courtesy of University of Washington)
What Is FluTracking?
FluTracking is an online health surveillance system to detect epidemics of influenza. We are looking for people who live in Australia and have easy access to email on a weekly basis. It doesn’t matter if you are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
It takes only 10 - 15 seconds each week. We ask if you have had fever or cough in the last week. This will help us find ways to detect both seasonal influenza and hopefully pandemic influenza and other diseases so we can better protect the community from epidemics.
Someday Soon You May Swallow A Computer With Your Pill
What if you could swallow a computer the size of a poppy seed, and it could report back exactly if and when you took a medicine while recording how your body responded to the drug?
It sounds crazy, but the tiny computers exist. It sounds dangerous, but they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And the company that makes them, Proteus, has tens of millions of dollars and relationships with some of the biggest drug companies in the world, including Novartis.
David O’Reilly, the chief product officer at Proteus, says he believes that someday soon every single pill a doctor prescribes will come with an electronic component embedded right in it that tracks the pill’s absorption in your body.
How Does It Work?
Working together with a small flexible patch you wear, like a Band-Aid, and a smartphone, Proteus wants to ring in a new era of what it calls “digital medicine” in which your body’s vital signs and the medications entering your bloodstream can be tracked by computers. Software will search your body’s data for patterns in real time and report that information to your doctors.
Let me step back for a minute to explain how it all works. The big challenges to making a computer you can ingest are size, safety, power and communication.
It must be tiny, as you’re limited both by the size of the throat and the need to keep the amount of foreign material going into one’s stomach to a minimum. The Proteus computer isn’t much bigger than a grain of sand, and it attaches right to the pill.
It also can’t be made of anything weird or harmful. So, Proteus’ ingestible sensor is made only out of metals that people normally eat as part of their daily diets: silicon, copper, magnesium.
(From Shots—Health News from NPR)
Next generation condoms at UOW
University of Wollongong
A team of researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) has received Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding to help develop a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use.
(From U. of Wollongong, Australia)
March 14, 2014
This is an app and medical sensor that turns a non-specialist, community-level health worker’s smartphone, tablet computer or laptop into an affordable and simple but sophisticated medical-grade diagnostic tool that is typically only available, in the developing world, in some hospitals.
The app works with plug-in hardware for hospital-standard measurements of blood oxygen and can forewarn of life-threatening pre-eclampsia with 80% accuracy, offering the developing world a tool to help prevent countless thousands of maternal and child deaths.
The Canadian federal government, through Toronto-based Grand Challenges Canada, together with private investors, are announcing $2 million funding for confirmation studies this year involving 80,000 women in Asia (India, Pakistan) and Africa (Namibia, Mozambique).
The federal government investment is the first under a new $10 million strategic partnership with Grand Challenges Canada to help fast-track several of the most promising global health innovations in its pipeline.
Developed by scientists Mark Ansermino, Guy Dumont and Peter von Dadelszen of the University of British Columbia, the device measures blood oxygen levels through a light sensor attached to a person’s fingertip. This technique is known as pulse oximetry.
Avoiding deaths in developing countries
The Phone Oximeter can accurately predict roughly 80% of cases of pregnant women at risk of life-threatening complications due to high blood pressure. The condition, pre-eclampsia, is one of three leading causes of maternal mortality.
Each year, about 76,000 of an estimated 10 million pregnant women worldwide who develop pre-eclampsia die from it and related complications. The number of fetus and infant deaths due to these disorders is estimated at more than 500,000.
“That equates to over 1,600 deaths of pregnant young women and babies every day and more than 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries, an issue of social justice,” said von Dadelszen.
The Phone Oximeter can also reveal dangerously low oxygen levels in patients with pneumonia, which kills more than 1 million children annually.
The $40 target price will make it 80% less costly than any other device capable today of meeting high-level medical standards. It is expected to be available in Spring 2014 (more info).
Tests to fine-tune the device will involve monitoring blood-oxygen levels of athletes in training, allowing developers to fast-track its preliminary use. Longer term medical trials of the mobile application and its pre-eclampsia predictive capability will involve 80,000 women in four countries: India, Pakistan, Mozambique and Nigeria.
What’s the Lucky Iron Fish Project?
The Lucky Iron Fish™ is a social entrepreneurship organization implementing a simple health innovation to alleviate iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in Cambodia, especially in women and children. Its vision is to become a global leader in promoting use of this health innovation to improve the lives of two billion people who suffer from iron deficiency. Iron deficiency reduces capacity to work, impairs cognitive development in children, and results in anemia and weakness. Using the Lucky Iron Fish™ every day preparing food or sterilizing water, halves the incidence of clinical anemia and increases circulating and stored iron. The fish can be made from scrap metal by local metal workers, so could stimulate small businesses across Cambodia to produce and distribute the fish. In addition, there is an opportunity to develop businesses that will ensure quality control of the product.
The Lucky Iron Fish™ is strategically partnered with multiple NGO’s in Cambodia for distribution of the fish. The potential market for the fish is worldwide as iron deficiency occurs in the developing and developed world and there is an opportunity to create business opportunities in the developed world to sponsor support of the product in the developing world.
The little “Lucky Iron Fish,” now in growing use by cooks in Cambodia, has proven effective in reducing rampant iron deficiency among women–the cause of premature labour, hemorrhaging during childbirth and poor brain development among babies. Initial local reluctance to usinga loose piece of iron in cooking pots was overcome by a clever design tapping into Cambodian folklore about a fish species that brings good fortune. In partnership with small businesses across Cambodia, plans for this year and next call forproduction and distribution of 60,000 lucky iron fish, made from recycled material at a cost of about $5 each, which provide health benefits for roughly three years.
(From Grand Challenges Canada)