Doctors in Scotland are using ultrasound to help patients with severe bone fractures, and finding it speeds recovery time by more than one-third. The ultrasonic pulses induce cell vibration, which doctors say stimulates bone regeneration and healing.
A Texas company has received FDA clearance for a new kind of medical device aimed at reducing incision-site infections that result from surgical procedures. But rather than battling microorganisms with pharmaceutical cocktails or some kind of post-surgical treatment, Nimbic Systems’ Air Barrier System (ABS) keeps surgical sites free of bacteria and other bugs by creating a cocoon of purified air around the incision site for the duration of the surgery.
Raw sewage is apparently a gold mine for virologists in search of new quarry — it contains thousands of previously unknown virus species, according to a new study. Hopefully this unique finding will justify the nasty task of sifting through sewage for science.
The holy grail of prosthetics research is and has been a kind of “Luke Skywalker hand” interface--prosthetics that respond to stimulus from the brain and function just as the original appendage it is replacing. But ideally the prosthetic wouldn’t just respond to stimulus from the brain--it would also provide sensory stimulus to the brain. It would have a sense of touch. And in a paper published today in Nature, we see the groundwork for just such a breed of prostheses.
Potentially big stem cell news out of the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory today in Nature, though in our experience it's always good to temper one's expectations when it comes to these sorts of things. After all, we've thought we cracked the code on embryonic stem cell cloning technology more than once, only to find this kind of biology is much more difficult and complex than originally thought.
The tedious, carpal-tunnel-inducing pipette work of cell biologists may soon be relegated to robots, thanks to a new cell factory developed in Germany. This could free humans to perform new studies and ask new questions, as automated equipment takes over the time-consuming task of growing, feeding and observing cells in the lab.
Despite how easy they make it look on TV dramas, determining time of death for a body requires a lot of difficult guesswork (unless someone is there when the person passes, of course). A range of environmental factors and other mitigating circumstances make any declaration of time of death an estimation at best.
[UPDATE 6 p.m.] Immune cells that protect us from the dangers of this microbe planet are behind this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine. Two of the three winners discovered receptor proteins that can recognize microbial invaders, activating the innate immune response. The third discovered dendritic cells, which serve as surveillance cells and can switch on the body's adaptive immune response.
The day when doctors can patch up the human brain with electronics, cyborg-style, hasn’t dawned just yet. But if the rats at Tel Aviv University are any indication, that day may not be so very far away. Researchers there have developed a synthetic cerebellum that has restored lost brain function in rats, demonstrating that artificial brain analogs can potentially replace parts of the brain that aren’t functioning properly. Paging officer Alex Murphy.
Pain must be the bane of many a doctor's existence. It's a major symptom and indicator of many illnesses, but doctors have to rely on humans to describe and rate it, and humans are a distinctly unreliable source of information. What's a "7" on the pain scale for someone might be a "4" for another. What's a "pulsing" pain for someone might be a "pounding" for someone else. At Stanford, some doctors are figuring out the first steps to objectively measure pain, finally putting that all to rest.