Cardiac patient invents treatment – for himself: British engineer Tal Golesworthy had developed an aortic enlargement as a consequence of having Marfan syndrome. Having a mind of a true tinkerer, Golesworthy devised a medical device of his own to treat his condition and had the help of University College London in perfecting and implanting it into him and 19 other patients.
A snippet of the story from The Engineer:
What excited [Golesworthy] was the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer-aided design (CAD). He believed that by combining these technologies with rapid prototyping (RP) techniques he could manufacture a tailor-made support that would act as an internal bandage to keep his aorta in place. The concept, he hoped, would reduce the risk of harmful clots forming due to the mechanical valve and importantly, eliminate the need to take Warfarin. Time was crucial and if Golesworthy was to save himself, he had to move fast to get the idea off the ground.
Worm brain, muscles manipulated with LCD projector: Not one, but two studies in this month’s Nature Methods describe ways to control the brain and muscles of tiny organisms, including freely moving worms, using simple LCD projectors. This is part of the upcoming field of optogenetics, in which optical and genetic techniques are used together to directly influence brain circuits. They use this to study the brain’s pathways in live animals under controlled conditions.
‘Breast on-a-chip’ holds promise for improved cancer diagnosis: Researchers at Purdue University developed a tiny artificial branching mammary duct system that they’ve dubbed “breast on-a-chip.” The device is designed to be used to test how nanoparticles can be introduced into mammary ducts, where breast cancer typically begins, in order to study the effectiveness of new therapies. "Physicians have tried to access the mammary ducts through the nipple in the past, injecting fluid solutions to try to wash out cells that could be examined and used for a diagnosis of cancer. However, this approach could only reach the first third of the breast due to fluid pressure from the ducts, which branch and become smaller and smaller as they approach the glands that produce milk," according to the universtiy.
Biosensor tracks growth of single bacterium: Traditional bacterial cultures often take days to analyze, and the amount of detail of the results is usually limited by the power of an optical microscope, about 250 nanometers. However, a new biosensor developed at the University of Michigan is able to measure the growth of a single bacterium over just a few minutes. The device, called an asynchronous magnetic bead rotation (AMBR), uses the laws of circular motion as the basis for detection. The sensor uses a spherical, magnetic bead that asynchronously spins in a magnetic field. Anything attached to the bead will affect the way it spins by creating drag, and slows its rate of rotation. According to the researchers, simply attaching one bacterium causes the bead to slow by a factor of four, and any growth greater than 80 nanometers causes the bead to slow even more.
A weekly roundup of new developments in medical technology, by MedGadget.com.
Top images above courtesy University College London.