Liquid crystal eyeglasses could make bifocals obsolete: Hey, bifocal users, do your glasses give you headaches? Are you straining your eyes trying to see the paper through that tiny reading segment? Are progressive bifocals sooo 2010? There’s good news for you! This week at CES, Viriginia-based PixelOptics is showing off the emPower! Electronic Eyeglasses. These unique spectacles contain a LCD-like layer sandwiched between two layers of glass. When excited by an electric current, the liquid crystals change structure, adjusting the focus. The frames themselves have a built-in accelerometer to detect movement-useful, for example, if you tilt your head down to read. Or you can simply give the frames a quick swipe of your finger. A full charge lasts for a couple days, and the best part is that PixelOptics has minimized the circuitry so you don’t look like the stereotypical nerd wearing coke-bottle glasses. Early adopters can reserve their pair for $1200.
Calif. molecular diagnostic co. introduces two-hour TB test: Tuberculosis is still a huge global health problem, with the most frightening part perhaps being the multi-drug resistant strains of the mycobacterium. One obstacle which has hampered effective control of this disease, especially in poor countries, is the long time it takes to diagnose it. In these lower-income areas, the standard diagnosis of TB is by microscopy, but this does not give any information on drug-resistance – those cell culture tests take two weeks, by which time it might have spread to many other people. A Swiss group, The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, has come up with a better way. The sputum sample is first treated with sodium hydroxide and alcohol, killing any TB, and the sample is fed into a small device which analyzes the DNA and gives a simple report regarding the presence of TB and the resistance status of the organism. This shrinks the time-frame for diagnosis of multi-drug resistant TB from 2 weeks to 2 hours. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based manufacturer Cepheid manufactures the individual tests, which cost only $17 — although the machine costs $17,000. This is a nice example of cutting-edge technology being scaled to low-cost applications in resource-poor areas.
Researchers show how a blood test could detect Alzheimer’s: Researchers at Scripps Research Institute in Florida have come upon a novel way of finding antibodies that may prove to be instrumental in diagnosing autoimmune diseases. The study, led by Scripps Research Professor Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D., was published in the Jan. 7 edition of the journal Cell. Traditionally, biomarkers for a disease are sought by exposing known antigens to a patient’s serum to try to identify antibodies that are over-produced. However, in Alzheimer’s disease, the exact antigen is not known, so this test is not feasible. The Scripps researchers instead took synthetic molecules named peptoids and hoped that the peptoids would “look” like the Alzheimer’s antigen and thus attract antibodies.
The U.S. Military’s new flying ambulance: A detachment of Vermont’s National Guard deployed in Iraq — C Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment — is the first unit issued the new Sikorsky HH-60M medevac helicopter. The reliable Black Hawk will be providing support to the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan. The new chopper features “environmental control system, oxygen generating system, enroute medical care, suction, patient monitors, and an external electrical rescue hoist.”
A weekly roundup of new developments in medical technology, by MedGadget.com.