NFL helmets to include impact sensors next season: Anyone who has ever watched football — the American variety — knows how rough of a sport it can be. With 22 fast moving players, some weighing as much as 350 pounds, scrambling, and tackling for possession of the pigskin, injuries are inevitable. One of the scariest injuries a football player can get is a concussion. With its commonly insidious onset, concussions of the brain are often difficult to diagnose, or immediately treat to avoid long-term consequences. The National Football League announced that they will be launching a pilot program next season in which accelerometers will be placed in players’ mouthpieces, earpieces, and helmets to analyze how blows to the head relate to the effects and severity of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. The data could potentially help team doctors diagnose the severity of a concussion within a few minutes. Collected long-term from groups of players, the impact data could help coaches and doctors determine how players get injured and the possible effects of such injuries. Such data could also help engineers design a better football helmet.
Maternal plasma DNA sequencing safely detects Down syndrome in unborn:When doctors want to accurately test high-risk patients to determine whether their unborn babies will have Down syndrome, they currently perform karyotyping after an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, procedures that have small chance of causing miscarriage. However, The Los Angeles Times reports that a team of researchers from China and the United Kingdom proved that a much safer test can be effective in detecting trisomy 21. In a procedure similar to one Medgadget covered two years ago, the researchers analyzed fetal DNA which they recovered from maternal blood plasma to determine whether the baby would have Down syndrome.
Artificial blood vessels grown in lab: Researchers from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine developed a method to grow blood vessels in a laboratory. The investigators used biomimetic polyethylene glycol hydrogels embedded with a growth factor called BB (PDGF-BB) to spur angiogenesis, and are now working on a way to guide the formation of vasculature for specific applications.
Stanford researchers develop video games for microorganism interaction: While the realism in today’s video games might create the impression that electronic characters are alive, a team of researchers at Stanford University has taken it a step further by creating "biotic games" which allow the player to actually interact with living organisms by controlling biological processes. The team has currently developed eight games similar to simple 1980s arcade titles which allow the player to control paramecium. While these biotic games are currently in the proof-of-concept stage, the researchers hope that eventually even people with little or no knowledge about biology will be able to participate in biomedical research just by playing more complex biotic entertainments. In a paper published in Lab on a Chip, Stanford investigators mention that they hope to have “significant conceptual and cost-reducing effects on biotechnology and eventually healthcare; enable volunteers to participate in crowd-sourcing to support medical research; and educate society at large to support personal medical decisions and the public discourse on bio-related issues.”
A weekly roundup of new developments in medical technology, by MedGadget.com.
“Football helmet of the late Owen Thomas” image above by House Education and Workforce Committee acquired on Flickr.