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Medicine

Hacking Medical Mannequins 13

An anonymous reader writes: A team of researchers at the University of South Alabama is investigating potential breaches of medical devices used in training, taking the mannequin iStan as its prime target in its scenario-based research. Identifying the network security solution and network protocol as the vulnerable components, the team was able to carry out brute force attacks against the router PIN, and denial of service (DDoS) attacks, using open source tools such as BackTrack.
Medicine

Lack of Sleep Puts You At Higher Risk For Colds, First Experimental Study Finds 78

sciencehabit writes: Moms and sleep researchers alike have stressed the importance of solid shuteye for years, especially when it comes to fighting off the common cold. Their stance is a sensible one—skimping on sleep weakens the body's natural defense system, leaving it more vulnerable to viruses. But the connection relied largely on self-reported, subjective surveys—until now (abtract). For the first time, a team of scientists reports that they have locked down the link experimentally, showing that sleep-deprived individuals are more than four times more likely to catch a cold than those who are well-rested.
Medicine

Sensor Predicts Which Donated Lungs Will Fail After Transplant 21

the_newsbeagle writes: A lung transplant can be a life-saving intervention—but sometimes the donated lung stops working inside the recipient's body. This "graft dysfunction" is the leading cause of death for transplant patients in the early days after surgery. While lab tests can look for genetic biomarkers of inflammation and other warning signs in a donated lung, such tests take 6-12 hours in a typical hospital. That's too slow to be useful. Now, researchers at University of Toronto have invented a chip-based biosensor that can do quick on-the-spot genetic tests, providing an assessment of a lung's viability within 30 minutes.
Books

Neurologist and Author Oliver Sacks Dead at 82 30

Physician, writer and humanist Oliver Sacks has died of cancer at age 82. Sacks was famous for "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat" and other books, including his account in "Awakenings" (later made into a well-recieved film) of administering treatment which resulted in several patients emerging from their comas. The Guardian reports: When he revealed that he had terminal cancer, Sacks quoted one of his favourite philosophers, David Hume. On discovering that he was mortally ill at 65, Hume wrote: “I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution. I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company. “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”
Media

Lights, Camera, Experiment! 14

theodp writes: The New Yorker's Jamie Holmes takes a look at How Methods Videos Are Making Science Smarter, helping scientists replicate elaborate experiments in a way that the text format of traditional journals simply can't. The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE), for instance, is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that now has a database of more than four thousand videos that are usually between ten and fifteen minutes long, ranging in subject from biology and chemistry to neuroscience and medicine. "Complexity was always an issue," JOVE co-founder, Moshe Pritsker explains. "Even when biology was a much smaller enterprise, it relied on a degree of specialized craft in the laboratory. But, since the end of the nineties, we've seen a huge influx of new technologies into biology: genomics, proteomics, technologies like microarrays, complex genetic methods, and sophisticated microscopy and imaging techniques." And, as the popularity of the decidedly non-peer reviewed Crazy Russian Hacker's YouTube videos shows, methods videos aren't just for research scientists.
Biotech

Magnet-Steered Nano-Fish Could Deliver Drugs and Sweep Body Toxins 37

dkatana writes: David Warner writes on InformationWeek how "nanoengineers" from UC San Diego have created microscopic fish powered by hydrogen peroxide that use magnets to steer themselves. "The "fish" are powerful enough to swim through your bloodstream, removing toxins or bringing medicine directly to crucial parts of your body, as cells in your blood stream do. Given enough time, the fish could be used to deliver drugs directly to cancer tumors or parts of your body that are too fragile for surgery."
Medicine

Study: More Than Half of Psychological Results Can't Be Reproduced 254

Bruce66423 writes: A new study trying to replicate results reported in allegedly high quality journals failed to do so in over 50% of cases. Those of us from a hard science background always had our doubts about this sort of stuff — it's interesting to see it demonstrated — or rather, as the man says: 'Psychology has nothing to be proud of when it comes to replication,' Charles Gallistel, president of the Association for Psychological Science. Back in June a crowd-sourced effort to replicate 100 psychology studies had a 39% success rate.
Security

Most Healthcare Managers Admit Their IT Systems Have Been Compromised 122

Lucas123 writes: Eighty-one percent of healthcare IT managers say their organizations have been compromised by at least one malware, botnet or other kind of cyber attack during the past two years, and only half of those managers feel that they are adequately prepared to prevent future attacks, according to a new survey by KPMG. The KPMG survey polled 223 CIOs, CTOs, chief security officers and chief compliance officers at healthcare providers and health plans, and found 65% indicated malware was most frequently reported line of attack during the past 12 to 24 months. Additionally, those surveyed indicated the areas with the greatest vulnerabilities within their organization include external attackers (65%), sharing data with third parties (48%), employee breaches (35%), wireless computing (35%) and inadequate firewalls (27%). Top among reasons healthcare facilities are facing increased risk, was the adoption of digital patient records and the automation of clinical systems.
Hardware Hacking

'Gynepunks' DIY Gynecology For Underserved Women 59

New submitter Alien7 sends an article about a group of bio-hackers who are out to bring DIY gynecological medicine to women who don't have easy access to it. Under the name GynePunks, they're assembling an arsenal of open-source tools for DIY diagnosis and first-aid care—centrifuges made from old hard drive motors; microscopes from deconstructed webcams; homemade incubators; and 3D printable speculums. ... So far the work is largely focused on diagnosis, and members of the collective are quick to note that what they’re creating is far from a comprehensive solution. It’s limited by some obvious factors—access to materials, a place to put them together, and the time to do it. But where the infrastructure does exist, and people are motivated to do so, it is very possible to establish some useful alternatives for self-care. As an example, Klau pointed to a pilot vinegar test program that’s lowered cervical cancer deaths by some 31 percent among poor women in Mumbai’s slums.
Medicine

Is a Universal Flu Vaccine On the Horizon? 96

sciencehabit writes: Two groups of researchers have created vaccines that may lead to a universal flu shot that could protect against every type of flu. Every year millions get a flu shot but with thousands of strains that mutate and evolve across seasons, no one shot can protect against them all. Sciencemag reports on the research: "When the teams vaccinated mice, both groups saw full protection against H5N1, a lethal influenza strain distantly related to H1N1. In both studies, mice that did not receive the stem-derived vaccine died, but vaccinated mice all survived. In further experiments, the nanoparticle-anchoring vaccine showed partial protection in ferrets, whereas the other vaccine showed partial protection in monkeys. Two of the six vaccinated ferrets fell ill and died, compared with a 100% mortality rate for the unvaccinated ferrets. None of the monkeys died, but those that were vaccinated had significantly lower fevers than their nonvaccinated companions."
Medicine

New Blood-Cleansing Device Removes Pathogens, Toxins From Blood 60

jan_jes writes: A team of scientists at the Wyss Institute last year described the development of a device to treat sepsis that works by mimicking the human spleen. The device cleanses pathogens and toxins from blood flowing through a dialysis-like circuit. Now the team has developed an improved device that works with conventional antibiotic therapies and is better positioned for near-term use in clinics. The improved design will be described in the October issue of Biomaterials. This approach can be administered quickly, even without identifying the infectious agent.
Medicine

MIT Researchers Discover "Metabolic Master Switch" To Control Obesity 381

New submitter ahbond writes: The meme of the chubby nerd alone in the basement may be a thing of the past. Well, at least the chubby part, if recent work at MIT pans out and we're able to use a biological "master switch" to "dial-in" a persons metabolic rate. “Obesity has traditionally been seen as the result of an imbalance between the amount of food we eat and how much we exercise, but this view ignores the contribution of genetics to each individual’s metabolism,” said senior author Manolis Kellis, a professor of computer science and a member of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and of the Broad Institute.
Intel

Intel's Collaborative Cancer Cloud, an Open Platform For Genome-Based Treatments 16

Lucas123 writes: Intel and the Knight Cancer Institute have announced what will be an open-source service platform, called the Collaborative Cancer Cloud. The platform will enable healthcare facilities to securely share patient genomic data, radiological imagery and other healthcare-related information for precision treatment analysis. Key to averting HIPAA privacy issues will be Intel's Trusted Execution Technology, its embedded server encryption hardware that tests the authenticity of a platform and its operating system before sharing data. Intel said it will be opening that technology up for use by any clinic that want to take part in the Collaborative Cancer Cloud or to build its own data-sharing network with healthcare partners. Dr. Brian Druker, director of the Knight Cancer Institute, said the Trusted Execution Technology will allow healthcare centers to maintain control of patient data, while also allowing clinics around the world to use it for vastly faster genomic analysis.
Medicine

Interviews: Ask Dr. Tarek Loubani About Creating Ultra-Low Cost Medical Devices 54

Tarek Loubani is an emergency medicine physician who works as a consultant doctor in the emergency departments in London, Canada and Shifa Hospital in Gaza. He is also an assistant professor at the Department of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario. Tarek has been working in Gaza for the past 5 years, where he made news recently by creating a 3D-printable, 30-cent stethoscope that is better than the world's best $200 equivalent. The need to develop free and open medical devices due to the lack of medical supplies resulting from the blockade, inspired Loubani who hopes the stethoscope is just the beginning of replacing expensive proprietary medical tools. Tarek has agreed to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Medicine

Implanted Optogenetic Light Switch Lets Scientists Flip Neurons On and Off 26

the_newsbeagle writes: Optogenetics is a fairly new (and fairly awesome) research tool for neuroscientists: By using light to jolt certain neurons into action, they can study how those neurons function in the mouse brain. But getting the light to those neurons has been difficult. Previous systems have required either fiber optic cables that tether the mouse to a computer, or heavy head-mounted receivers. Now Stanford's Ada Poon has invented a tiny and fully implantable system that wirelessly receives the signal to stimulate, and uses a micro-LED to activate the neurons. The device will let researchers study brain function while mice are running around, interacting socially, etc.
China

Breathing Beijing's Air Is the Equivalent of Smoking Almost 40 Cigarettes a Day 182

iONiUM writes: The Economist has a story about how bad the air quality is in Beijing. Due to public outcry the Chinese government has created almost 1,000 air quality monitoring stations, and the findings aren't good. They report: "Pollution is sky-high everywhere in China. Some 83% of Chinese are exposed to air that, in America, would be deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency either to be unhealthy or unhealthy for sensitive groups. Almost half the population of China experiences levels of PM2.5 that are above America's highest threshold. That is even worse than the satellite data had suggested. Berkeley Earth's scientific director, Richard Muller, says breathing Beijing's air is the equivalent of smoking almost 40 cigarettes a day and calculates that air pollution causes 1.6m deaths a year in China, or 17% of the total. A previous estimate, based on a study of pollution in the Huai river basin (which lies between the Yellow and Yangzi rivers), put the toll at 1.2m deaths a year—still high."
Medicine

Video WearDuino Uses Arduinos to Make Wearable Medical Sensors (Video) 14

WearDuino, now being developed by PDX Wearable Health Lab, is the brainchild of Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD; "an experimenter, maker, mentor and consultant in wearable health technologies, drawing on his lifelong experience in the fields of engineering and medicine." The WearDuino, he says, "is an open source wearable wireless sensor." The prototype fits in a FitBit case because, according to Dr. Leavitt, there are millions of unused ones out there, both surplussed by people who bought Fitbits and then stopped using them, and in the form of aftermarket cases sold to make your Fitbit cuter than when it came from the factory. In any case, WearDuino is still in the prototype stage. Dr. Leavitt plans to look for funding through Crowd Supply, but isn't "there" yet, so if you want to get on board with this health wearables project, you'll want to sign up for their Google Group or follow them on Twitter. You might also want to check out Quantified Self (tag line: "self knowledge through numbers"), and even if you vastly prefer videos to text articles, check out the text transcript ("Show/Hide Transcript") attached to this article, because it contains nearly twice as much information as the video, and goes a little deeper than the video into Dr. Leavitt's reasons for building the WearDuino -- none of which are financial gain, believe it or not.
Medicine

Could a Digital Pen Change How We Diagnose Brain Function? 23

An anonymous reader writes: By using custom tracking software to monitor the output from a digital pen, MIT researchers say they have found a way to better predict the onset of brain conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. according to MIT: "For several decades, doctors have screened for conditions including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's with the CDT, which asks subjects to draw an analog clock-face showing a specified time, and to copy a pre-drawn clock. But the test has limitations, because its benchmarks rely on doctors' subjective judgments, such as determining whether a clock circle has 'only minor distortion.' CSAIL researchers were particularly struck by the fact that CDT analysis was typically based on the person's final drawing rather than on the process as a whole. Enter the Anoto Live Pen, a digitizing ballpoint pen that measures its position on the paper upwards of 80 times a second, using a camera built into the pen. The pen provides data that are far more precise than can be measured on an ordinary drawing, and captures timing information that allows the system to analyze each and every one of a subject's movements and hesitations."
Medicine

Registered Clinical Trials Make Positive Findings Vanish 118

schwit1 writes: The requirement that medical researchers register in detail the methods they intend to use in their clinical trials, both to record their data as well as document their outcomes, caused a significant drop in trials producing positive results. From Nature: "The study found that in a sample of 55 large trials testing heart-disease treatments, 57% of those published before 2000 reported positive effects from the treatments. But that figure plunged to just 8% in studies that were conducted after 2000. Study author Veronica Irvin, a health scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, says this suggests that registering clinical studies is leading to more rigorous research. Writing on his NeuroLogica Blog, neurologist Steven Novella of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, called the study "encouraging" but also "a bit frightening" because it casts doubt on previous positive results."

In other words, before they were required to document their methods, research into new drugs or treatments would prove the success of those drugs or treatment more than half the time. Once they had to document their research methods, however, the drugs or treatments being tested almost never worked. The article also reveals a failure of the medical research community to confirm their earlier positive results. It appears the medical research field has forgotten this basic tenet of science: A result has to be proven by a second independent study before you can take it seriously. Instead, they would do one study, get the results they wanted, and then declare success.