Through its grants, the five-year, $100 million initiative aims to foster "creative projects that show great promise to improve the health of people in the developing world," and as part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative is supported by the Gates Foundation.
Challenged to find a way to diagnose anemia that's affordable, mobile, and requires no electricity, Rice University undergrads Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis turned to an old-fashioned salad spinner.
They call it the Sally Centrifuge and are taking it to Ecuador in May and Swaziland and Malawi in June, all as part of Rice's Beyond Traditional Borders global health initiative, which is aimed at creating innovations in biotechnology.
The centrifuge is, the students admit, a pretty simple idea. "There was a whole range of projects to take on this year, and luckily we got one that wasn't terribly engineering-intensive," says Kerr, a sociology major and global health technologies minor from Dayton, Ohio.
When little capillary tubes containing 15 microliters of blood are spun in a salad spinner for 10 minutes, the blood separates into heavier red blood cells and lighter plasma.
The resulting hematocrit--the proportion of total blood volume taken up by red blood cells that they measure with a simple gauge held up to the tube--determines whether that patient is anemic. That in turn help diagnose issues such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and malnutrition.… Read more
Currently, radiologists measure the sizes of potentially cancerous lung nodules by measuring their largest widths using a two-dimensional computer screen. (The method widely used to do this is called RECIST.) Now, researchers are investigating volumetrics, by which they can measure nodules in 3D.
Thanks to work done by a team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in the simplest of cancer cases, volumetrics appears to reveal volume changes far more precisely than currently possible on 2D screens, which could cut diagnosis time from six months down to four weeks, the researchers estimate.
"We found … Read more
Let's face it: maps make scientists drool. And increasingly easy-to-use yet complex maps of anything from the spread of diseases to cloud formations kept all the geo geeks giddy at the Association of American Geographers' annual meeting in D.C. last week. One of those maps could reveal new clues about when and where drug addicts are at their most (and least) vulnerable.
When it comes to drug addiction, the tendency is to think in terms of a disease of the brain, says National Institute on Drug Abuse researcher David Epstein, whose presentation at the annual meeting included a … Read more
Silk is not only flexible, it is also transparent and strong, and the rate at which it dissolves can be manipulated. So researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana; Tufts in Boston; and the University of Pennsylvania decided to build silk-based brain implants, using electrode arrays with silk proteins and thin metal electrodes.
Since silk is biocompatible and water-soluble, it dissolved in the brains of the cats they studied, leaving the mesh-like electrodes, which are about 1/40 the thickness of a standard sheet of paper, literally hugging the brains' contours.
The cats were anesthetized, but their eyes still functioned, … Read more
Collecting the genomic sequences of various strains of the influenza A virus, as well as the coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, has helped in the fight against outbreaks around the globe in recent years.
Using genetics, geography, and phylogenetic trees to map how different strains of pathogens evolve and mutate helps researchers predict hot spots where diseases are most likely to reemerge.
Today, the hope is that Supramap, a Web-based application that operates on parallel programming on computing systems at the Ohio Supercomputer Center and Ohio State University, will better enable researchers to map the spread of disease … Read more
They call it the IRay system, by which researchers deliver low-energy X-rays to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which--as the leading cause of vision loss in people older than 50--afflicts some 25 million to 30 million people worldwide, according to AMD Alliance International.
This week, the IRay has been granted the CE mark, certifying that the IRay system conforms to European Union safety, health, and environmental requirements.
"The CE mark requirements for an early stage medical … Read more
Researchers at Rice University have found that a simple swipe of a diagnostic biochip is 93 percent "specific" in detecting which of 52 patients being studied had malignant, as well as premalignant, lesions--results they say compare well with traditional (but more invasive) screening.
"One of the key discoveries in this paper is to show that the miniaturized, noninvasive approach produces about the same result as the pathologists do," says John McDevitt, the Brown-Wiess Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering at Rice, in a news release this week.
It's getting harder and harder to hide from your doctor.
Researchers at the University of Florida today unveiled the tattletale pills, standard pill capsules that come with microchips and digestible antennas to alert caregivers, family members, etc., when the pill has been ingested.
"It is a way to monitor whether your patient is taking their medication in a timely manner," says Rizwan Bashirullah, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Florida, in the school's news report.
Developed in part to improve medication compliance in clinical trials, where failure to take experimental drugs … Read more
Just a few months after receiving $42 million from the Australian government, Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) unveils its prototype bionic eye, which researchers hope will enable users to perceive points of light that the brain can reconstruct into images.
Announced this week at the University of Melbourne, the wide-view neurostimulator concept was developed by researchers at BVA and the University of New South Wales for patients with vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.
The set-up includes a video camera mounted to glasses to capture images, a wireless processor to convert and send those images to the implant, … Read more