Technology

Activity Trackers Could Be Beneficial for Older Adults

Support.MonitorCommercially available activity-monitoring apps, Web sites, and wearable devices allow for easy self-management of health and wellness. This technology may be particularly helpful for older adults, who can improve their cognitive function through proper diet and exercise. Despite tracking monitors’ growing popularity and potential benefits, product designers rarely consider those over 65 to be a viable user group, and new human factors/ergonomics research indicates that the technology presents several usability challenges for this population.

“Many older adults have chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension that require them to self-manage their health,” said Kimberly Preusse, coauthor of “Activity Monitoring Technologies and Older Adult Users: Heuristic Analysis and Usability Assessment” and Georgia Tech engineering psychology graduate student. “Research has shown that they want to track their diet and exercise, but most don’t use activity-monitoring technologies to do so.”

“Activity-monitoring technologies can make tracking diet and exercise easier because they gather some data automatically and display trends over time,” said Preusse. “Companies should market their products directly to older adult users so that they understand how the technology can be beneficial in managing their health.”

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Source: Medical News Today.


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Ultra-Sensitive Nano-Chip Capable of Detecting Cancer at Early Stages

Body.Disease.Cancer1Today, the majority of cancers are detected on the macroscopic level, when the tumor is already composed of millions of cancer cells and the disease is starting to advance into a more mature phase. But what if we could diagnose cancer before it took hold – while it was still only affecting a few localized cells? It would be like putting a fire out while it was still just a few sparks versus after having already caught on and spread to many areas of the house.

An international team of researchers, led by ICFO- Institute of Photonic Sciences in Castelldefels, announce the successful development of a “lab-on-a-chip” platform capable of detecting protein cancer markers in the blood using the very latest advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry. The device is able to detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers in blood, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. The detection of cancer in its very early stages is seen as key to the successful diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

This cancer-tracking nano-device shows great promise as a tool for future cancer treatments, not only because of its reliability, sensitivity and potential low-cost, but also because of its easy carry-on portable properties, which is foreseen to facilitate effective diagnosis and suitable treatment procedures in remote places with difficult access to hospitals or medical clinics.

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Source: Medical News Today.

Targeting Cancer With a Triple Threat: New Nanoparticles Can Deliver Three Drugs at Once

Technology.Nanoparticle1Chemists have designed nanoparticles that can deliver three cancer drugs at a time. Such particles could be designed to carry even more drugs, allowing researchers to develop new treatment regimens that could better kill cancer cells while avoiding the side effects of traditional chemotherapy. “We think it’s the first example of a nanoparticle that carries a precise ratio of three drugs and can release those drugs in response to three distinct triggering mechanisms,” says the lead researcher and author.

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Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Targeting cancer with a triple threat: New nanoparticles can deliver three drugs at once.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2014.

3D-Printed Kidneys Could Become Standard For Simulated Cancer Surgery

Body.Disease.KidneySurgeons from Japan have announced that they have created 3D-printed tumor-containing kidneys for the use of simulated cancer surgery. The Kobe University surgeons were using 3D printing to produce exact scale models of the affected kidneys in patients who have kidney cancer.

The eighth most common cancer affecting adults, kidney cancer is usually treated surgically. But the surgery is difficult and stressful, with high demands on speed and accuracy.

Using computer tomography (CT), the surgeons produced 3D scans of their patients’ kidneys. From this, a transparent 3D-printed model was constructed. The model was transparent so that the surgeons could see exactly where the patients’ blood vessels were positioned in their kidneys.

The surgeons were then able to simulate the surgery on the kidney before performing the real surgery – which was performed robotically.

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Source: Medical News Today.

Forget Wristbands, the Future of Health Tracking is Skin-Mounted, Say Scientists

Support.Watch1Thanks to developments in materials science and the availability of tiny off-the-shelf chip components, it is now possible to create cost-effective, ultra-thin, sophisticated electronics that stick to the skin and move and stretch with it. Scientists and engineers from Illinois describe their design for wireless health-tracking skin patches in the journal Science.

The medical innovation is the work of two teams led by John A. Rogers, a professor at the University of Illinois, and Yonggang Huang, a professor at Northwestern University, who says they designed the device to be able to monitor a person’s health 24/7 without interfering with day-to-day activity.

“It is as soft as human skin and can move with your body, but at the same time it has many different monitoring functions,” Prof. Huang explains. “What is very important about this device is it is wirelessly powered and can send high-quality data about the human body to a computer, in real-time.”

The researchers believe skin-mounted devices offer a clearer picture of what is going on than wristband or clip-on devices, which are not as accurately coupled to the body and are plagued with background noise because they can only measure relative motion.

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Source: Medical News Today.

New method enables scientists to print living tissues

Body.Blood.CellsA new bio-printing method developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) creates intricately patterned 3D tissue constructs with multiple types of cells and tiny blood vessels. The work represents a major step toward a longstanding goal of tissue engineers: creating human tissue constructs realistic enough to test drug safety and effectiveness.

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Source: Medical News Today.