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US Regulators Find Serious Deficiencies At Theranos Lab ( 66

An anonymous reader writes: 2016 has not started well for blood-testing startup Theranos. Already facing allegations of data manipulation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have found problems with Theranos' laboratory in Newark, California, putting the company's relationship with the Medicare program in danger. WSJ reports: "It isn't clear exactly what regulators have faulted Theranos for in their latest inspection, which took several months. Adverse findings would be another regulatory setback for one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile startups, valued at about $9 billion in 2014. Theranos already has stopped collecting tiny samples of blood from patients' fingers for all but one of its tests while it waits for the Food and Drug Administration to review the company's applications for wider use of the proprietary vials called 'nanotainers.' In October, the FDA said it had determined that the nanotainers were an 'uncleared medical device.'"

Sensors Slip Into the Brain, Then Dissolve When Their Job Is Done ( 20

An anonymous reader writes: Silicon-based electronic circuits that operate flawlessly in the body for some number of days--soon weeks--and then harmlessly dissolve: they're what University of Illinois professor John Rogers says is the next frontier of electronics. Today he released news of successful animal tests on such transient electronics designed for use in brain implants, but says they could be used just about anywhere in the body. As these devices move into larger animal and eventually human tests, Rogers says he'll be working on the next generation--devices that intervene to accelerate healing or manage medical conditions, not just monitor them.

Video Alfred Poor Talks About Health Wearables at CES (Video) 22

The biggest shift in wearables that Alfred Poor saw at CES was from consumer wearables to wearables designed to serve corporate goals, especially cutting health care costs. He says that when it comes to fitness and other health-related wearables, "consumer is the past and business is the future."

New Jersey Rejects Request For Dolphin Necropsy Results, Cites "Medical Privacy" ( 228

v3rgEz writes: When a dolphin died in New Jersey's South River last year, Carly Sitrin wanted to know what killed it. So she filed a public record request to the NJ Department of Agriculture in order to get the necropsy results. The DOA finally responded last week with the weird decision to deny the release of the record on grounds of medical privacy. The response reads in part: "We are in receipt of your request for information (#W101407) under the auspices of the State’s Open Public Records Act (O.P.R.A.). Specifically, you requested any and all reports associated with the necropsy of the dolphin that strayed into the South River on August 5, 2015 in Middlesex County, New Jersey. This request is denied as it would release information deemed confidential under O.P.R.A., specifically information related to a medical diagnosis or evaluation. (E.O. 26, McGreevey)"

The Network Revolution Needed For Remote Surgery ( 103

An anonymous reader writes: IEEE researchers are proposing new standards for haptic codecs over software-defined 5G networks in order to achieve the ambitious 1ms latency and reliability required for the 'tactile internet'. It's a trivial consideration when hugging chickens over a network, more serious for applications of telesurgery, and a proposed leap in network quality that seems likely to yield benefits for general data streams as well.

Gene Editing Offers Hope For Treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy ( 48

schwit1 writes with news that scientists have used a new gene-editing technique called CRISPR to treat mice with defective dystrophin genes. This is the first time that such a method has successfully treated a genetic disease inside a living mammal. The Times reports: "Three research groups, working independently of one another, reported in the journal Science that they had used the Crispr-Cas9 technique to treat mice with a defective dystrophin gene. Each group loaded the DNA-cutting system onto a virus that infected the mice's muscle cells, and excised from the gene a defective stretch of DNA known as an exon. Without the defective exon, the muscle cells made a shortened dystrophin protein that was nonetheless functional, giving all of the mice more strength."

Emergency Room Visits From Distracted Walking Skyrocket ( 142

schwit1 writes: An estimated ten percent of pedestrian injuries that land people in emergency rooms are due to distracted walking, a recent study found. That's thousands of people injured — sometimes killed. In San Diego, investigators believe Joshua Burwell may have been trying to take a picture of the sunset when he took a fatal fall some 40 feet off Sunset Cliffs. "A lot of people don't admit that they do it," said Dr. Claudette Lajam, an orthopedic surgeon. "It's getting worse as we have more and more features on these devices that we carry around with us that can distract us."

Study: Happiness Won't Extend Your Life After All ( 108

schwit1 writes with good news for fans of living a long and ultimately unfulfilling life. Happy people live longer, a relationship that's been documented in a variety of research studies. But a new paper published in the medical journal Lancet comes to the sad conclusion that happiness isn't responsible for this observed longevity. Instead, the things that make people happy, particularly their good health, are the same things that shield them from premature death. "Happiness and related measures of well-being do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality," the study authors wrote.

1 in 3 Patients Will Have Their Healthcare Records Compromised ( 68

Lucas123 writes: A legacy of lackluster electronic security in healthcare and an increase in the amount of online patient data will lead to an increase in the number of consumers who will have their healthcare records compromised by cyberattacks in 2016, according to a new report from IDC Health Insights. The report, which includes 10 future predictions about the healthcare industry, also predicted that by 2018, cognitive computing would play an increasingly important role in helping physicians to identify the most effective treatment for 50% of patients resulting in a 10% reduction in mortality and a 10% cut in costs. Also by 2018, 30% of worldwide healthcare systems will employ real-time cognitive analysis to provide personalized care leveraging patient's clinical data, directly supported by clinical outcomes and "real world evidence" data — information pulled from patient studies and treatment results. That same year, IDC expects virtual healthcare and computer-assisted surgery to be the norm. Surgeons will use computer-assisted or robotic surgery techniques to assist in planning, simulating, and performing 50% of the most complex surgeries. Conversely, patients will be communicating with physicians via messaging, email and video chat sessions far more often, which will reduce costs and increase convenience.
United Kingdom

Researchers Are Developing Cure for Human Pain ( 151

transporter_ii writes: Scientists from University College London seem to have come up with a two-pronged treatment regimen they believe would help patients suffering from chronic pain. And in a strange irony, they did it by making it possible for mice – and one human – to feel pain when they previously couldn't. From the story: "To examine if opioids were important for painlessness, the researchers gave naloxone, an opioid blocker, to mice lacking Nav1.7 and found that they became able to feel pain. They then gave naloxone to a 39-year-old woman with the rare mutation and she felt pain for the first time in her life. 'After a decade of rather disappointing drug trials, we now have confirmation that Nav1.7 really is a key element in human pain,' says senior author Professor John Wood (UCL Medicine). 'The secret ingredient turned out to be good old-fashioned opioid peptides, and we have now filed a patent for combining low dose opioids with Nav1.7 blockers. This should replicate the painlessness experienced by people with rare mutations, and we have already successfully tested this approach in unmodified mice.'"

Google Proposes 'Needle-less' System For Drawing Blood ( 91

An anonymous reader writes: Google has published a patent for a needle-free blood draw technology which could be incorporated into a wrist wearable or hand-held device. The patent filing explained that the system releases a pulse of gas into a barrel or 'hollow cylinder', containing a 'micro-particle' which can break through the skin and draw a small sample of blood. According to Google, once the drop of blood forms it is drawn up into the negative pressure barrel. This technique is a quicker and less invasive alternative to using needles, or other blood measures which administer pin pricks to the finger to release the blood. The patent, which is still pending, suggests that the mechanism could also provide a replacement for glucose testers used by diabetics.

Why Electronic Health Records Aren't More Usable ( 117

itwbennett writes: There are plenty of things wrong with Electronic Health Records (EHRs), writes Ken Terry. Among them: 'The records are hard to read because they're full of irrelevant boilerplates..., [a]lerts frequently fire for inconsequential reasons..., and EHRs from different vendors are not interoperable with each other.' But those are all just symptoms of the underlying (and unsurprising) problem: '[T]hey are designed to support billing more than patient care.' A recent study (login required) found that, of 41 EHR vendors that released public reports, fewer than half used an industry-standard user-centered design process. This despite a requirement by The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT that developers perform usability tests as part of a certification process that makes their EHRs eligible for the government's EHR incentive program.

Swallow the Doctor: The Present and Future of Robots Inside Us ( 31

szczys writes: Feynman predicted that we would some day "swallow the doctor" and to some extent that is already happening. There are cameras in pill-form that the patient swallows to monitor the digestive tract, and pacemakers are now inserted via catheter rather than major surgery. The question is: where are we going with robots we can put inside our bodies? Intuitively it seems far away, but there is already an open source platform for capsule robots. Medical devices are where the money's at when it comes to hardware development. We can expect to see a lot of work in the coming years to make the man-machine hybrid something that is much more organic, sprinkled with small tablets of robot.

Gene Drive Turns Mosquitoes Into Malaria Fighters ( 69

sciencehabit writes: The war against malaria has a new ally: a controversial technology for spreading genes throughout a population of animals. Researchers report today that they have harnessed a so-called gene drive to efficiently endow mosquitoes with genes that should make them immune to the malaria parasite—and unable to spread it. On its own, gene drive won't get rid of malaria, but if successfully applied in the wild the method could help wipe out the disease, at least in some corners of the world. The approach "can bring us to zero [cases]," says Nora Besansky, a geneticist at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, who specializes in malaria-carrying mosquitoes. "The mosquitoes do their own work [and] reach places we can't afford to go or get to."

Telemedicine: The State of Telepresence In Healthcare ( 34

Hallie Siegel writes: Telemedicine can let doctors and nurses check in on patients who might be recovering at home, or monitor people in remote locations where it's hard to access physician services. This article gives an overview of the different systems that are out there, what are some of the legal obstacles, and how various countries are investing in the technology. From the article: "The Japanese government has allocated about $23M USD to the core technology market in an effort to develop products for its aging population. Toyota, for example, is focusing on home living assistance robots that will allow those with limited mobility the opportunity to live at home. While Japan might have the largest market in the world of 65+ citizens (over 30 million as of 2014), South Korea is estimated to be allocating nearly $6B USD to their own robotics research. The Koreans are taking a different approach, using robots for mundane tasks of delivering food, allowing humans to provide care."

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