Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Neat Stuff Roundup

Monday, March 24, 2008

World TB Day

Thanks to Aman at THD Blog, I am informed that today is World TB Day. I'm not sure how you treat this: "Happy TB Day", "May you and yours have a wonderful TB Day" do not seem appropriate.

THD by way of Christine at Families USA has featured an anti-TB game:

In response*, my group at MIT has developed the XoutTB diagnostic paper microfluidic toolset. It aims to keep patients on track with their meds at a cost of a penny a day. X out TB program is currently under continued development at MIT with the assistance of partners in the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua, the InterActive Research and Development group in Karachi, Pakistan, and the guidance of the Poverty Action Center. Funding has been provided by the IDEAS Competition (Lemelson Award in International Technology) and private donations.

*In response to TB, not TB Day, but it is fitting that I make the announcement on LTDC on March 24, don't you think?

2008 NCIIA Annual Conference: Wrap up

3 : Hours in the ER before my DC flight due to Aerovax prototype airborne shrapnel landing in my left eye
7:30 : Scheduled departure from Logan to Dallas on Tuesday
5 : Number of liquid crystal displays on the Airtran Embraer Jet taking me to DC connection
1 : Number of check engine lights that rendered the LCDs useless and grounding the flight
2:30 : Arrival time into Dallas the next afternoonDespite the misadventures of travel, I left the 2008 NCIIA Conference wiser and humbled, having met an oustanding group of individuals and institutions working on fascinating products, educational strategies, and global challenges. I'm going to provide some detailed notes at the expanded Conferences and Lectures version of LTDC.

A quick preview:
  • Paul Polack on Design for the Other 90% (it's not just the museum exhibit, it's going to change the face of business and products for folks in emerging markets)
  • Sir Ken Robinson on creativity.
  • The Small Engines group from the Global Innovation Center in Energy, Health and Environment at Colorado State University (guys I need a link here).
  • Baylor University's efforts of transforming coconuts into Home Depot products
More after coffee break (Dallas has a severe deficit of Starbucks, though).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TB Compliance the "smart pillbox" way

Those nerds at the Massachusetts Institute for Technophobes have done it again by inventing the "uBox" - a souped up version of the humble pillbox, that tracks how often people take their medication and improves compliance with drug dosage. The device comes with a USB that enables healthcare workers to plug into the pillbox and download the compliance record. Read more..

DIY drilling: Neurosurgery in the developing world

Who knew that a Bosch drill could have so many uses? When working for the National Health Service, Marsh uses a £30,000 compressed-air medical drill, but he uses a £30 drill with the standard medical drill bits when operating in less ideal settings in Ukraine. How does he ensure patient safety? "The traditional way... by talking to them throughout the operation." Read more...

Thanks to Kevin MD via Medgadget


The folks in the Blume Center for Developing Economics have devised a nifty little device that can provide 50x magnification by adding $50 in off-the-shelf components to a cellphone camera. Called the 'Cellscope', this initiative "extends the reach of modern microscopy by turning the camera of a standard cell phone into a clinical-quality microscope. With a magnification of 5-50X, cell-phone microscopy will enable visualization of patient samples critical for disease diagnosis. Images captured by health workers on a microscope-equipped cell phone could be annotated, organized, and transmitted to medical experts at major medical centers for analysis and recommendation. Preliminary work has demonstrated the technical feasibility of this ‘telemicroscopy’ concept." Read More about it here or visit the project page.

Hat tip to Medgadget

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The OR Channel: TV dinners are never gonna look quite the same

When I was 3 or 4 year old, I ran into my grandfather's collection of 35mm projection slides of surgical procedures that he used to teach his students in medical school. I remember that the images were fascinating (at least for me) and left an indelible mark on my view of the human body: Try to understand a 3 year old who goes "eyes, nose, ears, hands, feet, liver, pancreas, vein." Fast forward a long time and instead of becoming a vascular surgeon like Pepe, I grew up to design devices that he could have used. Problem is that I am out of 35 mm projection slide discovery opportunities...so I ran into this today:

OR Live is a website offerings video streams of 600 different surgical procedures.
Each procedure comes from different institutions so you can get a good sense of how each procedures varies by physician and hospital.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Play doctor online using CureHunter

Before you send me your letters, don't try this at home without adult supervision and please don't start Googling your symptoms. Okay, now the fun part.

CureHunter is an online web service that provides access to medical literature in a straight forward interface. So next time you are arguing about the performance of Cimetidine and Omeprazole, do yourself a favor and go to CureHunter's Mobile site. Type in a disease or a drug, and it will tell you what is the generally accepted therapy. I know, it takes an MD to really figure out what a person has, etc. etc. This is a tool and timely one.

Healthcare workers with GPRS access will find it invaluable.

More at Medgadget

A Cancer Breathalyzer

Researchers at Swansea Univrsity in Wales are developing a method for detecting cancer and other diseases using your breath. Medgadget reports that Dr. Masood Yousef and his research team have been working on improved volatile marker-based diagnostics. This has been tried before but the improved analytics are bringing them closer to being a reality. The impact for global health could be huge if the costs of the test remain reasonable (no word on pricing yet). Imaging a scenario where a nomadic patient can be given a test result that would usually take a week to come back from the lab—and an additional two weeks to go back and track the person. I'll keep my tabs on this one. Dr. Yousef, if you are reading this, we'd love to chat and introduce you to some cool cellphone technology we're developing with these types of technologies in mind.

Dr Yousef [Dr Masood Yousef, senior research assistant in the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating at Swansea University -ed] believes that the breath test will provide a more convenient and rapid method for diagnosing serious diseases than blood or urine analysis, and will require minimal medical intervention.

He said: "Breath samples are much easier to collect than blood and urine, for the patient as much as for the person collecting the sample. They can be collected anywhere by people with no medical training, and there are no associated biohazard risks."