Tiny pieces of RNA are turning out to play a big role in health. Over the past few years, scientists have found that these molecules, called microRNAs, are involved in key functions in cells and are linked to the development of certain cancers and other diseases. A new study led by scientists at Nanjing University, in China, finds that microRNAs circulating in blood can serve as a molecular “fingerprint” for cancers and diabetes. The findings raise the possibility that a simple blood test could help clinicians tailor treatments to individual patients. MicroRNAs are tiny strands of RNA molecules that do not code for proteins as messenger RNAs do; instead, they bind to messenger RNA to help control the synthesis of proteins. Over the past few years, studies have found that microRNAs affect the way that genes are expressed in cells, and have linked specific microRNAs to particular cancers. Studies in recent months have shown that individual microRNAs associated with … [Read more...] about A Better Way to Spot Disease
Better way health
Understanding how brain and heart cells process and generate electrical signals could lead to a new understanding of neurological and heart disease. Until a few years ago, however, it simply wasn’t possible to make electrical recordings at the level of single cells. In 2006, Harvard researchers used nanowire transistors to measure electrical signals at 50 points along a single neuron. Now the same research group has developed a new nanowire recording system and have used it to capture some of the most precise, high-quality electrical recordings ever made from heart cells. The Harvard work, led by chemistry and chemical-biology professor Charles Lieber, is “at the forefront of research in integrating nanowire nanotechnology and bioscience,” says Zhong Lin Wang, Regents Professor at the Center for Nanostructure Characterization, at Georgia Tech. Nanoscale devices that interface electrically with cells could lead not only to a better understanding of the origins of … [Read more...] about Better Way to Wire Up Cells
When Google recently announced it would discontinue Google Health at the end of this year, it left the fate of personal health records (PHRs) hanging. Unlike medical records kept by health-care providers, Google Health offered a single place where people could store, analyze, and share their personal health information. But it was hampered by a fragmented health system that made it difficult to collect medical information, and it relied on the initiative of consumers to gather their own data. Not everyone is discouraged by Google Health’s demise. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Dossia, a PHR provider that began as a nonprofit consortium of large employers, recently announced the launch of Dossia Health Manager, which will expand the company’s current PHR platform with a range of new features.Unlike Google Health and similar services, Dossia’s system is linked to employer-sponsored health plans—its largest user is currently Walmart. Employers are interested in … [Read more...] about A Better Personal Health Record?
For all our efforts to control malaria, diagnosing it in many parts of the world still requires counting malaria parasites under the microscope on a glass slide smeared with blood. Now an artificial intelligence program can do it more reliably than most humans. That AI comes inside an automated microscope called the Autoscope, which is 90 percent accurate and specific at detecting malaria parasites. Charles Delahunt and colleagues at Intellectual Ventures Laboratory—the research arm of Nathan Myhrvold’s patent licensing company Intellectual Ventures in Seattle—built the system with support from Bill and Melinda Gates through the Global Good Fund. The Autoscope was tested in the field at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit on the Thailand-Myanmar border during malaria season in December 2014 and January 2015. The results were published in December.The Autoscope, a 15-inch-tall, 7-inch-wide smooth white box enclosing a microscope with an attached laptop running … [Read more...] about Artificial Intelligence Offers a Better Way to Diagnose Malaria
Disease Research Atul Butte, MD, PhD, who is helping to guide UC San Francisco into a new era of computational science and medicine, has been named the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg Distinguished Professor at UCSF.Butte, who leads UCSF’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences (IHCS), believes that the “trillion points of data” already in the public sphere hold keys to everything from repurposing FDA-approved drugs for new diseases to finding better ways to deliver health care and keep patients safe.With a $10 million gift from philanthropists Priscilla Chan, MD, and Mark Zuckerberg to support his work and launch the ICHS, Butte is spearheading an approach to research that he calls “data recycling.” In contrast to traditional clinical research, which involves recruiting new groups of patients and collecting data from scratch, Butte argues that probing already existing, publicly available data – which now amounts to millions of … [Read more...] about Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan Donate $10M to Advance Health Using Big Data
Drug Safety Many of the medicines we depend on to treat disease—and even to save our lives—pose potentially serious risks along with their benefits. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that about 40,000 deaths yearly in the United States may be attributable to the side effects of drugs, a number that rivals the toll of traffic accidents.Two UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty members, whose research and clinical practice have focused on the identification and minimization of side effects, have pinpointed routes for improvement.Predicting potential side effects is a complicated task. Even after extensive testing, some adverse effects often don’t show up until drugs are taken by a broad range of patients, said Marilyn Stebbins, PharmD, a faculty member in the School’s Department of Clinical Pharmacy. “Clinical trials are not done in the general population; they are done in a small population under controlled … [Read more...] about Finding Better Ways to Reduce Serious Drug Side Effects
Security Study finds that simple 2-question survey can better identify hungry childrenAsking parents just two simple screening questions could help health care providers and social workers to easily and quickly identify families whose young children are suffering from hunger, enabling early interventions that could prevent serious health consequences, according to a new study led by University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers. The study, published July 1 in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed data gathered from more than 30,000 families nationwide, about a quarter of whom suffered from hunger. The researchers examined whether the time-consuming, 18-question Household Food Security Survey provided by the federal government could be shortened and still be effective in identifying hungry families. They found that just the first two statements, with which families were asked to agree or disagree, were key: "Within the past 12 months we worried whether our food would run out before … [Read more...] about Study finds that simple 2-question survey can better identify hungry children
Biotech Health organizations will undergo a strategy makeover in 2011 as they react to new rules and payment models, continuing cost pressures and new customer demands, according to the Top Health Industry Issues of 2011, published by PwC’s Health Research Institute. But in a recent nationwide survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, PwC found that consumers don’t fully understand or buy-in to all the changes.Each year, PwC’s Health Research Institute identifies the top issues that will influence the health industry agenda in the year ahead, based on PwC’s insight as a leading advisor to public and private organizations across the health industries. For 2011, the top issues are:1. Record spending on health information technology in 2011 is likely to increase demand for skilled HIT professionals, an expanded role for chief information officers and increased merger and acquisition activity among organizations looking to share the cost and benefits of HIT integration.2. … [Read more...] about Health Research Institute Release Top Issues of 2011
Ninety-one percent of Americans believe they have lost control of their personal information -- and many also don't trust companies that buy, sell, barter, and combine their habits and activities to better "serve" -- aka "manipulate" -- them, a recent Pew Research survey found.Along similar lines, they don't particularly trust governments either, as they monitor communications and movement.This distrust is becoming a big deal.Edward Snowden shone a spotlight on how the war on terror has been undermining the foundation of a free America through NSA and other government activities -- how, even as the NSA protects America, it erodes what makes America great in the first place. This is the fundamental challenge of our time -- how to protect freedom, opportunity and our country without destroying America's strength, ingenuity, passion, and work ethic through the creation of an all-knowing surveillance state.It turns out that Apple, under Tim Cook's leadership, is doing a great service for … [Read more...] about OPINION Who Knew Tim Cook Would Fight for the American Way?
HPC the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has deployed over 22 petabytes of high-performance storage from DataDirect Networks (DDN). As one of the top five scientific institutions in the world specializing in DNA sequencing, Sanger Institute embraces the latest technologies to research the genetic basis of global health problems, including cancer, malaria, diabetes, obesity and infectious diseases.In order to manage the massive surge in the volume of data required to evaluate genetic sequences, Sanger Institute, a charitably funded genomic research center based in the United Kingdom, selected DDN’s SFA high-performance storage engine and EXAScaler Lustre file system appliance to deliver unprecedented levels of throughput and scalability to support tens of thousands of data sequences requiring up to 10,000 CPU hours of computational analysis. With more than 2,000 scientists around the world, DDN SFA storage will also help facilitate data access and sharing including for those who … [Read more...] about High-Performance Storage Powers Sanger Institute Research to Reduce Global Health Burden