Category Archives: Medical

Bumper Stickers Linked to Road Rage

Bumper sticker road rage

According to a new psychological study reported in Nature, a car bumper sticker as innocuous as “Jesus Saves” or “My honor student is a cam whore” are among a few of the indications that the driver is more susceptible to road rage than drivers with no bumper stickers or other bling to personalize the vehicle. So those people with dashboard toys or custom paint jobs for instance are subconsciously marking their car as a very personal space or property.

Coupled with the fact that roads are being over populated will lead to the normal human instinct of increased territorial aggression (this applies to other animals suffering from over population as well). They are more apt to take offense at even the slightest infringement upon what they deem as their space on the road when other drivers are too close or cut them off. Their feeling of having a personal space violated can cause the territorial individual to respond with aggression, hence road rage.

My theory based on that study then goes that if you’re going to cut someone off, take a peek at their car first and only go after the timid or more passive, less territorial drivers, with no car adornments. Those are the people treating the vehicle as a pure means of transportation between two points and less likely to retaliate.

Monkeys Managing Machines. Or, Monkey Brain Hardwired To Robotic Arm, Feeds Self.

 Monkey brain controls robotic arm

In a mental meeting of monkey and machine, two primates have learned to feed themselves with a robotic arm by controlling the appendage with signals from their brains.

The success boosts hopes for mind-controlled robotic prosthetics that may help disabled humans achieve some mobility.

Jeebus, something about this gives me a feeling of impending doom, maybe subconsciously I’m seeing this as the beginning of some kind of twilight zone thing that doesn’t end well for society. Like maybe a Planet of the Apes kind of thing.

Take your pick for more details, some with video:

BBC News
Voice of America
Science News

Elbows Home To Bacteria Tribes


In the ‘I think I was better off not knowing Dept.’, researchers inform us that the patch of skin for the human elbow contains 6 tribes of bacteria and that you should be thankful for the value they bring.

The research is coming from a paper published a few days ago out of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the human microbiome project. The project is a government-financed endeavor to catalog the typical bacterial colonies that inhabit each niche in the human ecosystem.

Read the elbow article at Seattle Times.

If you don’t know anything about the Human Genome Project, here’s an overview. Most educated geeks should know at least a little something about it, it’s pretty important to the future of our species and our understanding of how to solve some of the more difficult medical diseases and genetic unknowns of homo sapiens.

Carbon Nanotubes Are Now Ubiquitous and Eerily Similar to Asbestos. Here Comes the Cancer.

carbon nantubes

Carbon Nanotechnology is a billion dollar business, the nanotubes are in everything from facial creams to tiny nanoradios to iPods to tennis rackets and the particles come in a wide variety of ‘flavors’ with different electrical properties. Researchers, experimenting with mice exposed to these different type of nanotubes, are finding that the technology has a lot of characteristics in common with Asbestos…including causing cancer.

Like Asbestos, some carbon nanotubes are thin and multi walled, and, as is the case for people exposed to asbestos, the cancer takes a while to manifest itself (30-40 years).


Here’s additional sources on this story if you’re interested in more: Washington PostInformationWeekCRNComputerworld

Medical News: 5-7-08


Scientists discover why the plague is so lethal– Bacteria that cause the bubonic plague may be more virulent than their close relatives because of a single genetic mutation

Bacterial slime helps cause serious disease – Leptospirosis is a serious but neglected emerging disease that infects humans through contaminated water. Now research published in the May issue of the journal Microbiology shows for the first time how bacteria that cause the disease survive in the environment.

Ferreting Out HIV – Compound that pulls the virus out of hiding is synthesized.

China rushes to quell viral outbreak as Olympics approach – A viral outbreak in China has sickened more than 6,300 people and killed another child, raising the death toll to 26 children

Reprogrammed Stem Cells Work on Parkinson’s – A study in rodents suggests that skin cells can be transformed into neurons to treat neurodegeneration.

Med/Sci News Links 5-3-08


U.S. Congress bans genetic discrimination

Fully automated anesthesia

A new anti-evolution push

Surgery for backward, upside-down feet

Exoskeleton industry gears up

Living artificial kidneys

Plastic blood cells

Fetal cells may protect mom against cancer

Women’s voices are sexier during fertility peaks

Magician holds his breath for 17 minutes

Flowers bring wasps to orgasm

Testosterone makes female birds better fighters but worse parents

South Koreans Clone Their Sniffer Dog


South Korea reckons that ‘Chase’, a Canadian Labrador Retriever is the BEST SNIFFER DOG around. So instead of buddying him up with newbie dogs to transfer his wealth of knowledge and skills, they did the next best thing…they made 7 more ‘Chases’ by cloning the mutt.

Apparently the dogs are doing well in their training and their genetic qualities look promising. If everything works out, they report for duty in June 2008.

On a side note:

Hurray me! I’ve had that dog icon above for over 2 years and I finally have an opportunity to use it. I think this is going to be a good week after all!

Sharing Spit Forces Changes In DNA Testing


In a recent paternity test, a DNA sample was taken from a suspected father in the case. For quite a few years now, samples are usually taken from mouth to collect saliva cells to conduct the DNA analysis.

In the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Dr José Antonio Lorente Acosta (director of the Laboratory of Genetic Identification of the University of Granada) explains how saliva samples were collected from the subject’s mouth using the standard swabbing method you’ve probably seen on CSI dozens of times.

However, the saliva analysis (epithelial cells from the interior of mouth) taken from the person gave an incongruous result, a DNA which could not come from the man who had carried out the test.

After repeating the analysis, there was an only one possible conclusion: In the mouth of that man there was DNA from two different persons.

After dismissing other possibilities, the question was: how was it possible? The analysts met with the person in question and showed him the results and explained that they thought he was purposely trying to manipulate the samples which could get him in serious trouble with the judge in the case.

Faced with the evidence, he admitted that shortly before the mouth swab he put someone else’s saliva in his mouth, saliva that he had kept in a little container for the moment. This will cause a change in the protocol for the process moving forward; it will be compulsory for the donor to wash his mouth out before a witness.

The University of Granada Science News has more detailed information.

Cure For Acne. Geeks Rejoice.


Scientists believe they have found a breakthrough treatment for acne. They claim that the drug, SMT D002, can reduce the flow of sebum – an oily substance produced by the skin and believed to be a significant cause – by 90%.

Now if they can just cure the whole ‘afraid to talk to girls’ thing that doesn’t require alcohol. Am I shallow to bump that to the top of the list ahead of cancer?

Telegraph has the full story.

Squid Beaks Could Lead to Better Artificial Limbs

 Squid Beak

Science learning to improve human life through the study of animals has been occurring for hundreds of years. From a cancer cure developed from the sweat of a toad’s belly to the psoriasis remedies found in shark cartilage.

Now scientists may have found a solution to the age old problem of fusing hard medical implants to the soft tissues in your body through the study of squids and their hard beaks.

It appears the secret ingredient is chitin and other materials that change density gradually from the hard tip to a softer, more flexible base where it attaches to the muscle around the squid’s mouth.

Read about Squid Beak Medicine at

Study Uncovers Cause of Flu Epidemics


Penn State University has published some high level findings out of their Biology department related to infectious disease dynamics.

According to biologists, the exchange of genetic material between two closely related strains of the influenza A virus may have caused the 1947 and 1951 human flu epidemics. This understanding could help explain why some strains cause major pandemics and others lead to seasonal epidemics.

Until now, it was believed that while human influenza viruses swap genes with influenza viruses that infect birds and causes severe pandemics, such as the ‘Spanish’ flu of 1918, the ‘Asian’ flu of 1957, and the ‘Hong Kong’ flu of 1968, viral mutation leads to regular influenza epidemics. But it has been a mystery why there are sometimes very severe epidemics – like the ones in 1947 and 1951 – that look and act like pandemics, even though no human-bird viral cross-species event occurred.

From reading this paper I’m not coming away with any better level of confidence that we’ll have a solid vaccine any time soon because they still warn that there’s lots more work ahead to stay abreast of multiple strains co-circulating and exchanging genetic material.

It’s almost as if the answer is to blast all known viruses simultaneously then start hunting down the few strains remaining, trying to keep up with them as they mutate and render yesterday’s vaccine useless.

From Gecko Feet To Stickier Bandages To Zombies

Gecko Feet

When I lived in Hawaii, I would marvel at the cool geckos that would cross my field of view on a wall or a ceiling in the living room. Those buggers have some seriously sticky feet!

Welp, gecko feet have inspired MIT researchers to create sticky, waterproof bandages for surgical patients. But unlike the wily lizards, these internal Band-Aids are designed to stay in place.

Read MSNBC for the story

Speaking of lizards, did you see one of the best Super Bowl commercials from a few weeks ago? It’s the Sobe drink ‘Thrillicious’ lizards dancing as Michael Jackson’s Thriller video zombies (Sobe…Zombie, get it?). Yeah, weak association I know. 🙂

[youtube w9XfVzBgAN4]

When i first saw it was walking back to the kitchen for a round of snacks during a break in the Superbowl and caught just a hint of one of the lizards shaking himself just like the Thriller zombies. It was enough for me to do a double-take and immediately ‘rewind’ the DVR to get the full effect. I’ve always loved that dance, who would have thought rotting zombies could be so dexterous?

Man Gets New Jaw, Thanks To His Own Stem Cells


Sorry religious zealots, nothing to see in this stem cell story to get you riled up, move along.

MSNBC is reporting that scientists in Finland have successfully transplanted a new jaw in a 65 year old man that had lost his upper jaw earlier due to a tumor. This new jaw however was cultivated from the man’s own stem cells, grown within his abdomen for 9 months then grafted into place with the remaining jaw bone material.

Grafting in a transplant bone is not new, but having a new bone material with it’s own new blood vessels grown from scratch and designed to be compatible with the recipient of the transplant is what’s cool about this operation.

We’ve known for years that stem cells hold the keys to radical and previously un-thought of surgical capabilities that a decade ago you would have thought would only be possible in sci-fi movies.

And now being able to extract stem cells from something other than embryos removed the religious zealots from the picture opening up possibilities I’m anxious to hear about moving forward. What are they going to fight science over now? Give them time, they’re always spoiling for a good fight.

Question: If it’s this easy, with our simple 21st century technology, to build a custom replacement body part, why did Luke Skywalker have to settle on a robotic forearm and hand at the end of Empire Strikes Back as opposed to receiving a new flesh and blood part?

Luke Skywalker's Hand

Innovative Stroke Device Receives FDA Clearance


Penumbra, Inc. is a medical device company that had it’s tiny device fast-tracked through the medical trial process by the Federal Gov’t and hopefully it saves a lot of lives that hang in the balance where a one minute delay could mean life or death.

It’s a tiny vacuum cleaner for the brain: A new treatment for stroke victims that promises to suction out clogged arteries in hopes of stopping the brain attack before it does permanent harm.

Here’s the catch -unclogging sometimes does more harm than good in strokes. When the dam is broken and blood rushes into oxygen-deprived brain tissue, it sometimes triggers swelling or a brain hemorrhage. Either can kill.

Read all the details in this medical article.

Technology Cuts Risk Of Surgical Sponges

Surgical instrument

You know what I hate? I hate it when I go in for an operation and weeks or months later I’m in pain and agony or die, only come to find out it’s because the Doc left a foreign object in me.

Not foreign like Pakistan or Chile, I mean foreign like ‘I wasn’t born with this thing in my gut so why the hell is it in me now?’.

You’ve probably seen the numerous news and court judgements against the doctors and nurses that left a surgical  sponge in a patient, sewed them up and sent them home.

But then there’s the biggies like the surgical instruments left in patients like clamps or even a 13″ retractor!

Apparently it isn’t so rare with 1500 people in the USA alone finding gear in their guts every year.

To help resolve this dilemma, we now have hospitals using sponges with RFID tags in them. Nurses can swipe a wand over the sponges before and after to obtain a count and ensure one or more didn’t end up missing.

You can see the gadget at RF Surgical Systems product page here.

Fine, now that they have resolved the deal with the sponges, can someone do something about this clamp and retractor business?

Further Improving ‘Keyhole Surgery’ Techniques

Roman Doctor

Medical technology has come a long way from the times of that Roman doctor in the pic, eh?

The BBC is reporting that experts are developing a flexible surgical robot known as the i-Snake, which they say could revolutionize keyhole surgery. It could enable surgeons to do complex procedures previously possible only through more invasive techniques.

The i-Snake, a long tube housing special motors, sensors and imaging tools can be used for heart bypass surgery. The cost benefits will bring us earlier, cheaper and less invasive treatment, faster recovery and procedure times which should result in a better quality of life.


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IEEE Launches New Working Group for Body Area Network Tech

Body Area Network

Are you digging my ghetto logo for this article?

IEEE has put together a working group for Body area network (BAN), 802.15.6, is a low-frequency technology intended to endow a future generation of short-range electronics, both in a body and on or around it, with a wireless communication standard for exchanging information.

These devices, communicating through wireless technologies, transmit data from the body to a home base station, from where the data can be forwarded to a hospital, clinic or elsewhere, real-time.

Examples of devices include smart implants like cochlea, artificial heart, capsule endoscope and more.

Read the draft criteria for the standard here (Word doc). I found the responses to the RFC here.

Additional references:

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