Edison’s Blood Tests May Not Be As Accurate As First Reported

When it comes to tests, they normally come at a cost. Not just when it comes to the money but also the process the tests require, with most requiring something from you. Theranos came to the public light earlier in the year saying that its Edison device could carry out over 200 medical tests with a few drops of blood from a finger prick. Now it would seem that leaked documents raise more than a few concerns with the results of the tests not being as accurate as first reported.

The latest revelation comes as federal regulators release a redacted version of an inspection report that covers 121-pages showing some discrepancies with that the company reported and what they actually had achieved. In 2015, the Edison was used to test for testosterone levels and resulted in failure 87 percent of the time when it came to quality control. A similar test to detect prostate cancer failed 22 percent of the time and tests for the hormone prolactin failed 47 percent of the time.

Even internal standards set by the company failed to be met time and time again, with a test for Vitamin D in any given blood sample requiring to be within 20 percent of the results given by the traditionally used machine. On none different and randomly selected blood samples the difference ranged anywhere from 21 percent to a whopping 130 percent difference in Vitamin D levels.

The report doesn’t just argue with the results, it also argues with how the tests were conducted. With test results differing from standard lab devices and even unqualified employees running some of the tests, people have begun to raise more than a few questions regarding the Edison and even the companies viability, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stating that while Theranos have got a plan in place, they were unsatisfied with the plan and would impose sanctions that include fines and retraction of the companies approval to test human samples.

The Key to Making Human Organs? Cotton Candy!

Technology and science help people do amazing things. From letting people walk again to letting dogs enjoy a game of fetch with their owner, technology has come a long way in its quest to help everyone. One of the key focuses for science and technology to expand on is its ability to replace damaged or malfunctioning organs like a heart or even your skin. The problem with creating organs is it’s expensive, often costing hundreds and thousands just to get the technology you need to make them, so imagine our surprise when people started creating organs like cotton candy.

Using a $40 cotton candy machine from Target, Leon Bellan reports that he was able to create a cube of artificial capillaries. While this may seem like a weird way of creating something, the results speak for themselves, lasting for over a week. In contrast, other methods rarely last as long, meaning that the technique not only is cheaper but has so far produced surprisingly positive results.

Bellan got the idea from the saying that electrospun fibers, the technique that is often used to create artificial capillaries, “look like silly string, or Cheese Whiz, or cotton candy”. The more impressive result is the size of the threads that the cotton candy machine creates, averaging at about three microns while an average capillary is 10 microns. Compared to electrospun fibers, which are often ten times larger too big, the size meant that it was already a success before the week was over.

Injectable Sponges Approved For Public Use

Two years ago we reported on the injectable sponge, a concept that was designed to help save lives on the battlefield. The concept is a simple one. Upon receiving a gunshot wound, you can use the syringe to inject the tiny sponges into the wound. Once in the wound, the XSTAT 30’s sponges will expand and absorb in total around a pint of blood, in the process blocking the wound and reducing the blood loss from the wound. While authorised for military use the XSTAT was not authorised for use outside of the battlefield, that was until now.

Originally designed to help combat wounds such as shrapnel or bullets in areas of the body where traditional approaches may not be viable, such as in the groin or the armpit, the XSTAT can treat any wound in a similar fashion.

With the XSTAT’s dressing usable for up to four hours it can be used as a quick reaction to a potentially fatal wound while the victim seeks further medical help. As a result, the XSTAT 30 has been cleared for “high risk for immediate, life-threatening, and severe hemorrhagic shock and non-compressible junctional wounds”, with the condition that emergency care for the wound can’t be retrieved immediately.

From the FDA’s ruling, the XSTAT 30 has not been approved for areas where traditional methods can be used, such as the chest, abdomen or tissue above the collarbone. The XSTAT could save hundreds of lives and for such a small device, I’m sure people will be grateful to the creators and the ones who can now use it.

Quantum Entanglement Is Real And At Room Temperature

Quantum Entanglement may sound like a term straight out of a science-fiction film, but it is real. Quantum entanglement is a term used to describe when you link two particles, this means that when you affect one particle, the linked particle displays the same change in behaviour no matter how far apart they are. Imagine it is almost like a particle walkie-talkie system, you say something on one end and the other end hears it as if you had said it there. While this was possible before, you had to go near absolute zero to achieve it, meaning that while an amazing piece of science and technology, the practical uses were slim. That is no longer the case as a research paper has appeared announcing they have managed to complete the action at room temperature.

The experiment resulted in thousands of electrons and nucleons being linked, roughly equating to the size of a blood cell; around 40 micrometer’s cubed. By using infrared laser light to align the magnetic states and then MRI imaging to entangle them, the group hopes that this can be the first step towards using quantum technology in an everyday environment.

The technology could create sensors which are more sensitive to changes or even to create systems where it is scientifically impossible to intercept a message between two devices (simply because the message would only exist at the start and end point). A whole host of possible uses have appeared and this technology can only continue to grow.

Scientists Find a Way to Reveal Your Viral Past With Just a Drop of Blood

During our lifetime, we get exposed to dozens of viruses, but luckily our bodies are well equipped to deal with it. Our immune system produces antibodies to deal with foreign agents and make us well again. However, the antibodies tailored for these viruses tend to linger in our bodies prolonged periods of time.

A team of researchers from Harvard, MIT and Howard Hughes Medical Institute got a brilliant idea of making use of the above-mentioned antibodies and came up with a new method of revealing what viruses your body was exposed to. The method is called VirScan and it can reveal your entire viral history with just a drop of blood.

The method involves mixing a patient’s blood with a set of known human viruses. Each virus carries a unique protein signature that the antibodies are trained to identify and attack. This means that dropping a blood sample filled with antibodies in a pool of viruses will ‘activate’ the antibodies and tell the researchers which virus strains were targeted.

To test their theory, the researchers performed tests on 569 patients. The results revealed that, on average, we are exposed to 10 viral species, with some even being exposed to up to 84 viral species. VirScan has also proved to be a cheap testing method, allowing doctors to perform a variety of tests at once for about $25.

The researchers say that VirScan is not only about identifying your past viruses. The method can also be used for early detection of viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV, as well as give doctors more insight on some viruses we don’t quite understand yet.

Thank you Newsweek for providing us with this information

New Car Hopes To Stop Drink Driving

It’s the weekend and you’ve gone for a small drink with your friends. Suddenly one turns into two, and two into three. You go to start your car, put the key in the ignition and then suddenly from nowhere, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that”. No your not losing your mind or experiencing the start of a robotic revolution,  instead a new system that could be in your cars soon has detected your blood alcohol level and refuses to start for you. Taxi tonight it is.

DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) is a new system that could potentially be installed in cars in the near future. At the moment, two prototypes are in testing, first up is the good old fashion breathalyser method, with a sensor in the steering wheel or driver side door. The alternative is a touch sensor on the gear shift or ignition button, that would ‘scan’ your blood alcohol level. If either of these pickups read higher than the legal limit and your car won’t start.

While not designed as a required feature for new cars, the makers, the national highway traffic safety agency (NHTSA) means parents could pay that little extra to ensure that no one makes a decision to just pop down the shops for a little extra drink after a few during a party. A demonstration of the system can be seen in the video below.

https://youtu.be/yykyT4YRw4A

While it’s getting safer to drive, anyone who has been impacted by drunk driving can tell you that figures don’t matter. One mistake is all it takes, and with systems like DADSS being created to help curve away those single mistakes the roads can only get safer.

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of Love cars.

New Disposable Tech Can Draw Blood Without Needles

A new startup, sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a new piece of medical tech that can draw blood, painlessly, without breaking the skin. The blood-drawing device – developed by Tasso Inc, an affiliate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison – could replace needles entirely and can be self-administered. To pursue the project, Tasso has been the beneficiary of a $3 million federal grant, courtesy of DARPA.

The ping-pong ball-sized device creates a small vacuum between it and the skin which draws blood from the body through tiny capillaries without even breaking the skin, let alone entering a vein as a hypodermic needle would. The blood then collects in the attached container, which holds up to 0.15 cubic centimetres of blood, which is enough for most routine tests, such as analyses of cholesterol, infection, cancer cells, and blood sugar levels – “basically anything that is being tested for in a modern lab,” according to Ben Casavant, vice president and co-founder of Tasso.

“We see our specialty as people who need to test semi-frequently, or infrequently, to monitor cancer or chronic infectious diseases,” Casavant continued in a press release. “Instead of buying a machine or expensive equipment, we ship you this device, you put it on your arm for two minutes and send it back to the lab.”

The device, still unnamed, could revolutionise blood testing, offering a less invasive alternative for people with an aversion to needles, and the ability to self-administer means freeing up nurses. Tasso hopes to bring the product to market by 2016.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information.

HIV Can Now Be Detected in Just 15 Minutes – With A Smartphone!

Researchers from Columbia University have apparently created a $34 plastic smartphone STD scanner which would “accurately” identify HIV and syphilis antibodies. The scanner is said to be compatible with Google Android and Apple iPhone smartphones.

In order to perform one of these tests, a pin-prick of blood is needed for the scanner and from there onwards, the app is said to spit out the results in just 15 minutes. It is said that the device is able to replicate the mechanical, optical and electronic functions of a traditional lab-based STD analysis.

“This work is a proof of how technology can improve diagnosis and care, making it faster and simpler and cheaper without compromising the existing quality,” said Sabin Nsanzimana, the Rwanda’s Ministry of Health manager of STDs. Although “it may take time, or bigger studies” before additional knowledge of the dongle is known

However, attaching such a device to a smartphone should have raised concerns on power consumption. This is where the researchers stated that they chose a “one-push vacuum” instead of a power-consuming electrical pump.

The device is said to have been field-tested over two weeks at three health clinics in Kigali, Rwanda. The outcome stated that the accuracy was “on par with ELISA tests, but are significantly cheaper”. This means that similar tests can be completed in remote villages and health clinics.

The ultimate goal of the researchers over at Columbia University is to expand the testing beyond HIV and syphilis. But until then, additional testing could drive the price down while allowing mass adoption of the technology in the developing world, which is a good start.

Thank you Daily Tech for providing us with this information

Indiegogo Project Aims to Detect and Cure Malaria in Indonesia Using an iPhone Kit

A project found on Indiegogo, the crowd-funding website for startup projects, states that malaria can be found and cured in Bangka, an island in Indonesia, using an iPhone-based malaria diagnostics kit.

The researchers believe that if the disease can be found and treated in time, it could lead to its complete eradication from the island. They even believe that, if the project proves to be a success, it can be rolled out on a large-scale in Africa as well.

“We want to prove that we can have a significant effect on malaria case management throughout one of these regions. The first study of this kind will take place on Bangka Island in Indonesia. With this study, we have set ourselves the goal of eradicating malaria from the entirety of Bangka Island during malaria high season.” the team of researchers state.

The kit itself is called IanXen RAPID and consists of a iPhone, a portable microscope attached to it, blood slides and lancet pen.

The process seems simple enough too. A blood drop is placed on the slide, having it be examined through the microscope by an app. The results are then said to be given out in a matter of seconds.

The team of researchers believe that this method could be a great solution for a much wider deployment by enabling diagnosis to be carried out with a fully portable kit and at a much lower cost than conventional equipment.

On Indiegogo, the project asks for small donation fee of just £5 / $8.50, stating that it will help fund the project and can even get your name mentioned on the project’s Twitter feed. Also, people feeling generous can even opt for one of the higher donation levels available on the website.

Thank you 9to5 Mac for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of 9to5 Mac

Scientists Work Out How To 3D Print Vascular Networks

3D Printing has come a long way, from objects to food and now even human skin and meat. One of the major problems when attempting to print human meat was printing out the vascular network, meaning all the blood vessels and ventricles. However, it appears that even the latter problem has been recently solved by scientists from the University of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

The scientists have apparently solved the problem by creating a skeleton of vessels, which was then used as a basis to grow human cells around it. Once the process was complete and stable, the scientists dissolved the 3D printed material, leaving only the vascular network.

“Imagine being able to walk into a hospital and have a full organ printed – or bio-printed, as we call it – with all the cells, proteins and blood vessels in the right place, simply by pushing the ‘print’ button in your computer screen,” said Dr. Luiz Bertassoni of the University of Sydney. “While recreating little parts of tissues in the lab is something that we have already been able to do, the possibility of printing three-dimensional tissues with functional blood capillaries in the blink of an eye is a game changer.”

Building vascular networks is a big thing, but using them is even greater than imagined. It appears that the vessels are then used to transport nutrients through bioprinted tissue in order to achieve better cell differentiation and growth. Summing it all up, scientists are now able to create ‘organs’ in the lab, having the scientists believe that this will eventually lead to true organ regeneration.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of 3DPrint.com