Category Archives: Healthcare

Updates from GE


A Secret to Laser Brain Surgery? Slice the MRI Machine in Half

GE –  In the early 1990s, Harvard radiologist Dr. Ferenc Jolesz devised a clever way for killing brain tumors with a laser. But he ran into a hard obstacle: the skull.

Jolesz wanted to send a laser beam along a fiber optic strand inserted through a hole in the patient’s cranium. The beam’s intense heat would destroy the target. But he couldn’t see where the beam was going. “It was like trying to evaporate an apple seed inside a whole apple without cutting it.”

Jolesz thought magnetic resonance imaging could help. The right MRI machine would allow doctors to see inside the body, monitor temperature changes inside the skull, and perform surgery at the same time.

One problem: a machine like this did not exist. Then as now, most MRI machines enclosed the patient in a tunnel at the center of the magnet. This design made brain surgery impossible.

But a GE executive who knew about Jolesz’s project introduced him to Trifon Laskaris, a medical imaging pioneer working at GE’s research labs in upstate New York. Laskaris listened to Jolesz and came back with a design that sliced the multi-ton MRI magnet in half. The redesigned machine looked like a double donut with enough space between the two rings to give the surgeon access to the patient. “We could image the patient and operate at the same time,” Jolesz says. “Not only laser procedures could be done, but all types of open surgeries.” more> http://tinyurl.com/l2expyb

What Happened When I Woke Up Two Hours Earlier For A Week


By Rachel Gillett – The idea is that having a time in the day where there is no pressure and no expectations from other people would result in better focus and more creative thinking.

The first day I had so many endorphins shooting around my body that I almost felt manic–but in a good way.

My mind was bursting with thoughts and ideas, possibly because of the effect exercise has on our bodies, but also because I felt unencumbered by the need to start working immediately. My inner dialogue just wouldn’t shut up on the walk to work. more> http://tinyurl.com/m2br9hz

The Ways Food Tricks Our Brains


By Derek Thompson – Simply labeling a food as “healthy” makes it taste worse. But what tricky qualities make unhealthy food taste healthy?

Researchers asked participants to eat bite-sized brownies while watching TV (fun!). Some of the brownies were hard and some were soft. Subjects ate more soft brownies when they weren’t prompted by any questions. But when they were told to think about calorie content, they switched and suddenly ate more rough brownies.

To the eating brain, harder-to-eat equals healthier-to-eat. more> http://tinyurl.com/nmnqfl8

Artificial retina: Physicists develop an interface to the optical nerve


R&D – Retina implants can serve as optical prostheses for blind people whose optical nerves are still intact. The implants convert incident light into electrical impulses that are transmitted to the brain via the optical nerve. There, the information is transformed into images. Although various approaches for implants exist today, the devices are often rejected by the body and the signals transmitted to the brain are generally not optimal.

In contrast to the traditionally used materials, graphene has excellent biocompatibility thanks to its great flexibility and chemical durability. With its outstanding electronic properties, graphene provides an efficient interface for communication between the retina prosthesis and nerve tissue. more> http://tinyurl.com/p5h4tdd

New discovery in living cell signaling


By Lynn Yarris – The cellular signaling networks of living cells start with receptor proteins residing on a cell’s surface that detect and interact with the environment. Signals from these receptors are transmitted to chemical networks within the cell that process the incoming information, make decisions, and direct subsequent cellular activities.

“Although cellular signaling networks perform logical operations like a computer microprocessor, they do not operate in the same way,” Jay Groves, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley’s Chemistry Department, says. “The individual computational steps in a standard computer are deterministic; the outcome is determined by the inputs. For the chemical reactions that compose a cellular signaling network, however, the molecular level outcomes are defined by probabilities only. This means that the same input can lead to different outcomes.” more> http://tinyurl.com/osa5jj9