This tiny robot tank could one day help doctors explore your intestine

With a bulky, armored appearance, heavy duty treads for gripping, and a claw arm on the front, the Endoculus robot vehicle looks like it belongs on the battlefield. In fact, it’s just 3 cm wide, 2.3 cm tall, and designed for an entirely different kind of inhospitable environment: Your intestine.

“[This] robotic capsule endoscope, Endoculus, is a tethered robot designed for colonoscopy applications,” Mark Rentschler, a mechanical engineering professor in the Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory at the University of Colorado, told Digital Trends. “The goals are twofold: design a platform for a robot endoscope in the gastrointestinal tract, and enable autonomous capabilities to assist physicians with disease diagnosis and treatment during these procedures.”

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CRISPR-based COVID test is rapid, accurate and costs less than $1

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CRISPR’s claim to fame may be gene editing—and turning the scientific community on its head when it first debuted—but it may have another trick up its sleeve.

Recent studies have indicated CRISPR tools have the potential for in vitro diagnostics, something Chinese scientists have leveraged to develop a 100% accurate COVID-19 test that can be mass manufactured for 70 cents.

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As telemedicine replaces the physical exam, what are doctors missing?

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Virtual medical appointments are more common since the coronavirus pandemic began. But without physical exams, doctors may miss certain diagnoses and miss out on building relationships with patients.

Despite a foothold in medicine that predates Hippocrates himself, the traditional physical exam might be on the verge of extinction. The coronavirus crisis has driven more routine medical appointments online, accelerating a trend toward telemedicine that has already been underway.

This worries Dr. Paul Hyman, author of a recently published essay in JAMA Internal Medicine, who reflects on what’s lost when physicians see their patients almost exclusively through a screen.

A primary care physician in Maine, Hyman acknowledges he’d already begun second-guessing routine physicals on healthy patients as insurance requirements pushed doctors away from them.

But while Hyman is now providing mostly telemedicine, like many doctors during the pandemic, he writes that he has gained a clearer sense of the value of the age-old practice of examining patients in person. He notes the ability to offer reassurance, be present for his patients and find personal fulfillment as a doctor.

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TrueLimb robotic arms look real and cost less than traditional prosthetics

Each arm from Unlimited Tomorrow is custom 3D-printed for a perfect match.

Easton LaChappelle was 14 years old when he designed and built his first robotic arm. Ten years later, he’s now the CEO of his own company, looking to upend the prosthetics industry.

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CDC: 94% of Covid-19 deaths had underlying medical conditions

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This image depicts the exterior of the CDC’s “Tom Harkin Global Communications Center” located on the organization’s Roybal Campus in Atlanta, Georgia.

 ATLANTA, Ga. (WEYI) – The Centers for Disease Control released information showing how many people who died from COVID-19 had comorbidities or underlying conditions as they are sometimes referred to by doctors.

According to the CDC, comorbidity is defined as: ” more than one disease or condition is present in the same person at the same time. Conditions described as comorbidities are often chronic or long-term conditions. Other names to describe comorbid conditions are coexisting or co-occurring conditions and sometimes also “multimorbidity” or “multiple chronic conditions.”

Comorbidity and underlying conditions can both be used to describe conditions that exist in one person at the same time. These can also contribute to a persons death who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

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Robot skin 3D printer close to first-in-human clinical trials

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In just two years a robotic device that prints a patient’s own skin cells directly onto a burn or wound could have its first-in-human clinical trials. The 3D bioprinting system for intraoperative skin regeneration developed by Australian biotech start-up Inventia Life Science has gained new momentum thanks to major investments from the Australian government and two powerful new partners, world-renowned burns expert Fiona Wood and leading bioprinting researcher Gordon Wallace.

Codenamed Ligō from the Latin “to bind”, the system is expected to revolutionize wound repairs by delivering multiple cell types and biomaterials rapidly and precisely, creating a new layer of skin where it has been damaged. The novel system is slated to replace current wound healing methods that simply attempt to repair the skin, and is being developed by Inventia Skin, a subsidiary of Inventia Life Science.

“When we started Inventia Life Science, our vision was to create a technology platform with the potential to bring enormous benefit to human health. We are pleased to see how fast that vision is progressing alongside our fantastic collaborators. This Federal Government support will definitely help us accelerate even faster,” said Dr. Julio Ribeiro, CEO, and co-founder of Inventia.

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Rejuvenating old organs could increase donor pool

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Despite the limited supply of organs available for patients on waitlists for transplantation, organs from older, deceased donors are frequently discarded or not utilized.

Available older organs have the potential to close the gap between demand and supply that is responsible for the very long wait-times that lead to many patients not surviving the time it takes for an organ to become available.

Older organs can also often provoke a stronger immune response and may put patients at greater risk of adverse outcomes and transplant rejection. But, as the world population ages, organs from older, deceased donors represent an untapped and growing resource for patients in need. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital are leading efforts to breathe new life into older organs by leveraging a new class of drugs known as senolytics, which target and eliminate old cells.

Using clinical and experimental studies, the team presents evidence that senolytic drugs may help rejuvenate older organs, which could lead to better outcomes and a wider pool of organs eligible for donation. Results are published in Nature Communications.

“Older organs are available and have the potential to contribute to mitigating the current demand for organ transplantation,” said corresponding author Stefan G. Tullius, MD, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery at the Brigham. “If we can utilize older organs in a safe way with outcomes that are comparable, we will take a substantial step forward for helping patients.”

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Why do Covid fatalities remain low when infection numbers are rising?

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While some scientists believe the virus has become less deadly, others look at the factors that suggest otherwise

Are Covid-19 death rates decreasing?

Most statistics indicate that although cases of Covid-19 are rising in many parts of Europe and the United States, the number of deaths and cases of severe complications remain relatively low. For example, patients on ventilators have dropped from 3,000 at the epidemic’s peak in Britain to 70. At the same time, the number of cases in the UK have begun to rise in many areas.

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Getting old needs a new look

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The pandemic has exacerbated issues like social isolation in U.S. nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. But problems with the living situations of older Americans long predate the coronavirus.

Covid-19 has exposed the lethal vulnerabilities of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Can better design make aging safer?

In at least one way, the United States’s tragic response to the coronavirus hasn’t been an outlier: Just like in the rest of the world, the consequences of the pandemic were amplified inside living facilities for older adults.

As of August 13, at least 68,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus, according to New York Times research, a number that comprises more than 40% of the nation’s total. That percentage that’s been matched or exceeded by other countries across the globe. In Europe, half of all Covid-19 deaths happened in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to the World Health Organization. In Canada, which has been far more effective at containing the disease, 82 percent of the country’s deaths have been concentrated among these facilities.

The vulnerability of nursing homes was clear from the earliest stage of outbreak in the U.S., when the disease swept through the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington in February, claiming dozens of deaths. At Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts, at least 74 residents — a third of the facility’s population — died of Covid-19 in April. The summer resurgence of infections has found its way into care facilities in Texas, Florida, and Arizona, bringing the number of cases in nursing homes nationwide above its previous peak in May.

For the entire multibillion-dollar ecosystem of senior living in the U.S. — including the more than 15,000 nursing homes, nearly 29,000 residential care communities, and about the same number of assisted-living facilities — the pandemic is exposing a deadly dilemma at a challenging time. “We weren’t prepared for Covid,” says Dr. Robyn Stone, co-director of LeadingAge LTSS Center at University of Massachusetts Boston. “Nobody was, including the nursing homes.”

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Unraveling the initial molecular events of respiration

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Respiration is a fundamental process of all living things, allowing them to produce energy, stay healthy, and survive. In cells, respiration involves what are known as “respiratory proteins,” e.g. hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in muscles.

Respiratory proteins work by binding and releasing small molecules like oxygen, carbon monoxide etc., called ligands. They do this through their “active center,” which in many respiratory proteins is a chemical structure called heme porphyrin.

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Has the Summit Supercomputer cracked COVID’s code?

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A supercomputer-powered genetic study of COVID-19 patients has spawned a possible breakthrough into how the novel coronavirus causes disease—and points toward new potential therapies to treat its worst symptoms.

The genetic data mining research uncovered a common pattern of gene activity in the lungs of symptomatic COVID-19 patients, which when compared to gene activity in healthy control populations revealed a mechanism that appears to be a key weapon in the coronavirus’s arsenal.

The good news is there are already drugs—a few of which are already FDA-approved—aimed at some of these very same pathologies.

“We think we have a core mechanism that explains a lot of the symptoms where the virus ends up residing,” said Daniel Jacobson, chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge National Labs in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

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Old human cells rejuvenated with stem cell technology, research finds

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Old human cells return to a more youthful and vigorous state after being induced to briefly express a panel of proteins involved in embryonic development, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers also found that elderly mice regained youthful strength after their existing muscle stem cells were subjected to the rejuvenating protein treatment and transplanted back into their bodies.

The proteins, known as Yamanaka factors, are commonly used to transform an adult cell into what are known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells can become nearly any type of cell in the body, regardless of the cell from which they originated. They’ve become important in regenerative medicine and drug discovery.

The study found that inducing old human cells in a lab dish to briefly express these proteins rewinds many of the molecular hallmarks of aging and renders the treated cells nearly indistinguishable from their younger counterparts.

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