Copper kills Hospital ICU Bacteria

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New research has found that the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care units (ICU) kill bacteria that can cause hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
“The use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care unit rooms resulted in a 97 percent reduction of bacteria that cause hospital acquired infections and reduces the risk of acquiring an infection by 40 percent,” according to preliminary results of a multisite clinical trial in the United States.
The study was presented at the World Health Organization’s first International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday.
The study backed the suggestion made by research teams at three U.S. hospitals four years ago: replacing the most heavily contaminated touch surfaces in ICUs with antimicrobial copper will control bacteria growth and cut down on infection rates.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease, strokes and cancer, Reuters reported.
Nearly one in every 20 hospitalized U.S. patients have a chance of developing an HAI, resulting in 100,000 lives lost and cost $45 billion each year, estimates Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Stem cell biologist brings new hope for diabetes treatments

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Applications for stem cells were once considered ‘futuristic.’ But today’s research is ushering in a new era in which these cells are a source of great hope for use in regenerative medicine, as well as in the development of new drugs to prevent and treat illnesses including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and macular degeneration.
Dr. Ian Rogers, an Associate Scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, is on the forefront of creating stem-cell based treatments for diabetes. He and his colleagues are using stem cells to create natural replacements for essential cells in the pancreas that are destroyed by the illness, specifically in Type 1 diabetes.
For the past five years, Dr. Rogers has been focused on developing the regenerative capacity of umbilical cord and adult stem cells for clinical use, and so making them a part of the future standard of care. His latest project involves developing induced pluripotent stem cells—which have the ability to develop into many different types of cells—from umbilical cord blood cells. Increasing the regenerative capacity of cord blood cells would extend their healing power beyond the blood diseases for which they are used currently.
“For the treatment of diabetes, we can differentiate stem cells into the critical cells of the pancreas that, in healthy people, measure blood sugar and produce the amount of insulin required to process it,” says Dr. Rogers. “These specialized cells would then be implanted in people with diabetes to reactivate the natural process.”
At this stage, Dr. Rogers’ team is building a pancreas out of a surgical sponge, in effect a three-dimensional structure seeded with insulin-producing islet cells. Ideally, the pancreas would be grown in the lab and then placed under the skin of a person with Type 1 diabetes to restore their insulin production.
This is a highly sophisticated procedure, says Dr. Rogers. The most advanced research project in his lab is much simpler: regenerating blood vessels so people with Type 2 diabetes who have damaged fingers and toes, (resulting from peripheral vascular disease) can avoid amputation.
So far the pancreatic stem cell technique has been studied in mice with promising results, although trials in humans are several years away. Lab studies have demonstrated that mice with a damaged pancreas can regulate their blood glucose levels within normal ranges with the transplanted cells. Coaxing the stem cells to develop into functional islets is not efficient enough to start clinical trials, but Dr. Rogers’ group is now working to fix this problem.
He notes that stem cell transplants always carry the risk of rejection or possible tumour formation. To make the procedure safe, Dr. Rogers’ lab is working to place the cells into porous bags that will allow the exchange of molecules between the cells and the body, but prevent the cells from escaping. This will also allow a physician to top up or replace the cells if they stop working.
“The cells have shown no adverse side effects, so we are hopeful of their future benefit in people with diabetes,” says Dr. Rogers. He notes that if the procedure works, a patient’s cell implants would require replacements every few years in an outpatient procedure, to counteract the body’s natural immune response that slowly destroys them. “We envision using the stem cells to augment insulin injections,” says Dr. Rogers. “At first, we expect the cells to reduce the number of injections a patient requires. Eventually, as the procedure of generating islets becomes more efficient, we anticipate the patient will be able to go for months or even years without having to inject insulin.”
“There is considerable excitement of the potential for stem cell research but, ultimately, its value will only be realized if it can be applied to real medical needs,” notes Dr. Jim Woodgett, Director of Research at the Lunenfeld. “Dr. Rogers, like many other scientists, is very much focused on using this technology to benefit patients.”

Disabled young shuttler catches Gopi Chand’s eye

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An almost non-existent right hand did not prevent 12-year-old Ayush Rajoria from being noticed by former All England champion Pullela Gopi Chand. Ayush was quietly going through the final selection trials (age group 9-12 years) for the Madhya Pradesh State Badminton Academy, unmindful
that Gopi Chand, who is here to conduct the trials, was watching from the sidelines.
“The boy is talented and enthusiastic,” the star shuttler told HT on Wednesday. “It will be difficult to train Ayush as both hands play a vital role in badminton, but it’s not an impossible task. He can be a good shuttler if given proper attention. He can also prove handy in events for the specially-abled,” said Gopi Chand.
It is uncertain if Ayush would be selected to the state academy as the list is likely to be announced after a week, but the boy has certainly grabbed Gopi Chand’s attention.
Despite being born with a deformed right hand, Ayush has never allowed the disability to come in the way of his passion for sports.
A student of class VIII in Bhopal’s Campion School, he has excelled in pole vault and sprint too. Ayush also plays cricket and basketball but badminton is where the heart lies.
Realising the potential, his parents put him in a summer camp, organised by the state sports department, this year so that he could learn the sport from experienced coaches.
“My other two children are physically fit but Ayush is different. Even the doctors could not detect the reason for the deformity at the time of birth,” said his father, Vinod Kumar Rajoria, a school principal.
To overcome the odds Ayush even tried out an artificial limb for some time but decided to manage without it as it felt uncomfortable.

Dr robot: Virtual surgery performed in city hospital

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In a rare feat, robotic endoscopy, wherein a robotic arm controlled by a surgeon operates upon a patient, was performed at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Somajiguda in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and National University Hospital, Singapore. This treatment can now be used in gastric cancers and stomach tumours cases.

The first such surgery was performed on Veerabhadra, 45, of Warangal on Sunday. The technology can be used to perform complex surgeries on patients from a long distance __ with the patient being at one place and the endoscopic surgeon in another.

“We are looking to collaborate with the industry, so that this technology can be mass produced and cost of such surgeries can be reduced substantially,” said Dr Nageshwar Reddy, chairman and chief gastroenterology at the institute. The robotic surgeries are characterised by precision and consistency, which means that the robotic hands that go into the system via the mouth, would perform surgeries exactly as programmed by the surgeon who operates the computer. “It takes years to become a good surgeon, but we can master the technology in few weeks time. This technology signifies a new shift in medical technology,” said Dr G V Rao. The robotic scarless surgery is now being performed for academic purposes and with industry collaboration, could be available for the public, reducing the cost of such surgeries, doctors said.

The robotic technology also heralds the collaboration of engineers and medical experts to bring innovation in medicine to the common man. “We are looking to collaborate with the IITs in the country, to help provide a platform wherein engineers and doctors can work together for the first time in taking affordable medical technology to the masses,” said Dr Reddy.

The need of the hour, doctors said, is support and funding for such path-breaking research, from the government. “We would like the department of science and technology, and the department of biotechnology to help us in our endeavour.

Not All Belly Fat Is Bad for the Heart

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Where a person stores body fat may be more important for heart disease risk than how big they are, a new study shows.
Doctors have long wondered why some obese people look metabolically normal; that is, they have normal cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels, while others are insulin resistant, have high blood sugar, and high cholesterol — a profile that puts them at high risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Visceral fat, or fat that’s stored around the internal organs, has been thought to play a role in that difference. Waist size is a rough measure for the amount of visceral fat a person has.
But newer studies have suggested that visceral fat may not deserve all the blame.
“During the last 10 years, with advances in imaging techniques, we have been able to measure the fat content of non-adipose tissues like skeletal muscles and liver,” says Faidon Magkos, PhD, a research assistant professor of medicine in the department of nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.
“And there’s an accumulating body of evidence over the last decade that shows that it really isn’t visceral fat that’s associated with dyslipidemia or insulin resistance or other cardiometabolic risk factors, but instead, it’s fat deposited in skeletal muscle and liver,” says Magkos, who studies metabolism but was not involved in the current research.

This Desktop runs on Solar Power, Courtesy Simmtronics Semiconductors

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If you are interested in green technology, here is a company which has launched the very first solar powered desktop computer in the Indian market. The company is called Simmtronics Semiconductors and honestly, this is the first time I’m hearing about this company, but I feel great that a green desktop is finally available in my country.
As the desktop is powered by the sun, it is a computer mainly targeted for areas which have frequent power cuts or even villages, where electricity is still a mystery to many. This solar powered computer is priced at just INR 28,990, which includes the solar setup and one year on-site warranty. Well, it is about time computers hit our villages!
When being powered by the gigantic ball made up mainly of hydrogen and helium, the computer also saves up some power which allows it to run for another 10 hours in the absence of sunlight.
Obviously, at such an affordable price, you cannot expect a monster in terms of specs, but the device seems perfect for internet browsing (although this is another problem in areas where there is constant load shedding or electricity is absent most of the time), office work and probably listen to some music and watch a movie or two.
It is powered by a Via C7 1.6 GHz processor, 1GB RAM, includes 160GB HDD and a 15.6-inch LED monitor. The keyboard and mouse are included and the operating system on the computer is Linux. The solar kit includes a 74W solar panel with charge controller, SMF battery and AC inverter

Can WiFi compete with 3G?

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Consumers are using WiFi wherever they can as 3G is too costly and 2G is too slow. Moreover, with only 5 MHz spectrum available, the 3G network will soon be overcrowded.


InIndiabroadband access is still in its infancy but with 3G round the corner, the future seems to hold promise. However, 3G is a costly promise as operators have spent huge amounts to buy spectrum, and so prices of 3G services are unlikely to come down. And unlimited plans are a distant dream unlikely to be fulfilled since operators have got just 5 MHz of spectrum which cannot take the load of too many people using unlimited plans.

Therefore, both operators and users are looking at means to get broadband access at affordable costs without overloading the network. And it is here that WiFi has a role to play, so much so that a 3G operator is already planning to start a service that will automatically transfer a user to the WiFi network whenever he visits a partner WiFi hotspot. This, as stated earlier, will reduce both cost to the end user and congestion in the network.

“The next wave of WiFi is becoming a mobile operator phenomenon, and it is our business to help telecom operators enter the WiFi business with speed to market and a reduced cost and risk profile, without a need for additional capital investment,” comments Evan Kaplan, president and chief executive officer of iPass, a global provider of WiFi solutions.