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Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for August, 2007

Ultrasound seals punctured lungs

Posted by evolvingwheel on August 31, 2007

This just sounded too good.. almost space-age medicine. Ultrasounds will seal punctures in lungs without any invasive procedures or risky incisions. Shahram Vaezy and his colleagues in the Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound in the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory have been working on ultrasound surgery for a while. Recently, the team observed great potential and results in sealing lung punctures by applying high intensity ultrasound on the leaking spot. photo of Dr. Vaezy

The team observed that more than 95% of the 70 incisions were stable after 2 minutes of treatment. The procedure engages a lens that focuses the strong ultrasound to the exact spot and heats and mobilizes the cells around the leak to fuse and close the leak. Another great benefit of this process is that the cells and tissues are not heated along the path of the ultrasound – a drawback encountered with laser treatment. 

From the implementation side, one concern will be the cost associated with the process. Besides, the researchers still have to perform clinical tests on humans and observe the quality of healing and its sustainability. However, if the process clicks, then there is enormous potential not only in the developed world but also in the developing world, which often lacks advanced ER facilities and physicians with the skills to operate efficiently in trauma centers. The payback of the innovation will also depend upon the acceptance of the procedure in the caregiver as well as the patient community. 

[Read Article Here] 

Picture: Shahram Vaezy, courtesy: UW College of Engineering

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Controlled diet for better infectious disease management

Posted by evolvingwheel on August 30, 2007

Val Smith from the University of Kansas argues that better control of infectious disease in the future may not depend on better and stronger antibiotics but on the availability of nutrients to the infected body. His research is directed toward understanding how the controlled supply or cut-off of specific nutrients to animal bodies infected with different pathogens affects the life-cycle of the disease. Does it aggravates the condition or stops the progression? Most of his researches are being operated on mice with strains of pathogens similar to the ones that produce infectious diseases in humans. His team observed that by controlling carbohydrates, proteins, and specifically irons, to the mice, the disease symptoms got enhanced or mitigated. The idea is to kill the pathogen or slow its progression by depriving it of its basic requirements.

If this research goes further with some really promising results, then it could lead to a whole new dimension of disease control with diets along with prescribed drugs. It may just lead to another area of treatment with diet pills and supplements designed to regulate flow of minerals and nutrients according to the pathogen its going against. The innovation can come from diet supplement industry or from the conventional pharmaceutical industry spreading its arms across to the diet pill domains. It will definitely be a paradigm shift along the thin line separating non-FDA approved supplement industry and stringent Rx market.

More importantly will come the hands of regulatory bodies and governments into play. I may be thinking it out way too far, but with the continual perseverance for mobilizing business models that cross domains of knowledge and applications, nothing anymore looks impossible.

[Read Article Here]

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A service innovation in the air – SKYBUS

Posted by evolvingwheel on August 28, 2007

When I read the article in popular science, the first thing that crossed my mind was PAY-AS-YOU-GO! SKYBUS is a Columbus, OH based airline startup that is providing airtravel at a very affordable cost – with some trade offs. There are several elements of consideration that the company has implemented. To name a few:

  1. No connecting flights.
  2. No 800 numbers and phone customer service.
  3. Automated check ins.
  4. Fly out of small airports in big cities.
  5. Pay for the services you need – which even include checked baggage.

One particular idea that I liked is – Why should you be made to pay for all those sodas and blankets that other people use that you don’t?  That’s truly a personalized service proposition. Another interesting thing is the ability to handle customer related issues without any live phone accessibility. However, live CHAT online may be a option. For PDA enabled customers, one can connect to customer service over the web. I am not sure if they have that kind of service. Another factor of efficiency added to the model is by accessing smaller airports in big cities. With lower air traffic, there are less chances for bottlenecks and hence delays. However, if the company plans to expand its service 4-5 fold over next 5 years, then they also need to find airports (or improve them to) that can support bigger jets, longer runways, higher volume of baggage processing, and air traffic control. One of the challenges will be when few other competitors start copying this model. Skybus Plane

From the operations standpoint, another consideration will be outsourcing of line maintenance. On the service side, if these kinds of airlines have contract based support crews (air hostess, cleaners, bagage porters), then they have to create a very efficient service-based-resource management systems to track availabilities of workers on a per-demand basis. This just creates a whole new area of business process and efficiency. As time comes and competition increases in this sector, it will be worth noticing the business dynamic. I will definitely keep my eyes open!

Check the following link for SKYBUS rules 🙂

http://ask.skybus.com/about/rules-of-flying.shtml

[Read the article here]

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Computer models recommending drugs for cancer treatments

Posted by evolvingwheel on August 5, 2007

Often, two patients with identical types of cancers respond differently to the same drug or the same treatment. This is caused by different genetic histories of two individuals. However, if the medical professional knew about a predictive system that could take into account the various genetic information, tissue characteristics, and reactions to more than 100,000 cancer treating compounds and accurately design a treatment plan, long-term care for cancer patients would have been so much promising.

Dan Theodorescu and his researchers at the University of Virginia have exactly developed a computer model that addresses such expectation. This one of a kind model has been developed using a database of information on human can-cell lines and their responses to different anti-cancer drugs and compounds. In order to articulate a better treatment path, the model also processes gene-expression analysis of the cancer types. As more and more data gets available about the gene characteristics, the model gets more accurate in predicting the responses to any particular treatment regimen.

One other interesting thing is the use of this model in clinical trials of a specific drug. The model selects patients who could be appropriate for one particular drug. This method will greatly benefit drug development in the coming days. Pharmaceutical companies can now target several subsets of patients and develop customized drugs with much less investments in large-scale clinical analysis. The model will also mitigate investment risks associated with the potency of the drug among a wide range of patients. Furthermore, doctors and researchers, who often sit on a goldmine of gene information, can adequately provide a drug development path along with a treatment path.

Read [article] here.

Picutre: Dan Theodorescu – courtesy UVA

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