Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957 we’ve launched tonnes of stuff (literally) into space. We’ve not kept things very tidy up there either, so we now have hundreds of thousands of pieces of junk orbiting around us, threatening to crash into important things like the International Space Station. Or the satellite that handles your [...]... Read more »
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer related mortality among women. Like many diseases, there is a stark difference in survival rates depending on detection times. When ovarian cancer is detected at stage I, there is a 90% 5 year survival rate. Compare that with the 33% 5 year survival rate when the ovarian cancer is detected in stage III and IV. This disease is unfortunately asymptomatic at early stages, drastically eliminating the odds of discovery with enough time to make a difference.... Read more »
Wang, S., Zhao, X., Khimji, I., Akbas, R., Qiu, W., Edwards, D., Cramer, D., Ye, B., & Demirci, U. (2011) Integration of cell phone imaging with microchip ELISA to detect ovarian cancer HE4 biomarker in urine at the point-of-care. Lab on a Chip, 11(20), 3411. DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20479C
Living tissues are complex structures made primarily of tissue and blood. The tissue is supposedly solid, while in reality, it is a mix of solid constituents and stagnant blood. The blood part is assumed capable of flowing, through arteries, veins and smaller capillaries that irrigate the tissue. A bio-material is, in principle, any material that can interact with biological systems. … Continue reading …... Read more »
Chen, M., & Holmes, K. (1980) MICROVASCULAR CONTRIBUTIONS IN TISSUE HEAT TRANSFER. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 335(1 Thermal Chara), 137-150. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1980.tb50742.x
File this one under “applications of population density”. Researchers working for Nippon Telephone and Telegraph—better known as NTT—discovered they could use an area’s population density to predict telecommunications equipment failure due to lighting strikes. Telecommunications is an expensive business. Like other infrastructure, it requires a lot of manpower and capital to expand and maintain. But [...]... Read more »
X. Zhang, A. Sugiyama, & H. Kitabayashi. (2011) Estimating telecommunication equipment failures due to lightning surges by using population density. 2011 IEEE International Conference on Quality and Reliability (ICQR) , 182-185. info:/10.1109/ICQR.2011.6031705
The restoration of oil paintings is always a delicate process. Decades and centuries of dust and grime on the surface of a painting are difficult to remove, as the dirt sticks firmly to the painting’s oil paints and varnish. There is always the danger that a thorough physical cleaning and restoration may alter a painting’s original appearance. A solution [...]... Read more »
Palomero, C., & Soriano, M. (2011) Digital cleaning and “dirt” layer visualization of an oil painting. Optics Express, 19(21), 21011. DOI: 10.1364/OE.19.021011
In today’s post, I will discuss a little-known combinatorics paper by E.N. Gilbert from 1965, in which he independently discovered the “logarithmic Welch” construction of Costas arrays. Costas arrays are named after the late IEEE fellow John Costas, whose seminal … Continue reading →... Read more »
The blossoming field of optogenetics was Nature Methods "Method of the Year" in 2010.... Read more »
Stirman, J., Crane, M., Husson, S., Wabnig, S., Schultheis, C., Gottschalk, A., & Lu, H. (2011) Real-time multimodal optical control of neurons and muscles in freely behaving Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature Methods, 8(2), 153-158. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1555
Sepsis is a big killer here in the United States. I know that I don’t really think about that in a normal day, but it’s the truth, and we can’t ignore it. As of 2005, it was the 10th leading cause of death and was just one of two infectious conditions listed in the leading 15 causes of death. Sepsis develops in 750,000 Americans annually, and more than 210,000 die. (That’s a mortality rate of 28 %!) Sepsis not only kills, but it’s accountable for $16.7 billion in annual economic burden. You can see why we need to focus on sepsis, but what is it exactly? Well, sepsis is a response by our bodies to systemic microbial infections. A range of pathogens can cause this reaction, and there is still no clear answer for all the effects on the body that are attributed to sepsis. In general, sepsis is believed to be caused by an infectious agent that compromises the immune system, leaving it unable to properly clear microbes. Treatments for sepsis have included antibiotics, recombinant drugs, membrane blood filtration and blood transfusions. However, these therapies don’t work effectively enough, and many patients die. Hemofiltration and hemadsorption have also been used to clear the blood, but these techniques can also non-specifically remove blood proteins such as cytokines, which are necessary to fight infectious agents. Whole blood transfusions are able to remove the pathogens, but at the expense of the patient’s own immune components and cells that are needed to keep fighting the infection. With all this stacked against us, what are we to do? Turn to a microfluidic therapy I guess.... Read more »
Melamed, A., & Sorvillo, F. (2009) The burden of sepsis-associated mortality in the United States from 1999 to 2005: an analysis of multiple-cause-of-death data. Critical Care, 13(1). DOI: 10.1186/cc7733
Last time, we looked at a very simple atmospheric model known as the Lorenz equations, and saw it exhibit the ‘Butterfly Effect,’ in which even very small changes in initial conditions can dramatically effect which path the system takes. However, we also saw that the initial condition had a relatively small impact on the statistical [...]... Read more »
Shukla, J. (1998) Predictability in the Midst of Chaos: A Scientific Basis for Climate Forecasting. Science, 282(5389), 728-731. DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5389.728
Lorenz, Edward N. (1963) Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 20(2). info:/
Buffer Google Body is a novel open education resources interface (). It is simple to operate and its intuitive user interface allows even inexperienced computer users to make good use of it. The med students first had classical lectures on anatomy. Next they were presented simulations of complex anatomical structures. They had to search and [...]
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Have you ever done a ‘leadership’ exercise? I’m sure you know the sort of thing – You’re on a corporate “training day” and after being placed into arbitrary groups in a stuffy meeting room, you are given a handful of straws, paperclips and plastic cups and told to build a tower that reaches the ceiling. … Continue reading »... Read more »
Spisak, B., Homan, A., Grabo, A., & Van Vugt, M. (2011) Facing the situation: Testing a biosocial contingency model of leadership in intergroup relations using masculine and feminine faces. The Leadership Quarterly. DOI: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.08.006
Buffer This animation film was submitted by a med student to YouTube for the instructor of a course about ‘Narratives of Ageing:Exploring Creative Approaches to Dementia Care’. Students visited a locked unit at a care facility for people with Alzheimer’s disease. They used YouTube to watch streamed video made by Alzheimer’s disease advocacy groups, twitter [...]
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George, D., & Dellasega, C. (2011) Social media in medical education: two innovative pilot studies. Medical Education. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.04124.x
A research group at the University of Indiana has developed a program called Truthy that allows anyone to track cases of “astrotweeting”. Any search term can be entered into Truthy and the program will scan the Twitter API and build a model of how the search term originated. ... Read more »
Ratkiewicz,J. Conover,M. Meiss,M. Gonçalves,B. Patil,S. Flammini,A. Menczer, F. (2011) Truthy: Mapping the Spread of Astroturf in Microblog Streams. World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2). . info:/
fMRI used to create a video output based on a dictionary created by showing participants 7200s of random colour video.... Read more »
Nishimoto S, Vu AT, Naselaris T, Benjamini Y, Yu B, & Gallant JL. (2011) Reconstructing Visual Experiences from Brain Activity Evoked by Natural Movies. Current biology : CB. PMID: 21945275
You could say that valves in microfluidics (or microvalves) are like street lights that control traffic along microfluidic channels. But I’d say that they’re more like police barricades, stopping anyone they want, wherever they want. The sole purpose of microvalves is to control flow within a microfluidics device, allowing them to become very complex and more automated. Without microvalves, all reactions and mixing must occur in the same space, unless they were premixed elsewhere, which might just eliminate the advantage of microfluidics.... Read more »
Elizabeth Hulme, S., Shevkoplyas, S., & Whitesides, G. (2009) Incorporation of prefabricated screw, pneumatic, and solenoid valves into microfluidic devices. Lab on a Chip, 9(1), 79. DOI: 10.1039/b809673b
Hey, how’s your biotin? What? No it’s not an organic metal, maybe you call it B7? You’re probably fine, but have you been depressed, lethargic or losing your hair lately? Biotin is pretty important; it’s necessary for metabolism within our cells, so I make sure I never leave home without it. It’s rare for someone to have a biotin deficiency, but if you want to know your levels, give me a drop of your blood, and I’ll have an answer from you in 10 minutes. How? Oh just my self-powered integrated microfluidic blood analysis system (but I like to call it SIMBAS for short)...... Read more »
Dimov, I., Basabe-Desmonts, L., Garcia-Cordero, J., Ross, B., Ricco, A., & Lee, L. (2011) Stand-alone self-powered integrated microfluidic blood analysis system (SIMBAS). Lab on a Chip, 11(5), 845. DOI: 10.1039/C0LC00403K
Buffer Some research has been done on factors influencing a persons likelihood to play online games. All these motivations found in research doesn’t say much about the sources of these motivations. This study looks at how personality traits motivate online game play. This study was done in Korea. In Korea, watching television, going to the [...]
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Park, J., Song, Y., & Teng, C. (2011) Exploring the Links Between Personality Traits and Motivations to Play Online Games. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0502
Microfluidic chemostat used to study microbes
I don’t quite have the resources to poll the United States and the rest of the world, but if I did, this is what I’d ask:
Do you know what microfluidics is?
Can you explain it to me?
Do you currently use anything with this technology?
We may never know the results of the poll, but I think I'd hear "No" for most of them. Have no fear, because today you’re lucky enough to read my Beginner’s Guide to Microfluidics.
To start with...... Read more »
Device which lets sound travel one way, but not in the opposite direction... Read more »
Boechler, N., Theocharis, G., & Daraio, C. (2011) Bifurcation-based acoustic switching and rectification. Nature Materials, 10(9), 665-668. DOI: 10.1038/nmat3072
Cardiopulmonary BypassCardiopulmonary Bypass (source) More than 1,000 adult and 50 pediatric patients undergo a surgery involving cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) each day in the United States. A CPB is used when performing surgery on the heart or lungs, leaving them unable to perform their normal functions. But CPB introduces a lot of foreign material to the body, creating adverse reactions. The CPB assembly, drugs and surgical processes can each have their own inflammatory effects. Induced inflammatory responses may include the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, endothelial dysfunction and complement, neutrophil and platelet activation. Analyzing the patient’s blood during CPB is necessary to tie an inflammatory response to its origin in order to reduce a systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). But in order to monitor the patient’s status, at least three ml of blood must be drawn from the CPB system each time. This blood must then be centrifuged to access its plasma component (read more about replacing the centrifuge). Three ml of blood isn't needed to get an accurate reading, but it fits into the current operating procedures. This looks like the perfect opportunity to implement a microfluidic device to continuously filter small volumes of plasma from the CPB system to be analyzed, which is exactly what researchers from Rutgers University did.MicrofilterFilter membrane sandwiched between channels The article“Microfiltration platform for continuous blood plasma protein extraction from whole blood during cardiac surgery” by Jeffrey Zahn et al. is featured in the 2011 issue 17 of Lab on a Chip. The authors wanted to create a lab-on-a-chip component to filter plasma from CPB while collecting only 50-100 µl every 15 minutes, which could be used for the duration of a procedure which may last four hours. The proposed device is simple and features two microfluidic channels separated by a semipermeable membrane. In order to increase the filtration rate, the device features 32 channels in parallel. The authors chose to use a membrane with a 200 nm pore size, which allows plasma and proteins of interest to cross into the filter channel while stopping the 6-8 µm red blood cells (RBC). Even though the pores are sized so that only proteins and plasma can pass, that doesn’t mean that they’ll always be able to do so. Some proteins and cells naturally adhere to foreign objects, creating a clot. We don’t want this to happen to our membrane, which could become mostly or completely clogged. While our pore size allows proteins and plasma to pass through at a faster rate than smaller pores, it is more likely to ensnare a cell that can’t pass through. In order to prevent the membrane from clogging, we can introduce an anticoagulant, such as heparin. Anticoagulants like heparin prevent blood from clotting by disrupting a series of reactions that occur in blood (To learn more, check out this video on Coagulation Cascade from Johns Hopkins University). We normally don’t want anticoagulants in our blood because it would stop us from healing, but they are used in surgeries to diminish reactions to tools or processes. Instruments can be coated with heparin, which the authors did for the filtration device, so that heparin doesn’t have to be added system-wide. The blood’s hematocrit (Hct) also affects the need for an anticoagulant. Hct represents the percent of the blood volume that is occupied by RBC. The mathematical maximum value would be 1, which would mean that the blood was entirely composed of cells and there was no plasma, while 0 would indicate that there are no cells in the blood. Therefore a higher Hct would have a higher density of cells passing through the device and would need more anticoagulant. The final device by the authors was able to deliver cell-free plasma which made up 15% of the blood volume. The authors noted that although the plasma is cell-free, they needed to verify the extent of hemolysis. Hemolysis is simply the destruction of (RBC). We don’t want this happening to our filtered blood and need to make sure this isn’t the reason that no cells are entering our filtrate. I think that this is a simple, yet needed piece of equipment. It is basically a membrane separating two microfluidic streams. Although the channels are small, (the largest width is no greater than 600 µm) the channels across the membrane are different sizes so that they will still align when put together by our imperfect hands. The construction of parts of the device must be precise, but the device becomes more accessible if it does not need a robot to assemble it. This still needs another attachable point-of-care device to actually test the plasma, but this is promising.Reference:Aran, K., Fok, A., Sasso, L., Kamdar, N., Guan, Y., Sun, Q., Ündar, A., & Zahn, J. (2011). Microfiltration platform for continuous blood plasma protein extraction from whole blood during cardiac surgery Lab on a Chip, 11 (17) DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20080A... Read more »
Aran, K., Fok, A., Sasso, L., Kamdar, N., Guan, Y., Sun, Q., Ündar, A., & Zahn, J. (2011) Microfiltration platform for continuous blood plasma protein extraction from whole blood during cardiac surgery. Lab on a Chip, 11(17), 2858. DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20080A
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