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Madagascar Is Fighting a Deadly Plague

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The World Health Organization has delivered more than a million doses of antibiotics to Madagascar amid a raging epidemic of plague in which at least 33 people have died and 230 others have been infected, the BBC reported.

The first confirmed death from the epidemic began on August 28th in the town of Moramanga,.“Plague is curable if detected in time. Plague first arrived in Madagascar from Indian steamboats in 1898 before spreading through other harbors and then into the mainland along railroad construction lines. 

 

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More Medical Schools Going Bookless

AILEEN MCCRILLIS
NYU health sciences library

The Association of American Medical Colleges predicted that by 2030, the United States would have a shortage of up to 104,900 physicians. To try to curb this impending crisis, a wave of new medical schools have opened in the last decade. Eleven schools have been accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in the last five years, and eight more are currently under consideration.

As a condition of accreditation, these new schools must provide access to “well-maintained library resources sufficient in breadth of holdings and technology” to support the school’s educational mission, however, many medical schools are deciding that large print collections are no longer a vital component of those resources.

Paperless Libraries

Charles Stewart, associate dean and chief librarian of City College of New York, of the City University of New York system, said that his institution chose to go a paperless route for the newly opened CUNY School of Medicine on the City College campus for much the same reason — 24-7 access. “Stewart says they chose the all-electronic option since their medical school clearly wanted instant e-access to all their resources.

 

The Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, which accepted its first students in 2013, is designed as a paperless institution. The school has a library space where students can read and study, but the vast majority of the library’s resources are online. Bruce Koeppen, dean of the school, said that by making most of the library’s holdings electronic, it ensured that students and faculty could access information “anywhere and anytime, even when the library is closed.”

Hybrid Approach

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, opened in 2010, with just 50 books on its shelves, however, the students quickly pushed to expand this collection to 4,000 books, saying that they preferred to use physical materials for studying. The school noted, however, that it did not want to increase its print collection beyond the current level.

Fay Towell, director of libraries at the Greenville Hospital System, said that it was interesting that students at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, which opened in 2012, frequently requested access to both print and electronic resources. Given the small size of the library, and the prohibitive cost of providing both print and online versions of texts, Towell said the library had to be selective. She noted that often journals might cost more electronically than in print — “if a journal cost is $4,000 electronically and $400 in print, then the library makes space for print,” she said.

Roger Schonfeld, director of the Library and Scholarly Communication Program for Ithaka S+R, pointed out that when medical libraries thin their print collections, it does not necessarily mean that the campus loses access to those physical materials. “Whether the collections are moved to an off-site facility, or the library participates in a shared print program, it is almost always still possible to provide access to a print version on those occasions when it is necessary to do so.” The trend for thinning print collections is not unique to medical libraries, said Schonfeld — many science and engineering libraries have done the same.

Hackensack Meridian Health Invests $25M in Tech Incubator

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New Jersey-based Hackensack Meridian Health has teamed up with the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJIT) to open a health incubator with a design similar to the reality show ”Shark Tank,” in which companies pitch healthcare innovation ideas to a panel of experts. The incubator, Agile Strategies Lab, is the first of its kind for healthcare advances in New Jersey, according to officials. The lab, located on the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) campus in Newark, is designed to help create and launch the next wave of problem-solving in healthcare through better devices, improved technology and more efficient services to provide a higher quality of care, lower costs, and an enhanced patient experience, officials said in an announcement.

Hackensack Meridian Health has committed $25 million, a new revenue stream to help companies develop trailblazing products and services. This seed money will help launch ideas to the point where they can become viable and receive financing through venture capitalists. And the organization’s vast network—13 hospitals in seven counties, and more than 100 outpatient centers and 6,000 physicians—will look to serve as a vehicle to test some of the innovations once they are advanced enough as determined by a panel of experts from multiple disciplines.

The new Thing In Mental Healthcare

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Dr Jeffrey Lieberman from Columbia University says” the new technologic innovation that is emerging and which does seem likely to impact psychiatry and mental health care in a time that is commensurate with the other specialties of medicine, is the technology that informs how we use Internet-based smartphone mobile app devices. The rudimentary ways in which this has already begun to permeate medicine and mental health care include electronic health records and telemedicine, which is ideally suited to psychiatry in terms of being able to provide consultation at a distance.“The initial idea is to have smartphone-based applications that can perform several functions. One is a monitoring function: having apps that can passively monitor the activities or biologic signals of an individual—whether it is movement, heart rate, respiratory rate, or level of activity—and have an ongoing record that can be catalogued, observed, and interpreted by clinicians. A second function is as a means of communication. Doctors already have begun to employ FaceTime, Skype, and texting to maintain contact with patients remotely in a variety of situations. Another area would be to develop apps that could provide some kind of actual therapeutic assistance, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and supportive types of techniques or protocols when needed. All of these have great potential and can expand the reach of healthcare providers, psychiatrists, and mental health care clinicians, and provide help to a larger proportion of people when they need it.”

They Say Not To Worry About Superhuman Babies But Fear Who Will Be Doing The Genetic Engineering

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan says risks and benefits of germline therapy, which is banned in Britain, should be debated

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University, has used genetic engineering on human sperm and a pre-embryo. The group says is doing basic research to figure out if new forms of genetic engineering might be able to prevent or repair terrible hereditary diseases. Congress has banned federal funding for genetic engineering of sperm, eggs, pre-embryos or embryos. That means everything goes on in the private or philanthropic world here or overseas, without much guidance. It should be determined who should own the techniques for genetic engineering. Important patent fights are underway among the technology’s inventors. Which means lots of money. is at stake. And that means it is time to talk about who gets to own what and charge what. Finally, human genetic engineering needs to be monitored closely: all experiments registered, all data reported on a public database and all outcomes — good and bad — made available to all scientists and anyone else tracking this area of research. Secrecy is the worst enemy that human genetic engineering could possibly have. Today we need to focus on who will own genetic engineering technology, how we can oversee what is being done with it and how safe it needs to be before it is used to try to prevent or fix a disease. Plenty to worry about.

LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot Can Eliminated Hospital Germs

 

Hospitals around the world are constantly for new and innovative ways to battle deadly pathogens and kill multidrug resistant organisms that can cause hospital-acquired infections (HAI).

Saint Peter’s University Hospital has implemented a LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot that emits waves of ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy hard-to-kill bugs in hard-to-clean places.

Their goal is to prevent infection & provide a clean, safe environment for their patients,  families and employees. The latest technology provides an added level of protection in combating HAI’s caused by pathogens such as Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus.

The Xenex robot is a new technology that uses pulsed xenon, a high-intensity UV light that penetrates the cell walls of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus and spores. Their DNA is fused, rendering them unable to reproduce or mutate, effectively killing them on surfaces without contact or chemicals.

The system is effective against even the most dangerous pathogens, including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), norovirus, influenza, Ebola and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA. Over 400 hospitals, Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense facilities in the U.S., Canada, Africa, Japan and Europe are using Xenex robots, which are also in use in skilled nursing facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, and long-term acute-care facilities.

They’re Now Editing Embryos Here In America

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MIT Technology Review has learned that the first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon.

The experiment, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR, according to people familiar with the scientific results.

To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China. None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days—and they claim that there was never any intention of implanting them into a womb—

Scientists claim their objective is to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease, like the blood condition beta-thalassemia. The process is termed “germline engineering” because any genetically modified child would then pass the changes on to subsequent generations via their own germ cells—the egg and sperm.

Some critics say germline experiments could open the floodgates to a brave new world of “designer babies” engineered with genetic enhancements—a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies.The U.S. intelligence community last year called CRISPR a potential “weapon of mass destruction.”

Shoukhrat Mitalipov is the first U.S.-based scientist known to have edited the DNA of human embryos.

OHSU/KRISTYNA WENTZ-GRAFF

A person familiar with the research says “many tens” of human IVF embryos were created for the experiment using the donated sperm of men carrying inherited disease mutations.

Mitalipov’s group appears to have overcome earlier difficulties by “getting in early” and injecting CRISPR into the eggs at the same time they were fertilized with sperm.

Tony Perry of Bath University, Successfully edited the mouse gene for coat color, changing the fur of the offspring from the expected brown to white.

Somewhat prophetically, Perry’s paper on the research, published at the end of 2014, said, “This or analogous approaches may one day enable human genome targeting or editing during very early development.”

Mitalipov was Born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the former Soviet Union. In 2007, he unveiled the world’s first cloned monkeys. Then, in 2013, he created human embryos through cloning, as a way of creating patient-specific stem cells.

His team’s move into embryo editing coincides with a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in February that was widely seen as providing a green light for lab research on germline modification.

The report also offered qualified support for the use of CRISPR for making gene-edited babies, but only if it were deployed for the elimination of serious diseases.

The advisory committee drew a red line at genetic enhancements—like higher intelligence. “Genome editing to enhance traits or abilities beyond ordinary health raises concerns about whether the benefits can outweigh the risks, and about fairness if available only to some people,” said Alta Charo, co-chair of the NAS’s study committee and professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

In the U.S., any effort to turn an edited IVF embryo into a baby has been blocked by Congress, which added language to the Department of Health and Human Services funding bill forbidding it from approving clinical trials of the concept.

 

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