Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Can MRIs hurt?

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Yes, if the radiofrequency is able to heat your ECG cables and electrodes according to the FDA. This could lead to severe burns. The linked article, is actually an invitation to nurses and technicians to report such instances. Seems like a little haphazard. Wouldn't we better off with a well rounded study alongside the data collection from willful techs. Anyhow, I hope we get the answers soon, one way or the other...

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(Probably) Coming to a real world near you: Weeding out weak patents

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

This has become the day and age of patenting anything and everything. And, it has also become the age of extensive patent litigation.

But these are issues to deal with companies willfully infringing each other's patents, and letting the "lawyers take care of it". The lawyers are in no way doing an unenvious job of earning themselves some really good slices of the outcomes.

However, the Supreme Court of the United States is dealing with a different issue.

When does a patent stop making sense? When it represents a product or a method to produce a product that is very intuitive for the average person in the field.

Okay, and now the Supreme Court Judges are addressing a particular patent with pet names or silly appellations from the '30s. But is that how patents are issued and argued over nowadays? If you start thinking about the intuitive ability of average people, you have to define who is intuitive and who is average.

We go back to the problem of the abilities of our friendly primates becoming suddenly able to reproduce Shakespeare's works. And I do understand that there may be those of you who truly believe Shakespeare himself was a primate. Those feelings of yours aside, where does this classification stop?

Can we stop issuing patents altogether? How many patents can survive the onslaught of suppose-able "intuitive average-ness"? Not many. So do we stop worrying about intellectual property altogether?

I am glad (and so are many), I am not writing some of these "historic" judgements that can be questioned over and over for years to come....

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

China: Soon to become the new home for animal testing

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

The world economy is now very market driven. And this is something we thought would be great. But the market doesn't always do things many of us like. Now animal activists are in trouble. Soon, clinical search on animals will move to China. Good Luck protesting anything the Chinese Government does.

But if you hate animal activists, dont laugh to soon. You may not like stem cell research. Well, China and India don't have a problem with that.

This is the future. Hatred, outright protests and religion will not be effective as tools anymore. Whatever is unpleasant to one person, is now a great opportunity for another person.

Hence, the better way to end mass testing of animals, if that is what you wish, would be to appeal to the better sense of scientists - challenge them to develop testing models and methods that are both robust and animal friendly.

If you don't, and stick to rash methods, rest assured that they will just move somewhere else....

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Defining the true right to life

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

In 2006, we think we are a progressive society. We are working towards eliminating hunger, disease and suffering. However, in rich countries, life is becoming a joke. Religion plays a major role in deciding which group of cells is life and which isn't. A group of men want to decide whether women can choose.

This might have been the reason why FierceHealthcare posted this article with the title "controversy".

But after reading this heart moving story, I don't see any controversy. The mother of the child soon to be born asks the right questions. Is it alright for children to be coerced to be born, just because "God says so"?

Does God promote pediatric suffering? What happens when the children grow up and start demanding answers to these questions, of the "great" institutions?

I would support the mother's ability and choice in how her children are born and grow up any day. Why? I tend to believe in human beings. I am secure with myself, and with other human beings, even with the religious idiots, in their ability to be human. I don't have to hide behind a God to satisfy my private desires to control the lives of other human beings.

We tend to think the future will hold many "tough" ethical questions. However, if you realize that you have only so much control in deciding how you can bind and restrict other peoples' freedom, you will realize that these "tough" questions have very "simple" answers.

Good Luck to the mother and child!

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

USDA: Handing out controversial approvals

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Bayer's GM Rice got USDA approval in what some might term an insensitive and controversial manner. Bayer is currently embroiled in lawsuits over the leakage and contamination of its rice, which had prompted a European ban on US rice imports.

If the entire process of federal approvals is just to help the industry assert unpopular moves, the agencies would soon lose their credibility or what is left of it.

When the product of a company is under investigation for serious violations that have almost drowned an entire industry, it would be better not to hand down an "approval" for that very same product.

Yes, it may be so that the rice is harmless, but doesn't this set a bad precedent? This question seems to be on the minds of a lot of people.

This seems to only add to the controversy and smells really bad. The motivation for regulatory agencies should be to offer a balanced view, not to lean one way or the other on the suspicious people Vs. industry war of opinions.

Such approvals set a bad example, and further dim the trust people have on the agencies that were specifically created to allay fears.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Healthcare: Ireland healthcare industry suffering from

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Apparently Ireland is losing out in the battle for one of the top positions in healthcare, medical device design and related areas. After spending about a year studying the problem, it has been recommended that they hire new scientists and also increase the funding for healthcare research.

Now, if all countries were to try the same thing, wouldn't it be one "healthy" competition, n'est pass?

I wish Ireland all the good luck!

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Nanotechnology: EPA regulations leave one with more questions than answers..

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

The EPA is now going to regulate the use of silver as a pesticide in its "nano" form. However, they have made some controversial decisions, and don't relent unless there is a lot of pressure. This leads one to wonder if the EPA is the appropriate agency to regulate the use of nano-silver. They do not seem to be too concerned to use appropriate regulation as long as the "labeling" suits their choice. This could be an indicator of a dangerous trend...

I am not against industry by any means. However, shouldnt industries be made responsible to test out their products for safety before they run away with the idea of bottling and selling their latest concoction?

Otherwise this could become like all those smokers suing Marlboro to pay for their lung CT scans - ridiculous.

One wonders why governments are excessively reluctant to fix things the first time!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More Medical Device Awards: This time, cardioPAT by Haemonetics

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

MassMEDIC has been giving more awards now. Awards are a great PR for the companies receiving them, and a boost for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Haemonetics provides a system called cardioPAT that promises to preserve blood lost during surgery and infuse it back to the patient once the surgery is complete.

A very useful device indeed. There is a huge market for medical devices that serve to help increase the efficiency of surgeries in several indirect ways. One other device that comes to mind is PerClose, now a part of Abbott Vascular Devices.

Quite an inspiration for engineers looking for unique, niche opportunities.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Healthcare: How to Run a Hospital

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

...through a blog. Okay, now I am just being sensational. Blogging doesn't always come easy, but it brings intrigue many times. I came across this blog today, again from Fierce Healthcare.

It is interesting that the CEO of a hospital has taken to blogging. This is something to watch for the future. He has also taken to gently challenging his competitors and randomly reminding and introducing us to comedians from the past.

All in all, quite an interesting find to watch and follow....

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Diabetes higher among NRIs than Indians in India?

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Or the title should read, "Inventing new methods to waste $150,000". If you are writing a book to cover misleading research, you may have something here.

Let us examine what the study claims.

NRIs living in the United States, especially in urban environments get more diabetes than Indians living in India. Indians living in urban regions in India get more diabetes than their counterparts in rural India.

Now let us look at India. You should really travel to India to understand this part, if you are not Indian, that is. People don't go to hospitals in India that often. Diabetes is more commonly referred to as "having sugar" - no doubt from the presence of high blood sugar that remains unprocessed.

Beyond that, many do believe if you cut down sugar consumption, you will get rid of the "sugar". They will stare at you if you told them that there were two "types" of diabetes. None of this is their fault. The Government of India has absolutely no desire or realization of the fact that our people need to be educated about disease and dying.

Now let us shift bases to the US. Lets examine Indians who are in the US. A country that is quite capable of snooping into every angle of your life that Westeners stylishly like to call "privacy" has all kinds of statistics available on the Indians that live there.

Most Indians who go to the US are literate. Not a very bright thing, but helps. They have health insurance provided by their employers which allows them to run around getting tested for all things. If they own organizations and such, they have a better chance at digging through the mysteries of their human embodiment.

Given this, wouldn't it surprise you that somebody had to spend $1.5mn to arrive at the wrong answer? They could have atleast said, NRIs get tested more than Indians in India. But why would you need to spend money for that.

I do agree with all the yarn about how people eat whatever they can lay their hands on, and so on and so forth. Especially if you are in the cities, you have stopped collecting firewood, and chasing tigers away from your chicken farm..but $150,000?

I would like someone to challenge me.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Medical Device Update: Market Size in the UK for medical devices

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Knowing your demographics and market sizes is always important. This news article has been making the rounds on all biotech newsletters, but I still thought it is worth a mention.

The current lead markets in the world are supposed to be the US, Europe and Japan, with Australia hovering around there somewhere. Given this scenario, it is also interesting to see how Europe divvies up as a market, in terms of the individual countries.

Research and Markets, pegs the three nations as follows

Germany > France > UK ($5.6bn USD).

The article further points out past problems and future projections for the UK market that are quite interesting.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Medical Devices: Quick Update: Top 10 medical innovations of the year comes through...

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

A lot of us create a positive impact on each others' lives. It is always fruitful to know who leads the pack. The Cleveland Clinic has come up with a list that it feels - fits the bill.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Biotechnology: Sea water to Drinking water - Not Blackmagic anymore!

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

UCLA scientists, and this article are reporting some interesting research results. We now have a method which is cost effective, and produces better results. It is a little heartening to know that the UN is paying a lot of attention to our water problems. And, so is renewed interest in the US helping a little.

Israel is in the forefront of this research, and it might prove helpful for the world if some of the rich middle east countries also got into some of the action.

However, is that the holy grail of fixing our water problems? What about technologies that capture rain water, and preserve it? What about less wasteful expenditure of water, afforestation, rain water harvesting and so on?

How about recycling waste water?

Water should be a well planned and distributed resource, as I am not sure the same knee jerk reactions we have been giving to our other problems will help us fix any impending water crisis..

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Healthcare: How to get closer to your patients...a true "must - read"

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Every generation is full of stories of "Such people are hard to come by." And surprisingly enough, every generation is chock full of such stories. We can only humble ourselves in front of such people, and take pride in what they are doing.

Such is the story of George Geary.

A man I had not heard of until today - something I am sorry about. I am going to let you read the rest of the story. It is not my habit to paraphrase articles and pretend to make into a long post.

So enjoy, be inspired, and identify how you want to serve and use your life's lessons even as your hairs grey.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

A new set of Medical Device Awards pop up - MassMEDIC sponsors..

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

There seem to be a string of awards handed out to new medical device companies for innovation of various sorts. However you would have to spend a lot of time finding a press release on MassMEDIC's own website.

However, congratulate the companies and win these awards:

NMT for its STARflex spetal repair implant:

SuturTek for its SuturTek 360 Fascia Closure Device

and there may be more. Here is a link to MassMEDIC:

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Medical Device Awards: Gold Electrode Awards for 2006

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Apparently these awards were established in 2004 by Neurotech Reports []. The awards are categorized as follows:

1. Best New Product
2. Most promising start-up firm
3. Neurotechnology Researcher of the Year
4. Most valuable non - profit organization
5. Most useful financial professional

I guess the only award I had a problem with was the "useful" professional award. Useful seems to be a little derogatory, doesn't it? Well, you have to ask the Neurotech Report guys that.

Anyway, if you are in the Neurotech business, and as a start up, would like some publicity, you might want to compare, contrast and compete for the awards. You can find this year's recipients by reading the linked article on the title.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Nepal's Mysterious Disease - Something you would like solved soon

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

People like mysteries, and I am no stranger to this emotion. However, there are some mysteries that spring up in unlikely locations. They are also unpleasant for those "suffering" the mystery.

Such is this strange affliction. Though the article itself does not provide a lot of information on the disease, I hope they follow up and let us know what is going on. I wish we had more forensic scientists - medicos, who would rapidly study and identify the disease, so that treatments will be more forthcoming!

I will follow up and write about anything I learn...

Follow Up:



Number of Patients: 500

Mortalities: 36

Location: Fattehpur Village - 23. Others in random locations.

Period of Infection: Under a week as on day of report (Oct. 31, 2006)

Symptoms: high fever, body ache and loss of consciousness

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Here is a new Medical Device Mystery for you

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

A medical device mystery. Encore is a company that Blackstone [Blackstone Capital Partners] wants to take private. Well that is clear. But why hide the name of the company they are buying? I guess it is some orthopedic company, and they don't want competition....

Or they think competition might undervalue or overvalue what they are buying. But is it fair to not disclose who or what is being purchased? Does privacy of the individual extend to companies? Well, I don't know, but I am sure the SEC does.

I don't know about you, I am just biting my nails, waiting for the finish line to this one.

Encore -

Blackstone Capital Partners -

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Friday, October 20, 2006

What are the longest, most well - survived organisms on the planet?

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

It looks like an episode out of StarTrek or some other strange Sci Fi program. A bacterial life form, on our own planet that braces itself against radiation and other tough circumstances and reproduces once in a very, long, long time..

Interesting life forms like this may exist elsewhere, on our very planet. They might provide us clues to life on other planets. They might also teach us how to fight radiation and other adversities. Adversities we ourselves could very well cause upon ourselves through pollution...

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Engineering Harry Potter - The Cloak is getting ready...

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Metamaterials - an interesting concept. I would like to see this research proceed. It might be easy to dream up radiation of various kinds that you would want to deflect, however, is it possible. Can something deflect radiations on both ends of the spectrum?

Why be pessimistic? Waiting a while...maybe a long while might tell.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Issue - Recycled Medical Devices: Are they for you?

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Related Article:

Medical Devices are manufactured to stringent norms. Many people could lose their jobs if a patient loses a life over a device. Anyone who has been in the industry long enough knows of the trouble LifeScan got into after an erratic blood glucose monitor, an external guiding device failed and caused the death of a patient.

Given all this, how can we sit around and accept re-use of invasive medical devices? I worked on disposal myself, and the norms there are not any less stringent. Yes, they are so for many reasons, and device companies will readily comply because they don't want others to have access to their devices.

Yes, it may very well delay a visit to the landfill by many devices, but can we toy with human lives just because we are unable to make a statistical relation with the data you have?

Reusing, recycling and such efforts are what I live by. But there are situations where you cannot comply. Also there is the argument that if most of the stuff is biocompatible, it may also degrade well.

One simple question to proponents of reuse: Would you have it used on yourself or your family members? Even without being informed?

Me, personally, sorry I refuse to do so. I do have a good scientific reason: "We do not have an exact answer"

So, ask yourself. Do you want devices that have been in someone else's body used on you?

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Quick Update: Current State of the US Medical Device Industry

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

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New Problems for Diabetics: Fake test strips!!!!

If you are a diabetic in the developed world, or have assimilated modern western medicine, then you have access to a blood glucose meter, a lancet, a few lances and test strips.

And you know the whole routine about how test strips help you test yourself, your blood glucose levels and help you watch out on how much you eat, or the quantity of insulin to take.

Well, if that was not enough, someone has been selling fake test strips!!! Its a really sad trend, where now people want to make money off sick people - especially, by harming them!

Well all moral tears aside, watch out, make sure you understand that, even when they are not fake, these meters - all of them can only be 90% accurate, and there is no real substitute to a regular visit to the clinic, your doctor and a very alert, healthy life style.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reader's Digest asks What is your Diabetes IQ?

[Click on the title for link to article]

It is a good all round quiz, except I disagree with the first question. Just like me to go disagree with the very first question. I do agree that obesity is a major risk, but I disagree with the assumption that it is the single most important risk indicator for Diabetes 2.

Take the quiz and see where you stand!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Lysenkoism is defined as the obfuscation of science to ideology. Quite an interesting term!

This name arises after Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, a guy who conviced Joseph Stalin to ban the study of genetics in the United States.

While Scientific American (where I learnt this) proudly announces that this pushed back the Soviet Sciences by decades, they do not realize how many Lysenkos are walking about in their own country.

It is truly sad that single individuals can influence Science and R&D so much.

Maybe in the future we will see a struggle for "scientific freedom". Many countries, including the US are in danger of being unable to rise above the noise of fabricated "ethics" and "religious opinions" especially if these emanate from people in high position.

What is the danger there? Well, the danger is that, pivotal techniques such as those involved in stem cells would fall in the wrong hands. Then we will have true ethical problems, not made up ghosts.

It is sad that we live in an age where science influences our very existence but we still need to advocate scientific "activism" to protect progress.

May someone exorcise Lysenko's ghost from many of us.

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Do any of my organs stop functioning when I sneeze?

This was posted by Padma, on my comments from yesterday's comments.

Interestingly, our eyes close every time we sneeze. The attributed reason is that the nasal nerves and occular nerves are very close to each other. So when the nose gets the trigger to sneeze, the eyes close. Another reason is that our eyes might close to protect tears, and also prevent bacteria from entering the eyes.

Not everyone has their eyes shut off, and some can even train and control themselves from falling prey to this reflex.

Hence it is quite possible that the function of the eyes closing might just have been an evolutionary slip.

And no, your heart doesn't stop when you sneeze. So you can go ahead and Bless the offending sneezers. Make sure your sneezing friends are not Japanese though! They don't like the "weakness" noticed!!!

While I try to think of other questions, why do some people sneeze when they look at the Sun directly?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

ImClone - from where you learn how not to run yourself?

First ImClone was in the news. Not for good reasons.

Then ImClone was in the news. Many times, still not for good reasons. (Like the failed patent suit)

Now ImClone is in the news. Again, not for good reasons.

Boards have been run down in the past by rich people, and that itself need not be news.

However, what is a board if it is not independent? What is it if it is "controlled" partially or fully by one person?

In this case, that itself might not be the root cause of trouble, but how much better can a company be run if there was atleast one interested buyer in the past.

As ImClone braces for a future filled with plenty of lessons for us, I hope we learn quicker than ImClone self - obliviates...

How much Hydrochloric Acid is produced in the stomach?

A friend put me to test over this. A little detective work produced a lot of reading. Here are the final answers to this problem:

1. "During a meal, secretion of gastric juices (containing HCl and pepsinogen) increases from a few mL / hour (the usual values between meals) to almost 1.5 L."


2. "GASTRIC JUICE is produced at the rate of 1500 ml/day composed of 5600 mg. HCL, 1120 mg. Potassium Chloride and 175 mg. Sodium Chloride."


While we are at it, how about this:

"Does the heart stop when we sneeze?"

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What is Israel's Hottest Medical Device Company?

Israel is another medical device powerhouse. A lot of innovation comes from that country, and many of Europe's patents are supposed to be owned by Israeli inventors.

And the winner is BrainsGate. It will eventually become important to stimulate the brain, and selectively access the blood brain barrier to infuse drugs, prevent stroke and perform other life saving functions.

This is one company with the right idea. It might be good to keep them in your radar screen.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A strange penile implant: A sad one for the museums...

[Click on title for link to original article]

One day there will be a museum of horrendous medical practices that our great, great, great...grand children will visit and watch in shock and awe.

This penile implant will go down among those devices. After all, it is in the same class!

These devices and patients arise because of a lack of vision. There is always a thing with the conservative approach, "If ain't really broke, don't fix it".

Now if this person had waited for two years, if the FDA had paid closer attention to such implants, if the designers of the implants themselves had paid any close attention....

This is not a joke from the past, but a lesson that hits hard at anyone designing or using medical devices!

Genetic alteration of mosquitoes - a new dream

The future is here. It is slowly creeping up on us - and on mosquitoes.

If this experiment and program succeeds there will be more experiments - genetically engineered insects and animals will join the fore in man's fight for domination over nature.

However, will these mutations be stable? Where will the answers for very tough ethical questions come from? How will we regulate these things? What if technology such as this, falls in the hands of bad governments or terrorists?

There are a lot of "What ifs" and "How ifs" that need to be answered.

While, only time can tell, we have some exciting times ahead of us!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Medical Tourism has a new enemy....

Okay, first off, this post has been stolen blatantly from Fierce Healthcare ( What to do? The issue they brought to attention is so important, I cant just keep myself from posting.

So click on the title and read how a union prevented a happy medical honeymoon for an injured guy and his company trying to lower healthcare costs by shipping him to India plus awarding him a two day trip.

Now, where will all this end?

Adding to the existing outrage over increasing healthcare costs, how will healthcare companies hold out in justifying these heavy expenses?

Yes, there was this emotional article by a guy on NYTimes rambling about how everything is justified. I don't think the guys who are shelling the price feel that way who is going to be responsible for all the explanations and the midwifery?

Oh by the way, another link by FierceHealthCare (Thanks Guys!)where a Miami Hospital is trying to pull off an India (if you know what I mean!)..

Boston's wireless monitoring system approved

Boston's defibrillators may be infamous because of their association with the word "Guidant". However, their wireless monitoring system is an example of an increasing level of application of the principles of wireless control and monitoring in the medical industry.

In the future we can envision automated observation (monitoring) systems, that will report irregularities and send alerts to both the physicians and the patient. If patients still continue to trust these devices, that is....

Friday, September 29, 2006

Gray Davis is not the only one who fears a "recall"

So, if you use a different word, people will suddenly gain confidence in these malfunctioning devices?

What will restore confidence is legally punishing people who deliberately hide information about the safety of their devices.

What will restore confidence is published data that suggests progressive reduction in the amount and number of device malfunctions.

What will eventually restore confidence is sound engineering and medicine practices.

Not word - play.

Maybe the Heart Rhythm Association is out of "rhythm" with what restores confidence in people.

Yes word play is sometimes child's play.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Space Age Surgery - I don't get something...

How long will space age travel be restricted to zero gravity?

Would people in a colony in moon, or in space want to live for long time in a zero gravity environment?

How many of these ships will be equipped with doctors?

And I am still not opposed to the plan, except some of the reasoning applied to defend this million pound experiment doesn't make sense to me.

But science must progress, and maybe we will learn some useful lessons.

Monday, September 25, 2006

RFID, FDA, Pharma Manufacturers, Lawyers...and you?!!


(Requires extensively painful steps in registration and downloading)

The summary: Pharma industry in the US will not do anything unless they are regulated. A sound example of what too much external regulation can do.

The FDA, will take the maximum possible time to achieve anything of any significance. Maybe Congress should intervene with every step of what the FDA does. Maybe Congress should run the FDA, but that would be political!

Websites in the RFID Industry are built by the descendants of those who created Henry's Maze.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

How to Save yourself from getting cancer

If you remember Vioxx, Celebrex and a few "well regulated" drugs that have themselves become controversial after extensive research and approval, why would you go get yourself some "herbal" therapy.

Herbal remedies were or are effective only if you are dealing with an expert. It is shocking to realize that some people did not even realize what they were getting in the form of treatment.

It is not to say that Western Medicine is anymore advanced, but because of the regulation and legalities, it is atleast safe to the extent that neither the government nor the companies involved, have presented you with fraudulent information on drugs.

Our current understanding of cancer, its origins and treatments is feeble at its best, so you would be better warned to try the tested path to treatment.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Who regulates the one that regulates what you do?

...and how?

Well now we know. But this is good news for the Plan B and the women who seek last!!!

Now we have to watch this drama unfold. Something tells me, and I think it tells you, that just because this is a step forward, it does not mean it will be a quick resolution going from here...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Are you a bioresearcher?

Depending upon your answer to this question to yourself, and the true honesty of the answer, we would be able to judge if you need to subscribe to Fierce Bioresearcher or not. Touted as a publication for drug developers - atleast in its tag line, the newsletter has some interesting and intriguing articles.

An addition to the long list that you probably receive if you are like me, but definitely worth a try!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Stem Cells from Teeth: A belief system is fine, but ethics, please?!!!

So, what ticks me off, is this company has declared that its dental stem cell product is an "ethical" alternative to embryonic stem cells.

This is morbid, if short of nothing else.

So, this is a start up company, carefully named "BioEden" for those who want to separate the Bio from medical companies and look beyond, this is quite indicative.

Excuse me, a current President of the United states, with support from just barely above 33% of his Senate, and definitely less than half his country (who by the way, probably have never been fully educated on the current standards of "ethics") feels its unethical.

I am not questioning Mr. Bush's right to use a strange "veto" tool, handed to a man to do whatever he likes in a "democratic" government.

But who, ever gave you the right to promulgate teeth as an ethical alternative to embryonic stem cell research?

I like the idea of living in hope, so I don't care if people stored every living portion of their body in a freezer. In fact, I hope they do. We never know where our stem cells would come from.

I really appreciate that part of your approach at about $600 + whatever a year, to store frozen teeth...but please, oh please don't do the "Ethics" merry - go - round.

Its unethical to run business that way!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Today's Tip: Learn 3D modeling on the web, and do it too...

Google has had this tool called SketchUp, which is available both as a free version, and as a professional download package.

Both tools have varying levels of ease with which you can create conceptual design.

For someone getting started with their own mock - ups and concepts, this should be quite good if they feel comfortable with it. I have found that usually the problem I have with CAD tools is the amount of comfort I feel when I am around, using them.

So this tool may or may not be for you, and it is probably not for everyone, but is worth a try.

You can find a lot of detail about the products on the link (Click on Title).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Miscommunicating - The leading cause for death of new borns in the US!

It was with shock that I discovered this to be the case. And then I realized, that it makes sense. How much training do you need to undergo, before you know everything there is to know, about delivery? And if you consider how the results of studies and best practices can be transferred to rural and remote hospitals, you have a splitting headache!

I do hope this solution works out.

This is also the reason why we need computers with AI - bots, that undergo virtual training and accumalate as much knowledge as possible from case notes, and publications, and other multiple resources fed across the internet. One day, a midwife/RN in trouble might just be able to consult the computer, that would give you an answer of what was done in Ohio, or Kansas, or....

Thursday, July 06, 2006

ABC Australia - A mysterious disaster in the making?

Science and Medicine are equated to Religion sometimes, in terms of the amount of strength people can derive by believing in either.

However, there are perplexities that cannot be explained.

How do we explain the high incidence of breast cancer in the Marin county?

How do we explain the high incidence of cancer in Long Island? A recent study came back with no findings or obvious smoke signs!

How do we explain the tragedy at the Australian news room?

This sad quiz is a test to our abilities in understanding the origin of diseases. It is also a measure of the reliability of our current state of affairs with regards to science, technology and medicine.

However, there is hope. I was at an EMBS lecture, here at the Bay Area Local Chapter and there was a good talk from a local organization, the EPRI, that examined purported links between EMF and cancers.

They now think that the link might not be EMF from power lines, but from a small ground built into US homes since the early 1900s!

Of course this is not proof, or the results are not conclusive, but they sure persuade us to look beyond the common causes, and technologies that look like sitting ducks...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Medicine makes progress: A triple transplant!

Medicine is offering new hope, and new successes everyday. It is not certain that all of these advances will be available or all - pervading soon, but the path is being paved for more success in sustaining life.

Diabetes is a horrible disease, and while prediabetics may have a chance at combating or preventing Type II with planning, people who have autoimmune diseases that destroy their own organs, and thus are prone to Type I have no chance.

Or so it was, in the past. With this successful transplantation of a damaged liver, pancreas and the kideny, Australian doctors presented a challenge to the realm of diseases.

It is interesting to observe and find out how many such multiple transplants might become possible in the future.

Monday, June 26, 2006

On again, off again, here we go again. Yet another brain and cell phone study...

Or you would think. But to my knowledge, this one is closer to being scientific, and atleast does not raise unwanted alarms without drawing proper conclusions.

I would suggest that there needs to be a unified approach to test the theories of the seeming effects of cell phones on the brains functions.

And, then, there needs to be a unified approach to studying these effects. We know we don't have a cure for brain cancer, or for that matter, much of a cure for most of the diseases that affect the brain. So why risk an entire generation of kids with brain cancer? Especially, now that parents are handing them out to kids for safety and such?

One wonders who will set such a study afoot, and when...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Advancing imaging techniques to aid detection

One of my dreams, and I am sure there are a lot of people who have this dream -- is to build a booth. Once you walk into it, a million scanners run over your body. They examine your genes, your morphology and other markers in your body. They run a health report - past, present and future.

They indicate the health conditions that currently afflict you, and what risks you run for the future. Treatments can then start immediately.

A step closer to this, would be techniques similar to the one reported by researchers at Dartmouth. They are using the differences between oxygenation and deoxygenation of blood to try and identify breast cancer tumors. Having worked with sensory distinction of deoxygenated blood from oxygenated blood, I feel this has a lot of promise.

While the woods may be dark, deep and there might be a million steps to go in medical diagnostics research, this is a good step forward!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer - What is the interrelation?

Research at the Mayo Clinic now points to a certain "something" that forms a suspicious connection between diabetes and pancreatic cancer. We need to find out what that "something" is. That said, atleast in certain instances, it might make sense to get out there and check yourself for pancreatic cancer if you were just diagnosed with an onset of Diabetes Type II. Early diagnosis helps with surgery and possible removal of the pancreas to prevent metastasis and increase survival rates.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Become Invisible - Exciting Possibilities for Research

What would you do if you could become invisible? While the pathopsychological investigations of this hypothetical situation might produce some interesting results, the problem of becoming invisible itself does not seem like science fiction anymore.

What used to be science fiction a few years ago, is creeping into reality. So why not try and dream up more and more science fiction, so that someone sits down and creates the reality portion of it.

Of interest to me, personally, is the mathematical and physics aspects that could lead to these proofs. Of course materials research needs to go in deep before such cloaks become thin enough that someone could actually wear them, and less, still, throw them around.

While the military aspect is quite inviting, there are other uses that could warrant an invisible cloak. Once made, who is going to regulate this industry?

So many questions, and so few answers. Maybe someone could write a book about all this.

Alza FDA approval brings transdermal drug delivery closer to reality

This can be quite exciting for the drug delivery world. Imagine being able to delivery insulin (in an appropriate form, wherein lies a major challenge), transdermally. There might also be other breakthroughs, such as instant aspirin and a cocktail of drugs delivered to relieve patients who just suffered myocardial infraction.

While thhis might seem like jumping to conclusions, its more of a dream, that could potentially save thousands of lives, if it becomes a reality!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What are EMRs? And why are they abuzz?

EMRs refer to Electronic Medical Records. The idea is that the entire medical history of the patient, and any pertinent information will become available to doctors, insurance companies, researchers, and more importantly patients. These records can then be effectively used in conjunction with Information Technology tools to manipulate, transfer and do other things to help you get speedy treatment.

Of course each beneficiary of the EMRization of patient data views it to their own advantage.

- Researchers obviously would like the idea of being able to cull large amounts of data on the disease type, its spread, the patient demographics that go along with it, the treatment offered, the success rates and so on and so forth.

- Doctors view this as a tool to keep track of their patients, to be able to do some of their own research, to be able to understand how they are perfroming and so on.

- Various governments view this as an opportunity to formulate policies, track grants and funds, hospital data, disease spread among various other aspects.

- Insurance companies view this is a grand opportunity to manage data, since they are the ones that actually carry the burden of the data.

The above are only examples of portions of perceptions of the data by these large groups. We also have health activists, economists, generalists, religious activists, lawyers and many more type of people, looking to access the data, to the extent it is made available to them, and use it to their own advantage.

This complexity is similar to the description of an elephant provided by 11 blind people.

Problems with EMRs include - bad technology, improper collection and distribution designs, lack of training and understanding in how to use them, lack of support from various arms of health care management and providers and so on.

So watch out for the discussions surrounding EMRs to emerge from conferences, government deliberations, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, lawsuits, and of course, the media!

Making hay with bluetooth: Software aids patients to transfer important blood glucose monitoring data wirelessly

Continuous monitoring of patient data maybe a dream today. More so, would be the act of allowing for doctors to access this data anytime, or even allowing patients to access the data, feed it into capable computers, to get ready assessment of their conditions, dietary and pharmaceutical recommendations.

But, CreatorBlue is definitely a step in the right direction. If the product itself does not become the means to achieve the goal, it would sure serve as a very good prototype to examine the problems surrounding the design of similar products.

While little is known of the product pending its public release, such attempts should be closely monitored to understand their future implications.

mDiabetic is touted as a product that helps doctors and patients interact virtually for effective treatment. The company website has several links to help patients understand more about the disease, and also learn about carb levels associated with various food items.

To learn more, Mobile Diabetic:

Footnote: Attempts to enhance help for diabetic patients through mobile applications is not new by any means. This was brainstormed extensively by my team at a class we took a few years ago. It is heartening to see an internet search for this topic bring out about extensive results.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Businessweek Cover: Dr. David Eddy and the discombobulation in the practice of medicine

Simulating a complex set of diseases and predicting their outcomes used to be a dream once upon a time.

The reality staring back at us a few years down the line, seems to be quite different! We are talking of routinely stimulating entire sets of diseases, complexly interwound among patients, and clinical studies on such patients.

This might very well be the future of medicine.

On the same note, it was a little worrisome to read some of the comments, supposedly from real doctors. Now, if that is the kind of trouble we are looking forward to, then, a bunch of simulation tools wont solve the problem per se...We need doctors to participate in revolutionalizing the field of medical practice.

Maybe someone should simulate how a doctor is supposed to navigate a barrage of pressures from the government, the patients, insurance companies, device and drug companies, the lawyers, the media and anyone in-between...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Women's Health: Cervical Cancer drug wins several fans at the FDA

The fight between complex diseases and vaccines with the FDA had not been going too well for drug companies - remember Cerebrex and other debacles such as Vioxx?

However, but for a few who consider themselves the moral police, everyone at the FDA, including 9 public health groups seem to be ga-ga over this new vaccine, that can prove to be quite beneficial to several victims of a dangerous disease.

However, this does not eliminate the pap - smear test, as the vaccine is not strong enough to combat all strains of HPV.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reporting a possible breakthrough in insulin therapy

One of the major problems with trying to treat diabetes, is the body's inability to absorb insulin. Several methods have been tried, and for the most part, other than the painful injection of insulin into the bloodstream, at regular diurnal intervals, none of the other methods have been successful.

Several attempts have been made to cure the disease through gene therapy. The body, while showing an aversion to anything foreign, has a very strong resistance to the addition of genes.

Hence, viral injection of genes was touted as a solution. This method involved a mechanism similar to how the AIDS virus attacks human immune cells. The idea is for a virus to go in with the required genes, and imbibe itself into the genetic make up of the islets in the pancreas.

One obvious problem with this therapy is that there exists a high risk of rejection and jilted immunoresponse (the body's efforts to fight and reject anything foreign, including viruses), that might cause severe damage.

However, MIT's Technology Magazine reports an ultrasonic bubble technology, developed at Dallas, that shows quite a good deal of promise. This involves the application of a combination of ultrasound and microbubbles that will be able to deliver the genes into the cells, and hence might be more effective than viral-induced gene therapy.

Only time can tell whether this is an improvement, but it is exciting anyhow. The approach is quite unique and might open the key to the human body's well guarded genetic makeup.

Stanford: An interesting approach to educating diabetic patients

One of the main problems plaguing today's diabetic is education, information and support. There are several studies, reports and web pages that can aid in raising more alarm, than in actually helping the patients.

While this is the case, Stanford University has come up with a unique approach to type 2 Diabetes education. The study is a randomized approach(probably, part of a larger study aimed at understanding the effects of education on the lifestyle of diabetic patients), splitting the patients into two groups, separated by a course start date of six months. The six week course promises to provide a lot of useful information and suggestions for altering patient life-style to help deal with the problem of diabetes.

Another unique approach, though not new, is the use of diabetics as educators. This helps bring the patients closer, and makes them open, thus enabling them to discuss a lot of things they might not normally wish to discuss. It must be mentioned that diabetes is a disease associated with a lot of psychological struggle.

Further details are available through the link provided on the title, and also at,

or on phone via (800) 366-2624

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Boston Scientific: Playing fair on the recall game.

Medical Devices are among the most critical products as far as expected functionality goes. Recalling medical devices can be a major headache, a PR disaster, and it can lead to certain death of a company if not managed properly.

It might be recalled that Boston Scientific has purchased Guidant which was headed for a definite downward spiral. It should also be noted that there was a general unhappiness with the way Guidant handed recalls.

As noted in the adjoining LA Times article (click on title), Boston Scientific is definitely doing a much better job at handling such recall issues - something worth watching.

If Boston Scientific can "pull this one off", then they would be setting a path for the industry to follow. One can only wait and watch how they manage things down there..

Monday, May 15, 2006

SOP - what is it? Do we need it?

SOP - stands for "Standard Operating Procedure". This refers to a well defined document that is used as a "how to" tool. This does not mean that it is used in the context of a simple tutorial tool, but more as a control directive on how to do things appropriately - whether it is taking inventory, or stepping in and out of a laboratory.

While it helps a lot in teaching and training employees, it also helps the company to standardize practices, so that adherence to quality is achieved easily.

Read the associated page (by clicking on the link) for further information.

If you work in the medical devices/biotech industry expect to be reading, training and sometimes authoring your own SOPs.

Something new to learn today: Canadian Medical Device Regulations

The FDA is very famous, and so are the regulatory agencies in the EU and in Japan. Canada is not behind in regulating medical devices, and their government has come up with "Medical Device Regulations", that must confirm to certain ISO standards. Their government also provides comparision charts between their standards, and those of the ISO standards and the FDA.

The link on the title, takes you to the comprehensive online documentation developed by the Canadian Government.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Unique Patient Advocacy - But You Don't Look Sick!!!

Patients need support - different kinds and forms, under different situations. Some websites are unique, some aren't. This is a very unique effort, by someone who has been a patient herself. A unique and purposeful exercise.

Acknowledgements: This website was Cool Site Of The Day ( ) for Sunday 14, May 2006.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Good News!! Conjoined twins separated

Medicine and computer assisted surgery may make many advances, but they are still tools. The magic lies in the surgeon's hands! And this magic suceeds now and then. The dedication, and the effort need commendation. Since this blog is dedicated to reporting such medical successes with joy and jubiliation, I take pleasure in sending a personal message of congratulations, wishing joy and happiness to the twins, and many more such advances in serving humanity to the surgeons!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mysterious consumer software products - be excited, nay or be wary?

Quicken is a name I used to associate with software for taxes so long. Now, we know of a new venture, Quicken for HealthCare or something to that effect.

While this sounds promising, and is probably useful, where do the boundaries end for a software product that is useful for you to save and transact personal information, and where does exploitation begin?

Would this information be used to manipulate patients with terminal or other expensive diseases? Enter, poor Health Care Management practices which some big names are being accuesed of. Would these become dangerous tools in their hands?

Who will regulate them? Who has access to the information?

Let's not cheat ourselves. Any database is a data mine..

Now we have mystery companies from outside industries nosing into the healthcare industry with mysteriously dimly defined products.

We might have to wait that whole year, before we get a chance to scream, "Geronimo". But when our phone calls and emails are game, why not our healthrecords. All the government needs to do is, ask!

What are the problems you can face when you get your body pierced or you get a tatoo?

Let's not worry about the social consequences. This is not the blog for that, but I hope young people get advised about possible causes of embarassment (this is not a personal opinion, its an observation) in the future.

Moving on, health risks are quite high. While the article I jumped across, cites methods of dealing with body piercing and tatoos(which is well appreciated!), if you were to finally choose it, I believe there should be more stress on the needs to avoid either, via appropriate scientific documentation.

There doesn't seem to be a set of well grounded research documents that prevail upon the number of cases that go wrong, the appropriate statistics on injuries and other complications.

Hopefully, an assembly of these documents will educate people, both young and old on the medical reasons to avoid piercing and tatoos.

One would wish the "gruesome list" mentioned in the following article were more readily available:

Self Piercing: Something quite dangerous (again, articles are devoid of statistics)

A tiring look at the remaining search results on Google only yields such vague results. Helpful, but vague!

The conclusion: There is an urgent need for statistical review of such health dangers arising from activities prevalant among young adults.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Useful information on the use of Blood Glucose Monitors

I have a little bit of knowledge of how blood glucose monitors work, and while I recommend the devices for personal use on a regular basis, always caution people of the variability involved. This article provides certain insights that might come in handy as well.

If you have someone who is a diabetic, and/or regularly monitors their blood sugar levels, consider showing them the article (click on title for the article).

If someone you know is a diabetic and is not currently using any form of glucose monitoring, please do recommend atleast one of the various meters available on the market. At the least, they provide a guidance and comfort in times of need!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fighting the prescription data war - why I think it makes no sense..

Here is the deal - pharma companies, benefit managers, insurance companies and data mining companies cannot sell information. Fair enough.

Now I am a drug company sales person/Information miner. This particular law has made it harder for me to find out exact information on who is prescribing what. But I want to push for drug sales. I now have a drug in the market, and I need to find out who I should push, so they sell more of mine.

Here is a picture,

1. I have my own drugs distribution channel. At one level or the other, I know that my drug for a special Californian disease, "Springtime blues" has been up in sales, just not as much as I want it to be. There is only one other drug out in the market, it is called, "Pretend sunshine". Now, I know that enough Californians are feeling dizzy from the lack of sunshine in their lives this spring (like last spring, and you know, that is important). I know that I could be selling 100 gazillions of the drug, as opposed to the 80 gazillions I currently manage. I know my points of exit, I know where the hospitals are, I know where the specialists are, who the specialists are, and who is selling the drug.

Well, maybe not to that accuracy, but hey, why would someone in Mojave have springtime blues? So I concentrate on Nothern California. I zone in on the Bay Area. I split them up into regions. I know which pharmas used my drug channels. Maybe, I can even find out where the trucks drop them off, maybe not...

I can actually define a strategy to tell you how, with a certain degree of accuracy, if you had a pre - existing drug distribution channel of your own, you could predict who is prescribing and who is not, in general.

After all, you take your chances with Dr. Dolittle, and walk into his office, find him prescribing your drug, and you know, its gotta be Dr. Schweitzer next door, who is not prescribing your drug.

You are a salesman. When was your job easy?

So, really, who is this law helping? Why complicate the situation as it is? Why do we need to live by the mythical assumption that we "can" hold off information and data? Someone needs to convince me..

If you don't have a drug, what do you do. Unfortunately, you can just drop by the Grannies' tea club and find out what they are all raving about. Now, that, there is the point where you need to stop data leaks....

Kaiser's trouble - Manged health care needs to be put on the 'scope

Managed healthcare can be good and bad. Regardless of where individual stances lie, when people's lives are at stake, the only option left, is to create an evaluation system, a regulatory system, and an accountability system. This does not mean one has to create an organization out of millions of dollars to do this, simple steps would ensure success.

One only needs to analytically watch and collect information on how each of the organizations is doing. If LATimes, and a lawyer (the Blue Cross case) can do this, why not the rest of us!

Kaiser, really needs to pick up the fallen pieces, especially since they now admit, patients have died because of their botched up program administration. This does not add pride to a health care system, that is already not very helpful...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Preeclampsia - the mystery disease

Even the name of this strange disease was a mystery, till I picked up this MSN news article (msn articles disappear after a while..) [ ] which laments the inefficacy of Vitamins C and E in treating the condition.

Research shows, that no one knows much about why the condition manifests itself. Affecting both mother and child in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, this strange disease can definitely become fatal if it progresses fast without diagnosis or treatment.

Here are a few links that help understand the condition further:

1. Preeclampsia foundation
[ ]

2. On Family Doctor (English and Spanish)
[ ]

The only effective treatments known so far:

1. Early pregnancy, which is not always feasible/advisable.

2. Control of high blood pressure through a drug regime.

Possible Solutions to Preclampsia: Research into the origin of the disease. Better symptomatic diagnosis and prenatal care.

Some notes on the origin of the condition:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Understanding the Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

I was reading about Cephalon and its attempts to convince the FDA that one of its drugs "Sparlon" was not harmful. This is when I came across "Stevens-Johnson" Syndrome.


It is a deadly, but little known syndrome. More information, about the condition is available from the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation , a non-profit organization that strives to spread awareness and support among the general public.

The condition arises, as a result of adverse reaction to drugs, and according to links on the organization's websites, could cause more than 100,000 deaths a year. For something this huge, the lack of awareness, is quite surprising.

The basic reason behind the problem, is the low percentage of adverse drug reactions reported to the FDA. Perhaps its time the FDA generated a mechanism to dispense information about the syndrome, about similar problems, and also advised the public, and hospitals on efficient methods of reporting that can be adopted.

When I buy the next bottle of drugs, I am going to watch out. I hope, if you are reading this, you do the same thing!

Here are some more links on the Stevens-Johnson Syndrome:


Google offers several hundred other links. By the way, I do hope Cephalon is able to get its drug approved, provided it is safe from Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Having been (and probably still being) a patient with undiagnosed hyperactive attention deficit, I would support anything that saves young people from the problem!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Finally, some answers on Breast Cancer...

The evil disease, might finally meet its match in an osteoporosis drug!!! This is really exciting news. Cancer, a very strange disease, continues to plague, and perplex us with its various hidden dimensions.

A cure, is quite far away for most form of cancers.

Prevention is very feebly understood, as our understanding of carcinogens, and related factors is at best, poor and lacking.

In light of this, it is quite interesting that people find lateral benefits from other drugs, suddenly showing promise. A word of caution: promise.

Indications exist for several drugs and treatment methods, but let's not jump into any conclusions, and say that we have an effective treatment, till we get a better picture of the drug, its functionality and limitations.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

New York Times investigates El Salvador Abortion Laws

The author at Freakanomics is not alone. Atleast his creative economic interpretations have found further copycats who are examining the issue of abortion in other countries. In a manner similar to Romania in the last century, the anti-abortion laws have fomented "home brews" and other dangerous, medevial practices that take women and their status and protection in society atleast a few centuries back...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Patent Infringement: Medtronic sues Kyphon

Walking on thin ice is a problem, if the thin ice is IP. This is an interesting case to observe.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Connecting the Epstein - Barr Virus to MS

An important first step in the process of establishing this connection has been achieved through data manipulation, facilitated by managed health care. This deserves attention because, previously unknown connections between several diseases could probably be identified using the same mechanism!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Where does medical device design inspiration come from? Sometimes, from within

We are always looking for inspiration. I wonder why, even though I have long suffered sinusitis, I was never inspired by it, to create a cure. However, this story, pending results of trials, seems to speak of the success of Acclarent Inc.(

To finer details, the FDA approved their ballon sinuplasty device sometime last summer. They are conducting a trial with 100 patients, results of which are anticipated this September.

Only hundred or so doctors have embraced the procedure.

There have been complaints about FDA negligence, as the approval was based on a study on 10 patients. This is not new, but given the positive feedback that has ensued so far, one would not have too much reason to worry.

The story seems to have made sudden news with the advent of spring, although with all this rain, spring still seems a long way away.

Hopefully, we will all have more updates on this device soon. One day, I hope to walk in and get the procedure done. Who would not want fewer migraines?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Can we rely on petridish cancer treatments?

News, can often be misleading, or over-reaching, the way it is reported. When I first came across the title, "Ginger, pepper can treat cancers", I was thrilled, and excited -- finally being a vegetarian seemed to pay off.

What a let down it was to later discover, that these studies are still on the lab-dish stage, or the mouse stage, both of which are several steps removed from producing any credible results in humans yet.

Do not mistake me. It is not my effort to discredit these results. However, there is a long way to go from showing something on the dish, to being able to take it to the human patient. I wish the researchers all the best of luck in their efforts.

However, I also wish, the reporters would curb their enthusiasm. These type of news-article titles are looked forward to by eager patients waiting for a miracle to happen. False promises might not help them in their daily struggle against the dreaded disease of cancer.

Innovation, the mother of all successful biotechnology ventures

I would love for projects such as the Vermont maple sugar biofuel project to come to the fore. This is a role model to innovation in biotechnology. I specifically liked the part, where everything had been thought of, down to the fuel proportions for petroleum to derived oil of 80:20 to avoid fuel gelling in the cold in Vermont.

This goes to show that "fossil" fuels, can be derived from lesser fossilized plants, and help prolong the use of oil in the industry, till the alternate fuel technologies, innovate and grow as, not just sporadic incidences of good news splashed across expensive science magazines, but get inculcated into day-to-day life.

Even if we start using nuclear power torch-light batteries, energy conservation and efficiency will remain an issue. Innovation in these areas, will be key, at every point of time in the future.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The FDA enters the fray of cell phone induced cancers...

Finally, the FDA is here, with some good points, and some vague promises of its own examination of the facts.

It is funny how a telephone survey helped answer questions as to whether cellphones induce brain cancer...

Lets wait and watch.

Friday, March 31, 2006

So, who is right? Will I, or will I not get a tumor if I talk to my girlfriend tonight?

How can research be so full of Yin - Yang nowadays?

If you follow news closely, you will find out that while coffee can cure diabetes, it can also cause it, food is good and bad, everything is high and low, and finally cellphones do cancer, and then they don't....

So, where do we go from here? Who do we trust? Do we stop all forms of mobile communication?

I would say the last thing is the smartest thing to do. The cell phone is a security encroachment, and a social encroachment at the best. Last year, I was driving around showing five people who were friends, what was around town. They were all on their cell phones all the time. It made me wonder when they got time to become friends!

And then there are the stupid people yodeling into their phones on the freeway.

All this makes me think, well, maybe we should just stop using cell phones at all.

But coming back to the research, it is disturbing that a community that dubs itself "scientific" cannot come to a good conclusion on whether or not we need these horrible devices. It might atleast be good news for answering machine resellers, if that brand of people had ever walked this Earth.

Knocking Genes to Jog your memory...

[Click on title for link to original article]

We have all seen studies like this before, not exactly on the topic of long term memory genes, but on the topic of knocking off a particular gene, obtaining a result in a rat, and linking it to a serious disease in humans and expecting to provide a cure. I am always wary of such research.

Despite the fact that rats are good animals to provide experimental results on the semantics of research, we should realize that there is a long way to go from demonstrating a genetic engineering feat in rats, being able to transfer this demonstration to humans, and additionally, being able to actual help cure diseases and treat conditions in the future.

I would treat this news with a mere nod and say, "Well, good, there's hope." But the buck should stop there with jubiliations and pre - conceived conclusions..

Biotechnology: Mercury Clean Up -- A personal dream comes true

[Click on title for link to original article]

When genetics first became privy to my knowledge base, having watched Jurassic Park as a teenager, I started thinking of leguminous nitrogen fixing bacteria, and how we could one day "create" bacteria and modify bacteria, and clean up all the pollution we have caused!

I have since grown, since understood that pollution is somewhat, I repeat, only somewhat, over emphasized, and also that we will find a solution one day...

But just hearing this news, is re-assuring, and quite joyous. Finally, we get a second chance, thanks to a bunch of guys in Ohio! Kudos!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Some Investigations make sense, and some dont...

[Click on title for link to original article]

Lets examine a couple of things here...

1. You subpoena a whopping 190 companies...?

2. You already know what the loophole is. You know and say it is being used. So what is the point of investigating something you know. Would you mind plugging the hole in the loop before?

Is it useful to spend good time and money on investigating a 190 companies for probably passing and failing to watch for the pitfalls of an improper law? One wonders..

Impressive Response to Blue Cross Allegations by the State of California

[Click on title for link to original article]

The report on 10 lawsuits in California forced me to ruminate on the status of despair that managed healthcare seems to leave a portion of the population here, and also to comment that maybe there is not enough oversight. Atleast as a quick remedy, California has initiated investigations into the practices of Blue Cross.

Of course, the owner of the organization has replied with tongue-in-cheek responses about how they welcome the investigation. One only hope the truth comes out, before it becomes of no use to the 10 people who filed the suits.

Imagine Blue Cross trying to get away with accusing an adult person of not having reported a case of Hepatitis when they were a child...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Insured Health Care -- An annoyance or a permanent issue for the US?

[Click on title to original article]

This incident with Blue Cross is not isolated. Insurance fraud comes from two end, and it is apparent that it hurts more when it comes from the corporate end. It is ridiculous the guy claims, "Watch out for fraud, or all our rates go up."

This was a case where the people who are suing, seem to be normal everyday people. They would not push everyone's rates up.

Also, it becomes evident that the health care system in the US is very faulty, in that it does not provide respite for anyone with strange and expensive diseases. They just have to wait, suffer and die.

This is unbecoming of a rich or "developed" nation. Everything is in the clutches of the insurance companies - the doctors, the devices, the drugs, the diseases that can be treated, who is name a few.

Looks like the government has absolved itself of all responsibility in regulating insurance, in covering people who cannot cover themselves, or in examining affordable healthcare for all.

What would be the use of a country if its general population started running bills into millions of dollars one day? Who is thinking about all this?

These are the kind of questions that countries that are still developing need to cogitate and address before they rush in to model their own health care system based on a severely flawed one....

Asia as the bed for new clinical trials -- whither accountability?

[Click on title for link to original article]

So, now Asia is trying to take over expensive clinical trials. But these clinical trials are usually expensive for a reason. The trials have to be well planned out, the IRBs have to be written out properly, and there are a host of other procedures that ensure one thing does not happen - fraud.

What could fraud in a clinical trial lead to? Death, of innocent humans for one. Fabrication of results for another. And then, there are a hundred other things that can happen.

Do we assume that just because the FDA exists, or because the companies will be outside the purview of the FDA, fraud does not happen?

We do not say that, but assume that a country decides to subsidize for the sake of clinical trials. How wary of lawsuits and complaints of unfair play is this country going to be?

These are yet unanswered questions, that need to be carefully examined. One would rather wait and see stringent laws and norms in place, before gladly accepting that the companies would self - regulate themselves.

I would rather wait till India has good laws, before it jumps onto this bandwagon. Especially since it was discovered that certain Ayurvedic pharmaceuticals which were being exported to the US had heavy metals in them, I have been wary of the status of the law surrounding drugs in India. One needs to watch out for these.

Another unanswered question - how many of these clinical trial results obtained in Asia will be accepted by the FDA or the European/Japanese regulatory agencies?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Who said federal projects don't cut it?

[Click on title for original article]

The centralized, network based solution for the storage and retrieval of scans and related images is an excellent idea. You can also look at the benefits of the project for both hospitals and patients. This can also be a valuable source for researchers looking to cull data with ease.

Why would they not spend more money on such meaningful projects instead of sending people out to prove the obvious?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Is banning abortion, a major health care risk?

[Link to Medical News Today copy of Kaiser's article]

We first heard of this in freakanomics. Now we hear it from Latin America. Will banning abortions become such a major health risk one day, when the Supreme Court's views on this might not be important anymore? Should such a painful lesson be learnt in such an excruciating manner.

There also seems to be evidence in the need for further human evolution as a social animal, since the effort to control other people's choices still seems to be genetically ingrained in the seemingly most advanced animal on planet Earth.

We should watch for more warnings from health care, and social work experts on issues pertaining to the repurcussions from banning abortions. Imagine the expenses that such actions would run into - not the pecuniary expenses, which would be a case by themselves, but, expenses such as impact on women's health, self esteem, and so on...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wireless control of drug delivery

MicroChips has doled out an innovation in next generation drug delivery. This involves the sensory control of drug release into the human body. This is indeed good news for several types of patients...

Imagine, a sensor picks up you are having a myocardial infarction, or simply put, a heart attack. Aspirin and a cocktail of drugs sitting at a convenient location jump through your blood system and lo! its all gone. In the meanwhile, adding my own bit, your personal physician also gets a neat little report of what happened!

You are diabetic and need insulin. You never have to worry about remembering to take a shot again! And unlike the MiniMed pumps, you don't have to carry something very painful on the outside.

Unfortunately, you have fallen victim to epilepsy. Imagine the power of wireless control and delivery!!!

These are only a few among several hundreds of crucial, life saving possibilities that exist. It would be no surprise or wonder, when the cliche "pathbreaking" attaches itself to the exhiliarated postulation on this new technology!!!

Pericardial Effusion proves dangerous for company's aspirations

Corautus, a company that developed gene therapies for specific cardiovascular diseases has halted its trials after three patients developed pericardial effusion, after Boston Scientific which makes the drug delivery device requested the halt.

[Click on title for link to original article]

What exactly is pericardial effusion?

Simply put, this is the lubricating fluid found in the pericardial space.

What is the pericardial space?

Here is a definition:

Here is what eMedicine has to say, "The pericardial space normally contains 15-50 cc of fluid, which serves as lubrication for the visceral and parietal layers of the pericardium. This fluid is thought to originate from the visceral pericardium and is essentially an ultrafiltrate of plasma. Total protein levels are generally low; however, the concentration of albumin is increased in pericardial fluids owing to its low molecular weight."


So why is excessive fluid build up bad?

Going back to the same source:

Mortality/Morbidity: Dependent upon etiology and comorbid conditions

Idiopathic effusions are well tolerated in most patients. As many as 50% of patients with large, chronic effusions were asymptomatic during long-term follow-up.

Pericardial effusion is the primary or contributory cause of death in 86% of cancer patients with symptomatic effusions.

Survival rate for patients with HIV and symptomatic pericardial effusion is 36% at 6 months, 19% at 1 year.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Biobank: UK's world's largest genetic database project

[Click on title for original article]

A robotic controlled facility - the first thing that caught my eye!

The second thing was the decades of years to take up the analysis!!

And then the humongous statistical and data mining challenges the project presents!!!

And, that it is seemingly a well funded project!!!!

In summary, there are several intertwined complexities that surrounds this project, but it does go to satiate the minds of those who have always thought that such projects are possible and can possibly help answer multitudes of questions sequentially, and simultaneously, as and when tools to collect and analyze such data become available.

The project may or may not succeed in the short term, but in the long run, one does realize it will either become a vast resource for data, or "how to do it better next time"

Eitherway, looking at the genetic code alone, and that of a few people will never fully explain how a disease, or a collection of diseases evolve over time.

I wish the experiment all the best of luck!

Modeling the Tobacco virus entirely on the computer

[Click on title for link to original article]

This is mind blowing. Simply mindblowing. We should see great possibilities opening up with this sort of work in the future. Throw in actual modeling, simulation and AI, and I am sure we can blow away many diseases.

But what about people who want to create deadly ones?

Can we keep computers or science, or technology off their hands?

No, we only need to be prepared. Very, very, well prepared!!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mechanical Heart: A reality! Ivanhoe interview of Lucile Packard Doctor in Palo Alto

[Click on Title for link to original article]

Titled the "Berlin Heart", this amazing mechanical contraption is providing real service - the sustenance of life!

Incidentally, the FDA which has been quick to approve very suspicous drugs in the past has not approved this device so far. The one patient using this device in the United States had a lot of paperwork surrounding these efforts - something she wont realize for long, being a very young child.

Hopefully, such devices get recognition, as their utility and value is quite high. It would be interesting to follow up and find out what happens to the mechanical heart device industry.

To find out more about the Berlin Heart:

There is also an original German website.

Interesting Virtual Reality and Simulation Tools

[Click on title for original article]

This is quite an interesting field. It is good to know that robot - assisted virtual reality tools are booming, both in design and in application. Having done part of my graduate research in this area, it pleases me that these advances are proving to be so quick.

However, problems still persist. How does one expand functionality across applications? The expansivity of these tools is theoretically infinite, but training still remains a problem.

Eventually, one would expect the tools to act as a supplant, allowing the surgeon to think of several strategies to pursue, for instance, while removing tumors and the like. The situation is unique for each patient, and varies within the same patient over time in many cases.

The tools need an increasing versatility in the co - ordination between dextrous robotic tools and highly efficient artificial intelligence on the software side.

It would also prove to be quite useful to have a standardized learning language for all the simulation tools, so that they can quickly consolidate knowledge obtained across fields, that the AI program, and the surgeon can later use, in addressing challenging problems over different domains.

These would be the pertinent challenges facing the field, around which future innovators might want to concentrate.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Know your poisonous lizards, and the treatment they bring

So, here is the moral of the story - the next time you step on that bug, watch out. You could be killing the answer to your cholesterol!

But on a more serious note, these lateral methods of treatment, understanding the digestive system and other functions of different animals have to be explored further in our quest to find cures for all kinds of diseases that affect us.

Of course, that brings out the whole ethics question to the front, and that will be a blog on its own. Given that we accept that animal testing is not going to go out of practice, it would be nice to see some ethical test protocols emerge.

I would say in some cases, this may even be symbiotic. We need the Gila Monster. And we don't kill it. The Gila Monster gets to live.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Faking Study Results - A continuing problem of discredit(ion)

New York Times, recently credited with faking photographs, carries this interesting article. Researchers have recently been more in the news for the results they have faked, than the results they produced.

And for the right reasons. After all, when they are not making up stories, journalists are always after something sensational. This directly influences humanity, and one day we might prove that "branding" is now imbibed into our genetic make up, and slowly we have started losing our ability at original thought.

Well coming back to the main point, now the art and science of cloning has become highly suspect. If we add cancer research to the list, then think of the poor patients for one second. Whose study do they rely on? Where do they place their hopes?

What is the solution? I think we need to alter the silly "Publish or Perish" attitude and proceed towards letting people provide appropriate results. Funding should not be tied to the amount of codswallop you write sticking to the Chicago manual of style, but to the list of patients directly aided or penetrated in an attempt at treatment.

Will this happen? If so, soon? I don't think so. How many of us are rejected good opportunities because we don't have the holy brand of a "PhD"? Well, I am sure hundreds of thousands of researchers are tempted to become tailors of data than collectors and analyzers of data as a result of this craze.

We should hold onto hope, so, we assume that employers, especially entrepreneurs would stop relying solely on names, titles and brands while trying to employ people. We hope that funding organizations apply the rules of sanity when they fund research activities.

We hope that journals don't engage in a race to publish anything and everything to bring up the numbers. We hope people become less interested in conglomerating in exotic tourist locations in the name of research meets, and become more interested in work.

And we hope, NY Times stops publishing fake photos...