Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Neuroelectrics Wants To Be Fitbit for the Brain

Fitbit

Neuroelectrics Cap Flexible Easy to Wear Headgear

Neuroelectrics had been awarded the Bupa Startup Stage at WIRED Health 2015 for its cutting edge inventions comprising of cancer-detecting sniffer dogs, a natural birth control app together with a handheld device to track stress levels.

A US and Spain based company presenting its range of telemedicine platforms, has designed to stimulate and treat the brain and claims that the device could help the patients in recovering from various serious health problems like strokes, severe depression and epilepsy.

The company founded in 2012, in Barcelona by Ana Maiques and Giulio Ruffini, has developed a game changer for neuroscience – the Neuroelectrics Cap which is a flexible easy to wear headgear providing stimulations with the use of electroencephalography - EEG and transcranial Direct Current Stimulation – tDCS techniques.

The EEG tends to measure the electrical variances across points on the scalp and these variances are the outcome of electrical activity in the brain, utilised to analyse brain function. Information collected from the analysis could be helpful with new therapies as well as rehabilitation programs for people affected with neurological ailments or strain

Recover From Neurological Symptoms

Neuroelectrics’ vision according to CEO Maiques helps patents to recover from the neurological symptoms of chronic pain or for those going through rehabilitation for strokes. She explains that `they are unique since the headgear can be connected to the cloud as well as used in the home for three sessions a week of brain stimulation, under the doctor’s observation.

She compares Neuroelectrics to the DIY code of health tracking technology like Fitbit together with other wearable. She states that they have an ageing population which deals with chronic illnesses, though people tend to become more self-aware with regards to monitoring their health.

They believe that these self-monitoring technologies would become popular in the home over a period of time. In Barcelona, neuroelectrics are already being utilised for neuropathic treatment with studies presently being carried out in the US for effects of EEG treatment on epilepsy as well as age related intellectual weakening.

Treatment Affordable & Simple to Use

The company has been selling its Enobio – wireless EEG system as well as Starstim – wireless EEG plus stimulation headgear to over 30 countries.Presently the devices are sold directly to clinics and research centres where the patients are charged for the service every month.

However the purpose is to make the treatment affordable and simple to use in the patient’s own home. Maiques also clarifies that the technology has been helpful to children with brain disabilities to attain improved scores in math exams, through studies carried out at the University of Oxford by Roi Cohen Kadosh suggesting on the wider advantage that the headgear could provide.

But there seems to be some probable moral obstacles to Neuroelectrics of being utilised this way. The studies of Kadosh has shown that even a 20 minutes of brain stimulation with EEG could have an effect on the other areas of the brain and hence they have worked with doctors and researchers to ensure that the technology is used in an effective and safe manner.

Moreover, medical regulation would also take some time before the technology is made available, all over the world. Maiques is hoping that the technology would be a well-known tool in patient’s home in the coming five to ten years.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Digital Pen is Better Dementia-Prediction Tool than a Doctor

clock

Digital Pen Technology – Dementia Prediction Tool

A digital pen technology, which is a new dementia prediction tool, can diagnose conditions earlier and with great accuracy. The invention is based on a method of screening for cognitive damage, known as clock-drawing test. Individuals are made to draw a clock which shows the time as 11.10 and then copy a pre-drawn clock showing the same time.

The test reveals how they perform when it comes to verbal and understanding, memory as well as spatial knowledge, which is used to ascertain conditions like Parkinson and Alzheimer. The team behind the study of the latest digital pen, desire to find a way to automate the test, to speed up the diagnoses but also to remove doctor subjectivity and possibly help with earlier diagnoses by utilising more detailed data indicators.

With the use of the Anoto Live Pen, that measures a ballpoint position of a tip, 80 times a second with an inbuilt camera, the team from MITs Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Lahey Hospital together with many other universities all over the US, were capable of collecting data from around 2,600 tests which had been performed over nine years.

The Digital Clock Drawing Test - dCDT

The data was used by the team to build specialised software to create the digital Clock Drawing Test – dCDT. They observed that it was far more accurate in delivering a diagnosis than the equivalent original,which depends on a doctor’s subjective interpretation of the drawings.

Some of it could be due to the fact that the dCDT takes in more than the finished drawings and provides other indicators which tend to depend on the process of drawing the clock. In this case the team noticed that those with memory impairments took more time thinking on the drawing prior to drawing than those without the disorder.

Those affected with Parkinson also took longer to draw clocks which were usually on the smaller side. According toMIT’s Cynthia Rudin, who commented on MIT News, states that `they have improved the analysis in order that it is automated and objective and with the right equipment, they can get results wherever needed, quickly and with higher accuracy’.

Save Manual Hours Spent in Diagnosing

They are expecting that the test will save on the manual hours spent in diagnosing or possibly misdiagnosing, a disorder which is of vital importance, taking into consideration the duration of time it can take in diagnosing neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s with anumber of various tests and processes.

Since the procedures utilised in the dCDT tends to be trained on more data, the team is also hoping that it will be able to pick up on new indicators they are discovering faster like the case of hesitation and the drawing technique enabling an even earlier diagnoses, established on thousands of test results that have been carried over the years.

The team writes that `while the models will need additional testing for validation, they offer the opportunity of considerable improvement in detecting intellectual impairment earlier than presently possible, a development with considerable possible impact in practice.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

PEAK1 Acts as a Molecular Switch to Regulate Context-Dependent TGFβ Responses in Breast Cancer

Breast_Cancer

Most Common Cancer – Breast Cancer with 24% Survival Rate

Around 23% of all cancer cases are of breast cancer which is the most common cancer among woman and those with metastatic type of this condition tend to have 24% survival rate. Comprehending the molecular regulation of the metastatic flow as well as the development of metastatic tumours could enlighten the strategies in helping in the chances of survival of the patient.

In the framework of human cancers, transforming growth factor beta – TGFB, could act as a tumour suppressor or a pro-tumorigenic factor which would be capable of inducing epithelial to mesenchymal transition – EMTas well as metastasis. EMT is a morphologic and phenotypic change in the cells which tends to get associated with precise deviationsin gene expression. It is necessary and severely regulated during embryogenesis as well as tissue homeostasis.

However, it is decontrolled during the development of epithelial cancers to promote metastasis. At the time of EMT, the cells slowly tend to lose their apical basal polarity, the potential to attach to the basement membrane and protein complexes which tend to control cell-cell junctions. These changes are also related with down-regulation of epithelial genes with greater than before expression of mesenchymal genes. The outcome of which is that cells tend to migrate more extensively and accept a more spread fibroblast like morphology.

TGFB Signalling Mechanisms to be Changed

TGFB exposure, as a tumour suppressor, promotes cytostasis, apoposis and differentiation and acts to stimulate an appropriate immune response. But the TGFB’s signalling mechanisms could be changed to impede its anti-proliferative effects and stimulate tumorigenic effects. Environmental signals and cell type are factors which can determine if TGFB acts in tumour suppressive or tumour promoting and it is learnt how the signalling pathways tend to become modified; a thorough understanding of the molecular regulation which tends to drive this change in TGFB responses is yet to be fully interpreted.

With regards to TGFB and ECM growth element pathways have been portrayed to cooperate in promoting EMT, migration, invasion as well as metastasis of breast cancer cells.Earlier reports had verified that specific extracellular matrix proteins could cooperate with TGFB receptors to change TGFB sins from its canonical Smad2/3 pathway to non-canonical Src/RBRII/Grb2/MAPK indicating pathways. This change has been described to be a key mechanism from which TGFB accepts its pro-tumorigenic tasks

PEAK1 Expression in Breast Cancer Samples Analysed

In the present study, pseudopodium enriched atypical kinase 1 - PEAK1 expression in human breast cancer samples were analysed and it was found that PEAK1 levels associate with mesenchymal gene expression, disease relapse and poor cellular differentiation. It was observed at the cellular level that PEAK1 expression was the highest in mesenchymal breast cancer cells, linked with migration capabilities and increased in response to TGFB induced epithelial mesenchymal transition.

Hence, the need to evaluate the role of PEAK1 in the changing of TGFB from a tumour supressing to tumour promoting factor came up. It was discovered that high PEAK1 expression resulted in TGFB losing its anti-proliferative effects potentiates TGFB induced proliferation, EMT, cell migration and tumour metastasis in fibronectin-dependent manner. PEAK1 also resulted in changing of TGFB signs from its canonical Smad2/3 pathway to non-canonical Src and MAPK signs.

This is the first report in providing evidence that PEAK1 arbitrates signalling cross talk between TGFB receptors and integrin/Src/MAPK pathways. PEAK1 is also an important molecular regulator of TGFB induced tumour progression as well as metastasis in breast cancer.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ebola Vaccine Proves 100 Percent Effective in Trial

Ebola_Vaccine

Development in Ebola Vaccine - 100% Effective

Development in Ebola vaccine has proved to be 100% effective in a trial which took place in Guinea and been named a `game changer’ by the World Health Organisation – WHO. Initially the results of the trial of the VSC-EBOV vaccine, created by the Public Health Agency of Canada and which had been developed by pharmaceutical company – Merck, were published in `The Lancet’.

 Director General of – WHO, Margaret Chan, had stated that ` this was an extremely promising development and the credit goes to the Guinean Government, the people living in the communities and our partners in this project. An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks’.

The results so far has revealed that the said vaccine is effective 100 percent, however the trial is set to continue to attempt and establish conclusive evidence which could be utilised to protect the whole population through `herd immunity’.The trial had begun on March 23, 2015 with more than 4,000 close contacts of about 100 patients suffering from Ebola who had volunteered to get vaccinated.

Immediate Deployment of Vaccination – Helpful

The trial had been implemented with the use of the same `ring; method which had been used in eliminating smallpox and had been issued to each person who had come in contact with the infected person. It thus created a protective ring around them that prevented the virus from spreading around.

During the trial, around 50% of the rings were vaccinated instantly on identification of an infected person and 50% of the rings were vaccinated three weeks thereafter. This was done to enable the researchers to compare the results. In the group which had been vaccinated instantly, there was not a single one who went on to develop Ebola while those who had received the delayed vaccination, had only 16 who went on to develop Ebola.

 Immediate vaccination being proven to be completely effective, randomization has now ended. All individuals who were at risk of being affected of Ebola have been vaccinated immediately, since July 26. Besides immediate deployment of the vaccine in helping to terminate the epidemic, it will also minimise the time needed in collecting more conclusive evidence which will ultimately be essential to license the product.

Proven Effect of VSV-EBOV

One of the many organisations which have been implementing the trial, Medicins san Frontieres, has also been vaccinating all of its frontline workers. The medical director of the company, Bertrand Draguez has stated that with high efficacy, all the affected countries should immediately start and multiply ring vaccinations to break chains of transmission and vaccinate all frontline workers in order to protect them.

Around 28,000 people had been infected since the outbreak of Ebola epidemic in West Africa, in December 2013 where around 11,300 people had died of the ailment. Though the outbreak continues in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the proven effectiveness of the VSV-EBOV vaccine has now provided hope that the spread of the dreadful disease would be arrested.

Guinea’s national coordinator for the Ebola had replied that this is Guinea’s gift to West Africa and the world. The thousands of volunteers from Conakry and other areas of Lower Guinea as well as the many Guinean doctors, data managers and community mobilisers have made their contribution in finding a line of defence against a terrible disease – EBOLA

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Aarskog Syndrome

Aarskog_Syndrome

Aarskog Syndrome – An Inherited Disease

Aarskog syndrome an inherited disease affects the person’s height, skeleton, muscles, genitals and the appearance of the face. It is a rare genetic disorder which is linked to the X chromosome and affects mainly males, though females tend to have a milder form.

The condition is due to the changes in a gene known as faciogenital dysplasia or FGD1. It is linked to the X chromosome which is passed down from parents to their children. The symptoms tend to become obvious by the age of 3. Two factors could increase the likelihood of getting Aarskog syndrome, namely gender and genetic makeup.

 If the child is a male, he would be more likely to develop this disorder since he has only one X chromosome. If a mother is a carrier of the defective gene for Aarskog syndrome, there is an increased risk of the child developing this disease.

Aarskog syndrome tends to affect four main areas of a child’s anatomy, such as the facial features, muscle and bone structure, genitalia and the brain. If a child suffering from this disorder may have typical facial features which could include – a widow’s peak hairline, unusually broad or small nose, forward slanting nostrils, round face, wide set eye, wide indention above the upper lips, sagging eyelids, ears which fold down at the top and delayed growth of teeth

Signs & Symptoms

With regards to muscle and bone structure, the disorder could be mildly to moderately malformed and the signs could include, an indented chest, short stature, webbed toes and finger, short toes and finger, one crease in the palms of the hand and curled pinky fingers.

In genital malformations, a typical genital formation and development seems to be a common sign of this disorder which may include a lump in the scrotum or groin which is also known as a hernia. Aarskog syndrome could also cause mild to moderate mental deficits which may include – slow cognitive performance, delayed cognitive development and attention deficit disorder.

Additional signs may occur less often which may include heart defect, abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine, additional pairs of ribs. Additional eye abnormalities could be present like crossed eye, farsightedness and paralysis of certain eye muscles.

Treatment Limited to Correcting Abnormalities

There is no cure unfortunately for Aarskog syndromeand treatment is limited to correcting the abnormalities in the child’s bones, teeth and tissue. Treatment may probably include surgical procedures like, orthodontic and dental surgery to set right skewed teeth and abnormal bone structure, hernia repair surgery to take out a scrotum or groin lump.

Other treatment may include supportive assistance for development and cognitive delays. Should the child be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, the assistance of a psychiatric may be needed to solve the issue. A counsellor or a behavioural specialist could guide the parenting skills and the strategies in supporting the child’s need.

Unfortunately, there is no known way of preventing Aarskog syndrome but a women could undergo genetic testing in determining whether she is a carrier of mutate FGDI gene. If genetic testing indicates that she is a carrier of this mutate gene, she could weigh the risk of choosing whether to have children or not.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

How the Brain Purges Bad Memories

PTSD

Researchers Identified Neuronal Circuit – To Purge Bad Memories

Researchers have now identified a neuronal circuit – a brain circuit which is responsible in the brain’s ability to purge bad memories. The brain is proficient in knowing when startling or threatening stimulus tends to turn out to be resolved or harmless. However at times, this method fails resulting in unpleasant association arising, a malfunction presumed to be at the root of post-traumatic stress disorder –PTSD and the researchers finding could have effects in treating PTSD as well as other anxiety disorders.

The brain is extremely good in alerting us to dangers such as noxious smells, loud sound, approaching raiders and send electrical impulses down the sensory neurons to our brain’s fear circuitry and to some extent giving rise to either fight or flee from the situation. Similar to most of the emotions, fear is said to be neurologically complicated though earlier work has been constantly connected with two specific areas of the brain in contributing and regulating fear responses.

The two small arcs of brain tissue deep below our temple, the amygdala, is responsible in emotional reaction and tends to flare with activity whenever one experiences fear. If a certain threat tends to become harmless, the region in the brain behind the forehead known as the prefrontal cortex takes over and the fright diminishes. The potential to extinguish painful recollections is said to involve some kind of synchronized effort between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.

Working between Two Brain Region – To Eliminate Fear

Andrew Holmes, latest study at the National Institutes of Health, approves that a connection of working between the two brain regions is essential to eliminate fear. For instance, mice usually listening to repeated sound which has been connected with mild foot shock, will learn that on its own the tone is harmless and they tend to stop being afraid.

With the use of optogenetic stimulation technology, or adjusting certain neurons and animal behaviour using light, authors observed that unsettling the amygdala, - prefrontal cortex connection, prevented the mice from disabling the negative connection with the benign tone and in neurobiology speak, memory `extinction’ fails to take place. Besides this, they also observed that stimulating the circuit resulted in the increased extinction of memories of fear.

Till now the investigator was not sure if the amygdala – prefrontal cortex communication pathway could control fear extinction on its own. Both the structures tend to interact with several other brain regions and in isolating their effects on behaviour would be challenging. The discovery was possible due to optogenetics enabling the NIH group to accurately evaluatein real time, only the connection between the two brain regions, providing an accurate connection between neuronal activity and behaviour.

Two Main Hubs – Amygdala & Prefrontal Cortex

Holmes envisages the amygdala and prefrontal cortex as two main hubs in an intricate communication network. In the case of impaired fear extinction such as PSTD, it is just a single connection between the two regions which is damaged and not the hubs.

Holmes explains that `to regulate fear extinction it would be better to isolate and fix that particular line of communication opposed to trying to re-engineer the hubs themselves and it is their job to carry several lines of communication for all types of brain functions most of which are perhaps working fine’. Considering the similarities in case of fear circuitry between humans and rodent, the new study could enlighten the research into new satisfying approaches to anxiety disorders inclusive of mediation which tend to act on the fear circuit.

He believes that healthy fear extinction depends on neural plasticity, which is the brain’s capabilities of making new neuronal connection, which is in part inclined by the brain’s own cannabinoids compounds which tend to regulate neurotransmitters.Drugs which tend to alter the cannabinoid system provide a way in modifying the fear circuit and probably improve anxiety.

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NADME
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