VMW Monthly - July 2010 - ISSN 1388-722X



Virtual Medical Worlds is a monthly Virtual Magazine on Telemedicine and High Performance Computing and Networking for readers interested in computer applications in medical environments. VMW is produced by an editorial team composed of professionals in publishing, and an advisory board with professionals in telemedicine, providing the embedding into the everyday practice and research. Check out the VMW Web site for the calendar of events, the various services, and the friendly advertising rates.

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*** Highlights from the International Supercomputing Conference 2010 in Hamburg ***

VMW's sister magazine Primeur went live "at a distance" from the recent ISC 2010 Conference in Hamburg. We bring you an overview of the most appetizing topics addressing the latest developments in the fields of high performance and Grid computing. Please enjoy.

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Contents July 2010 Issue

 
Cross-Atlantic state-of-the-art
 
Better treatments for depression: Nanotechnology may hold the answer
'Sound' science offers platform for brain treatment and manipulation
Studying cells in 3D could reveal new cancer targets
Data acquisition and co-ordination key to Human Microbiome Project
University Health Network establishes first telepathology system in Ontario
 
Grid for Health
 
Australia's Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative deploys SGI cluster to accelerate life sciences research
'Condor' brings genome assembly down to earth
New tool for accessing bioinformatics resources
VLife and CRL join hands to combine the power of accurate and smart docking technology with high performance Cloud computing
Grid computing tackles Alzheimer's Diseaese
 
Healthcare compunetics
 
Tel Aviv University's brain-to-computer chip technology revolutionizes neurological therapy
NoMoreClipboard.com and Washington, D.C. Health Systems launch mobile health initiative
Wireless sensors monitor your heart even though they do not actually touch your skin
Spyglass Consulting issues study about physician smartphone adoption experiencing exponential growth
Researchers develop living, breathing human lung-on-a-chip
 
Industrial Chemist's Corner
 
CIMIT and Ascension see promising results in National Cancer Institute study
Philips and RXi Pharmaceuticals sign agreement to jointly research innovative image-guided therapy concepts based on RNAi
NYU Langone Medical Center and BioDigital teach lung cancer surgery skills by 'feel' using SensAble's haptic devices in first thoracic surgery simulator
Agfa HealthCare completes multi-site RIS/PACS installation at Alliance Medical in Ireland
Qualcomm announces project to enable 3G health care access for rural Japanese communities
 
Planet Europe in Action
 
10 years on, Wellcome Trust launches study of 10.000 human genomes in the United Kingdom
TU Delft and MI Labs merge PET and SPECT biomedical imaging techniques and increase resolution
1000 Genomes Project releases data from pilot projects on path to providing database for 2500 human genomes
Bursting bubbles with sound offers new treatments for cancer
Largest study of genomes and cancer treatments releases first results: UK-US collaboration building up a database for personalised cancer treatment
 
The 21st century hospital
 
Sutter first in United States to use next-generation ROBODOC for hip replacement
UT Southwestern unveils next generation CT scanner that views whole organs in a heartbeat
Shortcut through eyelid gives surgeons less-invasive approach to fix brain fluid leaks and remove tumours near front of skull
Carestream Health illustrates innovation in action at UZ Gent and in Tulsa clinic
IBM and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center partner to make 'smart' patient room even smarter
 
Virtual snap shots
 
Electronic health records could give rise to more liability risk
Detecting tumours faster
Penn bioengineers create simulator to test blood platelets in virtual heart attacks
Regenstrief releasing new version of lingua franca needed for electronic health info exchange
Talking touchscreens aid patients
 
VMWC news bites
 
New Jersey Institute of Technology engineer helps stroke patients regain motor functions in hands and arms
Surgeon-engineer team produce training software for robot-assisted surgery
Designing touch-sensitive virtual reality tools to train and test tomorrow's surgeons
Robots preclude neck incision for thyroid surgery
Next generation surgical robots: Where's the doctor?
 

Leads July 2010 Issue

 
Cross-Atlantic state-of-the-art
 
Better treatments for depression: Nanotechnology may hold the answer
Full ArticleAlleviating the immeasurable impact of depression may come down to a single molecule measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. That is what Dr. Tania Vu of Oregon Health and Science University believes. She and her team, with collaborators Drs. Paul Greengard and Marc Flajolet at the Rockefeller University, are the first to develop a way to "tag" single molecules in live cells to track their movement. They have successfully tracked serotonin receptor molecules through a cell and back to the surface.
'Sound' science offers platform for brain treatment and manipulation
Full ArticleThe ability to diagnose and treat brain dysfunction without surgery, may rely on a new method of non-invasive brain stimulation using pulsed ultrasound developed by a team of scientists led by William "Jamie" Tyler, a neuroscientist at Arizona State University (ASU). The approach, published in the journal Neuron on June 9, shows that pulsed ultrasound not only stimulates action potentials in intact motor cortex in mice but it also "elicits motor responses comparable to those only previously achieved with implanted electrodes and related techniques", stated Yusuf Tufail, the lead author from ASU's School of Life Sciences.
Studying cells in 3D could reveal new cancer targets
Full ArticleShowing movies in 3D has produced a box-office bonanza in recent months. Could viewing cell behaviour in three dimensions lead to important advances in cancer research? A new study led by Johns Hopkins University engineers indicates it may happen. Looking at cells in 3D, the team members concluded, yields more accurate information that could help develop drugs to prevent cancer's spread. The study, a collaboration with researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, appears in the June issue of Nature Cell Biology.
Data acquisition and co-ordination key to Human Microbiome Project
Full ArticleAt birth, your body was 100-percent human in terms of cells. At death, about 10 percent of the cells in your body will be human and the remaining 90 percent will be micro-organisms. That makes you a "supra-organism", and it is the interactions between your human and microbial cells that go a long way towards determining your health and physical well-being, especially your resistance to infectious diseases.
University Health Network establishes first telepathology system in Ontario
Full ArticlePhysicians in three Northern Ontario communities are now virtually linked at all times to pathology specialists at University Health Network (UHN), thanks to a revolutionary new way of diagnosing pathology cases over the Internet. The new telepathology system is the first of its kind in Ontario. It allows physicians in rural and remote hospitals to access and consult with specialized UHN pathologists by instantly transmitting digital images of pathology samples enabling fast and accurate diagnosis for patients regardless of where they live. The first three sites connected to UHN are community hospitals in Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Kapuskasing, all of which are over 600 kilometres from Toronto.
 
Grid for Health
 
Australia's Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative deploys SGI cluster to accelerate life sciences research
Full ArticleThe Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) has commissioned an SGI Altix XE1300 cluster for high performance computing (HPC) in its $100 million (AUD) Parkville Precinct facility. The SGI cluster will enable researchers to explore large databases, create complex simulation models, and to visualize and analyze data to accelerate important cancer, cardiovascular and neurological disease and diabetes research.
'Condor' brings genome assembly down to earth
Full ArticleBorrowing computing power from idle sources will help geneticists sidestep the multimillion-dollar cost of reconstituting the flood of data produced by next-generation genome-sequencing machines. A team of computer scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Maryland recently assembled a full human genome from millions of pieces of data - stepping up from commonly assembled genomes several orders of magnitude less complex - and they did it without a big-ticket supercomputer.
New tool for accessing bioinformatics resources
Full ArticleBioinformatics resources have proliferated in the years since the end of the Human Genome Project, obliging researchers to spend a quite a lot of time browsing the web in search of these resources. The Universidad Polit´cnica de Madrid's (UPM) Biomedical Informatics Group (GIB) based at the Facultad de Informática has developed an innovative methodology, the first capable of discovering and automatically classifying bioinformatics resources from the scientific literature.
VLife and CRL join hands to combine the power of accurate and smart docking technology with high performance Cloud computing
Full ArticleVLife Sciences Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a provider of technologies for computer-aided drug and molecular discovery based in Pune, India and Computational Research Laboratories Limited (CRL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons and developer of the world's fastest commercial supercomputing facility "eka", based in Pune, India have reached an understanding to offer VLife's GRIP docking technology on CRL's high performance computing platform.
Grid computing tackles Alzheimer's Diseaese
Full ArticleThe extensive availability and accessibility of data in any field of the human knowledge, from humanities to medicine, can be accounted as the XXI century's revolution. However, in order to take advantage of these data at their best, society needs the right tools, softwares and infrastructures, which have to be planned and designed specifically, so as to be able to effectively analyse and translate this information into meaningful knowledge. In the field of medical research on neurodegenerative diseases, all of this can be found in neuGRID - a digital infrastructure which pairs the collection and archiving of large amounts of imaging data with computationally intensive data analyses through Grid computing.
 
Healthcare compunetics
 
Tel Aviv University's brain-to-computer chip technology revolutionizes neurological therapy
Full ArticleBy stimulating certain areas of the brain, scientists can alleviate the effects of disorders such as depression or Parkinson's disease. That's the good news. But because controlling that stimulation currently lacks precision, over-stimulation is a serious concern - losing some of its therapeutic benefits for the patient over time. Now a Tel Aviv University (TAU) team, part of a European consortium, is delving deep into human behaviour, neurophysiology and engineering to create a chip that can help doctors wire computer applications and sensors to the brain. The chip will provide deep brain stimulation precisely where and when it's needed.
NoMoreClipboard.com and Washington, D.C. Health Systems launch mobile health initiative
Full ArticleIn underserved areas of Washington, D.C. where the incidence of diabetes is high among minority populations, NoMoreClipboard is partnering with area health care providers to use its personal health record (PHR) integrated with a cell phone to help diabetic patients improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Wireless sensors monitor your heart even though they do not actually touch your skin
Full ArticleWireless sensors that monitor your heart even though they do not actually touch your skin are at the centre of University of California (UC) San Diego electrical engineering PhD student Yu Mike Chi's dissertation. This technology - and the plan for commercializing it - earned Yu Mike Chi and his Cognionics team the top spot in the UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge. The prize includes $25K in cash for the start-up and $15K in legal services.
Spyglass Consulting issues study about physician smartphone adoption experiencing exponential growth
Full ArticleSpyglass Consulting Group has released its most recent health care study, "Point of Care Communications for Physicians". It shows significant trends on how physicians across the United States are adopting mobile communications at point of care to improve communications and collaboration, streamline productivity, and enhance patient care and safety.
Researchers develop living, breathing human lung-on-a-chip
Full ArticleResearchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston have created a device that mimics a living, breathing human lung on a microchip. The device, about the size of a rubber eraser, acts much like a lung in a human body and is made using human lung and blood vessel cells.
 
Industrial Chemist's Corner
 
CIMIT and Ascension see promising results in National Cancer Institute study
Full ArticleAscension Technology and CIMIT - the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, a consortium of Boston-area teaching hospitals and engineering schools, are seeing promising results as part of Phase II National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant to evaluate image-guided systems in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Philips and RXi Pharmaceuticals sign agreement to jointly research innovative image-guided therapy concepts based on RNAi
Full ArticleRoyal Philips Electronics and RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a United States-based biopharmaceutical company, have entered into a joint research agreement to explore the benefits of combining proprietary technologies from both companies for the targeted delivery of experimental therapeutics based on RNA interference (RNAi).
NYU Langone Medical Center and BioDigital teach lung cancer surgery skills by 'feel' using SensAble's haptic devices in first thoracic surgery simulator
Full ArticleSensAble Technologies' customer, BioDigital, working in partnership with surgeons at NYU Langone Medical Center, has created the first medical simulation application for teaching residents the high-technology procedure for lung resection of the right upper lobe, most commonly performed to treat resectable lung cancers. The BioDigital Right Upper Lobe Resection (RULR) Cognitive Task Trainer provides residents in NYU Langone's cardiothoracic surgery department with a safe yet highly realistic method of learning the precise feeling of a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy. This minimally invasive procedure offers faster recuperation time, yet requires the surgeon to operate with limited visibility inside the chest - amplifying the potential for surgical complications.
Agfa HealthCare completes multi-site RIS/PACS installation at Alliance Medical in Ireland
Full ArticleAgfa HealthCare, a provider of diagnostic imaging and health care IT solutions, has completed the installation of its IMPAX 6 Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) and its fifth generation Radiology Information System (RIS) at four of Alliance Medical's sites across Ireland. Alliance Medical, an independent provider of diagnostic imaging services, has 11 dedicated sites across Ireland and is committed to providing high quality diagnostic services to patients, referring clinicians and hospitals. Alliance Medical offers a full range of diagnostic services including MRI, CT, DXA, Ultrasound and X-ray.
Qualcomm announces project to enable 3G health care access for rural Japanese communities
Full ArticleQualcomm Incorporated and Medical Platform Asia (MedPA) have signed a formal agreement to provide medical devices with integrated 3G wireless modules for people in need of health services. The project is being implemented through Qualcomm's Wireless Reach initiative and will allow 300 remote local residents to send critical health information to doctors through a 3G wireless network. Information such a resident's blood pressure, weight and distance walked can be easily and immediately shared with participating physicians. The data is then reviewed and local residents are advised to adjust their activities in order to improve their physical condition. The health records are further analyzed by correlating them with clinical data and other factors.
 
Planet Europe in Action
 
10 years on, Wellcome Trust launches study of 10.000 human genomes in the United Kingdom
Full ArticleOn the tenth anniversary of the completion of the first draft of the human genome - a draft which had taken ten years to complete - the Wellcome Trust has launched a project to decode the genomes of 10.000 people over the next three years. This will be one of the largest genome sequencing programmes ever undertaken and will analyse the genomes of the equivalent of one in 6000 people in the United Kingdom.
TU Delft and MI Labs merge PET and SPECT biomedical imaging techniques and increase resolution
Full ArticleTU Delft and Molecular Imaging Labs (MI Labs) have succeeded in combining two forms of medical imaging techniques into one piece of equipment. These techniques are particularly useful for cancer research. The two techniques are known as microPET and microSPECT. SPECT and PET can be performed simultaneously and they give a higher resolution than traditional microSPECT and microPET. The new device is known as the VECTor - Versatile Emission Computed Tomography - and is designed for use in fundamental research into the functioning of cells and organs. It can show functional details smaller than half a millimetre.
1000 Genomes Project releases data from pilot projects on path to providing database for 2500 human genomes
Full ArticleThe 1000 Genomes Project, an international public-private consortium to build the most detailed map of human genetic variation to date, has completed three pilot projects and deposited the final resulting data in freely available public databases for use by the research community. In addition, work has begun on the full-scale effort to build a public database containing information from the genomes of 2500 people from 27 populations around the world.
Bursting bubbles with sound offers new treatments for cancer
Full ArticleA new way to deliver cancer drugs using gas bubbles and sound waves is to be developed at the University of Leeds. The project will enable highly toxic drugs to be delivered in small doses directly to tumours, where their toxicity can safely be put to good use. If successful, the technique could easily be adapted for other diseases. The project brings together engineers, physicists, chemists and cancer specialists from across the University to work on the new technique. The research will use existing chemotherapy drugs to gain initial proof of concept before adapting the delivery mechanism for use with novel therapeutics being developed at the University to treat colorectal cancer.
Largest study of genomes and cancer treatments releases first results: UK-US collaboration building up a database for personalised cancer treatment
Full ArticleThe largest study to correlate genetics with response to cancer drugs releases its first results today. The researchers behind the study, based at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, describe in this initial dataset the responses of 350 cancer samples to 18 anticancer therapeutics. These first results, made freely available on the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity website, will help cancer researchers around the world to seek better understanding of cancer genetics and could help to improve treatment regimens.
 
The 21st century hospital
 
Sutter first in United States to use next-generation ROBODOC for hip replacement
Full ArticleEighteen years ago, orthopaedic surgeon William Bargar, M.D. made history when, at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, he performed the first-ever hip replacement using a robotic device he developed called ROBODOC, which improves precision in joint replacement surgery. Warren Roberts of Davis was among Dr. Bargar's first patients; in 1995, he underwent replacement of his left hip as a part of an FDA study using ROBODOC.
UT Southwestern unveils next generation CT scanner that views whole organs in a heartbeat
Full ArticleUT Southwestern Medical Center is the first site in North Texas to launch the next generation in CT scanners, which allow doctors to image an entire organ in less than a second or track blood flow through the brain or to a tumour - all with less radiation exposure to patients. Aquilion One dynamic volume computed tomography (CT) can create a detailed 3D movie of an organ in real time. That makes it particularly useful for quickly diagnosing strokes and heart attacks, for example, where diagnostic speed can be a critical factor in survival and recovery.
Shortcut through eyelid gives surgeons less-invasive approach to fix brain fluid leaks and remove tumours near front of skull
Full ArticleSurgeons at Johns Hopkins have safely and effectively operated inside the brains of a dozen patients by making a small entry incision through the natural creases of an eyelid to reach the skull and deep brain. They said access to the skull and brain through either lid, formally known as a transpalpebral orbitofrontal craniotomy, sharply contrasts with the more laborious, physically damaging and invasive, traditional means of entry used in brain surgery that requires opening the top half of the skull.
Carestream Health illustrates innovation in action at UZ Gent and in Tulsa clinic
Full ArticleUZ Gent, the country's largest single campus hospital is installing the first Belgian example of a hospital-wide PACS. The CARESTREAM PACS solution will make UZ Gent the first hospital to truly engage all departments in one central image-enabled archive system. And a large multi-physician clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, ordered a CARESTREAM RIS/PACS, a DIRECTVIEW DR 7500 Digital Radiography System and a CARESTREAM DRYVIEW 5850 printer from Carestream Health. The Indian Health Care Resource Center (IHCRC) chose this digital imaging and information management solution to achieve more responsive patient care and higher staff productivity.
IBM and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center partner to make 'smart' patient room even smarter
Full ArticleIBM and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) are teaming up to bring "smarter" hospital rooms to patients nationwide. Created by UPMC three years ago to bring the right patient information to the bedside when it's needed, the high-tech "smart room" now features new capabilities, namely a system for automatically organizing and prioritizing the work of nurses and other caregivers. Under a new agreement, IBM will be the exclusive sales channel for the SmartRoom solution and will help to implement the technology for customers.
 
Virtual snap shots
 
Electronic health records could give rise to more liability risk
Full ArticleElectronic health record (EHR) systems likely will soon become a fixture in medical settings. Advocates claim they will reduce health care costs and improve medical outcomes, which could be critical since the new health care reform law increases access for millions of Americans. Although benefits of bringing information technology to health records can be substantial, EHR systems also give rise to increased liability risks for health care providers due to possible software or hardware problems or user errors.
Detecting tumours faster
Full ArticleTo diagnose cancer reliably, doctors usually conduct a biopsy including tissue analysis - which is a time-consuming process. A microscopic image sensor, fitted in an endoscope, is being developed for in vivo cancer diagnosis, to speed up the detection of tumours.
Penn bioengineers create simulator to test blood platelets in virtual heart attacks
Full ArticleA team of bio-engineers from the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Medicine and Engineering have trained a computer neural network model to accurately predict how blood platelets would respond to complex conditions found during a heart attack or stroke. Using an automated, robotic system, they exposed human blood platelets to hundreds of different combinations of biological stimuli like those experienced during a heart attack. This was done by fingerprinting each platelet sample with 34.000 data points obtained in response to all possible pairs of stimuli.
Regenstrief releasing new version of lingua franca needed for electronic health info exchange
Full ArticleAs the practice, regulation and reimbursement of health care become more complicated, and as the demand for electronic medical records and health information exchange grows, a universal method of identifying test results and other clinical measurement is essential. The standardized medical terminology system called Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, known as LOINC, with a 57.000 term code vocabulary meets that need. LOINC provides the lingua franca needed for the creation of an electronic medical record and for health information to be electronically exchanged. The latest version of LOINC is being released on June 7.
Talking touchscreens aid patients
Full ArticleMultimedia talking touchscreens, housed in computer kiosks at clinics and hospitals, are helping researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and clinicians at local health care centres enhance patient-centred care for patients with diverse language, literacy and computer skills. The easy-to-use touchscreens read questionnaires, provide patient education material and collect patient data. Each piece of text on the screen has sound attached to it, and users record answers by pressing buttons.
 
VMWC news bites
 
New Jersey Institute of Technology engineer helps stroke patients regain motor functions in hands and arms
Full ArticleHelping stroke patients regain use of their hands and arms through innovative robotic and virtual reality-based video game therapies is the focal point of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Associate Professor Sergei Adamovich, a biomedical engineer. Thanks to a $1,3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Sergei Adamovich is developing better ways to rehabilitate people who have lost control of their hands, fingers, shoulders and elbows.
Surgeon-engineer team produce training software for robot-assisted surgery
Full ArticleTwo Buffalo scientists have paired up to create technology that has the potential to revolutionize surgical training worldwide, developing the first procedure-based, hands-on surgical training software. Their patent-pending system, Hands-On Surgical Training (HOST), guides surgeons through real-time operative procedures using the Robotic Surgical Simulator (RoSS) interface.
Designing touch-sensitive virtual reality tools to train and test tomorrow's surgeons
Full ArticleMinimally invasive surgery is increasingly common and effective for operating inside the human abdomen. In these laparoscopic procedures, which use slender, handheld tools inserted into the body of the patient, the skill of the surgeon is the most important factor determining the success of the operation. A team of interdisciplinary researchers led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has won a $2,3 million federal grant to develop a touch-sensitive virtual reality simulator that will standardize how surgeons are trained and certified to perform laparoscopic procedures.
Robots preclude neck incision for thyroid surgery
Full ArticleRobots that revolutionized gynaecologic and urologic surgery in the past decade now offer the option of removing at least a portion of the diseased thyroid gland without the hallmark neck incision, according to researchers. The thyroid, which sits just under the Adam's apple and controls the body's metabolic rate, is about the size of a kiwi. Benign and cancerous disease can more than double its size. Dr. David Terris, Porubsky professor and chairman of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, has helped shepherd in minimally-invasive approaches that reduced neck incisions from several inches to less than an inch within the last few years.
Next generation surgical robots: Where's the doctor?
Full ArticleAs physician-guided robots routinely operate on patients at most major hospitals, the next generation robot could eliminate a surprising element from that scenario - the doctor. Feasibility studies conducted by Duke University bioengineers have demonstrated that a robot - without any human assistance - can locate a man-made, or phantom, lesion in simulated human organs, guide a device to the lesion and take multiple samples during a single session. The researchers believe that as the technology is further developed, autonomous robots could some day perform many more simple surgical tasks.
 

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