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Medical

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Respite nebulizer may replace inhalers and injections for drug delivery

Nebulizers aren't anything new – I remember using a big, bulky electric one 25 years ago to help my tiny three-year-old body breathe during asthma attacks. But a new prototype nebulizer developed at RMIT in Melbourne is designed to fit comfortably in your hand and deliver much higher doses of medicine per minute than current nebulizers. The researchers behind the device say it could replace inhalers and injections for people with conditions such as asthma, cancer, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes.

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NiLiBoRo robot cuts around corners for safer head surgery

Removing tumors from the inner ear can be a tricky business, with surgeons often having to remove a large amount of bone to safely complete procedures. Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute have created a new tool, likened to a robotic worm, that is designed to revolutionize the process, while lowering the physical impact of the surgery on the patient.

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Firefighter gets most comprehensive face transplant yet

In what is being touted as the most complex and complete face transplant ever performed, a crew of medicos at New York University's (NYU) Langone Medical Center has replaced the entire face of 41-year-old Patrick Hardison, a volunteer firefighter who suffered catastrophic burns while on duty in 2001. The team replaced Patrick's scalp, ears and ear canals, parts of bone in the chin and cheeks, and his entire nose. He also received new eyelids and the muscles that control them.

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One-step urine test to simplify diagnosis of hepatitis C

According to the World Health Organization, somewhere between 130 and 150 million people around the globe suffer from chronic hepatitis C infection. As the virus is usually asymptomatic it can go undetected in its early stages, giving rise to complications such as liver damage and cirrhosis. Screening for the virus is possible, but is neither straightforward nor widely accessible, as it involves taking a blood sample and two separate lab tests. But researchers have now developed a one-step test that can detect hepatitis C using only a urine sample, promising to boost the availability of diagnosis and efforts to curb the virus around the world.

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Primordial goo coating to aid in medical procedures

Prebiotic compounds that promote the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, can be traced back billions of years to their origins in the primordial goo – a rich soup of compounds from which all organic life on Earth is theorized to have begun. Now, scientists at Australia's CSIRO have discovered just how good a rich broth of these early molecules may be at improving the acceptance of implanted medical devices in the human body.

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Smartphone stethoscope reportedly "just as good" as traditional models

Although peripheral devices now allow smartphones to serve as everything from weather stations to eye-examiners, it's typically thought that genuine purpose-built tools still perform best. In the case of stethoscopes, however, that may not be the case. Researchers with Florida-based Orlando Health recently determined that HeartBuds – a new stethoscope device/app – performed as well as traditional stethoscopes, and better than a commonly-used disposable model.

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Electronic Band-Aid shapes as alternative to antibiotics

Bandages are important for stopping germs from entering a wound and making things worse, but could they play a more active role in making things better? New research has brought the idea of wound-healing dressings closer to reality by establishing a method of electrical stimulation that kills off the majority of multi-drug resistant bacterium commonly found in difficult-to-treat infections.

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Ultrasound prises open blood-brain barrier to deliver chemotherapy in a world first

The blood-brain barrier is an almost impenetrable membrane that surrounds vessels in the brain and stops harmful particles from entering. The trouble is that it doesn't discriminate, at the same time making it very difficult for beneficial molecules like medication to pass through. But researchers have now non-invasively breached the barrier for the first time in a human subject, delivering chemotherapy drugs to a brain cancer patient with a high level of precision and paving the way for improved treatments and fewer side effects for sufferers of neurological disorders.

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Fraunhofer device could be a surgeon's third arm

Being a surgeon is a pretty high-stress job, and relies heavily on surgical assistants for things like setting clamps and holding tools. Researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute are looking to lighten the load a little, by developing a metal hand that lets surgeons more directly control what's happening on the operating table.

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