Canadians will be able to identify sex as ‘X’ on their passports beginning Aug 31

Friday, 25 August, 2017

Good move by the Canadian government in announcing the news to implementing the change, “Canadians will soon be able to identify sex as ‘X’ on their passports Transgender travellers and those who do not identify as male or female, can check off an ‘X’ box“.

It is time for Canada to catch up with up-to-date science. Similar to what some other countries (Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Nepal, Denmark, India and Pakistan (Ref The Economist video)) have ALREADY been doing!

Too many people commenting on this news on CBC Facebook page need to update their science knowledge from decades old invalidated science. Quoting World Health Organization, United Nation re “Gender and Genetics”:

Most women are 46XX and most men are 46XY. […] In addition, some males are born 46XX due to the translocation of a tiny section of the sex determining region of the Y chromosome. Similarly some females are also born 46XY due to mutations in the Y chromosome.

P.S. Don’t choose to remain ignorant in face of science from reputable source like World Health Organization, United Nation.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 10.44.37 AM - Canadians can choose gender as X

Reference: (The Economist, July 11, 2017) Which countries allow an option other than male or female on passports?

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U of Toronto engineering researchers mend broken hearts with expanding tissue bandage

Friday, 25 August, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 9.56.43 AM - New biomaterial developed by U of T engineering researchers could be delivered through minimally invasive surgery

Very cool news. Excerpts from University of Toronto news “New biomaterial developed by U of T engineering researchers could be delivered through minimally invasive surgery” (emphasis, extra note & links added) (for an in-depth look, see technical article, Nature Materials “Flexible shape-memory scaffold for minimally invasive delivery of functional tissues” ),

A team of U of T engineering researchers is mending broken hearts with an expanding tissue bandage a little smaller than a postage stamp.

Repairing heart tissue destroyed by a heart attack or medical condition with regenerative cells or tissues usually requires invasive open-heart surgery. But now biomedical engineering Professor Milica Radisic [K’s note: including links to PubMed listed articles] and her colleagues have developed a technique that lets them use a small needle to inject a repair patch, without the need to open up the chest cavity.

Radisic’s team are experts in using polymer scaffolds to grow realistic 3D slices of human tissue in the lab. One of their creations, AngioChip, is a tiny patch of heart tissue with its own blood vessels – the heart cells even beat with a regular rhythm. Another one of their innovations snaps together like sheets of Velcro™.

Such lab-grown tissues are already being used to test potential drug candidates for side-effects, but the long-term goal is to implant them back into the body to repair damage.

“If an implant requires open-heart surgery, it’s not going to be widely available to patients,” says Radisic.

She says that after a myocardial infarction – a heart attack – the heart’s function is reduced so much that invasive procedures like open-heart surgery usually pose more risks than potential benefits.

“It’s just too dangerous,” she says.

Miles Montgomery, a PhD candidate in Radisic’s lab, has spent nearly three years developing a patch that could be injected, rather than implanted. [K’s note: more news on Miles]

“At the beginning, it was a real challenge,” he says. “There was no template to base my design on, and nothing I tried was working. But I took these failures as an indication that I was working on a problem worth solving.”

After dozens of attempts, Montgomery found a design that matched the mechanical properties of the target tissue and had the required shape-memory behaviour: as it emerges from the needle, the patch unfolds itself into a bandage-like shape.

[…]

The scaffold is built out of the same biocompatible, biodegradable polymer used in the team’s previous creations. Over time, the scaffold will naturally break down, leaving behind the new tissue.

The team also showed that injecting the patch into rat hearts can improve cardiac function after a heart attack: damaged ventricles pumped more blood than they did without the patch.

“It can’t restore the heart back to full health, but if it could be done in a human, we think it would significantly improve quality of life,” says Radisic.

There is still a long way to go before the material is ready for clinical trials. Radisic and her team are collaborating with researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children to assess the long-term stability of the patches, as well as whether the improved cardiac function can be maintained.

They have also applied for patents on the invention and are exploring the use of the patch in other organs, such as the liver.

“You could customize this platform, adding growth factors or other drugs that would encourage tissue regeneration,” says Radisic. “I think this is one of the coolest things we’ve done.”

Injectable tissue patch could help repair damaged organs – U of T Engineering


The Good Doctor from the creator of House with a Korean connection

Tuesday, 6 June, 2017

The Good Doctor - U.S. remake and South Korean original

I’m looking forward to watch The Good Doctor, an upcoming American medicaldrama television series, developed by David Shore (creator of House and U of Toronto law grad) and Daniel Dae Kim, starring Freddie Highmore, based on the 2013 South Korean series of the same name. See below for trailers of both series.

I’ve watched the first few episodes of the South Korean series and found it fascinating but also recognize there needs to be lots of changes in this remake to turn it something more to the taste of North American audiences. There are a lot of screen time spent on hospital politics in the South Korean series that it endanger patients so much that will be rather unbelievable. Shore created a great in House and I expect and hope he and his team would be able to create something interesting to watch with his own creativity and sensibility.

News report: Deadline, May 11, 2017, “‘The Good Doctor’ Drama Starring Freddie Highmore Picked Up To Series By ABC

The Good Doctor centers on Shaun Murphy (Highmore), a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome who relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital’s surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues.

The series also stars Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Brown, Nicholas Gonzalez as Dr. Neal Melendez, Chuku Modu as Dr. Jared Kalu, Irene Keng as Dr. Sarah Chen, Beau Garrett as Jessica Preston, Hill Harper as Dr. Marcus Andrews and Richard Schiff as Dr. Aaron Glassman.

Deadline, Jan 23, 2017, “ABC Orders Drama Pilots ‘The Good Doctor’ & ‘Doomsday’ From David Shore, Daniel Dae Kim & Carol Mendesohn

Written by Shore based on a South Korean format, The Good Doctor centers on a young surgeon with Savant syndrome who is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital. The question will arise: Can a person who doesn’t have the ability to relate to people actually save their lives?

Shore executive produces via his Sony TV-based Shore Z alongside Kim, Sebastian Lee & David Kim. Shore Z’s Erin Gunn co-executive produces, along with Lindsay Goffman of Daniel Dae Kim’s 3 AD.

The original series, written by Park Jae-bum, aired on Korean Broadcasting System’s KBS2 in 2013. The Shore-created House, starring Hugh Laurie as the brilliant but flawed Dr. Gregory House, was one of the biggest medical dramas of the past two decades. It ran on Fox for eight seasons.

Deadline, Oct 6, 2016, “ABC Lands ‘The Good Doctor’ Medical Drama From David Shore & Daniel Dae Kim

Here is a trailer of the South Korean series

Here is a trailer of the ABC series.


The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

Tuesday, 30 May, 2017

I’m watching this great talk thanks to Yann LeCun’s FB post. I’m also planning to read “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge” by Abraham Flexner (PDF via IAS). Fascinating stuff.

Robbert Dijkgraaf: “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge” | Talks at Google


Alzheimer’s patients treated with focused ultrasound

Thursday, 4 May, 2017

Have a watch of the three video clips and read of the CTV News report, “Alzheimer’s patients treated with ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier

Canadian researchers have taken a key first step that could potentially lead to a whole new way of treating Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and University of Toronto are using focused ultrasound to safely open the blood-brain barrier in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, with the hopes this will help clear the brain of toxic plaque.

It’s an “out of the box” approach using patients like Karen Hellerman. The 62-year-old from Chatham, Ont. was diagnosed with early stage dementia.

Hellerman is losing her short-term memory and her ability to process complex tasks.
“Sometimes I can get it out, and sometimes I can’t and that disturbs me. “ Hellerman told CTV News. Her husband Neil knows there are no drug treatments to effectively slow or stop the disease.

“As her dementia gets worse, her physical state will get worse…it’s not a good thing. And she’s young, she’s gonna miss part of her life,” said Neil.

She is patient No. 3 in a group of six people with early Alzheimer’s disease, participating in the first study of its kind.

One of the biggest challenges in treating brain disease is getting drug therapies past the blood-brain barrier, which is like a protective “wrap” that surrounds even the tiniest blood vessels in the brain and acts as a “gate” to protect the brain from toxins and proteins that could enter through the bloodstream.

CTV News, “A group of Toronto doctors are trying to break new ground in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Avis Favaro has exclusive video.


Recreating the Womb: New Hope for Premature Babies (Lambs for now)

Wednesday, 26 April, 2017

Recreating the Womb

Wonderful news from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), “A Unique Womb-Like Device Could Reduce Mortality and Disability for Extremely Premature Babies

A unique womb-like environment designed by pediatric researchers could transform care for extremely premature babies, by mimicking the prenatal fluid-filled environment to give the tiniest newborns a precious few weeks to develop their lungs and other organs.

“Our system could prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants by potentially offering a medical technology that does not currently exist,” said study leader Alan W. Flake, MD, a Fetal Surgeon and Director of the Center for Fetal Research in the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Flake and colleagues report on preclinical studies of their extra-uterine support device today in Nature Communications. They tested and monitored effects on fetal lambs, in which prenatal lung development is very similar to that occurring in humans.

The innovative system uses a unique fluid-filled container attached to custom-designed machines that provide physiologic support. The fetal lambs grow in a temperature-controlled, near-sterile environment, breathing amniotic fluid as they normally do in the womb, their hearts pumping blood through their umbilical cord into a gas exchange machine outside the bag. Electronic monitors measure vital signs, blood flow and other crucial functions. […]

The initial impetus for the program came from CHOP Research Fellow Emily Partridge, MD, PhD, who experienced the challenges of caring for critically premature infants. “Those infants really struck a chord with me,” she said. She researched existing scientific literature, and five years ago proposed to Flake the pilot project that became the current device.

CTV News (with videos), “Hope for preemies as artificial womb helps tiny lambs grow

CBC News (with video), “Scientists successfully grow lambs in artificial womb, offering hope for preemies – The idea of treating preemies in fluid-filled incubators may sound strange, but physiologically it makes sense

Technical paper by //Emily A. Partridge, Marcus G. Davey, Matthew A. Hornick, Patrick E. McGovern, Ali Y. Mejaddam, Jesse D. Vrecenak, Carmen Mesas-Burgos, Aliza Olive, Robert C. Caskey, Theodore R. Weiland III, Jiancheng Han, James T. Connelly, Kevin C. Dysart, Alexander J. Schupper, Jack Rychik, Holly L. Hedrick, William H. Peranteau, and Alan W. Flake. “An extra-uterine physiologic support system for the extreme premature lamb.” Nature Communications. Published online April 25, 2017.//

Recreating the Womb: New Hope for Premature Babies

Recreating the Womb: Q&A with the Researchers


Ed Young – I Contain Multitudes

Tuesday, 28 March, 2017

Watching YouTube videos of Ed Young @edyong209, author of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, over lunch. [HT Bill Gates]

Some of the many ideas/keywords: Dysbiosis

 


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