Developments in "Ouchless" Bandages

While we all know the pain of removing a sticky bandage, those who've yet to develop an epidermis layer of skin (infants, for example) are particularly susceptible to injury from them. Researchers from MIT and Harvard Medical School took on the challenge of creating a gentler bandage. Immediately, they realized that the bandage adhesive can be left on the skin, as long as the bandage itself is removed. To execute the separation of the bandage from the adhesive, they introduced an intermediate layer of silicone that helps peel off the adhesive. Once it's been removed, the leftover glue residue can be gently washed off the skin, or allowed to rub off on its own. Some details from the article abstract in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: During removal of current medical tapes, crack propagation occurs at the adhesive–skin interface, which is also the interface responsible for device fixation. By designing quick-release medical tape to undergo crack propagation between the backin...

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3-D Medical Scanner Gives Primary Care Physicians the Surgical Edge

While advanced imaging techniques have allowed operating room surgeons and specialists to see inside the human body, those in the trenches and on the front lines (primary care physicians) haven't always been able to use the same technology...until now. Engineers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have developed a new imaging tool for primary car physicians: a handheld scanner that allows them to image those sites they most commonly examine and those that house numerous bacterial colonies (like the middle ear). The device utilizes optical coherence tomography (OCT), a visual technology similar to ultrasound imagine, but uses light instead of sound to produce the images. The team will be presenting their research at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2012 happening October 14-18 in Rochester New York. To keep tabs on chronic conditions like ear infections, primary care physicians have traditionally relied on instruments that are basic mag...

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No Virus Too Small for NYU-Poly Microscope

Viruses are small, and the most miniscule of them can only be seen by an electron microscope. However, electron microscopy can be a time consuming, and expensive, process. Scientists at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) have developed a novel method that's been used to set a record for the smallest virus detected in solution, the bacteriophage MS2 (weighing only 6 attograms [6.0 x 10-18 grams]). The team has hopes of the technology working into clinical point-of-care devices that will rapidly detect just about any infectious disease. The device works by guiding a tunable laser down a fiber optic cable, where its intensity is measured by a detector located on the far end. A small glass sphere is brought into contact with the fiber, diverting the light's path and causing it to orbit within the sphere. The change is recorded as a resonant dip in the transmission through the fiber. When a viral particle comes into contact with the sphere, it changes the sphere's overall properties...

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"Electronic Tattoo" for Fetal Monitoring Gets Grant

Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced its latest selection of grant winner for its Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative. One of these recipients was a team from the University of California, San Diego and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The team is developing a tiny, flexible fetal monitor. Described as an electronic "tattoo," it's a wearable patch constructed of circuits, sensors and wireless transmitters that adhere to skin like a temporary tattoo and has the added benefit of being able to stretch and flex with the skin's movement. Researchers hope that the final product will continuously measure and monitor vital statistics like uterine contractions, fetal heart rate and oxygen, and maternal heart rate and body temperature. Todd Coleman, professor of bioengineering and head of the project, points out the device's unique features in its ability to continuously check different measurements in a manner that's non-invasive and unobtrusive. The device will flour...

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