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Category Archives: Medicine

The US military is trying to read minds

MIT Technology Review – A new DARPA research program is developing brain-computer interfaces that could control “swarms of drones, operating at the speed of thought”. What if it succeeds? – “In August, three graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University were crammed together in a small, windowless basement lab, using a jury-rigged 3D printer frame to zap a slice of mouse brain with electricity.  The brain fragment, cut from the hippocampus, looked like a piece of thinly sliced garlic. It rested on a platform near the center of the contraption. A narrow tube bathed the slice in a solution of salt, glucose, and amino acids. This kept it alive, after a fashion: neurons in the slice continued to fire, allowing the experimenters to gather data. An array of electrodes beneath the slice delivered the electric zaps, while a syringe-like metal probe measured how the neurons reacted. Bright LED lamps illuminated the dish. The setup, to use the lab members’ lingo, was kind of hacky. A monitor beside the rig displayed stimulus and response: jolts of electricity from the electrodes were followed, milliseconds later, by neurons firing. Later, the researchers would place a material with the same electrical and optical properties as a human skull between the slice and the electrodes, to see if they could stimulate the mouse hippocampus through the simulated skull as well. They were doing this because they want to be able to detect and manipulate signals in human brains without having to cut through the skull and touch delicate brain tissue. Their goal is to eventually develop accurate and sensitive brain-computer interfaces that can be put on and taken off like a helmet or headband—no surgery required…”

Ways and Means Committee Releases Report on International Drug Pricing

“Today, the Ways and Means Committee released a report, titled “A Painful Pill to Swallow: U.S. vs. International Prescription Drug Prices,” finding that U.S. drug prices are nearly four times higher than the combined average of 11 other similar countries, and that Americans pay as much as 67 times more than consumers in other nations… Continue Reading

Free online tool identifies dangerous drug/supplement combinations

“Discover Supplement-Drug Interactions – Search our AI curated corpus of 1,923 supplements, 2,727 drugs and 55,946 interactions and explore the related research. Our work is not influenced by third parties. Supp.AI is a free service of the non-profit Allen Institute for AI.” …Dietary and herbal supplements are popular but unregulated. Supplements can interact or interfere… Continue Reading

Be Prepared: Find the ER You Want to Go to Before an Emergency Happens

ProPublica: “To be prepared in the event of an emergency, you can use our newly updated ER Inspector (formerly called ER Wait Watcher) to help you evaluate the emergency rooms near you. Using data from the federal government, our interactive database lets you compare ERs on both efficiency measures, including how long patients typically spend… Continue Reading

OECD survey of 21 counties – many people unhappy with public services and benefits

“Many people in OECD countries believe public services and social benefits are inadequate and hard to reach. More than half say they do not receive their fair share of benefits given the taxes they pay, and two-thirds believe others get more than they deserve. Nearly three out of four people say they want their government… Continue Reading

FINRA National Financial Capability Study

FINRA Investor Education Foundation: – “A significant part of financial capability is the ability to make ends meet through adequate savings. Having resources for immediate medical needs is also an important component. In the U.S., 18% of individuals reported that over the past year, their household spent more than their income (not including the purchase… Continue Reading

America’s doctors warn Google, Twitter, and Facebook: Anti-vaxxers are weaponizing tech platforms

Business Insider: The American Medical Association (AMA) is worried that anti-vaxxers are weaponizing the world’s biggest social media platforms, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Parents often use these platforms to spread misinformation about vaccine dangers that aren’t real. Doctors say the content is having a dangerous impact on the number of vaccinated people in America,… Continue Reading

Specialists from seven countries call for moratorium on gene editing

Nature [no fee or paywall]: Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing, Eric Lander, Françoise Baylis, Feng Zhang, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Paul Berg and specialists from seven countries call for an international governance framework. “We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm,… Continue Reading

Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, 2019

“Iceland, Japan, Switzerland round out top five; U.S. is 35th – Health index looks at life expectancy, environmental factors…The index grades nations based on variables including life expectancy while imposing penalties on risks such as tobacco use and obesity. It also takes into consideration environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation. Spain has… Continue Reading

GINA, Big Data, and the Future of Employee Privacy

GINA, Big Data, and the Future of Employee Privacy Bradley A. Areheart & Jessica L. Roberts. Yale Law Journal, Vol. 128 2018-2019, Number 3, January 2019 544-871. “Threats to privacy abound in modern society, but individuals currently enjoy little meaningful legal protection for their privacy interests. We argue that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)… Continue Reading