Tagged: Health

Full-color 3D X-rays are the future, and here’s what they look like

For all the advancements in body-scanning medical technology, X-rays still tend to be pretty boring to look at. They’re more accurate than ever, providing plenty of detail, but they’re just so… boring, right?  A company called MARS Bioimaging hopes to change that with X-rays that are not only fully 3D, like a CT scan, but also full-color. The’ve built what they call the MARS large bore spectral scanner, and one glimpse at the images it can produce will convince you of how awesomely powerful it is.

The system, which was developed by father-son team Phil and Anthony Butler, has been in development for roughly a decade, but that long, long road appears to be paying off in a big way. The machine is capable of creating stunningly accurate 3D models of whatever it sets eyes on, allowing doctors to explore the insides of a patient’s body without picking up a scalpel.

I mean, just look at these scans:

The MARS scanner uses technology that was originally developed by CERN. The “Medipix” chips used in the new X-ray system are pixel detectors that provide rapid imaging while also relaying color information, allowing the MARS machine to build the 3D model of the target object (in this case, the human body) and color it at the same time. The result is the kind of scans you see above.

It’s an incredibly powerful tool, and its use cases are pretty obvious. If a doctor can examine the bones and organs of a patient in full-color 3D they can more accurately plan for operations or perhaps even avoid surgery in some cases. Patients may benefit in the form of quicker recovery times from more efficient operations, and more accurate care plans based on exactly what is going on inside their bodies.

However, as promising as this all looks, it’s not quite ready for its time in the spotlight. The company is still working towards full commercial rollout of the system, so it might be a little while before you see one in your local clinic.

Multivitamins are doing absolutely nothing for your heart, researchers say

Head to the pharmacy or any grocery store and you’ll find shelves lined with multivitamins promising to make you healthier. Some claim to boost your energy levels or are geared specifically towards either men or women, but most of them at least hint that they’ll make your heart healthier. A new analysis of multivitamin studies from around the globe is pointing in an entirely different direction.

This latest round of research is actually a combination of 18 different studies that have gauged the effects of multivitamins in the human body. The team who conducted the study closely examined the results of those prior studies in an attempt to paint a clear overall picture, and it’s not looking great for those who hope a multivitamin will keep their kicker in working order.

Put simply, the analysis of all the combined date shows that multivitamins do basically nothing for your heart. Despite the bold claims made by some brands to target key factors in heart health, the end result is essentially nil.

“We meticulously evaluated the body of scientific evidence,” lead author Joonseok Kim, M.D.of the University of Alabama at Birmingham explained in a statement. “We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.”

The various studies included in the analysis looked at factors like the rates of death from cardiovascular diseases or events such as heart attack and stroke, comparing the data between those who take vitamins and those who don’t. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t show any clear benefit to taking multivitamins, suggesting that taking them as part of your daily routine is little more than a waste of money.

“It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent cardiovascular diseases,” Kim notes. “I hope our study findings help decrease the hype around multivitamin and mineral supplements and encourage people to use proven methods to reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising and avoiding tobacco.”

Ketogenic diet could give new cancer-fighting drugs a big boost

New cancer-fighting drugs come along pretty regularly, and some show more promise than others, but a new class of treatments is getting a boost in effectiveness from a somewhat unlikely source: a low-carb diet.

A ketogenic diet (often called just “keto” by proponents) promotes the consumption of fats while shunning carbs as much as possible. Now, a synergy between keto and a new class of drugs has been demonstrated, and it might offer renewed hope for those fighting certain types of cancer.

The drugs in question work by targeting the PI3K enzyme which has been linked to cancer mutations. The drugs showed promise early on but have fallen short of lofty expectations, and now scientists think that combining the drugs with a ketogenic diet might be the real answer.

“Any drug that targets PI3K may not be effective unless patients can maintain low blood sugar levels through diet or medication,” Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “We demonstrated that if we keep insulin down with the ketogenic diet, it dramatically improves the effectiveness of these cancer drugs.”

The scientists believe this is the case because of how PI3K affects insulin production. By muting the function of PI3K, the tumors should begin to die, but things haven’t worked out that way. Doctors now believe this is because pancreas is playing catch-up with blood sugar levels, boosting insulin levels and essentially cancelling out the effect of the drug.

By dramatically reducing or outright eliminating carbohydrates, a keto diet commands the body to begin using fats as fuel, stabilizing blood sugar levels and giving the drug a chance to do its job. This approach has proven to be extremely effective in lab trials with mice.

“The ketogenic diet turned out to be the perfect approach,” Benjamin D. Hopkins of Cornell explains. “It reduced glycogen stores, so the mice couldn’t release glucose in response to PI3K inhibition. This suggests that if you can block spikes in glucose and the subsequent insulin feedback, you can make the drugs much more effective at controlling cancer growth.”

NHS Unveils Mobile App to Let Patients Book GP Visits Online

The British government has announced plans to launch a new NHS mobile app that will let patients in England make appointments with their doctor.

The app will also allow users to order repeat prescriptions, manage their long-term healthcare, see thei…