Tag: medicine

3D Printed Organs

This is fucking fascinating. I knew it was coming but wasn’t sure when. Clinical in five years ok – that’s good. Think about it though. I’ve known for some time we’ve been able to 3D print the hollow organs like esophagus, bladder etc. But tissue with blood vessels has been the holy grail.

Not anymore. So with this technology we can print kidneys, livers, pancreas, lungs – and the heart may be next. And since they’re grown from a patients own cells there’s no risk of rejection. I’d say tech like this will tack 30 to 50 years of additional life to all of us.

In fact I’ve posted before on what extended lifetimes would mean. The pressure to have children when you’re young could potentially be pushed off until your in your 70’s. Imagine that.

Technology is catching up with the fiction. If you read any of the Heinlein books you know that Rejuvination Clinics are a common item in them. And they expect the market for this to jump from $23 Billion in 2015 to $94 Billion by 2020. This presents a good investment opportunity I’d say. And it will be a game changer for medicine. No more will we lose 4,000 or more people per year due to organ failure. That’s one I can think of off the cuff.

Just think what more could we 3D print? Arms? Legs? Eyes? The list is endless.

Had only this technology been available back in 1992 perhaps we could have saved my Uncle – he died from Cirrhosis of the Liver at age 42. So sad he’s gone but glad that in the future they can just grow a new liver for someone and it’ll save thousands of lives.

Interesting medical bit, a novel idea from the past

I remember house calls going out of vogue about the time I was 4 or 5 years old. Yes yes, I’m THAT old.

But now an old idea is new again.

A couple things jump out from the linked article. One is that the Missouri VA program for veteran care saw a drop in cost per patient of 62%! It went from $45,000 per year per patient down to $17,000. That’s no small feat.

The other little fact that really jumps out is that patients with multiple chronic conditions use up two thirds of Medicare money which approaches $500 Billion this year. If say we could realize the savings that the VA saw, we could chop that $500 Billion down to about $190 Billion. That’ where the savings multiply.

Another fact that jumps out about this new move, which by the way is included in the health care bills floating through congress. That is, patient outcomes IMPROVE when doctors make house calls.

The other little fact that really jumps out is that patients with multiple chronic conditions use up two thirds of Medicare money which approaches $500 Billion this year. If say we could realize the savings that the VA saw, we could chop that $500 Billion down to about $190 Billion. That’ where the savings multiply.

I’ve written about this before. If there’s one thing the U.S. is absolutely on top of it is emergency medicine. Education and technologies have evolved to the point that most every state has one or more Level 1 Trauma centers. The one near me is about 1.5 miles away. You can be shot, have a heart attack, stroke, etc. but the emergency folks can patch you up and keep you alive in most cases.

Where we absolutely fall down is on preventative medicine. And that is what doctors doing house calls would return to the equation.

But I think the reason we’re seeing such a fight over health care reform is because there are businesses out there that stand to loose a lot of money if we implement common sense ideas about medical care. Think about it, Medicare would save $310 Billion in costs. What could we do with an extra $310 Billion? Fix deteriorating infrastructure like roadways and schools? That’s just a start.

You have to look at who stands to lose when disruptive change like this occurs. The quick list I can think of is the hospitals, the insurance companies, the billing companies, the ambulance companies, cities (You think rescue runs are free?), and even states at some level.

The above is what I see as the prime opposition to true reform in health care. But we the people must let our legislators know that we know how disruptive this change will be, but we’re willing to work with them to see it passed.

Interesting story on U.S. Healthcare

As one of those un-insured this makes my blood boil, especially when that Hunter bitch tries to sugar coat the industry position.

Part II

Part III

All this comes from a discussion thread about the California Nurses Association publishing a study that indicated expanding medicare could cover every single person in the U.S. and cost comparatively little.

You’ve heard me say this before, we need to knock down the insurance and billing companies first. They are the prime obstacle to having single payer, or universal, or what have you.

Profit and greed should NEVER, EVER override health.

Low birth weight and infant mortality in the U.S.

Found this interesting ranking of states for child birth weight and mortality statistics.

If you look at the map a couple of interesting bits of data become apparent:
Child Well Being Map of the United States

One of the scarier things that pop immediately into view is the fact that south and a column going up the midwest have the worst issues with child well being. In the case of the south, that’s the Bible belt, in the case of the midwest states, too much distance between advanced medical care and people.

Then look at the light pink areas. One of the things about those light pink areas is that there are many colleges and universities located within them, including many medical schools. In areas like that the quality and quantity of care tend to be greater and more accessible.

But what is the root cause of low birth weight babies? Is it the modern lifestyle? Or maybe all the chemical contamination in our environment. For example we now know that bisphenol-A is an endocrine disrupter. One of it’s effects on developing male babies is decrease in the anogenital distance and smaller penises In essence it mimics a feminizing hormone.

Other contaminants include heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, etc. We live in a very toxic environment and the effects aren’t just present in developing fetuses, but they affect children and adults too.

It’s really a shame that the Clean Air and Water act has been repeatedly attacked because we’re going to pay the price over and over again due to our lack of diligence.

Bright Future: Using the immune sytem to kill cancer

This is very interesting, a company called Micromet has a drug called MT103 that is very effective at killing off non-Hodgkins lymphomas.

And additionally, they’ve now figured out how to track mammalian immune system responses in realtime.

So put these two together and you’ve got a fantastic diagnostic and treatment program. This fits in with Ray Kurzweils prediction that if you can live just 15 more years, the probably of living past 120 years becomes more of a reality.

This is very encouraging news. I’ve lost too many people I love to diseases like cancer, HIV and ALS.
That we have ways to detect, and soon treat these diseases is great news.

Unbelievable! Even Iran is somewhat more enlightened than the U.S.

Found this when I signed into my Yahoo buzz account, Iran is vending condoms and syringes in Tehran.

This utterly shocks me. Here in the U.S. condoms are fairly easy to come by, they’ll be giving out a ton of them during Pride season for we gay people. But the thing that stunned me is the syringe vending.

You’ll never see that here in the United States. We are a country run by those in a small minority who wish us to suffer the consequences of our actions. We need to rise up and speak with one voice against such foolishness that the religious push forward.

You cannot for a moment tell me that we couldn’t put a serious dent in HIV infections in the U.S. if we openly offered syringes and condoms. But in the U.S. that phrase “The wages of sin are death.” rings forth from every Christian whack-job out there.

The costs would be minimal. It’s interesting that prophylactic measures are always less expensive than allowing disease to spread unchecked and then having to foot the bill to treat chronic diseases.

And we really don’t do the chronic so well in this country either. The pharmaceutical companies see to it that life saving drugs don’t come cheap.

It’s like something else I learned about. Did you know that if you suspect you might have been recently (Within a day or so) infected with HIV you could do a treatment called PEP. In essence it’s a high dosage anti-viral cocktail that if taken within 72 hours of exposure will pretty much stop HIV from taking hold in the human body. But not many people are made aware of this. Plus you know we now have HIV tests that take only 20 minutes, so there’s absolutely no reason why this epidemic should still be with us. I recall a comic who was HIV positive and one of his skits had something like “Oh AIDS, glad I got rid of that.” We’re on the doorstep here.

The side effects of PEP are nothing to take lightly, but if it means not being infected most people would probably opt to do it. It’s been used in the medical community for many years to treat accidental needle sticks etc. where the HIV status is either known or unknown.

But the pharmaceutical giants and the HMO’s would never really want this information to slip out.

Again, a prophylactic treatment would be less expensive than treating a chronic disease. Can’t argue the logic in that.

But in the end, Iran leads the way yet you’ve got George W. Bush rattling sabers against Iran. For all the bluster of their Imams and Ayatolahs, I have to give them credit for realizing the cost effectiveness of making condoms and syringes widely available.