Project medical pioneer: use of ICT in treating people with severe cognitive impairment

27 09 2012

TIC en deterioro cognitivo graveThis draft introduced by caste health in Langreo, It is based on the benefits that therapy animals can result in this type of patients.


Breed health, belonging to the Group Eptisa, first private company in the field of mental health services, and psychogeriatrics in Spain, It has launched at its center of Langreo, (Asturias), a medical project pioneer, funded by the European Union, It is intended to investigate the use of new ICT technologies in the treatment of people with severe cognitive impairment, from minimum dementia, It is characterized by limited deficit and variable in the acquisition of new information, to severe dementia which is a very significant loss of amnesicos processes, by filling in the gaps with pictures confabulatorios, total inability to problem resolution and even recognize his family.

This project implemented by Breed health in Langreo, It is based on the benefits that therapy animals can produce this type of patients are: psychological effect, physiological and social, so Breed health It has incorporated into his therapy to NUKA, a robot baby seal-shaped, which seeks to apply the techniques of animal interaction with these groups.

Nuka It simulates animal interaction through the use of five sensors (touch, light, hearing, temperature and posture sensors). In this way, the robot is able to perceive people and their environments and provide a specific response to each situation. Residents do not differentiate the robot from a live animal, What to the therapeutic community represents a simulation with a real object basic exercise in daily life.


Main benefits

Among the major benefits that are pursued through collaboration with the patient through its interaction with NUKA stand out; a psychological effect which manifests itself in the form of relaxation and motivation; a physiological effect, which is derived from an improvement of vital signs, and a social effect, given that you get an activation of communication between patients and the professionals serving them.

The reactions of NUKA the smile returned to a depressed person to the stimuli received, stimulate their social and emotional blockades, They help to control his violent impulses and provides entertainment and activity, decreasing the dependency that patients have of their carers by promoting their autonomy. All of this leads to an improvement in the overall situation: cognitive, mood, patient communication and behavioral alterations.

Olga Ginés, Director General of Breed health points out that: “Since the beginning of the project, best performance of the residents can be seen in the therapeutic sessions, showing a greater degree of interaction with the community of residents, "at the time as an increase in the level of alert and communicative capacity"


The institution has received a subsidy close to the 70.000 euros in order to develop this research, whose most expensive item is the own robot, It is a sophisticated technological development from Japanese industry. Once tested the behavior of patients in your relationship with your pet, It is hoped that this new form of therapy from becoming implanted in the caste health centres in Guadarrama, Langreo, Arévalo and Ontiveros, where currently reside more than 1.000 patients with mental illness.

Next to Breed health, participating in this project Spain pioneered the Neurological diseases research center, belonging to the Queen Sofia Foundation, and Alzheimer Leon, specialized in the treatment of dementia, brain injury and third age-related pathologies.

To date, only seven countries (Japan, United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy Korea, Brunei and United States) they have made experiences with robots in the treatment of mental illness. This fact underlines the pioneer of this research in Spain nature. The project was launched last may, and has already made an initial assessment which sheds very positive results for physicians of Breed health. [en línea]Torrelodones (ESP):, 27 de septiembre de 2012 [REF. 11 de septiembre de 2012] Available on Internet:

New ways of doing in health: e-health

24 09 2012

Josep M Pike

Director of systems and ICT in theHospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau


The concept of e-health appears as more than 10 years to synthesize a concept in the introduction of ICT in the field of health. The progress made in the development of this type of technology, over the past years, they have changed many of the forms of production and relations with customers and suppliers, both the industrial sector, and in the services.

However, its introduction the health sector has been much slower by several factors and barriers, have your factor common in the complexity of which could be called the medical device or generically health and by the large number and diversity in the human labour force that intervenes.

Currently, all seem to indicate that it has initiated a process of hatching in his introduction by what we can anticipate that in a short period of time, as has occurred in other sectors, forms of work and provide health will vary deeply.

Some of the initial current approaches can already orient us in its features, Firstly the technification has one of its pillars in the clinical patient safety, This has been one of the drivers in the introduction of the electronic medical record and its derivatives, electronic prescribing, the realization of exploration and even around the surgical intervention.

Other drivers would be around the improvement of processes, to be able to act at a lower cost while maintaining or improving the quality, at this level the introduction of methodologies of the industrial sector open a path of huge interest in redefining processes.

The third driver it would be in the virtualization of the relations, as has happened in other industries, especially in the services, becomes unnecessary contact "face to face" to access the product and the level of the contribution of the Internet is really disruptive, all aspects about telemedicine and tele assistance are starting a spectacular development, also the evolution of the Internet to the 2.0 and even to the 3.0 (Semantic Webs) hardly makes the future predictable at the present time


The challenge will be how to manage change that will assume and introduce the experience of continuous innovation in the sanitary structures; Finally but not least will be the necessary modification of systems of financing and payment of the health system. [en línea] Barcelona(ESP):, 24 de septiembre de 2012 [REF. 10 de septiembre de 2012] Available on Internet:

Pesticides collect in health

20 09 2012

The use of hazardous chemicals also on the rise in Asia, causing serious damage to the environment and the health of persons.



The estimated cost of pesticide poisoning exceeds the total amount of international assistance for basic services of health for the region, excluding HIV / AIDS


The potential cost of pesticides in sub-Saharan Africa-related diseases among 2005 and 2020 It could be to $ 90BN (£ 56bn), According to a UN report released on Wednesday highlighting the growing health and environmental hazards of chemical products.

He said that the estimated cost of pesticide poisoning exceeds the total amount of international assistance for basic services of health for the region, excluding HIV / AIDS.

The report of the environment programme of the United Nations (UNEP) He warned that the increase in the production of chemical products, especially in emerging economies where there are weaker safeguards, It is a danger to the environment and the increase in healthcare costs. Urged Governments to intensify action and the industry to meet a goal set by the Nations of the world in the 2002 to produce and use chemicals for the year 2020 so to minimize the adverse effects on human health and the environment.

Rachel Massey, Massachusetts Institute reduced the use of toxic of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, one of the authors of the report, He said at a press conference at the presentation of the report that the chemical production is growing around the world, but the growth is faster in the economies emerging. starting at 2012-2020, said, the production of chemicals in North America and Europe are expected to increase in a 25% compared with a growth of around of the 50% in the Asia-Pacific region, the 40% in the Middle East and Africa, and the 33 % in Latin America.

"Studies", projecting trends for 2050, projected worldwide sales of chemicals to grow around the 3% per year to the 2050″, said the report. 
UNEP said that chemical production has grown to $ 4.12TN (£ 2,5 bn), in comparison with $ 171bBN(£ 107bn) in 1970. But the more of 140.000 chemical substances deemed to be on the market today, UNEP said that only a fraction has been evaluated thoroughly to determine their effects on health and the environment.

Massey said that the report dealt with benzene, a carcinogen well known associated with leukemia and other diseases whose use in Asia over the past two decades has multiplied manifold. It was found that benzene consumption grew 800% in China since 1.990 up 2.008 in comparison with the 13% in North America, said. in rich countries, UNEP, said, the data indicated that inorganic chemicals including ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid and acid HCL are routinely among the pollutants released in greater amounts.

The Global perspective of chemicals reported that industrial and agricultural chemicals poisoning are among the five leading causes of death in the world, contributing more of 1 a million deaths a year.

The report reflects scientific data, technical and socio-economic, for the first time in world production, trade, the use and disposal of chemicals, its effects on the health and economic consequences.

The Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, He said that the world is increasingly dependent on chemicals, of fertilizers and petrochemicals and plastics for electronics, for economic development, but the benefits that chemicals can provide should not be at the expense of human health and the environment.

"Pollution and related diseases", the non-sustainable use of production and disposal of chemical products can be, in fact, hinder progress towards the key objectives of development, affect water supplies, food security, "the welfare or the productivity of workers", said Steiner. [en línea] Bogotá(COL):, 20 de septiembre de 2012 [REF. 07 de septiembre de 2012] Available on Internet:

A ' wikipedia’ for biomedical images

17 09 2012

A group of researchers, among them Ignacio Arganda, Research postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of computational neuroscience of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have been put in place Fiji, a platform that allows share applications to improve and advance processing and biomedical image analysis. “All this in open source”, drew Arganda.

Unos 20 desarrolladores de todo el mundo trabajan para mejorar la plataforma. | MIT

A few 20 developers around the world working to improve the platform. | MIT

The platform has been built on the foundations of an earlier, call ImageJ, well known in the sector at the time and that was not open source but public domain. According to Arganda, It had the advantage that anyone who worked in medical imaging could very easily make pieces of program to solve their own problems and put them on the platform with a system called plug-in (an application that is related to another to provide a new and specific function).

However, Adds, This platform became too chaotic with all kinds and not only Biomedical Imaging applications. He also began to be used to treat images of astronomy, in video tracking, etc. “There was a great lack of control and lack of structure”, notes.

Why, This group of researchers, “without the support of anyone and spontaneously“, He decided to create a new open source platform that put an order in what already existed and reused whatever interesting and useful for their work.

“We did an orderly web type wikipedia, in which people could contribute and use their knowledge to help others. To our surprise, It has become very popular”, ensures. According to Ignacio Arganda, Fiji currently has 127.000 unique visits (20.000 each month new).

A reference

“Users give great quality to this platform with their contributions and that means a boost that increasingly more people share their code freely. For this reason, Fiji will de facto become a standard in the field of Biomedical Imaging”, emphasizes Arganda

“This was our goal because most of us involved in this project had worked for years in the field of medical imaging and ourselves too often articles in which reference was made to a fantastic method to treat pictures, but in the end could not verify if it was or not true because the technique was associated with a program that was not provided and images that were not accessible”.

At the moment there are a few 20 developers throughout the world working to improve the platform and make it free. “All are scientists who have their own project but that they develop on this platform because it is more comfortable for them and consider it more interesting”, says Arganda.

This researcher you contacted the promoters of Fiji for his doctoral thesis project. “I was working on a project of development of mammary gland and mice with breast cancer and had a few cuts of fabric. I started developing a program to make elastic image alignment for allow the reconstruction in 3D. Them interested and I was called to work on the platform”.

This is an example of things that are in Fiji, says. Arganda, now works on machine learning systems stop recognize the edges of neurons in images electron microscopy in the laboratory of computational neuroscience at MIT. Applications developed by them also has turned in the platform.

Success with companies

The researcher believes that the success of Fiji is also changing the way companies in the sector of Biomedical Imaging, both signatures of microscopy as large laboratories. “These companies recognize this platform as a high quality standard and they know that they have two options: compete or cooperate with Fiji. You can make your own plug-ins running on the platform and keep them and then if something very specific, they can sell it to users”.

“I for example a microscopy company contacted me because they were using my elastic images alignment program for correct distortions in its microscopes. I was asked a specific version of the program, but it was done during my thesis development, so it could not be easily sold. At the end come to an agreement so that they could use it with the only condition that if they made some improvements I would have it to communicate so I could include as free code and upload it to the platform”.

Ignacio Arganda explains that, like him, There are other investigators who have also had contact with companies, that have hired them as consultants for days to keep the code they needed to develop their products.

“The platform gives you a high-visibility - says-. To my post-doc at Stanford University and MIT offered me because they had access to my elastic alignment code and knew what was capable”, concludes.

Mapping the neural connections

Ignacio Arganda is doing his postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of computational neuroscience at MIT, directed by Sebastian Seung media, one of the leaders of the project Conectoma. This initiative aims to have a map of neural connections in the brain from an application ‘ on-line’ call open to citizen participation.

Arganda focuses on developing artificial intelligence programs that automatically recognize the outline of neurons and then make the reconstruction of the wiring in these brain areas. [en línea] Madrid(ESP): elElmundo.es17 de septiembre de 2012 [REF. 30 in August of 2012] Available on Internet: = GNEW970103

Sproxil deal offers free mobile drug authentication in 17 African countries

13 09 2012

SMS-based pharmaceutical authentication service Sproxil has signed a deal with Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel for the latter to offer its subscribers in 17 African countries free texting for drug verification.

“Our goal is to bring affordable and easily accessible health services to over 450 million people,” Andre Beyers, Airtel’s chief marketing officer for Africa, says in a Sproxil press release, referring to the total population of the 17 countries. Airtel claims 257 million customers in 20 African and Asian nations. “The battle against counterfeit drugs is a huge step towards the goal,” Beyers adds.

Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentication service includes a scratch-off label affixed to drug packaging. Consumers scratch off the label to reveal a unique code when they buy a medication or pick up a prescription, then text the code to a Sproxil SMS short code. A return text message reports whether the drug is real or counterfeit.

Meanwhile, competitor PharmaSecure this week introduced a free app for Android smartphones and tablets that scans authenticating labels so users don’t have to type in the codes.

A story in Developing Telecoms says counterfeiting is a greater issue in developing countries than in the West. The publication cited a recent study in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases that reportedly found that a third of anti-malarial drugs sold in Southeast Asia were counterfeit. The Airtel deal opens up Sproxil’s anti-counterfeiting effort to consumers in Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“By working with Airtel, we can get short codes in various countries’ different markets from just one company, streamlining the process and ‘turbo charging’ our expansion throughout the region,” Sproxil CEO Dr. Ashifi Gogo says in the company statement. “For the consumers it’s a win-win – two advanced technologies working together.”

Cambridge, Mass.-based Sproxil already operates in Ghana and Kenya – two of Airtel’s markets – and Nigeria. Sproxil also has offered its service in India since June 2011.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton praised the Mobile Product Authentication service as a “truly remarkable achievement” during a 2010 speech. PharmaSecure has caught the attention of other global figures, notably landing a $3.9 million investment from an investment company headed by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt. [en línea] Boston(USA):, 13 de septiembre de 2012 [REF. 29 in August of 2012] Available on Internet:

Dianne Ashworth Bionic Eye: ‘Little Flash’ Brings Australian Woman Some Sight

10 09 2012

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A bionic eye has given an Australian woman partial sight and researchers say it is an important step towards eventually helping visually impaired people get around independently.

Dianne Ashworth, who has severe vision loss due to the inherited condition retinitis pigmentosa, was fitted with a prototype bionic eye in May at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. It was switched on a month later.

“All of a sudden I could see a little flash … it was amazing,” she said in a statement.

“Every time there was stimulation there was a different shape that appeared in front of my eye.”

The bionic eye, designed, built and tested by the Bionic Vision Australia, a consortium of researchers partially funded by the Australian government, is equipped with 24 electrodes with a small wire that extends from the back of the eye to a receptor attached behind the ear.

It is inserted into the choroidal space, the space next to the retina within the eye.

“The device electrically stimulates the retina,” said Dr Penny Allen, a specialist surgeon who implanted the prototype.

“Electrical impulses are passed through the device, which then stimulate the retina. Those impulses then pass back to the brain (creating the image).”

The device restores mild vision, where patients are able to pick up major contrasts and edges such as light and dark objects. Researchers hope to develop it so blind patients can achieve independent mobility.

“Di is the first patient of three with this prototype device, the next step is analyzing the visual information that we are getting from the stimulation,” Allen said.

The operation itself was made simple so it can be readily taught to eye surgeons worldwide.

“We didn’t want to have a device that was too complex in a surgical approach that was very difficult to learn,” Allen.

Similar research has been conducted at Cornell University in New York by researchers who have deciphered the neural code, which are the pulses that transfer information to the brain, in mice.

The researchers have developed a prosthetic device that has succeeded in restoring near-normal sight to blind mice.

According to the World Health Organization, 39 million people around the world are blind and 246 million have low vision.

“What we’re going to be doing is restoring a type of vision which is probably going to be black and white, but what we’re hoping to do for these patients who are severely visually impaired is to give them mobility,” Allen said.

Link to video: click here [en línea] Sydney(AUS):, 10 de septiembre de 2012 [REF. 30 in August of 2012] Available on Internet:

Most Mutations Come from Dad

6 09 2012

New insights into age, height and sex reshape views of human evolution


By R. ALAN LEO. Humans inherit more than three times as many mutations from their fathers as from their mothers, and mutation rates increase with the father’s age but not the mother’s, researchers have found in the largest study of human genetic mutations to date.

The study, based on the DNA of around 85,000 Icelanders, also calculates the rate of human mutation at high resolution, providing estimates of when human ancestors diverged from nonhuman primates. It is one of two papers published this week by the journal Nature Genetics as well as one published at Nature that shed dramatic new light on human evolution.

James Sun/Harvard Medical School

James Sun/Harvard Medical School

“Most mutations come from dad,” said David Reich, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a co-leader of the study. In addition to finding 3.3 paternal germline mutations for each maternal mutation, the study also found that the mutation rate in fathers doubles from age 20 to 58 but that there is no association with age in mothers — a finding that may shed light on conditions, such as autism, that correlate with the father’s age.

The study’s first author is James Sun, a graduate student in Reich’s lab who worked with researchers from deCODE Genetics, a biopharma company based in Reykjavik, Iceland, to analyze about 2,500 short sequences of DNA taken from 85,289 Icelanders in 24,832 father-mother-child trios. The sequences, called microsatellites, vary in the number of times that they repeat, and are known to mutate at a higher rate than average places in the genome.

Reich’s team identified 2,058 mutational changes, yielding a rate of mutation that suggests human and chimpanzee ancestral populations diverged between 3.7 million and 6.6 million years ago.

A second team, also based at deCODE Genetics (but not involving HMS researchers), published a paper this week in Nature on a large-scale direct estimate of the rate of single nucleotide substitutions in human genomes (a different type of mutation process), and came to largely consistent findings.

The finding complicates theories drawn from the fossil evidence. The upper bound, 6.6 million years, is less than the published date of Sahelanthropus tchadensis, a fossil that has been interpreted to be a human ancestor since the separation of chimpanzees, but is dated to around 7 million years old. The new study suggests that this fossil may be incorrectly interpreted.

Great Heights

A second study led by HMS researchers, also published in Nature Genetics this week, adds to the picture of human evolution, describing a newly observable form of recent genetic adaptation.

The team led by Joel Hirschhorn, Concordia Professor of Pediatrics and professor of genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital and HMS, first asked why closely-related populations can have noticeably different average heights. David Reich also contributed to this study.

They examined genome-wide association data and found that average differences in height across Europe are partly due to genetic factors. They then showed that these genetic differences are the result of an evolutionary process that acts on variation in many genes at once. This type of evolution had been proposed to exist but had not previously been detected in humans.

Although recent human evolution is difficult to observe directly, some of its impact can be inferred by studying the human genome. In recent years, genetic studies have uncovered many examples where recent evolution has left a distinctive signature on the human genome. The clearest “footprints” of evolution have been seen in regions of DNA surrounding mutations that occurred fairly recently (typically in the last several thousand years) and confer an advantageous trait, such as resistance to malaria. Hirschhorn’s team observed, for the first time in humans, a different signature of recent evolution: widespread small but consistent changes at many different places in the genome, all affecting the same trait, adult height.

“This paper offers the first proof and clear example of a new kind of human evolution for a specific trait,” said Hirschhorn, who is also a senior associate member of the Broad Institute. “We provide a demonstration of how humans have been able to adapt rapidly without needing to wait for new mutations to happen, by drawing instead on the existing genetic diversity within the human population.”

Average heights can differ between populations, even populations that are genetically very similar, which suggests that human height might have been evolving differently across these populations. Hirschhorn’s team studied variants in the genome that are known to have small but consistent effects on height: people inheriting the “tall” version of these variants are known to be slightly taller on average than people inheriting the “short” versions of the same variants.

The researchers discovered that, in northern Europe, the “tall” versions of these variants are consistently a little more common than they are in southern Europe. The combined effects of the “tall” versions being more common can partly explain why northern Europeans are on average taller than southern Europeans. The researchers then showed that these slight differences have arisen as a result of evolution acting at many variants, and acting differently in northern than in southern Europe.

“This paper explains — at least in part — why some European populations, such as people from Sweden, are taller on average than others, such as people from Italy,” Hirschhorn said.

The researchers were only able to detect this signature of evolution by using the results of recent genome-wide association studies by the GIANT consortium, which identified hundreds of different genetic variants that influence height.


The Reich/deCODE study was supported by a Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics PhD training grant (JXS), a Burroughs Wellcome Travel Grant (JXS), a Burroughs Wellcome Career Development Award in the Biomedical Sciences (DR), a HUSEC seed grant from Harvard University (DR), a SPARC award from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT (DR), National Science Foundation HOMINID grant 1032255 (DR), and National Institute of Health grant R01HG006399 (DR).

The Hirschhorn study was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s FHS (contract no. N01-HC-25195) and its contract with Affymetrix, Inc., for genotyping services (contract no. N02-HL-6-4278). A portion of this research used the Linux Cluster for Genetic Analysis (LinGA-II) funded by the Robert Dawson Evans Endowment of the Department of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. This work was also supported by a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation (to C.W.K.C.), the March of Dimes (6-FY09-507 to J.N.H.) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (1R01DK075787 to J.N.H.). [en línea] Boston(USA): hmhms.harvard.edu06 de septiembre de 2012 [REF. 23 in August of 2012] Available on Internet:

Dr BRUGADA: The risk is not premium but in discouragement

3 09 2012

Prof. Josep Brugada Terradellas

Medical Director, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona


Every day we wake up with new bad news. There is no way to have a joy. When it is the risk premium not, It is the deficit and public debt but. And yet the country continues to operate, with extremely high unemployment rates (far can upload??), but we go forward. In the field of the health consequences of the crisis are terrible: lowering of wages and increased workloads, cuts in non-vital but certainly necessary benefits to the quality of life that society was used and a feeling that is not yet everything has been said.

In these circumstances one can enter into a process of detachment from reality, blame others (especially politicians) by having us carried this situation, and thus justify that our productivity is not at his best level. Certainly this attitude will not help to make the output of the well in which we are involved more quickly, or more solidarity, or more responsible.

There is another way to deal with this disaster. With fighting spirit, positive, thinking that we can overcome it and we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel if we all collaborate and give the best of each. Creativity, innovation, always in our society have expressed in times of great need. Now is when we need all the brilliant minds, they are many, in this country. The discouragement, fatigue, apathy should now be prohibited in our institutions. We must seize this very serious situation to unite people with common goals, and health care, research and innovation can be examples.

Let us not give excuses to those who believe that the only solution will be possible limiting resources. The solution is also to empower those who believe in a job well done and the personal effort every day.