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Nobel Prize for Medicine 2007

U.S. citizens Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies and Sir Martin J. Evans of Britain won the 2007 Nobel Prize in medicine. They were honored for a technique called gene targeting, which lets scientists inactivate or modify particular genes in mice. This in turn lets them study how those genes affect health and disease.

The widely used process has helped scientists use mice to study heart disease, diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis and other diseases. To use this technique, researchers introduce a genetic change into mouse embryonic stem cells. These cells are then injected into mouse embryos. The mice born from these embryos are bred with others, to produce offspring with altered genes.
 
The citation said that gene targeting has pervaded all fields of biomedicine. Its impact on the understanding of gene function and its benefits to mankind will continue to increase over many years to come.

IBM's 3D Avatar to Help Doctors Visualize Patient Records and Improve Care

IBM researchers have developed a prototype visualization software that allows doctors to interact with medical data the same way they interact with their patients, that is by looking at them. Created at IBM's Zurich Research Lab, the technology uses an avatar – a 3D representation of the human body – to allow doctors to visualize patient medical records in an entirely new way.

Called the Anatomic and Symbolic Mapper Engine (ASME), this innovative visualization method allows a doctor to click with the computer mouse on a particular part of the avatar “body” to trigger a search of medical records to retrieve relevant information.

The ASME system will allow doctors to “click” on different parts of the 3-D avatar of the human body – for example, the spine – and instantly see all the available medical history and information related to that patient's spine, including text entries, lab results and medical images such as radiographs or MRIs.

First Zero-Gravity Surgical Robot Demonstration

SRI International, a nonprofit R&D organization, has developed a teleoperated surgical robot that can work in a zero-gravity environment.

The SRI robotic surgical system is designed to be stored in a very compact space for space travel, that astronauts can reassemble for use in the event of illness requiring surgical intervention.

The system was successfully tested underwater in the Aquarius undersea laboratory off the coast of Florida earlier this year. A Canadian surgeon successfully utilized the device to perform a vascular suturing operation from fifteen hundred miles away.

Now SRI researchers are testing the device in the extreme environment of zero gravity. The tests will be done over a period of four days aboard a NASA C-9 aircraft. The plane undergoes a series of parabolic flight maneuvers that simulates, for a brief period, the microgravity environment of space.

SRI-developed software is intended to help the robot compensate for errors in movement that can occur in moments of turbulence or transitions in gravitational field strength. The experiment will compare the same surgical tasks performed by a physician who is physically present on the plane with those performed remotely using the teleoperated robot.

Pfizer with largest online physician community of U.S. to Improve Patient Care

Pfizer Inc and Sermo, the

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