Electro-optic technology [illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A tiny and efficient new ultrasound system that transmits scans to patients’ physicians in real time has been developed by Prof. Yonina Eldar and colleagues in her lab at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s electrical engineering faculty in Haifa. With such a system, ultrasound scans can be performed in disaster areas and after road accidents in developing countries with limited medical infrastructure. In addition, the medical team at the site can be given treatment instructions based on the findings.
The lab developed the advanced probe to eliminate the need for the large ultrasound devices common in clinics and hospitals. The device acquires only the relevant data, which is transmitted to a remote processing unit or “cloud.”
The resulting image is then transferred to the treating physician’s smartphone (or tablet).
Dr. Shai Tejman-Yarden, a cardiologist at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, explained that in the case of injuries, for example, “the development will provide a doctor who is not at the scene with information in real time, enabling him to instruct the paramedic at the scene. This will also enable remote treatment for patients in developing countries, under the guidance of Israeli doctors.”
Ultrasound imaging is one of the world’s most common medical tests. Its advantages are that it is non-invasive, doesn’t involve exposure to ionizing radiation and is risk-free and relatively inexpensive.
Ultrasound is based on high-frequency sound waves that we cannot hear. During the examination, a probe that transmits sound waves is placed against the patient’s body, and an image of the organs being scanned is created based on the pattern of the waves reflected back to the probe.
It is used in a wide variety of important medical tests, such as assessing the condition of the fetus in utero, examining the baby’s brain through the fontanel (the gap between the bones of the skull), diagnosing conditions of the internal organs, evaluating blood flow, diagnosing thyroid problems, cardiac examinations, detecting tumors and infections and more.
At present, ultrasound examinations are performed at clinics and hospitals using a probe connected to a large, cumbersome and expensive ultrasound device. The results of the scan are collected in the computer and interpreted by a radiologist, who sends the diagnosis to the patient’s doctor (generally the family physician). This process takes several days, which could be critical in some cases.
Uploading the scan results to a cloud and enabling the patient’s doctor to view the findings on his mobile device could save time, but until now this has been avoided due to the large quantity of data acquired in each ultrasound scan. In addition, because of the device’s high data acquisition rate, the probe must be connected to it by means of a thick, heavy cable.
With the Technion’s new algorithm, the data can be reduced at the initial scanning stage so it can be uploaded to a cloud without harming image quality and without loss of data. Second, the innovative probe developed at the lab eliminates the need for the large ultrasound devices currently used at most clinics.PLACENTAL CELL CLINICAL TRIALS
The US Food and Drug Administration has for the first time given permission to the Israeli company Pluristem and Hadassah University Medical Center doctors to begin testing an experimental medication made from placental cells on cancer patients whose stem cell therapy to renew their immune system was not successful.
The technology began in the Hadassah lab of Prof. Raphael Gorodetzky, who is head of the radiobiology and biotechnology lab at Hadassah’s Sharett Institute of Oncology.
Called PLX-R18, the new therapy is based on choice placental cells that two years ago were injected into muscles to prevent fatal radiation damage. Placendal cells released a variety of proteins that cause renewal of the white blood cells after blood cancer patients have been exposed to high doses or radiation and chemotherapy.
The therapy can also improve the enhancement of stem-cell absorption and recovery of the immune system. Gorodetzky said the placental- cell and muscular-injection discovery could be an important breakthrough in lifesaving cellular therapy.