Intubation is the sometimes-tricky placement of a plastic tube into the lungs that allows anesthetized or critically ill patients to breathe. The standard procedure requires the physician to see the trachea and choose between two very similar holes, one leading to the lungs and the other to the stomach. Failure to identify the correct one can kill the patient. In addition, intubation sometimes has to be carried out on the battlefield, or on patients who have blood or liquids obstructing the way. But now, students in the biodesign program of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem have designed a self-guided robotic intubation device that crawls to the lungs in difficult situations.

The “GuideIN Tube” is a robotic intubation device that automatically identifies the lungs using an i n f r a r e d source and navigates toward it. The device was successfully tested on cadavers at Hadassah, and clinical trials will begin as soon as next year.

“I strongly believe that GuideIn Tube represents the future of intubation,” said Dr. Elchanan Fried, director of the hospital’s general intensive care unit and the group’s clinical expert. The device targets a $3 billion market, which is expected to increase by five percent a year.

“We really thought about the paramedic in the field,” said Itai Hayut, the leading engineering student on the project. “We wanted something simple and compact that they could trust without fail. I think we hit it on all marks.” Other students in the group include Tommy Weiss-Sadan, a biology graduate student, as well as Sarah Horwitz and Ariel Shrem who are completing their MBA degrees.

Biodesign is a multidisciplinary, team-based approach to medical innovation, created by the HU and the Hadassah University Medical Center in partnership with Stanford University. The program takes outstanding medical fellows, bioengineering and business graduate students, and tutors them in the science and practice of bringing a medical innovation to the market. The program is directed by Dr. Yaakov Nahmias, head of the HU bioengineering program and Prof. Chaim Lotan, director of Hadassah’s heart institute.

TEAM TREATMENT OF ORAL CANCER MORE EFFECTIVE

Smoking and drinking alcohol are two of the main causes of cancer in the mouth and throat, but there are also genetic, geographic and cultural factors. Recently it was discovered to exposure to the human papilloma virus – contracted during oral sex – is also increasingly involved in oral cancer.

Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Survival from this type of malignant tumor in past decades reached only 50 percent. But new international research headed by doctors from Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center has shown that in the past decade, the mortality rate from oral cancer has declined by 12% – from 31% to 19% – even though more patients were treated at an advanced stage and a later age than before. For example, during the past 10 years, 14% of those treated were over 70, compared to only 10% a decade before. Over half had advanced tumors in the past decade, compared to 45% 10 years before that.

Prof. Ziv Gil, head of the ear-noseand- throat (ENT) department at Rambam, and his department colleague Dr. Moran Amit, worked with leading oncology departments in Italy, Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, the US and Taiwan. Their article will be published in the prestigious journal Cancer.

Responsible for the lower death rates, the researchers concluded, was that clinicians have taken a multidisciplinary approach to oral cancer that includes choice of the treatment best suited to the patient, dealing with complications during or after surgery and using procedures for rehabilitation of function after treatment. Such an approach is uniquely possible, said Gil, in public university medical centers were teams from a variety of specialties are available. They are thus much more successful in fighting the cancer than a single oncologist or ENT specialist. Gil concluded that followup of the patient is required for years after initial treatment, preferably by the same team that originally treated him.

BREAST CANCER PROTECTION

A new analysis has found that breastfeeding for more than six months may safeguard nonsmoking mothers against breast cancer – but does not offer the same protection to mothers who smoked. Published in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Nursing, the findings add to the list of benefits of breastfeeding for women and their babies.

To examine the relationship between breast cancer and certain aspects of pregnancy and breastfeeding, Dr. Emilio González- Jiménez of Spain’s University of Granada in Spain and his colleagues analyzed the medical records of 504 female patients who were 19 to 91 years of age and who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer from 2004 to 2009 at the San Cecilio University Hospital in Granada. The team looked at factors including age of diagnosis, how long the women breastfed, family history of cancer, obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking habits.

Their analysis revealed that women who underwent childbirth and breastfed were diagnosed with breast cancer at a later age, regardless of the patients’ family history of cancer. Nonsmokers who breastfed for periods of longer than six months tended to be diagnosed with breast cancer much later in life – an average of 10 years later than nonsmokers who breastfed for a shorter period. In contrast, female smokers were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and obtained no significant benefit from a longer period of breastfeeding.

“The results suggest that for nonsmokers, breastfeeding for more than six months not only provides children with numerous health benefits, but it also may protect mothers from breast cancer,” said González-Jiménez.

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