Monday, August 01, 2011

The Morning Drill: August 1, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments for your day.

Secondhand smoke may cause gingival pigmentation

Many studies have reported that smoking can cause increased gingival pigmentation. But what about the effects in those who don't actually smoke but are exposed to it?

So-called "passive smokers" -- those exposed to secondhand smoke -- may be at risk, too, according to a new study that reports a correlation between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and gingival pigmentation (Journal of Periodontology, July 2011, Vol. 82:7, pp. 956-962).

Nonsmokers exposed to ETS absorb nicotine and other harmful compounds that can have side effects ranging from gingival pigmentation to lung cancer and even death, noted the study authors from the department of periodontics at the Bangalore Institute of Dental Sciences and Postgraduate Research Center in India.

There is limited documentation of gingival pigmentation in nonsmokers, and the existing information is "contentious," they added.
Electronic Tongue Identifies Cava Wines, Aspires To Be The Next Master Sommelier
It may take a sophisticated palate to identify fine wines, but research from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) in Spain accomplishes this with a sensor. Well, somewhat.

Researchers from UAB’s Group of Sensors and Biosensors have developed an “electric tongue”, a device consisting of sensors and sophisticated algorithmic software to quantify the amount of sugar in Spanish cava wines and classify them into groups similar to their actual classification. So far, the electronic tongue is able to identify three of the seven classifications of cava, but with further training the researchers believe it will soon be able to identify them all.

Here’s a bit about how UAB’s electronic tongue (and the technology as a whole) works:

Electronic tongues are bio-inspired systems created with the aim of reproducing human perception senses. The device contains a sensor matrix to obtain chemical information from samples … Next, the perception of taste is based on the generation of sensory patterns of the nerves activated by the brain … achieved with the use of computerised systems which interpret data obtained by the sensor matrix. As in biological mechanisms, a learning and training process is needed so that the electronic tongue can be capable of recognising the properties that must be identified.
Lab-on-a-chip a game-changer in disease detection
A cheap, highly portable blood test kit has proven as accurate as expensive hospital-based analyses in detecting HIV, syphilis and other infectious diseases, according to a new study.

Researchers tested prototypes of the creditcard-sized lab-on-a-chip with hundreds of patients in Rwanda, reporting nearly 100 percent accuracy.

The so-called "mChip", they said, could help knock down three barriers to effective delivery of health care into the world's poorest regions: difficult access, high costs and long delays for results.

"The idea is to make a large class of diagnostic tests accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results," said Samuel Sia, a professor at Columbia University and lead developer.

The findings were published in Nature Medicine.

With a projected production cost of a dollar per unit, the mChip would be far cheaper to administer than current lab-based tests.

Because it can scan for multiple proteins, each corresponding to a disease, at the same time with a single blood sample, it is probably even cheaper -- and more accurate -- than strips which work like store-bought pregnancy tests.

"Current rapid HIV tests require subjective interpretation of band intensity by the user that can result in false positives," that is, healthy individuals being misdiagnosed, the study noted.

The mChip, by contrast, allows for measurement using a hundred-dollar handheld instrument no more complicated to use than a cell phone, according to the researchers.

Finally, the device produces results in minutes rather than days or weeks, a time saving that can make a big difference in treatment outcome.

The device contains a microchip housed inside an injection-moulded plastic casing, explained Vincent Linder, Chief Technological Officer at Claros Diagnostics, which owns or has licensed relevant patents.
NC dentist still working at age 90
You'd think that when a fellow reaches the ripe-old age of 90 that he'd curl up in his easy chair and watch the days slip lazily by.

Not Bill Woody. On the week he turned 90, he played golf, worked in the yard, attended his Optimist club meeting, did the dishes a few times, and motored to Lincolnton to help another dentist who wanted a day off.

And that pace is not unusual. He has been going to dental offices - most of the time, his own - for more than 60 years, somewhat of a record in local dentistry. A few years back, he figured that enough dental sand had fallen into the bottom of the hourglass, so he closed up shop and put out the word: "Gone fishing." Except, he does little fishing.

But he hadn't retired, at least not completely. He did what was necessary to maintain his license, and has been available if a fellow dentist needed a day off or two.
Enjoy your morning!

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