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NYT: Privacy Concerns For ClassDojo, Other Tracking Apps For Schoolchildren 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-somebody-other-than-advertisers-think-of-the-children dept.
theodp writes: The NY Times' Natasha Singer files a report on popular and controversial behavior tracking app ClassDojo, which teachers use to keep a running tally of each student's score, award virtual badges for obedience, and to communicate with parents about their child's progress. "I like it because you get rewarded for your good behavior — like a dog does when it gets a treat," was one third grader's testimonial. Some parents, teachers and privacy law scholars say ClassDojo (investors) — along with other unproven technologies that record sensitive information about students — is being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness. "ClassDojo," writes Singer, "does not seek explicit parental consent for teachers to log detailed information about a child's conduct. Although the app's terms of service state that teachers who sign up guarantee that their schools have authorized them to do so, many teachers can download ClassDojo, and other free apps, without vetting by school supervisors. Neither the New York City nor Los Angeles school districts, for example, keep track of teachers independently using apps."

A high school teacher interviewed for the article confessed to having not read ClassDojo's policies on handling student data, saying: "I'm one of those people who, when the terms of service are 18 pages, I just click agree." And, if all this doesn't make you parents just a tad nervous, check out this response to the "Has anyone ran a data analysis on their CD data?" question posed to the Class Dojo Community: "I needed to analyze data in regards to a student being placed on ADHD medicine to see whether or not he made any improvements. I have also used it to determine any behavioral changes depending on if a student was with mom/dad for a custody review. I use dojo consistently, so I LOVE getting to use the data to evaluate and share with parents, or even administrators."
Medicine

The Dutch Village Where Everyone Has Dementia 228

Posted by samzenpus
from the last-town dept.
HughPickens.com writes Josh Planos writes at The Atlantic that the isolated village of Hogewey on the outskirts of Amsterdam has been dubbed "Dementia Village" because it is home to residents who are only admitted if they're categorized as having severe cases of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. "There are no wards, long hallways, or corridors at the facility," writes Planos. "Residents live in groups of six or seven to a house, with one or two caretakers. Perhaps the most unique element of the facility—apart from the stealthy "gardener" caretakers—is its approach toward housing. Hogeway features 23 uniquely stylized homes, furnished around the time period when residents' short-term memories stopped properly functioning. There are homes resembling the 1950s, 1970s, and 2000s, accurate down to the tablecloths, because it helps residents feel as if they're home."

In Holland, everyone pays into the state health care system during their working years, with the money then disbursed to pay for later-in-life expenses — and that means living in Hogewey does not cost any more than a traditional nursing home. The inspiration came about in 1992, when Yvonne van Amerongen and another member of staff at a traditional nursing home both had their own mothers die, being glad that their elderly parents had died quickly and had not had to endure hospital-like care. A series of research and brainstorming sessions in 1993 found that humans choose to surround and interact with other like-minded people of similar backgrounds and experiences; the arrangement at Hogewey provides this by ensuring that residents with similar backgrounds continue to live closely together. On a physical level, residents at Hogewey require fewer medications; they eat better and they live longer. On a mental level, they also seem to have more joy. "The people here keep their independence, as much as they can have of it, and they stay active," says Theo Visser. "Here they still have a life. It's not the sort of slow, quiet death you get in other places. Here everyone feels at home."
Medicine

Machine Learning Used To Predict Military Suicides 74

Posted by timothy
from the sobering-statistics dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes David Wagner writes that a predictive computer model using machine learning methods is helping to identify soldiers in the United States Army most likely to commit suicide. Computers combed through data on more than 40,000 soldiers who'd been hospitalized for mental health problems looking at 421 variables on each soldier drawn from 38 military data systems. Using a method known as "machine learning," the researchers identified roughly two dozen factors that are most important in predicting soldiers most likely to commit suicide. The soldiers most likely to take their own lives were men with past suicidal behavior and a history of psychiatric disorders and criminal offenses, including weapons possession and verbal assaults. Soldiers with hearing loss also faced heightened risk — a strong indicator that they had suffered a head injury. So did enlisting in the Army after age 27, most likely because those soldiers had already experienced trouble finding their way in life. "There's this group that comes to the Army later in life — they're smart, they have skills, they tend not to be married and they have no career or have left a career to join," Dr. Kessler said. "We don't know why they should be at higher risk, but they appear to be."

Murray Stein, co-author of the new study, found that among soldiers recently discharged from psychiatric hospitals, more than half of suicides were committed by just five percent of patients. "The most impressive thing is that they identified this high-risk group in the hospital, and by just focusing on one in 20 of them, you're really dramatically improving your ability to predict," says Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who was not involved in the study. "Clinicians don't do a very good job predicting suicide risk, even though we think we do."
Medicine

How To Anesthetize an Octopus 105

Posted by timothy
from the calm-as-calamari dept.
sciencehabit writes Researchers have figured out how to anesthetize octopuses so the animals do not feel pain while being transported and handled during scientific experiments. In a study published online this month in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, researchers report immersing 10 specimens of the common octopus in seawater with isoflurane, an anesthetic used in humans. They gradually increased the concentration of the substance from 0.5% to 2%. The investigators found that the animals lost the ability to respond to touch and their color paled, which means that their normal motor coordination of color regulation by the brain was lost, concluding that the animals were indeed anesthetized. The octopuses then recovered from the anesthesia within 40 to 60 minutes of being immersed in fresh seawater without the anesthetic, as they were able to respond to touch again and their color was back to normal.
Biotech

Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes 297

Posted by samzenpus
from the passing-it-on dept.
FirephoxRising writes Our genetic makeup influences whether we are fat or thin by shaping which types of microbes thrive in our body, according to a new study. Scientists identified a specific, little known bacterial family that is highly heritable and more common in individuals with low body weight. So we are what we eat, and what we got from out parents. From the article: "The study, funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers sequenced the genes of microbes found in more than 1,000 fecal samples from 416 pairs of twins. The abundances of specific types of microbes were found to be more similar in identical twins, who share 100 per cent of their genes, than in non-identical twins, who share on average only half of the genes that vary between people. These findings demonstrate that genes influence the composition of gut microbes."
Medicine

Researchers Direct Growth of Neurons With Silicon Nitride Microtubes 23

Posted by Soulskill
from the superbrain-under-construction dept.
MTorrice writes: Bioengineers want to connect electronics and neurons to make devices such as new cochlear implants or prosthetic limbs with a seemingly natural sense of touch. They also could build synthetic neural circuitry to use to study how the brain processes information or what goes wrong in neurodegenerative diseases.

As a step toward these applications, a team of researchers has developed a way to direct the growth of axons, the connection-forming arms of neurons. They use transparent silicon nitride microtubes on glass slides to encourage the cells' axons to grow in specific directions. The cultured nerve cells grow aimlessly until they bump into one of the tubes. The axon then enters the tube, and its growth is accelerated 20-fold. Silicon nitride already is used in some orthopedic devices, and could serve as a substrate for electronics to interface with the growing neurons.
Medicine

Human Clinical Trials To Begin On Drug That Reverses Diabetes In Animal Models 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-condition-is-called-Setebaid dept.
Zothecula writes: A study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has shown that verapamil, a drug widely used to treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and migraine headaches, is able to completely reverse diabetes in animal models. The UAB team will now move onto clinical trials to see if the same results are repeated in humans.
Medicine

Low-Cost 3D-Printed Prosthetic Hand To Be Tested On Amputees In Ecuador 16

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-can-print-him-better dept.
Zothecula writes A PhD candidate and six undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UCIC) have created a low-cost, programmable, 3D-printed prosthetic hand that may soon change the lives of amputees in Ecuador. The hand costs just $270 to manufacture, making it a small fraction of the cost of a typical prosthetic of this type.
Medicine

Crowdsourcing Project Predicts Progression of ALS 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the with-a-little-help-from-my-friends dept.
sciencehabit writes Using data from old clinical trials, two groups of researchers have found a better way to predict how amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) progresses in different patients. The winning algorithms—designed by non-ALS experts—outperformed the judgments of a group of ALS clinicians given the same data. The advances could make it easier to test whether new drugs can slow the fatal neurodegenerative disease. For the competition, participants were given just a slice of this data set, collected over 3 months, and asked to design an algorithm to predict how patients would fare in the subsequent 9 months, according to a standard functional scale that measures their ability to move and care for themselves. When predictions from the two winning algorithms were combined, they outperformed estimates solicited from a dozen ALS clinicians who pored over the same data, the authors report. They estimate that using these algorithms to predict outcomes could allow a drug sponsor to reduce the size of the trial by at least 20% and save as much as $6 million in a large phase III trial.
Medicine

Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the spray-away dept.
First time accepted submitter GeekyKhan writes A new needle-free vaccine has proven to be 100% effective at stopping the transmission of Ebola in monkeys, and it could spell a breakthrough in the battle against the disease. The vaccine is administered through a nasal spray using a common cold virus genetically engineered to carry Ebola DNA. From NBC: "The vaccine uses a common cold virus genetically engineered to carry a tiny piece of Ebola DNA. Sprayed up the nose, it saved all nine monkeys tested for infection. But now the research is dead in the water without funding, Maria Croyle of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy said. 'Now we are at the crossroads, trying to figure out where to get the funding and resources to continue,' Croyle told NBC News."
Medicine

Revitalizing Medical Imaging With Ultrasound-On-a-Chip 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the look-into-your-heart dept.
catchblue22 writes: MIT Technology Review has an article about a device being developed by Butterfly Network that aims to make medical imaging dirt cheap. From the article: "Butterfly's patent applications describe its aim as building compact, versatile new ultrasound scanners that can create 3-D images in real time. Hold it up to a person's chest, and you would look through 'what appears to be a window' into the body, according to the documents. ... Most ultrasound machines use small piezoelectric crystals or ceramics to generate and receive sound waves. But these have to be carefully wired together, then attached via cables to a separate box to process the signals. Anyone who can integrate ultrasound elements directly onto a computer chip could manufacture them cheaply in large batches, and more easily create the type of arrays needed to produce 3-D images."
Medicine

Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-the-suffering dept.
jones_supa writes In the 63rd annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans, Bill Gates announced that he will donate over $500 million to fight malaria and other infectious diseases in the developing world. Gates described the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 4,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year as a "critical moment in the history of global health", and said it underscores the need for stronger efforts to stay ahead of disease threats such as drug-resistant malaria and dengue fever. The more than $500 million announced Sunday includes over $150 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to advance development of next-generation malaria vaccines, and $29 million to the Clinton Health Access Initiative to support malaria elimination efforts in Southern Africa and the Greater Mekong Sub-region of Southeast Asia.
Stats

How Google Can Get the Flu Right 31

Posted by timothy
from the spend-time-in-the-right-places dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google Flu Trends was developed in 2009 to improve forecasts of flu levels in the U.S. by utilising Google search data. This early example showcased the potential which lies in the exploitation of human digital traces which all of us leave behind by using online services. The rise of Google Flu Trends was only stopped when the service dramatically overestimated the number of flu incidences recently. The fall raised questions about the value of online data for predictions in general. However, a study published yesterday demonstrates that it is not only about data but also about the adaptiveness of algorithms used for predictions. Scientists combined historic flu levels as reported by the CDC with Google Flu Trends data using an algorithmic framework which is able to adapt to changes in human search behaviour. Their results show that Google Flu Trends data sets significantly add information to the forecasts of current flu levels.
Medicine

"Ambulance Drone" Prototype Unveiled In Holland 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the air-doctor dept.
schwit1 writes with news about a flying defibrillator designed by a Dutch student. A Dutch-based student on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of an "ambulance drone", a flying defibrillator able to reach heart attack victims within precious life-saving minutes. Developed by Belgian engineering graduate Alec Momont, it can fly at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (60 miles per hour). "Around 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the European Union every year and only 8.0 percent survive, the main reason for this is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes,"
Medicine

Why Every Cardiac Patient Needs a Virtual Heart 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-forgot-the-password-to-my-ventricles dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: In the latest high-tech approach to personalized medicine, cardiologists can now create a computer model of an individual patient's heart and use that simulation to make a treatment plan. In this new field of computational medicine, doctors use a patient's MRI scans to make a model showing that patient's unique anatomy and pattern of heart disease. They can then experiment on that virtual organ in ways they simply can't with a flesh-and-blood heart. Proponents say this tech can "improve therapies, minimize the invasiveness of diagnostic procedures, and reduce health-care costs" in cardiology.
Medicine

Google Developing a Pill To Detect Cancer 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-nano-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-a-nano-pound-of-cure dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Google X research lab has unveiled a new project: developing a pill capable of detecting cancer, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases. According to the article, "the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body." When a person ingests the pill, these particles interact with the particular markers for a given disease. Since they're magnetic, they can then be guided back to a particular spot where they can be scanned to determine if any interactions took place. Google X's head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, said, "What we are trying to do is change medicine from reactive and transactional to proactive and preventative. Nanoparticles... give you the ability to explore the body at a molecular and cellular level."
Medicine

The Man With the Golden Blood 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the rarest-of-the-rare dept.
First time accepted submitter Torontoman points out this story of a man with one of the rarest blood types in the world. Forty years ago, when ten-year-old Thomas went into the University Hospital of Geneva with a routine childhood infection, his blood test revealed something very curious: he appeared to be missing an entire blood group system. There are 35 blood group systems, organized according to the genes that carry the information to produce the antigens within each system. The majority of the 342 blood group antigens belong to one of these systems. The Rh system (formerly known as ‘Rhesus’) is the largest, containing 61 antigens. The most important of these Rh antigens, the D antigen, is quite often missing in Caucasians, of whom around 15 per cent are Rh D negative (more commonly, though inaccurately, known as Rh-negative blood). But Thomas seemed to be lacking all the Rh antigens. If this suspicion proved correct, it would make his blood type Rhnull – one of the rarest in the world, and a phenomenal discovery for the hospital hematologists.
Medicine

Scientists Engineer Cancer-Killing Stem Cells 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the stem-cell-rambo dept.
SternisheFan writes with news that medical researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have successfully cultivated stem cells that will kill brain cancer cells in mice without damaging healthy cells. "They used genetic engineering to make stem cells that spewed out cancer-killing toxins, but, crucially, were also able to resist the effects of the poison they were producing. ... In animal tests, the stem cells were surrounded in gel and placed at the site of the brain tumor after it had been removed. Their cancer cells then died as they had no defense against the toxins (abstract)." The next step in the research is to try the treatment on humans. Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine, said, "This is a clever study, which signals the beginning of the next wave of therapies. It shows you can attack solid tumors by putting mini pharmacies inside the patient which deliver the toxic payload direct to the tumor. Cells can do so much. This is the way the future is going to be."
Medicine

Stem Cells Grown From Patient's Arm Used To Replace Retina 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-and-what-arm-eye dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: The Globe and Mail is reporting the success of a procedure to implant a replacement retina grown from cells from the patient's skin. Quoting: "Transplant doctors are stepping gingerly into a new world, one month after a Japanese woman received the first-ever tissue transplant using stem cells that came from her own skin, not an embryo. On Sept. 12, doctors in a Kobe hospital replaced the retina of a 70-year-old woman suffering from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. The otherwise routine surgery was radical because scientists had grown the replacement retina in a petri dish, using skin scraped from the patient's arm.

The Japanese woman is fine and her retinal implant remains in place. Researchers around the world are now hoping to test other stem-cell-derived tissues in therapy. Dr. Jeanne Loring from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., expects to get approval within a few years to see whether neurons derived from stem cells can be used to treat Parkinson's disease."
Medicine

Detritus From Cancer Cells May Infect Healthy Cells 46

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-bad-cell dept.
bmahersciwriter writes Tiny bubbles of cell membrane — called exosomes — are shed by most cells. Long thought to be mere trash, researchers had recently noticed that they often contain short, regulatory RNA molecules, suggesting that exosomes may be one way that cells communicate with one another. Now, it appears that RNA in the exosomes shed by tumor cells can get into healthy cells and 'transform' them, putting them on the path to becoming cancerous themselves.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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