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3

JAN 2017

15

BREAST

By: admin | Tags: Graphic, illustration, Logo

The Department of Health initiative is to avoid future scandals like the PIP breast implant scare of 2010. Problems arose tracing nearly 50,000 British women who had been fitted with the faulty silicone implants. The new system is intended to record every medicine and implant given to patients by scanning the product packet and the patient's identity wristband. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "This can actually save lives for the NHS." He said that every week NHS patients died because they had been given the wrong medicine or care.

Some 400,000 women affected in 65 countries. It is thought that about 47,000 British women had the implants. Private clinics fitted 95% of them, mostly for breast reconstruction following cancer; the other 5% were fitted by the NHS. There were 4,000 reported ruptures. Many women were unable to find out if they had been given the faulty implants. In some cases, because surgery providers had gone out of business, women who received the implants could not be traced [...]

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21

Jan 2017

5

Why health implants should have open source code

By: admin | Tags: Graphic, illustration, Logo

As medical implants become more common, sophisticated and versatile, understanding the code that runs them is vital. A pacemaker or insulin-releasing implant can be lifesaving, but they are also vulnerable not just to malicious attacks, but also to faulty code. For commercial reasons, companies have been reluctant to open up their code to researchers. But with lives at stake, we need to be allowed to take a peek under the hood. Over the past few years, several researchers have revealed lethal vulnerabilities in the code that runs some medical implants. The late Barnaby Jack, for example, showed that pacemakers could be “hacked” to deliver lethal electric shocks. Jay Radcliffe demonstrated a way of wirelessly making an implanted insulin pump deliver a lethal dose of insulin. But “bugs” in the code are also an issue. Researcher Marie Moe recently discovered this first-hand, when her Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) unexpectedly went into “safe mode”. This caused her heart rate to drop by half, with drastic consequences. It took months for Moe to figure out what went wrong with her implant, and this was made harder because the code running in the ICD was proprietary, or closed-source. The reason? Reverse-engineering closed-source code is a crime under various laws, including the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998. It is a violation of copyright, theft of intellectual property, and may be an infringement of patent law.

Beyond legal restrictions, there’s another reason why researchers can’t just look at the source code in the same way you might take apart your lawnmower. It takes a very talented programmer using expensive software to reverse-engineer code into something readable. Even then, it’s also not a very exact process. To understand why, it helps to know a bit about how companies create and ship software. Software starts as a set of requirements – software must do this; it must look like that; it must have these buttons. Next, the software is designed – this component is responsible for these operations, it passes data to that component, and so on. Finally, a coder writes the instructions to tell the computer how to create the components and in detail how they work. These instructions are all the source code – human-readable instructions using English-like verbs (read, write, exit) mixed with a variety of symbols which the programmer and the computer both understand. Up to this point, the source code is easily understood by a human. But this isn’t the end of the process. Before software is shipped it goes through one final transformation – it is converted to machine code. It now looks like just a lot of numbers. The source code is gone, replaced by the machine code. It’s now a bit like the inside of your car stereo; it “contains no serviceable parts”. Users are not supposed to mess with the machine code.

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03

JAN 2017

3

Botox Risks 2016: New Study Shows What Happens When Toxin Spreads

By: admin | Tags: Graphic, illustration, Logo

In a generation where Botox is a procedure as common as wisdom teeth removal, a new botulinum toxin study from the University of Wisconsin in Madison shows that there could be negative health effects associated with the everyday practice. The new study provides evidence that injected botulinum toxin, which is in popular drug Botox, can actually jump between neurons and hit areas it wasn't intended to treat — adding legitimacy to a fear that began when the product first hit the market. At that time, "the idea was that (the toxins) are safe to use, they stay where they are injected, and you don't have to worry about toxin going to the central nervous system and causing weird effects," said Edwin Chapman, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin Madison. But that may not be the case.

Physicians have also seen some perplexing results from Botox treatment. "In many cases, after an injection for a disabling spasm of neck muscles called cervical dystonia, there is no change in muscle tone but the patient finds relief and is perfectly happy. That result can't be explained by the local effects,” Ewa Bomba-Warczak, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience and first author of the study, said. According to the FDA, these side effects could include "unexpected loss of strength or muscle weakness. ... Understand that swallowing and breathing difficulties can be life-threatening and there have been reports of deaths related to the effects of spread of botulinum toxin." Chapman and his colleagues’ new study presents clear evidence that the toxin is moving between neurons in a lab dish. The research team has answered a long-standing question about mobility, but also raised several more. "We have seen that these toxins enter neurons at the injection site, causing the desired local paralysis, but Ewa and Jason have shown unambiguously the existence of a second entry pathway that takes some of the toxin molecules to other neurons," Chapman said — referring to co-author Jason Vevea, a UW-Madison postdoctoral fellow.

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