Tag Archives: Stanford Medicine

COVID-19: ‘REDUCING RISK NOW & PREPARING FOR THE NEXT PANDEMIC’ (PODCAST)

Virologist Angela Rasmussen talks about her battle against misinformation in the media, the virus, vaccines, disinfecting surfaces, home testing, and the next pandemic.

Eric J. Topol, MD: Hello, I’m Eric Topol for Medscape, and this is Medicine and the Machine. I’m so glad to have my colleague and partner in this podcast, Abraham Verghese, with me from Stanford. Today, we have the rarefied privilege to discuss the whole pandemic story, the virus and vaccines, with one of the country’s leading virologists, Dr Angela Rasmussen. Welcome, Angie.

Angela L. Rasmussen, MA, MPhil, PhD: Thank you so much for having me, Eric. It’s wonderful to be here.

COMMENTARY:

This podcast rectifies the blizzard of variously valid COVID information blaring on the media today, and adds to the discussion. Virologist Angela Rasmussen talks about several interesting aspects of the pandemic. BSL laboratories are discussed. BSL refers to Biological Safety Level. If a lab is dealing with a dangerous pathogen, like the hemorrhagic fever viruses, a level 4 lab is required.

“Moon suit”- like positive pressure encasements, special hoods and disposal devices are required to ensure containment of the organisms, and to prevent their escape into the environment.

She discussed the differences between live viruses, detected by PFUs (plaque-forming units) on a sheet of living cells, and what the available Covid tests pick up, namely RNA which may or not be infective. Saliva vs nasal swab samples, PCR vs antibody tests were compared. She explained what the “cycle number” in PCR tests refers to, and its significance She then discussed “fomite” transmission, and observed how hard it was to experimentally prove.

Aerosol transmission is thought more likely. Also discussed is how lucky we were that this Pandemic involved a Coronavirus, instead of another viral family that was less studied. Moderna, for instance, was in the process of developing a MERS ( a Coronavirus) Vaccine. She finished up with the observation that distancing and masks, although imperfect, are still useful.

–Dr. C.

STANFORD: RESEARCHERS FIND WAY TO “REGROW” NEW CARTILAGE IN JOINTS

The Stanford researchers figured out how to regrow articular cartilage by first causing slight injury to the joint tissue, then using chemical signals to steer the growth of skeletal stem cells as the injuries heal. The work was published Aug. 17 in the journal Nature Medicine.

“Cartilage has practically zero regenerative potential in adulthood, so once it’s injured or gone, what we can do for patients has been very limited,” said assistant professor of surgery Charles K.F. Chan, PhD. “It’s extremely gratifying to find a way to help the body regrow this important tissue.”

STANFORD MEDICINE (Aug 17, 2020): Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered a way to regenerate, in mice and human tissue, the cushion of cartilage found in joints.

Loss of this slippery and shock-absorbing tissue layer, called articular cartilage, is responsible for many cases of joint pain and arthritis, which afflicts more than 55 million Americans. Nearly 1 in 4 adult Americans suffer from arthritis, and far more are burdened by joint pain and inflammation generally.

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COMMENTARY

Stanford has come up with a Promising new approach to the surgical treatment of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately for the suffering public, this approach is still in the rodent experimental stage.

The pain of osteoarthritis is caused by the LOSS of the CARTILAGE which insulates the bone of the joints. The wonderful cartilage coating prevents the pain which would result from the rubbing of bone on bone. The best solution in osteoarthritis would be to replace the cartilage, and I have no doubt that this will be possible some day.

STEM CELLS is the theoretical method most commonly imagined when it comes to replacing lost tissue.. Brain cells, cardiac muscle cells, and pancreatic islet cells are some of the research areas. The development of stem cells from the cells of the Patient herself (iSCs) obviates the need for immunosuppression, which plagues allographs ( stem cells or organs from other humans).

Recently, in situ transformation of neighboring cells has been described, which sidesteps the need to introduce any cells. For instance the transformation of astrocytes (a type of brain cell) into neuronal stem cells of the dopamine lineage would be a great boon to Parkinson’s disease.

The Stanford method somewhat resembles this last-mentioned technique. An injury is created where the cartilage is desired. Like any injury, bleeding, clotting, and cell infiltration follows, destined to form a scar. However, the researchers added BMP-2, which in this milieu causes the pro-fibroblasts to head toward the bone (osteoblast) lineage. Since cartilage forms first in a tissue destined to be bone, they then added a VEGF antagonist, which interrupts the transformation in the desired cartilage stage. Both BMP-2 and anti-VEGF have already been approved for use, facilitating the development of this attractive therapy.

The researchers have even identified an excellent potential Patient Population: Osteoarthritis patients scheduled for surgical removal of the first metacarpal articulation with the wrist. They could do their procedure on this area, and if there is no benefit, They could just go ahead with the original plan of removal. The thumb happens to be one of my most painful arthritic areas.

I will most interestedly follow their research.

–Dr. C.

TELEMEDICINE: STANFORD MEDICINE UTILIZES IPADS IN EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT

From a Stanford Medicine article (April 27, 2020):

“Far from separating us from our patients, it is actually expanding on what we can do,” said Ryan Ribeira, MD, clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford School.

An iPad in a patient room at Stanford Health Care’s emergency department. Photo by Susan Coppa

Caring for patients remotely greatly reduces the use of protective equipment — an estimated 80-120 sets per day. The risk of exposure has also been minimized for physicians, nurses and other caregivers, particularly those who are pregnant, immune-compromised or otherwise at high risk of complications from COVID-19. 

When the staff at Stanford Health Care’s Marc and Laura Andreessen Emergency Department started connecting with patients in isolation via iPad, they found an unexpected benefit: The approach offered a more personal, human-centered experience. 

The iPad project moved from conception to implementation in just eight days, starting with a drive-through program in a Stanford Health Care garage: Patients remained in their cars while a physician assessed them by video from inside the emergency department. 

To bring the program into patient rooms, technology specialists at Stanford Health Care ensured the tablets had necessary features, such as the ability to auto-answer calls. When a caregiver calls to check in, the patient receives a few rings as advance notice, then the iPad answers itself. 

The iPad has also been paired with portable handheld ultrasound scanners that quickly plug in, eliminating the need for a bulky ultrasound cart that requires decontamination after every use. And patients participating in clinical research can consent via iPad.

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