Appropriately identifying patient specimens is of critical importance to pathology labs. The College of Pathologists previously evaluated the average cost of labeling errors at approximately $280,000 per million specimens, adding up to over $1 million dollars a year for some of the larger institutes.1 Specimen labeling errors also result in the failure to provide proper and immediate care for patients, which can severely harm the patient, resulting in unnecessary morbidity and mortality.2
With new artificial intelligence (AI) technology primed to revolutionize medicine, including diagnostics and drug discovery, it was only a matter of time until scientists decided to use AI to solve the question no one has yet been able to answer: why do we age at all?
With cannabis now legalized in Canada, research into the beneficial effects of cannabinoids and terpenes is growing across the country. I was recently at Expo Cannabis 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, and in only its second year of existence, the organizers were able to assemble clinicians and industry opinion leaders from all over the country to discuss the benefits and challenges of using cannabis in healthcare.
In 2018, the term “Blockchain” was one of the most searched terms by scientists on Google.1 This technology first appeared ten years earlier as the driving force behind the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Since then, many have followed suit, creating more than 2000 different cryptocurrencies worth hundreds of billions of dollars.2 Blockchain is now being implemented in the healthcare industry, with the opportunity to solve many issues currently plaguing healthcare institutions and companies alike.
Just a couple years ago, I was a research associate working at McGill University in the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, studying a rare disease called lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM. LAM is a progressive, cystic disease afflicting young women with noncancerous lung tumors that can destroy lung function, making the disease potentially fatal. My job was to understand where these tumors came from and what made them propagate throughout the lungs. There was one unfortunate caveat: no one had been able to grow LAM tumor cells outside of the body. As anyone who has ever worked with cancer biology can attest to, there are a multitude of immortalized cancer cell lines, grown from the cells of a patient’s tumor, that can be studied to perform pre-clinical translational research. And yet, not a single representative cell line was available for LAM. Thankfully, my supervisor set me up with just the right project to help solve this puzzle, which centered around induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
When you hear 3D printing, what do you think of? Perhaps you imagine creating inanimate objects like chairs, wrenches, or toys out of construction materials (e.g. plastic, ceramic, or metal). The uses of additive printing have evolved way past that and now serve an important role in medicine and research.
The main purpose of any vaccine is to stop the spread of communicable diseases from one person to another and, where possible, to abolish the disease outright from the general population. There are many commercially available vaccines for a variety of viral and bacterial diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis, human papillomavirus, and influenza. To develop these and other vaccines, three things are required: research to find an antigen (usually a protein produced by the pathogen) that produces a protective immune response against the disease, a platform in which to produce the vaccine, and clinical testing.
Barcodes are used worldwide as one of the most efficient means of tracking packages and containers. However, the use of barcodes is not solely limited to labels. Living organisms can also be barcoded genetically, allowing individual cells to be monitored and tracked.
Syringes are one of the most integral tools of any medical institution. Primarily used for injectable medications, they are critical to proper patient care, as anesthesiologists depend on them to sedate and anesthetize. With that in mind, it’s important to consider that syringes, which may hold any number of different classes of drugs, need to be properly labeled with pertinent information, such as the name of the drug and its concentration, as mislabeled syringes could yield potentially dire consequences for those who are injected with the wrong substance or dose.
Errors occur every day in healthcare institutions and research facilities. Medical lab errors can be very costly, setting hospitals back hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars for every mislabeled sample, causing irreparable harm to the physical and mental health of the patient. Errors in research also have a broad impact, skewing results and wasting precious materials—which are often irreplaceable—and years of effort.