Wednesday November 13, 2019

Scientists Create Virtual Biopsy Device to Detect Skin Tumors

This procedure can be completed in 15 minutes with no discomfort to the patient

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AI Skin, silicon, Virtual Reality, VR
To develop the device that can quickly determine a skin lesion's depth and potential malignancy without using a scalpel. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a “virtual biopsy” device that can distinguish between healthy skin and different types of skin lesions and carcinomas.

The ability to analyse a skin tumour non-invasively could make biopsies much less risky and distressing to patients, according the study published in the journal Skin Research and Technology.

To develop the device that can quickly determine a skin lesion’s depth and potential malignancy without using a scalpel, the researchers used sound vibrations and pulses of near-infrared light.

“This procedure can be completed in 15 minutes with no discomfort to the patient, who feels no sensation from the light or the nearly inaudible sound. It’s a significant improvement over surgical biopsies, which are expensive and time consuming,” said study lead author Frederick Silver, Professor at Rutgers University in the US.

Scientists, Virtual, Biopsy
The ability to analyse a skin tumour non-invasively could make biopsies much less risky and distressing to patients. Pixabay

The experimental procedure, called vibrational optical coherence tomography (VOCT), creates a 3D map of the legion’s width and depth under the skin with a tiny laser diode, said the study.

It also uses sound waves to test the lesion’s density and stiffness since cancer cells are stiffer than healthy cells. An inch-long speaker applies audible sound waves against the skin to measure vibrations and determine whether the lesion is malignant.

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For the findings, the research team tested the device over six months on four skin excisions and on eight volunteers without skin lesions. (IANS)

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Scientists: Nations Need Stronger Pledges to Curb Climate Change

Governments are moving in the right direction, but nowhere near enough, so hopefully they will be willing to take on much stronger commitments

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Scientists, Nations, Climate Change
A woman wearing a mask walks past buildings on a polluted day in Handan, Hebei province, China, Jan. 12, 2019. China is reportedly the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases. VOA

The vast majority of national commitments in the 2015 Paris Agreement are inadequate to prevent the worst effects of global warming, scientists said on Tuesday, naming the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries as among those that must ratchet up their efforts.

“Governments are moving in the right direction, but nowhere near enough, so hopefully they will be willing to take on much stronger commitments” in next month’s United Nation’s climate summit in Spain, said Robert Watson, lead author of the report by the nonprofit Universal Ecological Fund.

The report ranked nearly 75%, or 136, of the pledges as insufficient, including ones by major carbon emitters China, the United States, and India. A dozen, by countries including Australia, Japan and Brazil, were judged only partially sufficient.

Countries at next month’s summit in Madrid will hash out some details of the international pact to curb warming. Chile withdrew as host following weeks of riots protesting inequality.

Scientists, Nations, Climate Change
A protestor holds a placard in front of the India Gate during a protest demanding government to take immediate steps to control air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 5, 2019. VOA

Of the 184 pledges countries made under the climate agreement, only 36 are ambitious enough to help reach the agreement’s goal of keeping global warming less than 1.5 Celsius (2.7 F) above pre-industrial levels, the report said.

Most of those 36 are by countries in the European Union.

Watson, a former chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the report could be read two ways: “You can read ‘My God it’s hopeless’, or ‘My God this is a wake up call.'”

Watson estimated that even if all nations meet their existing pledges, the world would be headed for temperature rise of between 3 and 3.5 degrees Celsius, which could lead to more extreme weather, rising sea levels and the loss of plant and animal species.

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The report rated the European Union’s 28 member states as having sufficient pledges because they aim to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40% below the 1990 level by 2030.

It ranked the United States as insufficient because President Donald Trump reversed former President Barack Obama’s climate policies and yanked Washington out of the pact. The administration, which argues that Paris Agreement would cost U.S. taxpayers too much money, filed official paperwork on Monday to withdraw.

China, the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, and India, also came in as insufficient because their pledges focus on carbon intensity targets, which lower emissions per unit of gross domestic product, or GDP. Because those economies are growing and coal produces much of their electricity, total emissions have risen sharply even though carbon intensity levels in China and India have fallen. (VOA)