Issue 32: Coffee Can Make You Live Longer, John Oliver Covers Crispr

Drink Coffee to Live Longer

One of Many Coffee Memes. Image: SFBayCoffee

A new study published in JAMA this week delivered a big win for coffee drinkers and the coffee industry. The researchers at the National Cancer Institute reported that those who drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day have 12% lower risk of early death compared to those who do not. They followed about 5 million people for ten years and it even included those who drank decaffeinated coffee. So it's not about the kick from the caffeine that keeps you alive and longer, but some mysterious effects of the coffee beans themselves. They contain potassium, phosphorus, antioxidants, and some think that coffee helps reduce Type 2 Diabetes as well as Alzheimer's. This is not the first time coffee was acknowledged as the closest thing to panacea in and out of academia, evidenced by the numerous coffee memes

Short Term Care Bills are Pain in the A$$

Dollar Dollar Bills, Yo. Image: ExpertBeacon

Nobody likes to pay up, especially for unforeseen, short term things; same goes for medical bills. (I mean, we all expect to live healthy lives with no sudden visits to the hospital, duh.) A new statistic by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that among patients who have hard time paying medical bills, 66% of them attributed it to one-time or short-term expenses, whereas the other 33% said it's due to bills related to chronic care. They also showed that 21% of the patients blamed it on ED visits, and 20% on hospitalization. Ok, so what? A silver lining to all this is that patients with trouble paying for medical bills has dropped from 21.3% in 2011 to 16% in 2017, thanks to Affordable Care Act. So the ACA was working for some people. 

Doctors Get Their White Coats in a Bundle Over Babylon 

Babylon Health App

UK based healthcare startup Babylon recently published results showing that their AI doctor beat human doctors on a board certification exam. The MRCGP (Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners) exam is the final step in certification for General Practitioners in the UK. The AI doctor took the exam and on it's first try scored an 81%, which is higher than the 72% human average over the last five years. The results have led to a shouting match between UK doctors and Babylon's founder Ali Parsa. The Royal College of General Practitioners responded, "No app or algorithm will be able to do what a GP does". But Parsa is not backing down and instead he is doubling down on AI diagnosing patients. Babylon's has raised more than $85 million and plans to bring their AI doctor subscription service to the US starting in 2019 to help diagnose patients.

BioMind Beats 15 Top Chinese Doctors at Dx Brain Tumors


An AI system created by Chinese researchers recently defeated 15 top Chinese doctors in analyzing brain tumors and predicting hematoma expansion. The AI, BioMind, was created by the Artificial Intelligence Research Centre for Neurological Disorders at Beijing Tiantan Hospital. It was trained on a dataset comprised of thousands and thousands of images. BioMind was correct 87% of the time at diagnosing brain tumors compared to 66% by human doctors. The AI only took 15 minutes to diagnose the 225 cases, while the humans took 30 minutes. BioMind also predicted hematoma expansion with 83% accuracy compared to the 63% accuracy of human physicians.

Scientists Create a Neural Network with DNA

Image from Caltech

Remember last year when scientists used CRISPR to splice animated GIFS and music videos into the DNA of bacteria? Well we've got good news. They're at it again! This time they created a simple neural network using strands of DNA. The team at Caltech which performed the buzz worthy experiment published their results in NATURE. TNW provides a good summary of the experiment, "In essence, they traced the numerals one through nine with DNA, and created a bio-mechanical neural network. Scientists then input a specific DNA sequence into that network, and the soup fluoresces in specific color arrangements to indicate which pattern it’s reading". Basically the DNA neural network solution will fluoresce a different color when it recognizes a number between 1 to 9.

John Oliver Covers CRISPR

Need We Say More. You can watch the full episode on Youtube. Which is informative and hella funny.

Medical Mystery: Woman blows out her orbit while blowing nose

Image from TIME Magazine

Oh, great. A 36 year-old woman in London just had to go and blow her nose just a little too hard. It’s as if we weren’t already prone to medical student syndrome and being paranoid about every little symptom we’ve had. The poor woman came into the hospital looking as if she had come out of a fistfight, with her nose bleeding, swelling and pain on the left side of her face, and even vision loss. Doctors were dumbfounded to find that her eye socket had fractured. More specifically, the patient suffered an orbital blowout fracture, which really only occurs after heavy facial trauma such as punches. She told doctors that she hadn’t even blown her nose with a lot of force, so it’s possible that she had some sort of previous weakening of bones within the vicinity of her eye socket. Fortunately, the patient was treated with painkillers and recovered nicely, though she does still report daily pain on the left side of her face lasting 30 minutes to a few hours. Since treating her, Dr. Sam Myers admits to blowing his nose just a bit less frequently—understandably so.