Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Emerging Medical Technologies

 Read below a chapter from my Emerging Technologies ebook.

The healthcare industry has witnessed significant growth in recent times because of developments happening in various other fields. Irrespective of technological developments, we cannot underestimate the need to follow a proper healthy diet, avoid junk food, perform suitable exercises, maintain a positive mindset, and obtain good sleep to lead a healthy life. And obviously, technology is helping us to follow these things in a better manner. For example, Smartwatches and fitness trackers help us to know the health of our inner organs up to some level which can help us to take some preventive measures to avoid any potential health issues. And various mobile apps are helping to do yoga and meditation. And, even they help to do eye exercises. At the same time over usage of smartphones causes eye issues and posture issues. We have to agree that technology is a double-edged sword that could help us while having the ability to harm us. We need to control and use the technology in appropriate ways.

Advancements happening in other fields push the healthcare industry further. For example, the fast growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled the discovery of Halicin, a powerful new antibiotic compound that killed many of the world’s most problematic disease-causing bacteria, including some strains that are resistant to all known antibiotics. The growth of AI itself is accelerated by recent advancements in computing systems. Soon, the computing power will be increased further with the help of Nanotechnology, Quantum Computing, Neuromorphic computing, and optical computing systems. The chain of developments will lead to fast growth in various fields including the medical field in the coming days.

AI tool ChatGPT was about 72 percent accurate in overall clinical decision-making, from coming up with possible diagnoses to making final diagnoses and care management decisions. An AI System “BioMind” beats Doctors in diagnosing brain tumors.

An artificial intelligence system that can analyze eye scans taken during a routine visit to an optician or eye clinic and identify patients at a high risk of a heart attack.

Technological advancements enable scientists to explore new concepts in healthcare. For example, researchers developed “Inverse vaccine” which shows the potential to treat multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. Unlike traditional vaccines that stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack harmful invaders, this inverse vaccine works by erasing the immune system’s memory of a specific molecule.

Scientists are working on creating robots (e.g Anthrobot) from human cells too as they believe these biological robots can perform therapeutic work without the risk of triggering an immune response or requiring immunosuppressants. In the coming days, they could be used for clearing plaque buildup in the arteries of atherosclerosis patients, repairing spinal cord or retinal nerve damage, recognizing bacteria or cancer cells, or delivering drugs to targeted tissues.

Immunotherapy research is showing the potential to extend the healthy lifespan of humans. They are aiming to target the root causes of chronic diseases rather than just addressing the symptoms.

Miniaturization of electronics allows ingestible sensors, cameras, and other medical devices. For example, this Ingestible device detects breathing depression in patients. Even, Ingestible medical devices can be broken down with light. This inflatable pill is embedded with a sensor that continuously tracks the stomach’s temperature for up to 30 days. If the pill needs to be removed from the stomach, a patient can drink a solution of calcium that triggers the pill to quickly shrink to its original size and pass safely out of the body. This ingestible “bacteria-on-a-chip” approach combines sensors made from living cells with ultra-low-power electronics that convert the bacterial response into a wireless signal that can be read by a smartphone. This Origami robot can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by external magnetic fields, crawl across the stomach wall to remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound.

Gene Therapy will play a significant role in redefining the healthcare industry shortly. Gene therapy aims to achieve a therapeutic effect by modifying the genes either in a patient’s own cells or in eggs or sperm. It can be used to treat a variety of diseases, including cancer, cystic fibrosis, and HIV/AIDS. The Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR Gene-editing technology is expected to significantly speed up gene therapy development and clinical translation as it is simpler, faster, and more precise than previous gene-editing tools. UK has already approved CRISPR gene therapy “Casgevy” to cure sickle-cell disease.

Apart from using CRISPR for treating diseases, scientists are using it to produce a Bull Calf designed to produce 75% Male Offspring.

CRISPR has been used to edit human genes within the body to address a blindness-causing gene mutation. China’s Scientist He Jiankui successfully edited the genes of Twins named Lulu and Nana so that they wouldn’t get affected by HIV which causes AIDS, and even their Brains unintentionally enhanced. CRISPR helps alleviate Depression and lowers Cholesterol. Scientists have created Low-Fat Pigs by editing their Genes with CRISPR.

Scientists have developed a gene therapy that was proven in mice to stimulate nerve regrowth across spinal cord injuries and guide nerves to reconnect to their natural targets to restore mobility.

Researchers in Sweden have developed a microscale device for implantation in the eye, which presents new opportunities for cell-based treatment of diabetes and other diseases.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are systems that can directly record and interpret brain activity, and then use this information to control external devices or software. This has a wide range of potential applications in medicine, like, restoring function to people with paralysis or other neuromuscular disorders, treating neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, and improving communication for people with locked-in syndrome.

Using a brain-computer interface, a clinical trial participant who lost the ability to speak was able to create text on a computer at rates that approach the speed of regular speech just by thinking of saying the words.

The use of a brain-computer interface augmented with a virtual walking avatar can control gait, suggesting the protocol may help patients recover the ability to walk after stroke, some spinal cord injuries, and certain other gait disabilities.

Clinical research has demonstrated that a brain-to-computer hookup can enable people with paralysis to type via direct brain control at the highest speeds and accuracy levels.

Implanting BCI will become easy as Elon Musk’s Neuralink is working on implanting BCI using Robot.

The usage of BCI can increase further as scientists are working on implanting BCI devices without cutting the skull.

3D printing is also contributing significantly to improving healthcare. Scientists in China were able to grow new ears for five children born with an ear defect called microtia. Cartilage-forming cells were taken from the children’s ears and used to grow ear-shaped cartilage. The scientists used CT scanning and 3D printing to build a biodegradable scaffold that perfectly matches the 3D structure of the healthy ear of each of 5 children affected with Microtia. The mold was filled in with cartilage cells taken from the children’s deformed ears that were further grown in the lab.

Using 3D printing, researchers developed a glucose monitor with much better stability and sensitivity than those manufactured through traditional methods.

Scientists are exploring bioprinting techniques to pursue functional blood vessels.

A research team uses 3D printing and jelly-like materials known as hydrogels to take a step toward 3D-printed tissues and organs.

Engineers have developed a silicone aorta that could offer a promising alternative to heart transplants.

A research team treated an originally damaged human liver in a machine for three days outside of the body and then implanted the recovered organ into a cancer patient. One year later, the patient is doing well.

Nanomedicine is a rapidly growing field with the potential to revolutionize healthcare.
Nanoparticles can be used to deliver drugs directly to diseased cells, which can reduce side effects and improve the efficacy of treatment. They can be used to detect diseases at an early stage, when they are more treatable. Nanoparticles can act as regenerative medicine to deliver stem cells or other therapeutic agents to repair damaged tissues or organs.

Nanomedicine researchers have found a way to tame pancreatic cancer – one of the most aggressive and difficult to treat cancers – by delivering immunotherapy directly into the tumor with a device that is smaller than a grain of rice.

Nanotechnology could change the lives of thousands of people living with cystic fibrosis (CF) as research shows it can improve the effectiveness of the CF antibiotic Tobramycin, increasing its efficacy by up to 100,000-fold.

Nanodroplets and Ultrasound ‘Drills’ prove effective at tackling tough Blood Clots.

This stamp-sized device can stick to the skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours.

Researchers have developed a new biodegradable gel that can help to improve the delivery of cells directly into the living heart and could form a new generation of treatments to repair damage caused by a heart attack.

A new type of ultraviolet light that is safe for people took less than five minutes to reduce the level of indoor airborne microbes by more than 98%.

On adult frogs, which are naturally unable to regenerate limbs, the researchers were able to trigger regrowth of a lost leg using a five-drug cocktail applied in a silicone wearable bioreactor dome that seals in the elixir over the stump for just 24 hours.

Groundbreaking pig heart transplant in a human may help patients awaiting donor hearts.

The Kidney Project’s implantable bioartificial kidney may help to free kidney disease patients from dialysis machines and transplant waiting lists in the coming days.

 An inflatable robotic hand gives amputees real-time tactile control. The smart hand is soft and elastic, weighs about half a pound, and costs a fraction of comparable prosthetics.

Scientists introduced wireless health monitoring patches that use embedded piezoelectric nanogenerators to power themselves with harvested biomechanical energy. It may lead to new autonomous health sensors as well as battery-less wearable electronic devices.

Scientists have developed an injectable gel that can attach to various kinds of soft internal tissues and repair tears resulting from an accident or trauma.

A smartphone-controlled soft brain implant can be recharged wirelessly from outside the body. It enables long-term neural circuit manipulation without the need for periodic disruptive surgeries to replace the battery of the implant.

Specially engineered contact lenses use tears to monitor patient health.

 A study found that hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) in healthy aging adults can stop the aging of blood cells and reverse the aging process.

The use of telemedicine and remote monitoring technologies is rapidly increasing, allowing patients to receive healthcare services remotely. This can be especially beneficial for patients in rural areas or those with chronic conditions requiring regular monitoring. A research team has developed a method that uses the camera on a person’s smartphone or computer to take their pulse and respiration signal from a real-time video of their face.

Researchers have developed a way to use smartphone images of a person’s eyelids to assess blood hemoglobin levels. The ability to perform one of the most common clinical lab tests without a blood draw could help reduce the need for in-person clinic visits, make it easier to monitor patients who are in critical condition and improve care in low- and middle-income countries where access to testing laboratories is limited.

MIT researchers have developed a way to incorporate electronic sensors into stretchy fabrics, allowing them to create shirts or other garments that could be used to monitor vital signs such as temperature, respiration, and heart rate.

Researchers have developed a platform for self-testing services which is based on artificial intelligence and designed for medical tasks, such as for analyzing diagnostic images.

We can find various medical innovations here.

Irrespective of medical advancements, the scientific world is still struggling to find a cure for many diseases, especially Cancer.

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