tech

Skywalker-Inspired Bionic Arm Gives Amputees “A New Hope”

US military veterans Fred Downs and Nardi McCauley lost their arms during service to their country. As participants of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research study, they have become the first individuals to receive the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LUKE arm system. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) bionic arm is a novel robotic prosthesis that attaches to the amputee’s limb and replicates many functions of a human arm with the help of sensors and an easy-to-use controller. This device allows users to control multiple joints simultaneously and performs a variety of grips with adjustable grip forces. This technology was made possible by the Army Research Office and funding assistance from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). The working prototypes were designed by the DEKA Research and Development Corporation and built by Mobius Bionics, a commercial-scale manufacturer borne out out of the VA’s development efforts after years of research and testing. US military veterans Fred Downs and Nardi McCauley lost their arms during service to their country. As participants of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research study, they have become the first individuals to receive the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LUKE arm system. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) arm is a novel robotic prosthesis that attaches to the amputee’s limb and replicates many functions of a human arm with the help of sensors and an easy-to-use controller. This device allows users...

When Will Science Fiction Become Science Fact?

What can we expect to see in the next few decades as medicine progresses? Have your favorite science fiction films and medical television shows predicted the future of medicine? You might think that science fiction and movies are just stories. Pie in the sky. But often, ideas for future procedures are dreamt up in the films we call entertainment. Science fiction has officially become science fact. They could be seen as predictions and demonstrations of how medicine and biotechnology might look in the future. Exploring is what humans do best and if these movies are anything to go by, we have some great inventions ahead of us, that aren’t as “pie in the sky” as you might think. In this infographic from GapMedics, we look at some of the movies that could shape medical technology and change the way we live and treat illnesses in the future. Make sure to also check out Yash Pandya’s series of “Movies that Illuminated The Medical Field!” Parts One, Two, and Three! Medicine has intrigued cinema for as far back as we can remember. From the gruesome depictions of surgical procedures to the long struggles against chronic ailments, the medical field is omnipresent in movies. Furthermore, given the current struggles in medicine, including antibiotic resistance and our inability to manage all diseases, a look back is well warranted to put things in perspective and...

Synthetic Cadavers, Because Innovations in Medical Education Aren’t Always Digital

Although there exists no reliable government database about demand for cadavers, sources like National Geographic and The Economist have reported on data compiled from individual agencies about shortages of donor bodies, as well as new fields beyond medical education beginning to use cadavers. SynDaver Labs is attempting to ease the possible strain on demand by producing incredibly accurate artificial human and animal bodies – synthetic cadavers. These synthetic cadavers are constructed from thousands of parts by six specialized teams; skeletal, skin, muscles, organs, vasculature, and final assembly. All of this detail allows the cadavers to mimic organic bodies by simulating breathing, bleeding, and closely replicating the textures of individual body parts. When they’re not in use, they must be stored in water because they are composed primarily of water, just like us. Click here to learn more about this medical education tool from SynDaver Labs. This line ranges from educational models for anatomical reference to advanced surgical simulators which breathe, bleed and react like live patients. Our synthetic humans are tailored to meet a wide range of needs and can be customized with variety of pathologies and injuries based on patient images, CAD drawings or simple descriptions. Individual tissues have been developed over the course of the last two decades to accurately mimic the interaction between tissue tools and live tissue. Because of this, they are an ideal substitute...

Describing the Brain’s Encoding Process

Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are studying brain activity in the hopes of deciphering the mechanisms behind the brain’s decision-making process. By monitoring the activity of neurons directly after a stimulus, and using algebraic topology to visualize that activity, computers are able to recognize patterns in the overwhelming amount of data. Kathryn Hess Bellwood, PhD describes how the research output seems to show a clear delineation between when the brain is processing the stimuli and the exact moment a decision is made. This research will help us determine the brain’s encoding process, how bits of information gets transferred throughout the body. From EPFL’s Article: Brains of healthy rats that are the same age share many features, such as similar numbers and types of neurons present in the six layers of the cortex. But how do neurons exchange information? Which neurons are activated? How does this change with time? To answer these questions, a team of scientists led by EPFL’s Blue Brain Project used the mathematical language of algebraic topology to describe just how rat neurons connect to each other – and respond to stimuli – providing the first geometrical insight into how information is processed in a rodent brain. The results are published 12 June 2017 in the open-access journal Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. “Our previous mathematical approaches struggled to make sense of the activity generated...

New Applications That Diagnose Patients In Minutes

Diagnosis can be a long, laborious journey, but novel technologies have the potential to drastically shorten that journey. The company RightEye has developed a test that uses eye tracking and infrared sensors to determine autism risk in children between the ages of 12 and 40 months in a matter of minutes. FACE2GENE, a test based on facial analysis and artificial intelligence technologies developed by digital health company FDNA, can recognize rare genetic disorders in seconds by analyzing a photo of a child’s face. Quicker diagnosis means earlier treatment, so these technologies aren’t just dazzling, they can make real differences in the lives of patients. FACE2GENE is a “search & reference tool provided for informational purposes and not intended to replace the clinician’s judgment or experience, nor should it be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions.” The application is not meant to be used by those without proper medical training. You can download the application on Android and iTunes. For RightEye’s: For 30 years, eye-tracking science and research languished in the halls of academia, only occasionally stepping out into the real world. During this time, vast amounts of health and vision research and testing, while fragmented, created a cumulative understanding of: How our eyes work and how they are connected to the brain; how injuries and illness change the ways our eyes work in consistent and predictable ways; and how eye-tracking...

Why Immunotherapy Is The Future of Cancer Treatment

The immune system is a complex network that attacks foreign substances like germs and viruses. But cancer has historically been resistant to the body’s natural defenses, mainly because the body doesn’t see it as foreign. T-cells participating in the immune system’s response are unable to recognize the rogue cancer cells because they carry proteins called PD-L1 that act like masks allowing the cancer to blend in with other normal cells. Immunotherapy is a treatment that essentially simulates natural human antibodies to block the PD-L1 protein and expose the tumor for T-cells to attack. The Past The rise of immunotherapy has been experimental in nature. Beginning in the late 1800s, a New York surgeon named William Coley saw impressive responses from children with sarcoma that he treated with bacterial extracts. However, due to the success of antibiotics, immunotherapy research largely fell by the wayside. A few small breakthroughs during the 1900s, including the introduction of the first cancer prevention vaccine in 1981, eventually led to the continued growth we’re seeing today. The Present In the wake of multiple government-backed research initiatives, including the Human Genome Project of the 1990s and early 2000s and the Cancer Moonshot announced in 2016, immunotherapy has once again surged into the spotlight as an emerging cancer treatment. Growing antibiotic resistance, the negative side effects of chemotherapy and radiation and the overall low survival rates of...

What Will Medical Technology Look Like in 2025?

Take a trip to the future of medicine in these excerpts from TED Talks. What might 2025 hold? Patient-specific pluripotent stem cell lines stored in the freezer until they’re needed for regenerative therapy. Medical devices embedded in clothing that send signals when something goes wrong. Patients taking ownership of their own bodies and their own data. And nanotechnologies to detect and treat cancer. The brave new world may also be a healthier world. From Induced pluripotent stem cells. A new resource in modern medicine: Pluripotent stem cells possess a remarkable unlimited self-renewal capacity and offer unparalleled in vitro differentiation potential. This provides a unique model system not only to study early human development but also gives renewed hope in terms of developing cell therapies and regenerative medicine. S. Yamanaka, a medical doctor and researcher, reported the possibility of reprogramming somatic cells to so-called induced pluripotent stem cells via the ectopic expression of four transcription factors, namely Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc. This Nobel Prize winning work has since revolutionized stem cell research and paved the way for countless new avenues within regenerative medicine. This includes disease modeling in a patient-specific context with the ultimate aim of individually tailored pharmaceutical therapy. Additionally, genetic correction studies have rapidly increased in basic science and thus there is hope that these can be effectively and efficiently translated into clinical applications. Addressing the medical...