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Posts from the ‘Biotechnology’ Category

How Robots Could Help Beat Ebola

I recently had a radio interview on NPR Health about how I think robots could and should be used in dealing with the ebola outbreak.

You can listen to the interview and read my lines here.

A crucial reason Ebola hasn’t taken off more widely in the United States and elsewhere is that it’s spread only by direct human-to-human contact involving bodily fluids. What if technology could create distance between the virus and the health care worker – remove the human touch?

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The Guide to the Future of Medicine is Available: Download the E-book for Free!

I cannot tell you how happy I’m to announce the official release of my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine which was just made available in black & white paperback, colored paperback and Kindle formats. Moreover, the Kindle format is for free (yes, totally free) until the 6th of September.

It contains over one year of hard work, 70 interviews and 22 trends that will shape the future of medicine including Augmented Reality, Surgical and Humanoid Robots, Genomics, Body Sensors, The Medical Tricorder, 3D Printing, Exoskeletons, Artificial Intelligence, Nanorobots, Virtual–Digital Brains, The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs or Cryonics and Longevity.

Through these, I challenged myself to prove that it is possible to use more and more disruptive technologies in medicine while successfully keeping the human touch.

With Lucien Engelen’s foreword, the many examples and extraordinary stories depicted in the book, you will hopefully get a clear picture where medicine and healthcare are heading at the moment, and more importantly, what we can do as patients, medical professionals or policy makers to prepare for the waves of change.

Please use the #medicalfuture hashtag on Twitter and tell me what you think!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

3D Printing Vascular Networks

The technique of 3D printing clearly went mainstream this year. 2014 was the turning point. After successfully printing out in 3D working liver tissues, heart valves, prostheses, medical equipment and many more, it is ready to revolutionize almost every aspect of medicine.

As printing out biomaterials is possible and actually faster than growing cells in laboratories, we might not be far from printing out living organs eradicating organ donor waiting lists forever.

In the latest developments, scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT made a groundbreaking announcement that they have worked out a technique making such vascularisation possible within the 3D bioprinting process. It means now it became possible to create vascular networks within printed biomaterials, then organs as well. Here is a summary of the method:

To achieve this, the researchers used an extremely advanced bioprinter to fabricate tiny fibers, all interconnected, which would represent the complex vascular structure of an organ. They coated the fibers with human organs-3endothelial cells, and then covered it with a protein based material, rich in cells. The cell infused material was then hardened with the application of light. Once hardened the researchers carefully removed the coated fibers, leaving behind an intricate network of tiny spaces throughout the hardened cell material. The human endothelial cells were left behind, along the tiny spaces created by the fibers, which after a week self organized into stable capillaries.

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Top 12 Movies About The Future Of Medicine

After I published my white paper, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, the feedback was amazing and I had several really interesting (sometimes mind-blowing) discussions. One of these resulted in the idea of collecting those movies that predict, picture and demonstrate the future of medicine. Feel free to add your choices! Enjoy!

1) Elysium (2013)

A futuristic world where there is no sickness mostly due to the multi-functional radiology machine you can see in the trailer as well. It checks your body in seconds, tells you what disease you have and cures you immediately.

 

2) Gattaca (1997)

This movie demonstrated the dark future of genomics with genomically “inferior” people and what happens if we do not prepare the society for the opportunities and challenges genomics will provide in the future.

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3) Blade Runner (1982)

This Ridley Scott masterpiece analyzes the relationship between people and their bioengineered replicants. How will we live together? Will there be a hierarchy between us? Will there be differences between us?

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4) Brazil (1985)

Terry Gilliam’s film demonstrated the potential side effects of being able to live far longer than before and how people can become addicted to rejuvenating plastic surgery.

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5) Cloud Atlas (2012)

This very unique film shows the use of a real medical tricorder in action. This small device can analyze, spot and detect diseases as well as, obviously, cure them right there. It also discusses the deep philosophical details of using robots and clones for everyday tasks and what our responsibility will be.

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6) A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

This Steven Spielberg film described perfectly what it is going to be like living with robots that look and live just like people but use artificial intelligence. How they will live together with us?

 

7) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

What if we could erase parts from our memories? Or even add new memories? I’m pretty sure the makers of the film did not have optogenetics in mind back then, but now we are truly moving towards an era when these things become possible.

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8) Forbidden Planet (1956)

Yes, this movie was released in 1956 but you should really watch it as it gives a thoughtful picture of the future (and partially today’s world). The key part of the film is that people become capable of augmenting their own intelligence and it leads to serious consequences.

 

9) Inception (2010)

Will we ever be able to upload or download data from our minds? The movie is about the implantation of another person’s idea into someone else’s subconscious. A mind-blowing film.

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10) Prometheus (2012)

With the advancements of robotic interventions in surgery, it is expected that we will be able to develop robots that can perform operations themselves without human supervision or intervention. It was perfectly demonstrated in this sci-fi. The video contains disturbing scenes.

 

11) Robot & Frank (2012)

In an aging society, it is going to be more and more important and challenging to take care of the elderly population. This movie focuses on a robot with artificial intelligence that can do this job in almost a human way.

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12)  The Fifth Element (1997)

You think 3D printing is a trending topic these days? Now that researchers could print out biomaterials such as kidney or liver issue, we might soon print out organs or the whole human body based on the blueprint (DNA) as pictured by this Luc Besson movie.

The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Download the White Paper with Infographic

Being a medical futurist means I work on bringing disruptive technologies to medicine & healthcare; assisting medical professionals and students in using these in an efficient and secure way; and educating e-patients about how to become equal partners with their caregivers.

Based on what we see in other industries, this is going to be an exploding series of changes and while redesigning healthcare takes a lot of time and efforts, the best we can do is to prepare all stakeholders for what is coming next. That was the reason behind creating The Guide to the Future of Medicine white paper which you can download for free.

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Please use the Twitter hashtag #MedicalFuture for giving feedback.

In the white paper, there is an infographic featuring the main trends that shape the future of medicine visualized from 3 perspectives:

  1. Which stage of the delivery of healthcare and the practice of medicine is affected by that (Prevent & Prepare; Data Input & Diagnostics; Therapy & Follow-up; and Outcomes & Consequences);
  2. Whether it affects patients or healthcare professionals;
  3. The practicability of it (already available – green boxes; in progress – orange boxes; and still needs time – red boxes)

Click here to see the infographic in the original size.

Guide to the Future of Medicine Infographic

I hope you will find the guide useful in your work or in preparing your company and colleagues for the future of medicine.

Nanobiosym Health RADAR Wins Grand Prize at Nokia Sensing XChallenge

The Nokia Sensing XChallenge is one of those driving forces that can initiate real innovations in healthcare and the new grand prize winner was just announced. Nanobiosym is taking the ability to diagnose disease and monitor personal health outside of a hospital or pathology lab.

Nanobiosym® (NBS) is an innovation engine dedicated to creating a new science that emerges from the holistic integration of physics, biomedicine, and nanotechnology. NBS focuses on incubating transformational technologies that have the potential for game-changing impact and commercializing and scaling up these technologies for deployment in developed and developing world markets. NBS leverages science and technology to address our planet’s greatest unmet needs in global health, energy and the environment.

Here is their team video:

3D Printers For Living Tissues: Closer and Closer

One of the trending topics of the last couple of years has clearly been 3D printing as it has a lot to offer not only in medicine and healthcare but in any industries as well. How useful printing medical devices in underdeveloped areas could be, or even printing simpler drugs. But imagine a world in which you can print living materials and tissues.

A PopSci article described how a bioprinter works, here is the simplified process:

  • Step 1: Engineers load one syringe with a bio-ink containing tens of thousands of parenchymal liver cells and a second syringe with a bio-ink containing non-parenchymal liver cells.
  • Step 2: Software on a PC wired to the bioprinter instructs a stepper motor attached to the robotic arm to begin printing a mold (arranged in a honeycomb pattern).
  • Step 3: A sensor tracks the tip of each syringe as it moves along and determines where the first syringe should be positioned.
  • Step 4: The robotic arm lowers the pump head with the first syringe, which fills the honeycomb with parenchymal cells.
  • Step 5: Engineers remove the well plate­ and place it in an incubator. There, the cells continue fusing to form the complex matrix of a liver tissue.

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A similar process in action when Chinese scientists are successfully 3D printing living human kidneys is demonstrated in the video:

To produce mass amounts of the living cells, samples of human kidney cells are cultured in large volumes and blended with hydrogel, a water- and nutrition-rich material that makes up the 3D printed kidneys’ base. Afterwards, the printed cells can survive for up to four monthsin a lab thanks to this gel’s rich nutrient source.

The New York Times also has a great video about this topic.

But there is a huge technological issue. Printing something new in 3D requires detailed knowledge and prepared models. Therefore people now print objects of which the models are already available online. A solution might be provided by Makerbot Digitizer which actually replicates objects and print them in 3D. Again, imagine the same thing with living tissues.

It’s much more futuristic than just printing 3D objects, but its time will come.

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Makerbot Digitizer costs $1400.

 

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