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Posts from the ‘Biotechnology’ Category

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.

 

20 Potential Technological Advances in the Future of Medicine: Part I.

As there are so many amazing things going on worldwide in medicine and healthcare, I thought creating a shortlist of some of the most promising ideas and developments would give us a glimpse into the future of medicine. The job of a medical futurist is to give a good summary of the ongoing projects and detect the ones with the biggest potential to be used in everyday medical practices.

1) New disease categories due to the excessive use of virtual reality solutions in gaming and other industries will appear. Examples include virtual post-traumatic stress disorder (v-PTSD) which might be the diagnosis for gamers who participate in large virtual battles wearing VR masks (such as Call of Duty of Battlefield) and experience similar symptoms as those soldiers who fought in real wars. Expect to see ICD codes assigned to such new conditions.

Jeff Ebert

2) Real-time diagnostics should be in the focus for the next few years. The intelligent surgical knife (iKnife) was developed by Zoltan Takats of Imperial College London and works by using an old technology where an electrical current heats tissue to make incisions with minimal blood loss, but with iKnife the vaporized smoke is analyzed by a mass spectrometer to detect the chemicals in the biological sample. It means it can identify whether the tissue is malignant real-time. Surgeons will love this surgical Jedi knife which can significantly reduce the length of operations.

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3) While better and better data input solutions arise, we will probably not even need hardware to add data to a laptop or PC as screens and keyboards will be projected on the wall or on the table making it simple and accessible everywhere in the clinical settings. Holographic keyboards will make us forget about smartphones and tablets, but only small projectors will be needed while the data will be stored only in the cloud.

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4) Medical communication is something that affects all patients and medical professionals worldwide without exceptions. This is one reason why social media has the potential to become a huge “mind machine” making it possible to transmit, share, crowdsource and store medical pieces of information either for e-patients or medical professionals if such social platforms are used in a proper way. Don’t underestimate the power of digital/medical communication.

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

5) By the time Google Glass fulfills its whole potential of leveraging the power of augmented reality, similar contact lenses will be presented which are capable of the same functionalities but without the need for wearing real glasses. Google Glass can be controlled through voice and hand gestures; while the contact lenses will be controlled with brain waves as there are more and more developments in this area.

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6) Ian Pearson wrote in his book, You Tomorrow, about the possibility that one day we will be able to create digital selves based on neurological information. It means we could upload our minds to a computer and live on in a digital form. As Google hired Ray Kurzweil to create the ultimate artificial intelligence controlled brain, this opportunity should not be so far away. We might have been searching for the clues of living forever in the wrong places.

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7) Cyborgs will be everywhere around us including a new generation of hipsters who implant devices and technologies in their bodies just to look more cool. Advances in medical technology will not just repair physical disadvantages such as impaired eye sight but will create superhuman powers from having an eyesight of an eagle to having a hearing of a bat. While a patient wearing implanted defibrillators or pacemakers can also be added to the group of cyborgs, I expect to see more cases when patients ask for the implantation of a certain device without having medical problems.

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8) If guns and other objects can be printed now and the biotechnology industry is working on printing even living cells; why would the appearance of 3D printed drugs be surprising? It will destroy and re-design the whole pharmaceutical world, but regulation will be a huge challenge as anyone will be able to print any kind of drugs that contain patented molecules at home. Bionic ears and simpler organs will be printed at the patient’s bedside.

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9) Adherence and compliance represent crucial issues in improving the patients’ health and decreasing the cost of delivering healthcare. Several start-ups have targeted this issue with different solutions such as a pill bottle that glows blue when a medication dose should be taken and red when a dose is missed (winner of the recent Healthcare Innovation World Cup); or tiny digestible sensors that can be placed in pills and can transmit pill digestion data to physicians and family members. In the future, it’s going to be extremely difficult to lie to your doctor.

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10) Radiology is one of the fastest growing and developing areas of medicine, therefore this might be the specialty in which we can expect to see the biggest steps in developments. One multi-functional machine will be able to detect plenty of medical problems, biomarkers and symptoms at once. Check the machine used in the film, Elysium from the 36th second in the trailer. With one quick check up it tells you what percentage of your cells are cancer free.

Here is the second part!

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