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Posts from the ‘Healthcare’ Category

Why Predicting The Future Of Medicine Is Hard – Video

Science fiction movies sometimes show us a great future, but in medicine, they almost always make a huge mistake. There are 3 major reasons why predicting the future in medicine & healthcare is hard, if not impossible.

Please do share what you think.

5 Healthcare Startups Among The 30 Innovative Companies Changing The World

CNN came up with the Upstart30 list that features 30 innovative companies that are changing the world. The only good thing about such lists is that you can come across startups you have never heard of before. Here are 5 healthcare startups from the list:

  • uBiome: genetic sequencing of your microbiome, the microbes living in your digestive system.
  • Ovuline: data on menstrual cycles and physical and emotional symptoms to predict when a woman is most fertile.
  • Honor: In elderly care, they screen and assign caretakers to seniors based on skills.
  • Eko Devices: Using Bluetooth technology, the Core sends digital recordings of heartbeats to Eko’s app and web portal. Doctors can chart the heartbeat or send the recording to a specialist for further review.
  • BioBots‘ first product is a revolutionary 3D printer for building cells, tissues and organs. The printer uses a chemical that works with visible blue light technology, which doesn’t harm the cells.

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e-NABLE: Cheap Prosthetics For Those In Need

I met Thierry Oquidam who is a vounteer of the e-NABLE project at Doctors 2.0 and You last week. They have developed a system in which they can print out simple prosthetics for a very cheap price (dozens of Euros). Small parts can be replaced easily and no expert is needed to assemble the prosthetics from the elements.

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And now amazing news were published involving e-NABLE and Google:

e-NABLE has grown from a couple of kindhearted 3D printing enthusiasts to the largest network of volunteers dedicated to 3D printing low-cost prosthetics for those in need.  The organization has become so big that even Google awarded $600,000 grant to the non-profit as a part of their Google Impact Challenge. And, today, the organization has found yet another powerful partner in the fight to arm kids.  Leading industry player 3D Systems has announced a partnership with the e-NABLE Community Foundation (ECF) to develop a new 3D printable prosthetic hand file for printing on 3D Systems printers.

Hopefully such projects will make healthcare affordable and accessible to people who are in need worldwide. If you want to help them, here are a few things you can do:

  • Talk about them on your website, your blog, your newspaper or any social media channels.
  • Help them participate in events. If you organize or participate in an event where they could be present, please contact them to get organized.
  • Support them financially or create a 3D printing department and use a bit of your machine time to make new hands.

10 Disruptive Technologies That Will Transform Pharma

My article about those 10 trends that I think can disrupt the whole pharmaceutical industry was just published on Pharmaphorum.com. An excerpt of the article:

When I speak to pharma companies I tell them they need to act now or they will lose business, or even be left with no business at all. I try to underscore this radical statement by highlighting the following trends and examples:

To give you an idea, here is my list:

  1. Empowered patients
  2. Health gamification
  3. Augmented reality and virtual reality
  4. Genomics and truly personalized medicine
  5. Body sensors
  6. ‘Do it yourself’ biotechnology
  7. The 3D printing revolution
  8. The end of human experimentation
  9. Medical decision making with artificial intelligence
  10. Nanorobots
  11. Here is a recent video I recorded about the technologies I’m the most excited about.

The Future of Clinical Trials: Video

An excerpt from The Guide to the Future of Medicine:

Today, new pharmaceuticals are approved by a process that culminates in human clinical trials. The clinical trial is a rigorous process from development of the active molecule to animal trials before the human ones, costing billions of dollars and requiring many years. Patients participating in the trial are exposed to side effects, not all of which will have been predicted by animal testing. If the drug is successful in trial, it may receive approval, but the time and expense are present regardless of the trial outcome.

But what if there were another, safer, faster, and less expensive route to approval? Instead of requiring years of “ex vivo” and animal studies before human testing, what if it were possible to test thousands of new molecules on billions of virtual patients in just a few minutes? What would be required to demonstrate such a capability? At the very least, the virtual patients must mimic the physiology of the target patients, with all of the variation that actual patients show. The model should encompass circulatory, neural, endocrine, and metabolic systems, and each of these must demonstrate valid mechanism–based responses to physiological and pharmacological stimuli. The model must also be cost efficient, simulating weeks in a span of seconds.

Such simulations are called computational cognitive architectures, although the current ones actually lack a comprehensive representation of human physiology. A truly comprehensive system would make it possible to model conditions, symptoms, and even drug effects. To order reach this brave goal, every tiny detail of the human body needs to be included in the simulation from the way our body reacts to temperature changes to the circadian rhythms of hormone action.

HumMod is a simulation system that provides a top–down model of human physiology from organs to hormones. It now contains over 1,500 linear and non–linear equations and over 6,500 state variables such as body fluids, circulation, electrolytes, hormones, metabolism, and skin temperature. HumMod was based on original work by Drs. Arthur Guyton and Thomas Coleman in the early 1970’s.

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HumMod is not the only effort in this area. The Avicenna project, partially funded by the European Commission, aims to construct a roadmap for future “in silico” clinical trials, which would make it possible to conduct them without actually experimenting on people. Other projects use real models instead of computational ones. A liver human organ construct, a physical object that responds to toxic chemical exposure the way a real liver does, was designed at the Gordon A. Cain University. The goal of the five–year, $19 million multi­institutional project is to develop interconnected human organ constructs that are based on a miniaturized platform nicknamed ATHENA (Advanced Tissue–engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer) that looks like a CPR mannequin.

It would then be possible to test molecules without risking the toxic effects on humans, and to monitor fluctuations in the thousands of different molecules that living cells produce and consume. The beauty of this project is its plan to connect their working liver device to a heart device developed by Harvard University. If successful, they hope to add a lung construct in 2015 that is being developed at Los Alamos, and a kidney designed by the UCSF/Vanderbilt collaboration by 2016, thus building the first physiological model of a human being piece by piece.

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Virtual Reality Will Change The Healthcare Experience

Virtual Reality or VR is a computer-simulated environment in which we can have the feeling as being in a digital, virtual world experiencing smell, sound, taste, and visuals. VR has been mentioned in many sci-fi masterpieces such as the Necromancer by Gibson, but technology behind that only came to a point where it can become reality now. Therefore I decided to describe some medical implications of virtual reality in the newest video of The Medical Futurist Youtube Channel.

I recently started discovering the options of virtual reality with the Google Cardboard. Putting my own smartphone with the right application into a cardboard can give the feeling of being in a virtual world. My favorite apps so far are Roller Coaster VRCmoar Roller Coaster VR, and Solar System VR. I should start filming the first reaction of people who give it a try.

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Cardboard is just the very first step. Devices such as Oculus Rift acquired by Facebook, Sony’s Morpheus or Magic Leap will make the difference in the coming years. Check how Magic Leap could change the world around ourselves. Let’s see how virtual reality could change the healthcare experience with ever-improving technologies.

  • Imagine that we could use virtual reality for training surgeons. They could be inside the human body based on the patient’s radiology images discovering all the options before opening up the patient during an operation.
  • We could use virtual reality for patients to experience the hospital feeling even before going to the hospital. They could see how a procedure takes place, how much time it takes, what’s going to happen to them by getting a treatment or procedure.
  • We could use that for psychology treatments, for people with addictions to show them different kinds of worlds. One with being addicted to something, and one with not being addicted any more showing them the real differences in life and how it could change if they found a solution for that addiction. The same is used in PTSD or fighting phobias.
  • Imagine that we could use it for stress relief letting people travel to countries around the world and experiencing the real world through virtual reality.
  • We could train people for emergency and disaster situations without risking anybody’s life.
  • Virtual rehabilitation performed at the patient’s home for anxieties, attention deficits or amnesia. The list of conditions in which VR could be helpful is incredibly long.
  • 360 immersive Virtual Reality arrived to the Cathlab chaning Medical Education.
  • If there is no available real cadaver to practice surgery on, VR can help.
  • A new way for motivating people for doing exercises could be merging VR with video games. See this video:

When for the first time I showed Google Cardboard to my 7 years old niece and she checked that out, she asked me, why would people want real-life experience any more when they can have this. So we will face really serious ethical questions in the coming years, but again virtual reality with the devices coming to the market very soon has the potentials to change the whole healthcare experience.

Read more about the future of virtual reality in my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Twelve Things We Can 3D Print in Medicine Now

Kaiba Gionfriddo was born prematurely in 2011. After 8 months his lung development caused concerns, although he was sent home with his parents as his breathing was normal. Six weeks later, Kaiba stopped breathing and turned blue. He was diagnosed with tracheobronchomalacia, a long Latin word that means his windpipe was so weak that it collapsed. He had a tracheostomy and was put on a ventilator––the conventional treatment. Still, Kaiba would stop breathing almost daily. His heart would stop, too. His caregivers 3D printed a bioresorbable device that instantly helped Kaiba breathe. This case is considered a prime example of how customized 3D printing is transforming healthcare as we know it.

Since then this area has been skyrocketing. The list of objects that have been successfully printed out in 3D demonstrates the potential this technology holds for the near future of medicine.

Tissues with blood vessels: Researchers at Harvard University were the first to use a custom–built 3D printer and a dissolving ink to create a swatch of tissue that contains skin cells interwoven with structural material interwoven that can potentially function as blood vessels.

Low–Cost Prosthetic Parts: Creating traditional prosthetics is very time–consuming and destructive, which means that any modifications would destroy the original molds. Researchers at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with Autodesk Research and CBM Canada, used 3D printing to quickly produce cheap and easily customizable prosthetic sockets for patients in the developing world. 1371558697309.cached

Drugs: Lee Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow, wants to do for the discovery and distribution of prescription drugs what Apple did for music. In a TED talk he described a prototype 3D printer capable of assembling chemical compounds at the molecular level. Patients would go to an online drugstore with their digital prescription, buy the blueprint and the chemical ink needed, and then print the drug at home. In the future he said we might sell not drugs but rather blueprints or apps.

Tailor–made sensors: Researchers have used scans of animal hearts to create printed models, and then added stretchy electronics on top of those models. The material can be peeled off the printed model and wrapped around the real heart for a perfect fit. The next step is to enhance the electronics with multiple sensors.

Tumor Models: Researchers in China and the US have both printed models of cancerous tumors to aid discovery of new anti–cancer drugs and to better understand how tumors develop, grow, and spread.

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Bone: Professor Susmita Bose of Washington State University modified a 3D printer to bind chemicals to a ceramic powder creating intricate ceramic scaffolds that promote the growth of the bone in any shape.

Heart Valve: Jonathan Butcher of Cornell University has printed a heart valve that will soon be tested in sheep. He used a combination of cells and biomaterials to control the valve’s stiffness.

Ear cartilage: Lawrence Bonassar of Cornell University used 3D photos of human ears to create ear molds. The molds were then filled with a gel containing bovine cartilage cells suspended in collagen, which held the shape of the ear while cells grew their extracellular matrix.

Medical equipment: Already, 3D printing is occurring in underdeveloped areas. “Not Impossible Labs” based in Venice, California took 3D printers to Sudan where the chaos of war has left many people with amputated limbs. The organization’s founder, Mick Ebeling, trained locals how to operate the machinery, create patient–specific limbs, and fit these new, very inexpensive prosthetics.

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Cranium Replacement: Dutch surgeons replaced the entire top of a 22 year–old woman’s skull with a customized printed implant made from plastic.

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Synthetic skin: James Yoo at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in the US has developed a printer that can print skin straight onto the wounds of burn victims.

Organs: Organovo just announced that their bioprinted liver assays are able to function for more than 40 days. Organovo’s top executives and other industry experts suggest that within a decade we will be able to print solid organs such as liver, heart, and kidney. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are waiting for an organ donor. Imagine how such a technology could transform their lives.

Read more about the use of 3D printing in medicine in The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

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