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Posts from the ‘Medical Imaging’ Category

Top 10 Medical Technologies of 2016

Every year, I publish my predictions for the coming year. As the Medical Futurist, I’m expected to come up with bright visions and I’m happy to rise to the challenge. Last year my predictions included a digital tattoo, portable diagnostic devices thanks to the XPrize Challenge, IBM Watson’s rise to prominence in analyzing big health data, and brain computer interfaces such as Muse or Thync becoming available to the general public. These visions have since become reality.

It’s time to list the 10 major breakthroughs and trends that will dominate healthcare and medicine in 2016.

1) Virtual Reality

Once The New York Times gave out Google Cardboards with its newspapers, it was clear virtual reality was going mainstream. But now that Facebook’s Oculus Rift just became available for pre-order, virtual reality is going to become a booming industry. With really sophisticated devices on the market, it might have its biggest year ever in 2016. It will be used to let medical students gain realistic experience in examining patients or to let patients see what would happen to them the next day at the hospital for stress release.

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2) Augmented Reality

A Novartis chief announced that the digital contact lens patented by Google would become available in 2016. As it will measure blood glucose from tears, it is supposed to change diabetes treatment and management. Moreover, Hololens from Microsoft also comes out in 2016 which will have a huge impact on fields from medical education to architecture and engineering. It could help medical students do dissections for many hours a day from any angles without the formaldehyde smell.

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3) Fibretronics

2015 was not the year of smartclothes no matter how much we anticipated it. Even the ones with the biggest market potentials like HexoSkin were only traditional shirts with built-in devices in their pockets. But fibretronics are clothing materials with microchips implanted into them. They can react to body temperature or the mood of the wearer, among others. Google has started collaborating with Levi’s to create true fibretronic materials, which could be used to interact with technology through our clothes in novel ways. Imagine this in the OR. As the first promising collaborations in this area came out in 2015, expect to see the first tangible results in 2016!

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4) Smart Algorithms Analyzing Wearable Data

2015 was the year of wearable health trackers. A swarm of devices became available, Amazon launched its Wearable Marketplace and millions of activity trackers were sold. But gaining actionable insights from the constant stream of wearable data is not easy. We need clever algorithms and apps that merge data from several devices and apps, and help us draw meaningful conclusions. It would help lay people put more emphasis on prevention and have a healthier lifestyle. I had experience with Exist.io, one of the earliest attempts, but it still needs to go a long way.

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5) Near-Artificial Intelligence in Radiology

IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been used in oncology to assist medical decision-making. It proved the clear benefits of such a system by making diagnoses and treatment cheaper and more efficient. IBM’s Medical Sieve project aims to diagnose most lesions with a smart software, leaving room for radiologists to focus on the most important cases instead of checking hundreds of images every day.

6) Food Scanners

Food scanners like Scio and Tellspec have been in the spotlight since 2014, but as early developer prototypes have already been mailed to their first users in 2015, 2016 could be the year they become generally available. This would enable anyone to find out what’s really on their plates, providing clear benefits not just to people looking to gain weight or eat healthier food, but people with dangerous allergies as well.  

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7) Humanoid Robots

One of the most promising companies developing robots is Boston Dynamics, acquired by Google in 2013. Since then, they only released teaser videos about animal-like robots and Petman, the humanoid robot. Many technologies they are working on seem to be at a stage where they are ready to become actual products, the first signs of which we’ll see in 2016.

8) 3D Bioprinting

Organovo has been in the focus because of 3D printing biomaterials for years. They announced successfully bioprinted liver tissues in 2014 and they seemed to be 4-6 years away from printing liver parts for transplantation. But first, these bioprinted livers could be finally used in the pharmaceutical industry to replace animal models when analyzing the toxicity of new drugs. If it goes through in 2016, I feel printing actual liver tissue for transplantation could become a commercial service within the next decade.

9) Internet of Health Things At Home

Last year, I released a concept art of a bathroom of the future. All the elements in that image from the smart toothbrush to the digital mirror were partially available in 2015. But an array of sensors will reach the general public in 2016 making IoT a reality in our homes. The long-term goal is to make these devices communicate and learn from each other. This way we would not have to analyze the data of the devices ourselves, but the device manufacturers could merge their findings and share a digestible report with us when there is something to take care of.

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10) Theranos – Thumbs Up Or Down

The end of 2015 saw Theranos embroiled in a scandal. The company claims to perform blood tests from one drop of blood in a transparently priced way. Concerns were raised by the Wall Street Journal about the validity of their claims, and we are waiting for Theranos to reveal the details of their technology.

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Besides these, the new Verily Life Sciences branch of Alphabet and the gene editing method CRISPR might have a big hit in 2016. We will see.

These technologies and trends will create value and have an impact on our lives and the practice of medicine in 2016. To keep an eye on them, subscribe to my newsletter!

20 Predictions in Medicine And Healthcare for 2014: From DIY Biotech to Mind-Controlled Exoskeletons

Every January, I publish my predictions for the upcoming year regarding medicine and healthcare. Usually, the majority of these predictions turn out to be valid later on, although I prefer calling them apparent trends rather than actual predictions. Here are my 20 points for 2014.

1) Google Glass to be used in everyday healthcare: Google Glass has shown its potentials as demonstrated by forward-thinking medical professionals such as Lucien Engelen, Christian Assad and Rafael Grossmann, even the first clinical study came out focusing on the use of Glass in the clinic in 2013. Prepare to see the first real practical examples in 2014.

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2) IBM Watson’s first commercial use by hospitals: IBM’s supercomputer has been tested by US clinics for months and it has proven its validity and value in medical decision-making processes. The first hospitals that make their doctors understand that Watson does not replace them, instead, it assists them, will buy the service in 2014.

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3) Direct-to-consumer genomics to get new rules: The recent story about the FDA and 23andMe demonstrated how insufficient the regulation around DTC genomic testing is, therefore it is time to come up with standards that only the best services can achieve. By standard I mean the FDA should make sure only companies with deep scientific knowledge and expertise get the permission to perform genomic analysis online. Now it’s certainly not the case.

Close View of a DNA Strand

4) 3D printing artificial limbs and biomaterials goes mainstream: We have already seen some great examples when artificial limbs and different types of biomaterials such as kidney or heart tissues were printed out in 3D but in 2014 this industry becomes mainstream with the first home 3D printers in the market.

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5) The healthcare experience will be brought to the home: See the recently published “doctor chair” that can measure a user’s blood pressure, pulse, temperature, body motion, and other vital signs just by having the user sit in the chair as an example and expect more similar solutions which will, by time, make hospitals almost useless as we will measure everything about ourselves at home.

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6) LEGO Mindstorms to be applied for DIY biotech: The amazing concept behind LEGO Mindstorms that teach you how to build an actual robot at home could be applied to the biotech industry with people growing cells and performing even simpler biotech tasks at home resulting in a new generation of scientists.

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7) Home diagnostics to be the key trend: Not only Scanadu will ship the first prototypes early 2014, but other similar devices with which patients can measure simple health parameters at home will become available.

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8) Wearable MRI technology: What if we could use radiology imaging without those huge machines? A Swiss group has been working on a wearable magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) detector and sensor arrays. It would vanish long waiting lists and allow medical professionals to literally see through the patient in emergency situations.

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9) Optogenetics to be featured at major scientific journals: I’ve been following the latest developments related to optogenetics and I was amazed when scientists were able to create false memories in the hippocampus of mice which was the first time fear memory was generated via artificial means. We might see even more studies that will put its potential implications on display.

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10) Bigger role of MOOCs as medical schools change approach about digital literacy: By the time the majority of medical schools worldwide realize the potential and importance of teaching digital literacy for future medical professionals, we will need more and more massive open online courses such as The Social MEDia Course to serve their needs and train a new generation of doctors.

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11) More connected digital healthcare devices and services: This should be one of the key trends this year as for the last years, we have been seeing plenty of great solutions either as medical devices or unique online services, but the connectivity has been a major issue. John Nosta featured the imperative of connectivity in his recent Forbes column.

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12) The first steps of Google Calico to be public: When Larry Page announced the launch of Calico, their new venture focusing on reversing and stopping the process of aging and related diseases, nobody knew what to expect. They will announce the first steps in 2014 led by the former CEO of life sciences giant Genentech and a chairman at Apple.

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13) EEG controlled devices to appear: There have been little games available on Amazon which let you control a ball with your “mind”, but what about those devices that really use your thoughts to control things? I’ve used myself a wheelchair which was controlled by thoughts and will meet soon the team behind SynetIQ, a platform for neuromarketing.

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14) Exoskeletons will be featured worldwide: We have been talking about the potential use of exoskeletons for disabled people but this year the technology will become available for the masses. Also related to the EEG controlled devices, a mind-controlled exoskeleton will kick off the 2014 football World Cup watched by billions of people.

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15) First really useful food scanners to be released: While there are thousands of wearable devices and smartphone apps focusing on fitness, what about a healthy diet? Using a simple meal diary makes no significant change in a lifestyle. The device of a Toronto-based company, Tellspec, detects allergens, chemicals and nutrients in your food. We could also link such data to our own genomic background to make the truly best diet choices.tellspec-17

16) Gamifying the healthy lifestyle: HapiFork measures whether you eat properly, a smart bra spots cancer in time; FitBit, Shine and hundreds of wearable devices were meant to help us live a healthy life by measuring our health parameters/lifestyle and gamifying the steps required for making positive changes.

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17) Finally remote touch and simpler data input become possible: The technology behind designing touchscreens that can work on any surfaces has made crucial steps in the past 2 years therefore it’s time to make simple data input possible. Omnitouch seems to be a valid player in this area.

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18) Nanotechnology to be included in the medical curriculum: For years, nanotechnology has presented the potentials of using nanotech devices in treating diseases, but as bombing cancer cells and using less invasive diagnostics became possible in 2013, we can expect to see nanotech-based clinical trials soon which also means we must teach students about such solutions..

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19) Decision on newborn genome sequencing to be made: Although the recent FDA vs 23andme debate prolonged this, certain countries (mainly in Asia) might start providing newborn babies with their own genome sequences at birth. The decline of the cost of sequencing and the rise of genome centers in Chine could be the key factors in this.

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20) First results of Ray Kurzweil’s work at Google to be revealed: One of the most exciting collaborations of recent years is Google hiring Kurzweil to create the first artificial intelligence brain. While no details about his actual work have been released so far, 2014 could be the year when they present at least a roadmap, if not real results.

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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 Future Belongs to Interdisciplinary Innovations: Real-Time MRI-Guided Gene Therapy in Brain Cancer

Without doubt, the future belongs to interdisciplinary innovations and just to show you a recent and practical example why I’m saying that, see what neurosurgeons at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center just did.

They used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance for delivering gene therapy as a potential treatment for brain tumors.

Using MRI navigational technology, neurosurgeons can inject Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec), a novel investigational gene therapy, directly into a brain malignancy. This new approach offers a precise way to deliver a therapeutic virus designed to make the tumor susceptible to cancer-killing drugs.

“With MRI, we can see the tumor light up in real time during drug infusion. The rest of the brain remains unaffected so the risk of the procedure is minimized.”

Medical professionals in any specialties have to start looking at the same medical problem from different angles and as medical education focuses on giving you a very much specialized knowledge, social media and other digital technologies can help us get glimples into other areas looking for new ways of collaboration.

Health 2.0 News: Doctors using Google, Hospital Blogs being Blocked

It’s not just patients who turn to Google or other search engines to research medical information. According to Google, 86 percent of doctors say they now use  Internet on the job. Of that group, the majority start at Google, which they use as a source to look for general information about diseases and drugs, writes pediatrician Dr. Rahul K. Parikh in a special piece for the Los Angeles Times.

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You may want to think twice before your next visit to the doctor’s office. According to Dr. Barbara Starfield’s now-famous study, iatrogenic deaths (those resulting from treatment by physicians or surgeons) are the third leading cause of mortality in the United States, resulting in the loss of 225,000 lives per year. Of that total, nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections kill 80,000, physician errors claim 27,000, and unnecessary surgery results in 12,000 deaths.

Opera under the MRI

Speech Production and Articulation kNowledge Group from the University of Southern California works on very interesting projects. If you have ever wondered what vocal performance migh look like under the MRI real time, here is a video:

This video illustrates real-time MRI of vocal performance. It includes examples from a soprano and an emcee/beatboxer. This video was featured at the Sounds and Visions Session, of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) Scientific Sessions, May 2006, Seattle.

Radiopaedia: Quizzes in Radiology

A few days ago, I described how I use Quiz.MD for keeping myself up-to-date and just came across a new feature on Radiopaedia, a radiology wiki site I frequently write about. They now offer quizzes which are actually detailed, illustrated case presentations. Really useful and can also help you boost your radiology knowledge.

One example:

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