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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

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.

My Interview On Forbes With John Nosta

I had a chance to give an interview to John Nosta, the leading thinker in digital health, who published the interview in his Forbes column. I was humbled by the title he gave to the interview: The STAT Ten: Dr. Bertalan Mesko, The Geek Who’s Changing The World.

STAT Ten is intended to give a voice to those in digital health. From those resonant voices in the headlines to quiet innovators and thinkers behind the scenes, it’s my intent to feature those individuals who are driving innovation–in both thought and deed. And while it’s not an exhaustive interview, STAT Ten asks 10 quick questions to give this individual a chance to be heard.

I’ve been a fan and friends with Berci for a long time. His voice is compelling and important. According to his Twitter profile, Bertalan Mesko, MD, PhD is a medical futurist, geek medical doctor with PhD in genomics, speaker, and book author.

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Google Glass Through a Surgeon’s Eyes: Prezi

I’ve been massively writing about the potentials of Google Glass in healthcare and while I got an invitation, I couldn’t test it myself as I’m not a US citizen.

This prezi gives you a clear picture about what surgeons would expect from wearing Google Glass. But here are 3 other examples.

Remote virtual surgery via Google Glass and telepresence:

From Oculus Rift to Smart Glass: world-changing future products getting their start today:

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RealView 3D Live Intraoperative Holography Using Philips Imaging (VIDEO): Imagine when you can do this with Google Glass!

The Most Important News About the Future of Medicine Every day

If you subscribe to the Medical Futurist Newsletter, you will receive the most important daily news about the future of medicine and healthcare! Let me give you some examples below about what kind of content you can expect to see in the newsletter.

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World Changing Ideas 2013

Thirty (Plus) Ways The Internet of Things is Changing The World

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The CNN 10: Inventions

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Popular Science Best of What’s New in Health

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Rings and Bracelet Translate Sign Language

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The Fastest DNA Sequencer: On USB

I’ve lived through the era of the Human Genome Project, then the Personal Genome Project, after that, the race to lower the price of genome sequencing, but what if sequencing your genome would cost nothing and you shouldn’t have to send your samples to laboratories full of sequencing machines, but you could sequence your genome at home using a USB stick.

We are not far from that.

To sequence anything longer than a few hundred base pairs, scientists mince up thousands of copies of the target DNA, sequence all the fragments, and use software to painstakingly reconstruct the order of the DNA bases by matching overlap within fragments. A new approach, called nanopore sequencing, can handle long strands of DNA at once, eliminating the need for overlap analysis. As a result, nanopore sequencers could be cheaper, faster, and more compact than other DNA sequencers. They can also accurately sequence stretches with many repeating base pairs. The MinION from Oxford Nanopore Technologies connects to a USB port. Soon, anyone with $1,000 and a computer will be able to sequence DNA.

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Uploading our Dreams to the Cloud: New Kickstarter Project – Shadow

A new Kickstarter project, Shadow, plans to allow users to record their dreams and upload them into the cloud for data analysis. It would also work as an advanced and clever alarm clock.

Sleep is where some of humanity’s most incredible creations got their start. Yet, we forget 95% of our dreams within five minutes of waking up. That’s a huge amount of data—with unfathomable of potential—we forget each day, all because we don’t have a good way to record and understand it. What would happen if we remembered? Even better, what if we learned to make sense of it? We’re here to find out.

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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.

 

Augmented Reality in Operating Rooms Soon!

A clinic in Germany started experimenting with an application using augmented reality on iPads in the OR. During operations, surgeons can see through anatomical structures such as blood vessels in the liver without opening organs therefore they can perform more precise excisions.

A CT scan is performed before the surgery and the imaged vessels are identified within software, all of which is then transferred to the iPad. During the procedure the surgeon can navigate the imaged liver to see where the vessels are, and if the camera is turned on and pointed at the exposed liver the app automatically superimposes the vessel structure of the organ onto the live picture. Notably, the app is not simply a concept, but was already tested successfully during a liver tumor removal at Asklepios Klinik Barmbek in Hamburg.

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Years ago, I wrote about an experiment of similar kind performed at the Computer Assisted Medical Procedures Institute at the Technische Universitat München.

The technology is now there, we just have to put evidence behind using it in practice. Exciting times ahead!

 

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

As I mentioned in the first part of this series, 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 and to determine the future of medicine. Here is the second part of the list of 20 technological advances:

11) Switching from long and extremely expensive clinical trials to tiny microchips which can be used as models of human organs or whole physiological systems provides clear advantages. Drugs or components could be tested on these without limitations which would make clinical trials faster and even more accurate (in each case the conditions and circumstances would be the same). The picture below shows a microchip with living cells that models how a lung works. Obviously, we need more complicated microchips that can mimic the whole human body, but this ultimate solution will arrive soon.

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12) Medical students will study anatomy on virtual dissection tables and not on human cadavers. What we studied in small textbooks will be transformed into virtual 3D solutions and models using augmented reality. We can observe, change and create anatomical models as fast as we want, as well as analyze structures in every detail. Examples include Anatomage, ImageVis3D and 4DAnatomy.

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13) Optogenetics will provide new solutions in therapies. A recent study published in Science reported that scientists were able to create false memories in the hippocampus of mice. This is the first time fear memory was generated via artificial means. By time, we will understand the placebo effect clearly; and just imagine the outcomes we can reach when false memories of taking drugs can be generated in humans as well. The idea is a bit futuristic, but the basics of the method are almost available now.

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14) With the growing number of elderly patients, introducing robot assistants to care homes and hospitals is inevitable. It could be a fair solution from moving patients to performing basic procedures. The robot in the picture below is the prototype made by a company based in California that aims at combining robotics and image-analysis technology so then it can find a good vein in your arm and also draw your blood. In the next step, it will also perform analysis on the blood from detecting biomarkers to obtaining genetic data.

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15) Now we wear a FitBit and other devices that measure easily quantifiable data, but the future belongs to digestible and wearable sensors that can work like a thin e-skin. These sensors will measure all important health parameters and vital signs from temperature, and blood biomarkers to neurological symptoms 24 hours a day transmitting data to the cloud and sending alerts to medical systems when a stroke is happening real time. It will call the ambulance itself and sends all the related data immediately.

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16) It is not just about checking and monitoring vital signs but intervention is also the key to a better health. Imagine tooth-embedded sensors that can recognize jaw movements, coughing, speaking and even smoking so it records when you eat too much or smoke no matter what the doctor told you. Again, it’s going to be extremely hard not to keep the doctor’s pieces of advice. Imagine the same wireless technology used in organs providing real-time data.

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17) If wearing thin e-skins or having embedded sensors is not a viable option for us, then let’s make an old dream come true. The concept of the tricorder from Star Trek has been there for decades and we still don’t have it. The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize challenge will hopefully lead to the development of a device that can diagnose any diseases and give individuals more choices in their own health. The competition is hard as devices such as Scanadu are also being developed. What matters is patients will control their own health.

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18) I’ve always been a fan of IBM Watson and seen its potentials as huge opportunities in medicine. Watson will assist physicians in everyday medical decision-making, although it will not substitute humans at all.  While a physician can follow a few papers, maybe a few dozens of papers with digital solutions, Watson can process over 200 million pages in 3 seconds, therefore with the increasing amount of scientific data, it would be a wise decision using this in the practice of medicine.

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19) Since the completion of the Human Genome Project, we have been envisioning the era of personalized medicine in which everyone gets customized therapy with customized dosages. The truth is that there are only about 30 cases when personal genomics can be applied with evidence in the background according to the Personalized Medicine Coalition. As we move along this path, we will have more and more opportunities for using DNA analysis at the patient’s bedside which should be a must have before actually prescribing drugs.

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20) I thought I would put the simplest and most predictable medical advance to the bottom of this list. In the near future, whether it is the right and reliable medical information, dynamic resources or medical records; everything will simply be available to everyone which might not sound that interesting, but this would purely be the most important development in the history of medicine.

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It would be great if you could share your insights about other technological advances in the comment section after the post. I hope you enjoyed these two journeys into the future of medicine.

IBM Watson May Help Beat Cancer

When I attended Futuremed at NASA, the chief medical officer of IBM Watson told me it’s really challenging for them to persuade doctors IBM Watson will not take away anything from their job, only adding additional value to medical decision making. We need to be ready to embrace digital technologies in practicing medicine as well!

In a few years time, we will teach medical students how to deal with such technologies. I’m developing a new course for that as a part of the medical curriculum.

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