Skip to content

The Medical Futurist: Weekly Introduction

As a medical futurist, 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.

I publish a daily newsletter about the future of medicine, and share related news almost every hour on Twitter. Scienceroll.com is updated on a regular basis about the future of healthcare with an emphasis on social media. Here is my white paper, The Guide to the Future of Medicine.

I’m the author of Social Media in Clinical Practice handbookand the founder of Webicina.com, a service that curates medical content in social media for medical professionals and e-patients.

ScreenShot

I launched The Social MEDia Course, the e.learning format of my university course focusing on medicine and social media for medical students, physicians and also patients with Prezis, tests and gamification.

My recent keynote at TEDxNijmegen:

I hope you will enjoy reading Scienceroll.com!

A Wearable Health Tracker That Shocks You!

Have you found it hard to change lifestyle? Do you struggle going to the gym or waking up early? This wearable health tracker wristband called Pavlok will literally electrocute you into action. Would you use it? The founder explained how it works:

Sethi explains how Pavlok works with a simple example — the habit of waking earlier. “It sits on my wrist and at 6am it’ll vibrate. I can snooze it, but if I snooze it twice, it shocks me.”

Well, I’m ready to take actions in my life without such hardcore motivation tools. But there are certainly people who need some push to make the next step. This is sort of a push.

pavlokprotolead

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.

organs-feat

Identifying Genetic Disorders From Family Photos

Although the area of genomics has not been developing at an exponential rate that experts expected when the Human Genome Project was announced to be completed, more and more ways of potential use of genomic data in medicine have showed how it might transform our lives. A few months ago, it was published that so-called “genetic mugshots” can  be recreated from DNA. By only using a person’s DNA, a face can be generated which sounds like pure science fiction.

Now researchers at Oxford University have developed a computer program that can diagnose rare genetic disorders in children simply by analyzing family photos.

One day we might be able to sequence the genomes of newborns immediately after birth (or even before) to tell parents what major conditions the child might have to deal with in the future. As an additional feature, children without genomic sequences made available could get an instant diagnosis only by looking into the camera of a computer using this algorithm.

An excerpt about how it works:

The program works by recognising certain characteristic facial structures that can be present with certain conditions, including Down’s syndrome, Teacher Collins, Progeria, Fragile X and Angelman syndrome. It combines computer vision and machine learning to scan pictures for similarities to a database of pictures of people with known conditions, and then returns matches ranked by likelihood.

Genetic

FDA Clears Motorized Exoskeleton

I’ve been in touch with the developers of Ekso Bionics, a motorized exoskeleton that helps paralyzed people learn to walk again, therefore I’m always happy to see new developments in this area. Now, an exoskeleton designed by another company, ReWalk Robotics, received FDA approval which is amazing news for paralyzed people as well. We are truly not far now from giving every paralyzed people a chance to walk again.

A motorized exoskeleton designed to help some of the 200,000 people in the U.S. with lower body paralysis has won clearance from the FDA to market the device in the U.S., according to a company and FDA statement. ReWalk Robotics’ device is designed to help people with spinal cord injuries stand upright and walk.

ReWalk uses a fitted, metal brace that supports the legs and part of the upper body. Motors provide movement at the hips, knees, and ankles. There’s also a tilt sensor and a backpack that contains the computer and power supply. The idea is that by getting people out of their wheelchairs, users can lead healthier lives. Some of the risk factors associated with paralysis over timeincludes hypertension, blood clots and respiratory problems.

It can be used for personal and clinical rehabilitation purposes. Science fiction (Avatar, Ironman, etc.) is getting real soon!

 

The Long-Tail of Wearable Health Trackers

I’ve been featuring the wearable health trackers I use on a daily basis and I was glad to see and amazingly detailed analysis of all these biosensing wearables on the website of Rock Health. The number of trackers has been rising for the past months faster than ever before, therefore the real challenge is to choose which one to use for what purpose. The ultimate goal is to track meaningful health parameters constanly without feeling the disadvantages of wearing a device no matter how small or smart it is.

It’s a crowded market, but there’s a growing tail of opportunity for biosensing wearables. We’re also pretty confident this space will continue to develop as tech giants like AppleSamsung, and Googlestart playing in the sandbox.

RockReportWearables4

 

By the way, you can browse among these trackers in the database of Amazon.com.

The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Submitted

After 8 months of hard work, I just submitted the manuscript of my upcoming book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, to the editor. Over 70 interviews and a lot of examples.

I cannot tell you how excited I’m about its release this August. 3D printing organs, artificial intelligence, home diagnostics, digital brains and many more topics in a guide that is meant to prepare all of us for the future of medicine. It’s coming soon!

The Birth of Artificial Intelligence

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40,106 other followers

%d bloggers like this: