We live in a world of technological wonders and the application of these to the healthcare space is nothing short of amazing. Here are just a few of the most exciting advances researchers are investigating.
The heart-hugging robot
A silicone sleeve that surround the hearts of patients with heart failure. This robot both squeezes and twists, mimicking the function of the hearts muscles to restore the volume of blood being pumped around the body. Only tested in pigs so far, this robot could potentially prolong the lives of patients desperately awaiting heart transplants.
A ‘smart’ contact lens that monitors glucose levels
For diabetics all over the world, monitoring glucose levels requires the pricking of a finger and testing the blood. Google has partnered with pharmaceutical company Novartis to develop a glucose monitor hidden inside a contact lens. The miniaturized technology uses samples of tears to keep track of glucose levels without the need for sampling blood. This technology is still undergoing clinical trials in the USA and will require approval from the FDA before use, as it will be classified as a medical device.
iMEMS (implantable microelectromechanical systems) – a soft Geneva drive
Geneva drives are a mechanism used in watches for centuries but modern science has taken this technology and adapted it for use in healthcare. By creating a soft and squishy version of this device out of hydrogels, researchers have developed a machine that can deliver concentrated doses of a drug from inside the body. Hydrogels are biocompatible and biodegradable, meaning they will not cause a reaction from the patient’s own immune system.
Stem-cell tooth fillings
No more will you need to get a cavity drilled or a root canal! Researchers at the University of Nottingham and Harvard have developed a method of stimulating your teeth to regrow the dentin – the protective hard part of the tooth. Sadly, drilling is still required, but instead of filling the cavity with porcelain or other materials, the tooth will be filled with synthetic biomaterials that triggers the tooth the regrow the dentin. Researchers are currently considering partnerships with industry partners to bring this treatment to the consumer.