A month is a long time in healthcare technology. Nearly every day, discoveries, innovations and concepts are being developed in all areas of medicine and wellbeing, highlighting just how quickly the industry is accelerating.
This month we are looking at a number of stories that have caught our eye, including the possibility of 3D printed ovaries, how we could stop heart attacks before they happen, and shirts that take smartness to a whole new level.
Bacterial infections in the lung still rely on slow processes of detection – but perhaps for not much longer. Healthcare professionals in Edinburgh have developed an innovative imaging tool that uses LEDs and optical fibers that literally light up a patient’s lungs to detect specific pathogens in as little as 60 seconds. According to the development team, the system is able to reach parts of the lung which existing tools cannot access, significantly changing the way patients with long-term lung conditions are assessed and treated.
Preventative care is the focus of healthcare professionals all over the globe, and a recent grant awarded to scientists at the University of Edinburgh could help cardiologists spot a potential heart attack before it strikes. Using specially-developed chemicals (known as tracers) which are injected into the blood, medical professionals can use new imaging techniques to highlight areas within the arteries which have high levels of fatty deposits. Using this technique, they can identify high-risk patients and reveal details on heart structure and function to help prevent serious illness.
Having already harnessed the power of 3D printing to create bone and tissue pieces, researchers have now successfully printed artificial ovaries which were placed in mice, resulting in live births. Three mice, fitted with the bio-prosthetic ovaries gave birth under the watchful eyes of the researchers at North-western University Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois. If the technology makes the leap to human application, it could offer more options for female cancer survivors to conceive.
When tumors are detected and patients undergo surgery, it is the aim of surgeons to remove as much of the growth as possible, without affecting the healthy tissue around it. However, as this is a highly fragile procedure, it is difficult to ensure that all of the cancerous tissue is removed – until now. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have developed a ‘proof of concept’ technology that scans tumor samples and produces highly detailed images that are used to check whether the entire mass has been removed. The technology is still in development but the idea is that one day, surgeons will be able to take a sample from a patient, scan it and have an image of the entire mass in minutes.
From smartwatches and monitors through to entire items of clothing, wearable technology is all around us. Although shirts that track heart rates and motions already exist, the next generation is already going so much further. The shirt, known as the 10Eleven9 by Colorfy features a number of seamless biosensors that check your heart rate, breathing and even your posture, feeding back on your chest if it catches you slouching. It also continuously collects data, storing them a companion app that then acts as a virtual coach, as well as sleeves that respond to taps and swipes.
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Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization.