Aug 172017

Science fiction and fantasy has created a world where injuries are healed in a flash using certain devices and spells. What if that could be possible in the real world? That might well be the case thanks to a technology developed at the Ohio State University called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT).

TNT is just a small silicone chip the size of a coin which delivers genetic code into skin cells, which are then transformed into a different kind of cell needed to treat a particular condition.

The technology clearly has the potential to save lives given what it can do. A car crash victim’s chance of survival is increased if their wounds can be tended to straightaway. There’s also a higher chance of saving a wounded soldier’s life if this technology is available in the battlefield.

Proof that it works

Of course, any new technology, including a breakthrough such as this one, needs to be tested. The Ohio State University team has so far conducted lab tests and all of them have been positive.

The device works by mounting it on the skin where it delivers genes to the tissue underneath it with the help of an electrical field.

In one test, TNT was able to completely repair the injured legs of mice in just a few weeks. After just one touch, active blood vessels started showing on the mice’s injured legs. By the second week, the mice’s legs look to have been healed.

TNT in this case reprogrammed the mice’s skin cells into vascular cells needed to regulate blood flow throughout the body.

Works on more than just skin cells

Chandan Sen, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, said that TNT can restore any kind of tissue. A mouse that suffered a stroke regained brain function when it was treated with TNT, which grew brain cells on its skin.

The technology, according to Sen, can transform skin cells into elements of a different organ with just a single touch.

A breakthrough technology

The use of TNT marks the first reprogramming of cells on a live body. Many scientists are working in ways to reprogram cells in order to repair the body, but this one is different. What makes it stand out is the elimination of the step where pluripotent stem cells, which can convert into different cell types, are created.

A study published in Nature Nanotechnology notes that the current methods of cell therapy are risky because they involve introducing a virus and take too many steps.

With TNT, no laboratory or hospital is needed to perform the healing. The use of the technology in lab tests also showed no side effects. Plus, it will only take a second to treat a patient.

TNT weighs less than 100 grams and has a long shelf life.

Waiting for approval

Chen has been working on the project for four years and expects the technology to be carried out on human subjects within the year. For now, TNT is still awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration.



Future Medical Technology May Eliminate Disease

 Future Medical Technology  Comments Off on Future Medical Technology May Eliminate Disease
Jan 032017

Two months ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, together with his pediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan made a pledge of $3 billion dollars over the next ten years that will aim to treat, manage and cure all diseases by the end of the century. A project that is seen to pay off in 20 to 50 years, the couple already mentioned about their plans after their daughter was born.

It can be remembered that Zuckerberg announced that 99% of their Facebook shares will be donated to their new initiative which was around $45 billion at that time.

Other big names in the industry of technology have also expressed their plans and have already taken actions to help in the field of medical research and other aspects related to health.

Microsoft bigwig and philanthropist, Bill Gates together with his wife, Melinda, have been making their share years ago by funding public health projects all over the world through a charitable foundation they have started. These include polio and malaria prevention efforts. Gates was there during the announcement made by Zuckerberg with his wife and went up the stage to express his support.

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker made a donation amounting to $250 million, in the earlier part of this year, for the development of immune therapies for cancer.

Google, for its part, is also gathering genetic data to contribute to enhance human longevity as well as developing contact lenses designed for glucose monitoring on diabetic patients.

Fifteen years ago, the sequencing of the human genome was first accomplished for $3 billion but today, the costs are much less than it is projected that in 2022. Genome sequencing will be less expensive than blood testing and with computers able to process genome, it has become part of information technology.

What used to be an industry related to devices, electronics and inventions, technology has already conquered the field of medicine to find cure to diseases. With the use of advanced technologies such as sensors and the artificial intelligence system developed by IBM, more medical advances can be expected in the next ten years.

In the recent years, other technology giants have designed products for health monitoring. We now have the Apple Watch and the Fitbit to monitor sleep cycles, stress and energy levels as well as physical activities and send the data to mobile devices via mobile apps. Even the smartphones of today are able to monitor a person’s psychological and emotional status.

CEO of San Diego-based cancer drug and diagnostics company, Ignyta, Dr. Jonathan Lim sees the efforts of the Zuckerberg family as a gap filler. He said that the money will be funding basic science and prevention which do not really get much support as clinical efforts do.

The philanthropic foundation is known as the Chan Zuckerberg initiative which will create Biohub, a cooperative that will be responsible in developing a “cell atlas” of the human body as well as the establishment of an infectious disease initiative to develop diagnostic tests, new drugs and vaccines against Ebola, Zika and HIV.


Mood Modulation Technology in the Future

 Future Medical Technology  Comments Off on Mood Modulation Technology in the Future
Jul 052016

Mental states that only used to be altered for the better by drugs and surgery can now be enhanced with the use of technology. With an alternative method to change brain activity with the application of non-invasive brain stimulation, technology might become a significant factor in balancing activity in the brain of a depressed patient.

This technique works by using electrical or magnetic energy to stimulate the left and right hemispheres of the brain in patients diagnosed with depression. Moreover, this method is believed to be both effective and safe without the manifestation of side effects that can be experienced in treatments associated with drugs. Apart from these appealing qualities, this technology is also relatively cheaper than other existing treatments.

The technology known as transcranial direct current stimulation has been used on sixty-six early adult women who were not diagnosed with clinical depression. Results showed that this technique showed improvements in the moods or at least 64.7% of the total scores in the experiment manifested a reduction of negative mood states.

Today, questions have been raised if these types of techniques be applicable in what is known as “cosmetic mood enhancement. Since it can be readily accessible to a great number of people and is low in cost, there are several products available in the market that boast of the use of this technology. Also, there are already private clinics that offer a course in neurofeedback training.

Meanwhile, there is also some evidence that the effects of these alternative techniques are not far behind the effect of placebo and that efficacy is slim. But despite these issues, there are still people who are willing to try treatments like these even if they have not been proven to be effective.

Questions about Mood Modulation Technology

There have also been skepticisms about these cosmetic mood enhancements. Questions have been raised on how much the people are informed of the possible adverse effects of mood modulation technology and if the benefits really outweigh the drawbacks. Concerns over the possible dependence of an individual on the technique of brain stimulation just as a person becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol have been presented. Some also ask about the accountability of private clinics and manufacturers of mood enhancement products as well as their commitment to monitor potential harm and informing the public. The controversy on only the people with money can take advantage of this technology has also been mentioned.

Available Clinical Depression Treatments

A person suffering from depression can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy which is part of a pathway of care. In some instances, these therapies will also be combined with drug treatments. Patients will be given serotonin re-uptake inhibitors to balance chemicals in the brain. If these methods prove to be ineffective, patients will be given other drugs with side effects. These side effects are what lead experts to consider alternative treatments such as the use of technology.

Conversely, deep brain stimulation is also done to help patients suffering from mood disorders. This involves drilling a hole into a patient’s skull to give way to fine electrodes that will work on the targeted area of the patient’s brain. Although this has been used in some patients with Parkinson’s disease, there are also risks involved.

Having said that, making use of technology as a better option to enhance the mood of patients and non-clinically depressed people is likely to happen in the near future. If this happens, more people will benefit from technological advancements.