Future Technology Devices, Stemcells, and Regenerative Medicine
My recent experience in having cataracts surgery, with intraocular lens implant, gave me some firsthand knowledge of present and future technology predictions. If you want to understand cataracts and the surgery, please read, Got Cataracts?
When my eyes were being measured for the lenses my ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) asked me if I would be interested in trying out a new way of measuring the length of my eye, instead of just using ultrasound. He had a new toy and I was more than willing to be a trial "guinea pig." There are a few different machines available for this optical coherence biometry or light measuring. This way he could compare the readings from the ultrasound and be more exact. My left eye was a stage 4 cataract, they come in stages from 1-4, 4 being the worst, so it was very important to get the most exact reading possible. Both eyes needed surgery, so I was very excited to know about this new high-tech way of measurement. Not only did my surgeries work out great, I had boosted confidence that replacement of my crystalline lenses (transparent structures in my eyes), with the intraocular lens implants was state-of-the-art, and as perfected as could be. I do not need glasses for near or far, and am totally amazed at how clear the world actually looks!
The new way to measure eye length with light is just a precursor to more goodies in this article.
Another common eye problem are the degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa ( a genetic condition) that causes blindness. There is now an artificial retina that keeps improving, as only 30 or so people have them. It works like this: A patient has an implant on his/her retina, a tiny video camera is on his glasses, the video transmits impulses to the implant and the implant sends pulses to the brain which identifies or perceives the pulses as images! These artificial retina implants and devices are still in clinical trials, and I have covered them very briefly, but the great thing is that over 1.75 million Americans are blinded from macular degeneration, and this technology can be adopted for those with the disease. Eventually sight will be restored for these diseases, and that is a very wonderful bit of future technology.
3D mobile phones are being conceived and introduced on a large scale level in the tech world of phones. There is a short video of the Mozilla Seabird 3 at the end of the text.
The LG 3D concept mobile phone is awesome looking in this design from the Yankodesign website.
3D cell phones have 3D glasses, expandable screens that allow for phone calls to callers who pop out to you, an intuitive stylus, solar panels for sun battery power, and more ideas from different creative designers. It's an exciting field for many communicators.
Grow Your Own
Let's face it, ever since Mary Shelley imagined Frankenstein, and even before her famous work, people have thought about regeneration. It is most commonly called stem cell research, and the huge brouhaha called stem cell controversy played out daily. More about that in Some Human Cloning Ethics Explored.
The Wake Forest institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) is where the grow your own organs (not sci-fi, for real) is happening. The slow process of bioengineering organs just may be available in a decade. That doesn't seem so long for the many humans dying while waiting for transplants. People need replacement tissues and organs and the lab (Atala's) at WFIRM is expanding with experimental body parts. Some successful implantation into humans has occurred. Bladders have been reconstructed for 9 kids. One child had his 10 years ago, and was in kidney failure when he was rescued. This is great stuff, it almost goes along with the recycle-re-use mindset.
Inside the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, more than 250 scientists in the fields of biomedical and chemical engineering, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, materials science, nanotechnology, genomics, proteomics, surgery and medicine work side by side to translate the science of regenerative medicine into clinical therapies.
Besides bladders, patients are benefiting from other regenerative lab-engineered tissues - skin, cartilage, blood vessels and tracheas. Sooner than later there will be regenerated kidneys and livers.
Regenerative medical products are a growing field along with the research for cures. Meanwhile bio materials will help save lives and the quality of life for many people.
Tattoos for Diabetics
That dragon tattoo isn't the only popular notion around. An associate pharmaceutical professor has developed a tattoo for monitoring blood sugar. Yup, hopefully within a decade these once a week applications could be monitoring blood sugar instead of constant needle pricks.
Heather Clark developed the diabetes tattoo (miniature), made of nanosensors that are tiny polymer beads with a yellow-orange dye that darkens when glucose levels are low, and lighten when glucose levels are high. The tattoo application is put on less deep skin layers so it is less painful than a regular tattoo, and it eventually wears off.
Diabetic mice have been the tattoo testers so far and the results have been excellent. The glucose levels taken confirm with the blood tests taken at the same time. Next, clinical trials for humans.
Along with the mini diabetes tattoos comes the research and development of injectable nanotech ink. Originally Clark used sodium-detecting ink in the mice testers with great results. The glucose-detecting ink is a bit different, but very hopeful, as the research continues.
We have seen the majority of future technology trends having to do with anti-aging devices, surgeries, non-surgeries, injections, cosmetics, creams, etc. This may be changing over to more life saving quality trends like transcranial ultrasound to wake up coma patients. The neurotechnology of blasting coma patient brains with high frequency sound waves may become a new way to change neuron functioning. The research using this new ultrasound has shown that it may be less risky than the deep brain stimulation now used with electricity.
I am looking forward to this 5th dimensional world of 2012 and beyond. This short glimpse of possibilities is but a grain of sand in the future technology.