Five new technologies that promise to transform medicine

December 21, 2006

Fat zapping to shed excess weight, miniature telescopes to restore vision, and smart nappies to detect common childhood infections: these are some of the new technologies that promise to transform medicine, according to this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

The forecasts are made by Professor Donald Combs of the Eastern Virginia Medical School and are based on existing technologies that are in varying stages of development and on extensions of those technologies.

His vision for the future includes airport x-ray style devices that "fry" excess fat with a laser. An overweight patient simply walks through the device and emerges several pounds lighter. No side effects are seen apart from the resizing of his wardrobe.

Patients with chronic diseases who need regular medication will benefit from a miniature implant that monitors and transmits data on heart and breathing rates, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. And further into the future are links smart pumps that, when signalled, instantly deliver the correct medication.

Another prediction is the use of miniature telescopes that restore vision for patients with degenerative eye disease. The telescopes are powered by sunlight passing through the pupils to microscopic solar battery panels attached to the retinas.

These scenarios illustrate potential clinical applications of technologies currently under development, says Professor Combs. For instance, devices that can sense and transmit heart and breathing rates already exist and implantable lenses are well-known.

Other emerging technologies include wave technology to isolate cancer cells, fabrication technology to manufacture customised body parts, and the use of miniature robots to track and destroy infections before they cause disease.

The individual and collective impact of these technologies is already present in some aspects of contemporary medicine and the rate of their impact is increasing, he concludes.
-end-


BMJ

Related Vision Articles from Brightsurf:

School-based vision screening programs found 1 in 10 kids had vision problems
A school-based vision screening program in kindergarten, shown to be effective at identifying untreated vision problems in 1 in 10 students, could be useful to implement widely in diverse communities, according to new research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191085.

Restoring vision by gene therapy
Latest scientific findings give hope for people with incurable retinal degeneration.

Vision loss influences perception of sound
People with severe vision loss can less accurately judge the distance of nearby sounds, potentially putting them more at risk of injury.

'Time is vision' after a stroke
University of Rochester researchers studied stroke patients who experienced vision loss and found that the patients retained some visual abilities immediately after the stroke but these abilities diminished gradually and eventually disappeared permanently after approximately six months.

Improving the vision of self-driving vehicles
There may be a better way for autonomous vehicles to learn how to drive themselves: by watching humans.

A new model of vision
MIT researchers have developed a computer model of face processing that could reveal how the brain produces richly detailed visual representations so quickly.

Vision may be the real cause of children's problems
Do you have poor motor skills or struggle to read, write or solve math problems?

Shark and ray vision comes into focus
Until now, little has been known about the evolution of vision in cartilaginous fishes, particularly sharks and their genetic cousins, the rays.

The birth of vision, from the retina to the brain
How do neurons differentiate to become individual components of the visual system?

Tracing the evolution of vision
The function of the visual photopigment rhodopsin and its action in the retina to facilitate vision is well understood.

Read More: Vision News and Vision Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.