December 14-15, 2017

MedTech Impact 2017

Venetian/Palazzo Resort

Las Vegas, NV

(561) 893-8633

info@medtechimpact.com

Category: Medical Technology

Linking Life Expectancy & Medical Innovation

Recent data and statistics demonstrate that overall American life expectancy has dropped for the first time in a decade, spurring an urgent and pressing need for the advent and proliferation of medical technology—coupled with scientific progress and laws to encourage innovation.

While the research points to specific factors that have lowered rates of mortality, including increased obesity, long-term unemployment, and a resurgence of chronic diseases, the studies incontrovertibly suggest the critical need to provide enhanced ‘life-saving and life-prolonging’ therapies and treatments.

There is no specific way to address the divergence of issues regarding lowered life expectancy, but there are particular measures that must be undertaken. These include enacting evidence-based policies that spur innovation, and further eliminating any roadblocks to America’s inventors.

By spearheading research that targets the most grave and life-threatening challenges in our medical and healthcare system, new resources will grow and develop, ultimately allowing for patients to access breakthrough therapies. The need for medical-technology innovation is steadily increasing, while removing obstacles to improving patient outcomes and creating high-tech manufacturing jobs remains a challenge.

We must collectively and cooperatively tackle the persistent healthcare problems that our country faces, while boosting innovation in the technological sector in order to further address medical challenges.

A Miracle Medical Chip: Devices that Heal

Researchers at Ohio State University have taken the first step in creating a medical chip that could ultimately heal almost any injury or disease.

The development of a small, dime-sized silicone device—known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT)—uses nanotechnology to actively reprogram a person’s cellular makeup. By simply placing the chip on a wound, the device sends an electrical pulse designed to convert living cells into whatever necessary cells the body requires. The pulse “opens a small window into the cell,” allowing the chip to transmit an entirely new genetic code. Moreover, the entire process takes less than one second.

The findings, published last week in the journal Nature, discuss lab tests during which mice with injured legs were completely repaired with a single touch of TNT: by turning skin cells into vascular cells, within the timespan of three weeks. This breakthrough technology does not only work on skin cells, but can also restore any type of tissue. The device was also able to restore brain function in a mouse who had suffered a stroke, by growing brain cells on its skin.

The future potential and implications of such a device are clearly limitless, but some of the researchers’ ideas include reprogramming the brain cells of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or stroke patients, regenerating injured limbs, or helping victims of car crashes or combat at the scene of the accident.

Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, Chandan Sen, says, “This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital, and can actually be excited in the field. It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.” Additionally, while current cell methods of cell therapy carry high risks—like introducing a virus—TNT treatment has no known side effects, and requires almost no time to carry out.

While the technology is currently waiting for approval from the FDA, Sen states that the device is expected to enter human trials within the next year, and he is currently in communications with Walter Reed National Medical Center. “We are proposing the use of skin as an agricultural land where you can essentially grow any cell of interest,” says Sen.

Wireless Wearables: Potential to Predict Disease 

A recent study at the 2016 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons confirms the burgeoning theory that wearable health technology, an innovation that has progressively gained traction in medical and consumer arenas, can positively affect healthcare and patients’ wellness. Moreover, researchers have found that data from smartwatches have the capabilities to both detect—and even predict—the onset of disease.

Because a large segment of the population utilizes smartwatches, an enormous amount of data and metrics portray a more comprehensive overview of health, as opposed to a solitary visit to the doctor. Researchers from Stanford University conducted a study during which they gave participants smartwatches, and subsequently analyzed almost a year of the data. Measurements included skin temperature, heart rate, and data collected from sleep.

When analyzing the data, the team found that ‘out-of-the-ordinary measurements’—specifically heart rate—had strong correlations with health issues like the common cold. Additionally, more detailed data was collected from several participants, for two years. Researchers evaluated this data, and chose the four dates during which measurements were out of the ordinary: the heart rate and skin temperature were specifically elevated. During a period when the measurements were abnormal, the participant had developed Lyme disease; during the other periods, he had a fever, or the common cold.

These measurements have strong correlations with inflammation, suggesting that the data was able to pinpoint and pick up on signs of inflammation. Other participants who were ill during the period they used smartwatches demonstrated measurements of elevated heart rate and skin temperatures. Moreover, in a separate experiment, the team found that insulin resistance had a connection to body mass index and heart rate—the latter of which was measured by a smartwatch.

The simplicity behind wearing a fitness wristband, and any wearable health technology, can more easily help surgeons detect which patients are at risk for complications. Evidence-based studies have demonstrated that the integration of wireless technology strongly correlates with ‘postoperative quality-of-life data,’ and reinforces research that surgeons should consistently track their patients’ results and quality of life.

These findings reaffirm the belief that surgeons have the capability to routinely measure patient-centered results–including anxiety, postoperative pain, and the ease with which patients can perform daily tasks and activities. While surgeons do not regularly practice this type of aftercare, and follow up on patients’ recovery, this monitoring system establishes an exciting and inventive kind of versatility, portability, and ultimate healthcare awareness that should be incorporated and put into practice.

The idea that smartwatches can predict and detect disease could become a widespread phenomenon, which would ultimately become an accessible and convenient tool for diagnosis. Wearables may have the potential to eliminate doctor visits, particularly for people who have geographical or monetary difficulties.

How Virtual Reality Can Change Medical Technology

Extensive research and data indicate that Virtual and Augmented Reality have the potential to change the face of medical technology: more importantly, the ways in which medical device designers operate, innovative, and create.

Yet the technologies have inevitable hurdles to overcome, despite the enormous progresses and successes in the past decade. While patients are incontrovertibly benefiting from the experience of virtual reality in certain areas, experts agree that in order for AR and VR to “disrupt” medical technology, the intrinsic challenges must be explained, understood, and faced.

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