Medical innovations, October 22

October 22, 2010 by  

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Bionic legs, long-lasting artificial hearts, and gene X-rays. These are just some of the latest medical innovations we are bringing you this week.

Italian Man Surpasses 1,000 Days of Support with an Artificial Heart
A 54-year-old man was the first in Italy to receive SynCardia’s Total Artificial Heart while waiting for a matching donor. He was also the first to surpass 1000 days on the device while enjoying a normal life at home. He walks 10 km and works out at home for 30 minutes each day. The artificial heart is powered by a The Freedom™ portable driver approved for commercial use in Europe and but is still undergoing an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical study in the U.S.

Bionic Legs Allow Paraplegics to Get Up and Walk
Initially based on military technology, eLEGS is now geared for consumers. The bionic legs were developed by Berkeley Bionics and can help paraplegic get rid of their wheel chairs and walk.

eLEGS is the latest in a line of “human augmentation robotics systems” that Berkeley Bionics has created with the Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. It was based on another system called HULC, for the Human Universal Load Carrier, a robotics system licensed to Lockheed Martin that was made for the military to help soldiers carry heavy packs across extreme terrain without risking injury.

The eLEGS device consists of a backpack that holds the battery, and metal leg casings that are secured around a person’s clothed body with velcro straps. A mixture of sensors and robotics creates a natural-seeming gait that can speed up to an excess of 2 miles per hour.

An X-ray for your genes
Researchers at the Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine is taking a big step towards personalized medicine. Using a deep sequencer, a machine that reads the human genome and its expression, doctors can more or less predict how a patient reacts to medications. Somewhat like an “X-ray for our genes”, the method enables researchers to look “at how the genetic expression of small regulatory genes, called microRNAs, affects the way a patient reacts to medication. This could mean fewer deaths from adverse drug effects and novel and safe uses for existing medications. “

Long-lasting mechanical heart implanted for the first time in Canada in heart-failure patient
A 61-year old woman was the first in Canada to receive the ventricular assist device (LVAD) for advanced heart failure. The device is called DuraHeart and “is designed for long-term cardiac support and reduces the risk of complications including strokes, infection and device failure – all of which can happen in mechanical heart devices. The device’s central pump is powered by magnetic levitation technology, which means its moving parts are held in place with magnets instead of bearings, eliminating wear and tear on the device. This technology enables blood to flow through the pump smoothly, which extends the life of the device and the life of the patient.”

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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