Dental Robot Doesn’t Need Human Assistance

Since developing a surgical robot, engineers across the globe have been pushing the limits of machines in medicine. This Chinese dental robot can perform implant surgery without any human assistance.

The implants were fitted to within a margin of error of 0.2-0.3mm, reaching the required standard for this kind of operation.

The robot addresses the shortage of dental technicians as well as frequent surgical errors. China imports roughly 1 million implants annually, which hardly satisfies the 400 million patients needing new teeth. The Fourth Military Medical University’s hospital takes care of 3D printing dentures.

[Dental staff] programmed the robot to move into the correct position to carry out the operation, and determined the movements, angle and depth needed to fit the new teeth inside a cavity in the patient’s mouth.

The robot adjusts to patients’ movement, which is definitely a plus. It also makes the experience a lot less intimidating, knowing your gums won’t be in for a prickly surprise. It seems surgeons are in for some serious competition.

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V.R. Is Helping Doctors Treat Cancerous Tumors

Things are looking up for cancer patients — from gene editing to the humble avocado, various forms of treatment are manifesting all over the world. Now, virtual reality systems are making it easier for doctors to treat cancerous tumors.

Once wearing the Oculus VR headset, the wearer can clearly see how the drug combats certain DNA strands inside the cell of a cancerous growth.

The wearer can then look around 360 degrees inside the tumor to see how the drug attaches itself to DNA strands to help dismantle the cancer.

The Oculus VR can eliminate the need of replica training, which is less practical and more expensive. It also provides users with feedback, allowing surgeons to perform more accurately.

“It is helpful in engaging the brain through interacting with a personalized animation someone is familiar with, so it feels real.”

I suppose this means virtual reality can escape its video game bubble and transition into the education industry. After all, there is always value in new technology.

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Endoscope Camera Can See Through Human Body

Technology is painting a bright and promising future for the medical industry. If smart brain implants and advanced computer systems are no longer just ideas, other new discoveries could be well within our reach. This includes an endoscope camera  that can see through the human body better than an x-ray.

Thanks to thousands of integrated photon detectors inside the camera, the device can detect individual particles of light being beamed through human tissue.

By reconciling light signals that come directly to the camera with scattered photons… the device is able to determine where the light-emitting endoscope is placed inside the body.

The technique, called ballistic imaging, is highly accurate and cheaper than resorting to a conventional x-ray. The device is also low-risk and a lot less scary than it sounds.

“The ability to see a device’s location is crucial for many applications in healthcare, as we move forwards with minimally invasive approaches to treating disease.”

There isn’t yet word on when the device will be available to use commercially. However, considering the pace of current technological developments, I can’t assume it’ll take much longer.

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Nerve Damage Repaired by Silkworms

Animals have long been proving they are more than just meant for zoos. Because of the modest squid, we can more simply detect gum disease. Due to the arion subfuscus slug, surgeons can quickly repair open wounds. Now, patients with spinal injuries have something to look forward to — silkworms that provide treatment to nerve damage.

Bombyx mori worms make most of the silk used in sutures. But processed silk from another species, Antheraea pernyi, seemed to provide a much better surface for spinal nerves to grow.

According to Oxford researchers, the silk in question is perfectly safe for use in human operations. As it happens, nerves along the silk threads grew at a quicker rate than normal. And not only are labs experimenting with silk to treat nerve damage — but also to advance other medical procedures.

Cocoon Biotech… is trying to use silk to treat arthritis…  Another company, Vaxess, is testing to see if silk proteins could help store and transport medications that are sensitive to things like heat.

Like the superglue slugs, no silkworms were harmed in the process. After all, they’re partners — not products.

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New Pen Technology Can Detect Cancer In Seconds

Each year we are a step closer to finding a cure for cancer. Whether by gene altering cells or hoarding avocado husks, the ultimate goal is to efficiently remedy the disease. However, diagnosing cancer can be equally as difficult. Thanks to science, a new pen technology can detect cancer in mere seconds.

The MasSpec Pen can recognize cancerous cells nearly 150 times faster than existing technology and has a more than 96% accuracy rate.

Um, wow? The pen can also identify exactly which tissues are affected by the cancer during an operation. Patients can now bid their fear of “not removing all the cancer” goodbye. The pen has a straightforward interface.

The pen works by releasing a tiny droplet of water onto the tissue, which soaks up chemicals inside the cells.

The water is then sucked back up and analyzed by an instrument known as a mass spectrometer, which can detect thousands of molecules and identify compounds associated with cancer.

Surgeons are optimistic that the MasSpec Pen will be available to use next year. Hopefully, it isn’t too long of a wait for patients.

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Disney Commits $100 Million To Kids’ Hospitals

When it comes to health, hospitals are necessary but hardly ever enjoyable. Despite the rise of surgical robots, many prefer to self-diagnose. Still, Google remains a breeding ground for hypochondriacs, in spite of Apple’s efforts to create health-centered mobiles. To make pediatric wards a little less daunting, Disney is donating $100 million to institutes around the globe.

“Disney’s timeless stories have touched hearts and lifted spirits for generations, and we believe they can bring comfort to children and families going through a very difficult time,” [said] Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.

Disney will be bringing games, entertainment, and movie magic into infirmaries. Familiar characters will likely put children at greater ease and perhaps even pull some laughs. Patient rooms will be laden with murals (Disney-themed, of course), and staff will undergo extra training.

“The renowned Disney Institute, a part of The Walt Disney Company that provides professional development training focused on leadership, employee engagement and high quality service, will create a customized program for healthcare professionals designed to foster a less stressful, patient and family-centric hospital experience,”

Truth be told, I’d be slightly less nervous getting my blood drawn by Mickey Mouse. Or, if not, who doesn’t love Pluto?

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Denver Outlaws Cat Declawing

Major cities like Vancouver may have banned the sale of puppy mill animals in pet stores, but other issues are still neglected. Pet owners are over-vaccinating their animals and, even worse, abandoning them. To combat animal cruelty, the city of Denver has stepped up to the plate and banned the declawing of cats.

“We don’t even call it declawing anymore,” Dr. Enid Stiles, a veterinarian from a Montreal suburb, said. “We have decided to call it partial digit amputation. It’s like you’re removing their knuckles,”

Denver is the first city to join another eight in California that have supported the ban. However, while the procedure is unnecessary, it remains entirely legal in Canada. Fortunately, few vets are willing to perform the surgery.

“I have a distinct impression that for new veterinarians, coming right out of schools, more will not want to perform the procedure,” she said. Some veterinary schools have even stopped teaching the procedure, Stiles added.

Cats may be chronic scratchers, but the behavior is nothing out of the ordinary. Purchasing a scratching post will save you the cost of surgery, and spare your cat from a lifetime of pain.

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McDonald’s French Fries Might Cure Baldness

Today, health buffs are all about living both longer and happier, which is why curry is all the craze. While “healthy mind, healthy body” is the catchphrase of the year, natural cosmetic remedies have yet to surface. Or perhaps we just haven’t noticed them. In perfect cinematic fashion, Japanese scientists revealed that McDonald’s fries may actually cure baldness. Now that’s a thought.

Researchers at Yokohama National University found that when they used the chemical dimethylpolysiloxane — found in silicone, which is added to oil to cook french fries at the fast-food restaurant… — they could mass produce hair follicles that could grow hair when transplanted into mice.

Despite the slew of regenerative products in every department store’s hair aisle, baldness is more troublesome than it seems. However, incorporating the substance into transplant procedures could solve the pesky problem. And no, binging on McDonald’s fries won’t actually help.

“This simple method is very robust and promising,” [professor Junji] Fukuda said. “We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia.”

If you were picking at your wallet and considering a pit stop at Mickey D’s, you may want to think twice. A splurge on fries was clearly too good to be true.

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3D-Printed Ears Help Hearing Impaired Kids

Implants are becoming a thing of the past, now that it’s possible to 3D-print anything from brain tissue to teeth. While some remain dubious about the technology, Chinese scientists may convince them to think on the contrary. A Chinese lab has successfully incorporated 3D-printing methods to regrow underdeveloped ears using the patients’ own cells.

The researchers created a 3D-printed replica of each child’s normal ear… but … reversed. This replica was then used to create a mold littered with tiny holes and made out of biodegradable material. The mold was filled in with precursor cartilage cells taken from the children’s deformed ear that were further grown in the lab.

The ears grow over a 12-week process and are more restorative than cosmetic. Chinese researchers haven’t yet trialled the use of stem cells, but progress incredibly fast, which means its potential shouldn’t be far off. Five children have since undergone the experimental procedure.

“It’s a very exciting approach,” [said] Tessa Hadlock, a reconstructive plastic surgeon…“They’ve shown that it is possible to get close to restoring the ear structure.”

We’ve come a long way with reconstructive surgeries, and might I say — it’s music to my ears.

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First Robot Passes Medical Exam In China

If robots have become capable of performing complex surgeries, surely they can begin to replace traditional doctors. Such is the case with Xiaoyi, a machine that recently passed China’s medical licensing exam.

“Since 2013, more than half of the questions in the test are about [patient] cases,” [said engineer] Wu [Ji]… “So it’s impossible to purely rely on memorising and searches.”

To earn a score of 456 out of a perfect 600, developers programmed Xiaoyi to link words and phrases. In doing so, the “Little Doctor” learned to reason — an impressive but also intimidating feat.

“What it can do most at present is make suggestions to doctors, to help them identify problems quicker and avoid some risks,” Wu said.

Still, Xiaoyi won’t be flying solo anytime soon. After all, there’s nothing like the reassurance you get from a human being — especially when they’re holding a needle!

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