Robotic surgery demonstrated on a grape

The da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic surgical system made by the American company Intuitive Surgical. It’s designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach, and is controlled by a surgeon from a console. The system is commonly used for prostatectomies, and increasingly for cardiac valve repair and gynecologic surgical procedures According to the manufacturer, the da Vinci System is called “da Vinci” in part because Leonardo da Vinci’s “study of human anatomy eventually led to the design of the first known robot in history”. https://youtu.be/KNHgeykDXFw

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A simple procedure that cures vertigo

A simple procedure that cures vertigo

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A non-invasive way to diagnose and treat IBS

Gastrointestinal diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are extremely common, affecting up to 20% of people in western countries. Symptoms include pain, bloating and altered bowel habits. It can be debilitating, embarrassing, and have a huge impact on quality of life. Current methods for diagnosing IBS typically include invasive tests, such as s colonoscopy. The Noisy Guts Project is developing an acoustic belt that records gut noises over time so doctors can accurately screen, diagnose and monitor gut disorders and diseases. Their Fitbit for the gut helps patients identify triggers and symptoms. www.marshallcentre.uwa.edu.au/research/the-noisy-guts-project

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A mirror that tells you how to improve your skin

HiMirror Mini Premium is a smart mirror that not only shows you your reflection, it can also analyse your appearance, and advise on how to improve it. The mirror includes a camera and an ‘analysis engine’. This can detect elements such as wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, dark or red spots, rough skin, large pores, complexion issues and dryness. https://www.springwise.com/smart-mirror-recommends-products-for-users-skin-type/

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Hospitals are using VR to alleviate pain during treatments

Hospitals are finding that the ability to distract patients with fully immersive, fun and relaxing sensory environments with virtual reality can have a significant impact on the anxiety and pain that they experience during minor procedures, dressing changes and other medical treatments. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2017/09/virtual-reality-alleviates-pain-anxiety-for-pediatric-patients.html

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Wearable skin to monitor health conditions

Australian engineers at Monash University have developed a stretchable skin that can be used to monitor a wide variety of medical conditions. The electronic skin contains sensors that send signals to smartphones. The thin bandaid-like ‘wearable skin’ is made from gold and is highly stretchable. The wearability of the electronic skin means it can be used to track a range of health issues, including blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. www.sbs.com.au/news/australians-develop-new-wearable-skin-to-monitor-health-conditions?

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A better way to mend broken bones

Broken bones are often mended with metal plates or screws, but metal was never designed to be part of the body. A groundbreaking 3D-printed ceramic alternative has now been developed. The material mimics the property of bone, acting as a scaffold on which the body can regenerate new bone, then gradually degrading. Trials have shown that it may actually kick-start new bone growth. Once the product becomes widely available, it could provide better treatment options for millions of people worldwide who suffer bone loss due to injury, infection, disease or abnormal skeletal development. https://www.australiaunlimited.com/science/hala-zreiqat

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Spinal cord implant helps people walk again

The Guardian reports, “A small group of paraplegic patients have once again been able to take steps after researchers implanted a device to electrically stimulate their spinal cords. Two separate teams of scientists have revealed for the first time that the technique, together with physical training, has allowed three out of the five people treated to walk again after losing all voluntary movement below the site of an injury.” https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/sep/24/revolutionary-spinal-cord-implant-helps-paralysed-patients-walk-again?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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A NFP generic drug company

A group of major American hospitals, battered by price spikes on old drugs and long-lasting shortages of critical medicines, has launched a mission-driven, not-for-profit generic drug company, Civica Rx, to take some control over the drug supply. Backed by seven large health systems and three philanthropic groups, the new venture will be led by an industry insider who refuses to draw a salary. The company will focus initially on establishing price transparency and stable supplies for 14 generic drugs used in hospitals, without pressure from shareholders to issue dividends or push a stock price higher. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/hospitals-are-fed-up-with-drug-companies-so-theyre-starting-their-own/2018/09/05/61c27ec4-b111-11e8-9a6a-565d92a3585d_story.html?

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Personalised cancer therapy

CAR-T is a novel way of treating cancer that is “personalised”. It involves giving patients genetically modified immune cells. Cells are taken from a sample of the patient’s blood and reprogrammed in the lab to create ones that are genetically coded to recognise and destroy the cancer cells. It has been shown in trials to cure some patients, even those with advanced cancers where other treatments have failed. It is the first in what is expected to be a rapidly expanding class of personalised cancer therapies available, initially for children, on the NHS in the UK. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45407514?

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Faster detection of leukemia

A key part of diagnosing blood cancers is done by detecting abnormal chromosomes inside leukaemia cells. Now a new technique, pioneered by Wendy Erber, Kathy Fuller and Henry Hui from the University of Western Australia, will allow these diagnoses to be made more efficiently. The method is the first of its kind and can detect one leukaemia cell in a population of 10,000 normal cells. The trio won the Innovative Use of Technology Eureka Prize due to the sophisticated nature of their work. It will help in predicting the best treatment for a patient and the likely outcome.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-08-29/eureka-prizes-2018-five-awesome-innovations-australian-research/10179328?

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