Our renowned consulting services often extend into the field of biotechnology and subsequently, we thought it would be a good idea to give our viewers an overview of recent advancements and strides in the industry- as it is of the utmost importance to us and our clients.

Digital Medicine

California-based Proteus Biomedical has engineered sensors that track medication use by recording the exact time drugs are ingested. Tiny microchips emit high-frequency electrical currents that are logged by receivers on the skin. The receivers also monitor heart rate and respiration and wirelessly transmit the data to a computer. “To really improve pharmaceuticals, we need to do what is now common in every other industry—embed digital technology into existing products and network them,” says David O’Reilly, senior vice president of corporate development.

 

Smart Arms

Adding strength to prosthetic limbs has typically required bulky battery packs. Vanderbilt University scientist Michael Goldfarb came up with an alternative power source: rocket propellant. Goldfarb’s prosthetic arm can lift 20 pounds—three to four times more than current prosthetics, because of a pencil-size version of the mono-propellant rocket-motor system used to maneuver the space shuttle in orbit. Hydrogen peroxide powers the arm for 18 hours of normal activity.

 

Mobile Dialysis

More than 15 million adult Americans suffer from diseases of the kidneys, which often impair the ability of the organs to remove toxins from the blood. Standard dialysis involves three long sessions at a hospital per week. But an artificial kidney developed by Los Angeles-based Xcorporeal can clean blood around the clock. The machine is fully automated, battery-operated, waterproof and at less than 5 pounds, portable.

 

Nerve Regeneration

Nerve fibers can’t grow along injured spinal cords because scar tissue gets in the way- that is, until recently. A device developed at Northwestern University eliminates that impediment. Injected as a liquid, this gel self-assembles into a scaffold of nanofibers. Peptides expressed in the fibers instruct stem cells that would normally form scar tissue to produce cells that encourage nerve development. The scaffold, meanwhile, supports the growth of new axons up and down the spinal cord.

 

Technological Contact Lenses

Glaucoma, the second-leading cause of blindness, develops when pressure builds inside the eye and damages retinal cells. Contact lenses developed at the University of California-Davis contain conductive wires that continuously monitor pressure and fluid flow within the eyes of at-risk people. The lenses then relay information to a small device worn by the patient; the device wirelessly transmits it to a computer. Future lenses may also automatically dispense drugs in response to pressure changes which will help doctors better understand the causes of the disease.

 

Spit Test

Forget biopsies- a device designed by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles detects oral cancer from a single drop of saliva. Proteins that are associated with cancer cells react with dyes on the sensor, emitting light that can be detected with a microscope. Engineers have noted that the same principle could be applied to make saliva-based diagnostic tests for many diseases.