As a part of our brand new 'mind blowing technologies' series, we're going to look at some of the latest innovations that are shaking up the HealthTech industry. After scouring the internet, we've found 4 truly jaw dropping technologies to share with you today...

1. Heart on a chip

Source: YouTube

UC Berkeley researchers, led by bioengineering professor Kevin Healy, have successfully created a ‘heart on a chip’ in order to test heart drugs on human cardiac muscle cells. The inch-long chips were created using heart muscle grown in a lab from adult human stem cells. The team then designed a silicone structure to be similar to the geometry and spacing of connective tissue fibre in a living human heart. Within 24 hours of being loaded into the chamber the cells start beating on their own at a healthy resting rate of 55-80 beats per minute.

The first and most obvious application of the ‘heart of the chip’ is in drug testing, making this faster, cheaper and safer and eliminating the need for animal testing. Researchers will be able to use a patient’s own cells to test and individual’s response to different drugs, allowing them to tailor treatments to each patient specifically. The chip could also allow us to link different cells to determine whether a drug that treats one organ could damage another, allowing doctors to identify which heart drugs would be metabolised by the liver at a later stage to produce toxins.

2. 3D Printed Pills

Source: TED / YouTube

For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a 3-D printed pill. Developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, the pill will be used by patients with epilepsy to control seizures, but this is obviously the just the beginning. The ability to 3D print our medicine using chemical links will allow us to produce more concentrated pills, will reduce production time and costs, and will allow us to make pills that are precisely tailored for a patient’s exact dosage.

3. Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm

Source: YouTube

For the first time, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a mind-controlled prosthetic limb. Invented by Dean Kamen (who also invented the Segway) and DEKA Research and Development, the prosthetic arm is controlled by electrodes attached the arm above the prosthesis that detect muscle movements in the upper arm, which are then sent to a processor and translated into the wearer’s desired motion.

According to a clinical trial cited by the agency, 90 percent of study participants were able to perform activities with the DEKA arm that they couldn’t do with their current prosthesis, including using keys, locks and zippers, preparing food and feeding themselves.

4. Bionic eyes

The Argus II system is the world’s first approved device intended to restore some functional vision for people suffering from blindness. This “bionic eye” has shown a lot of promise for people with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that affects 20 to 25 million people globally, according to UN estimates.

The Argus II enables vision through a very complicated system using an implant, some glasses, a miniature camera and a patient worn video processing unit. This system bypasses the damaged photoreceptors (i.e. the rods and cones) altogether and creates the perception of patterns of light, which patients can learn to interpret as visual patterns.

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