Engineering in Medicine – Unique Treatment Technologies
Biomedical engineering is one of the areas of science and technology that studies and develops the application of engineering principles and concepts in the field of medicine and biology to create artificial organs, to compensate for the insufficiency of physiological functions (biomedical engineering) before creating genetically modified organisms, including cultivated plants and farm animals (genetic engineering), as well as molecular modeling and synthesis of chemical compounds with predetermined nnym properties (Protein Engineering, Engineering enzymology). Engineering in the field of medicine combines design and the skills to solve the problems of technology, as well as medical and biological sciences, to promote public health treatment, including diagnosis, monitoring and therapy based on the fundamental principles of molecular and cellular biology.
Biomedical engineering has only recently emerged as an independent field of study, compared to many other engineering fields. Such advancement generalizes new transitions from those interdisciplinary specializations among already established areas; currently, the area is considered as an independent one. This area of science and technology is designed to bridge the gap between engineering science (technology) and medicine in order to improve the quality of medical care, including the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diseases. In addition, in non-medical aspects, biomedical engineering is closely intertwined with biotechnology.
The most outstanding biomedical technical developments include: the development of biocompatible prostheses, various diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices, clinical equipment, micro-implants, imaging devices such as magnetic resonance imaging EEG, regenerative tissue growth, pharmaceuticals and therapeutic biologics.
The direction of technology in the field of the nervous system (also known as neuroengineering, neurosurgery) is a discipline that uses technical methods to understand, restore, replace or strengthen the work of the nervous system. Neuroengineers must be exclusively qualified to solve the design problems at the border of the life of nervous tissue and non-living structures.
The pharmaceutical industry is an interdisciplinary science, which includes the machinery working with drugs, the supply of new drugs, pharmaceutical technologies, the unit of operations of chemical engineering and pharmaceutical analysis. This can be mistaken for part of the pharmacy, thanks to its emphasis on the use of technology on chemical additives and medicines in providing the best drug treatment. The International Society for Technical Pharmacy is an international union that confirms at the moment a rapidly developing interdisciplinary science.
Tissue and organ transplant technology
Tissue engineering, like genetic engineering, is one of the main segments of biotechnology – which is significantly intertwined with BMI.
One of the goals of tissue engineering is to create artificial organs (using biological materials) for patients who need an organ transplant. Biomedical technologists and engineers are currently exploring methods for creating such organs. Researchers propagated hard bones and trachea from human stem cells to achieve these goals. Several artificial bladders that were made in laboratories were successfully transplanted to patients. Biologically created organs that use both synthetic and natural biological components modified with biological molecules are also under development.
Genetic engineering is a set of techniques, methods and technologies for producing recombinant RNA and DNA, isolating genes from the body (cells), manipulating genes, modifying, gluing genes and introducing them into other organisms.
Unlike traditional selection, an indirect method of genetic manipulation, genetic engineering uses modern tools, such as molecular cloning and transformation, which directly alter the structure and characteristics of target genes. Genetic engineering has found success in numerous branches of bioengineering. Examples include improved crop production technologies (not medical applications, but biological engineering systems), the production of synthetic insulin for humans through the use of modified bacteria, and the production of new types of experimental mice for further research.
Medical technology is an extremely broad category, essentially encompassing all health care products, with which they achieve the intended results in conjunction with medicinal chemicals (e.g. pharmaceuticals) or biological ones (e.g. vaccines). Medical devices are used to diagnose, prevent, or treat various diseases.
A list of some medical devices and devices: pacemakers, defibrillators, infusion pumps, mechanical ventilation, implants, prostheses, corrective lenses, eye prostheses, facial and dental implants.
Without special medical devices, it would be difficult to achieve the effect of drugs on the human body, as well as the introduction of medicinal chemicals into the body. While medicines using medical devices act much more effectively on a living organism through various physical, mechanical or thermal effects.
Stereolithography is a practical example of medical modeling and is used to create physical objects. For modeling organs and the human body, emerging engineering methods are also currently used in research and development of new devices for innovative therapy, treatment of patient monitoring, monitoring of complex diseases.
Medical devices are regulated and classified (in the USA) as follows:
- Class I devices present minimal harm to the patient and are simpler in design than devices of class II or class III. Devices in this category include: elastic bandages, examination gloves and devices for otorhinolaryngology, hand-held surgical instruments and other similar general-use devices;
- Class II devices use special controls in addition to Class I. Special controls may include special labeling requirements, mandatory performance standards, and surveillance. Devices of this class typically include X-ray machines, wheelchair power, infusion pumps, and surgical sheets;
- Class III devices usually require import and export approval or pre-exchange notice, scientific review in order to guarantee the safety of the device and its effectiveness, in addition to the general controls of Class I. Examples of the class include heart valves, hip and knee replacements, implants of various types, silicone gel for breast implants, implanted cerebellar stimulants, implantable pulse generators and intraosseous implants (inside the bone).
Imaging is an important part of medical devices. This area deals with doctors, allowing them to directly or indirectly look at things invisible in their normal state (due to their size or location). This may include the use of ultrasound, magnetism, UV, radiation, and other means.
MRI is an example of the application of diagnostic imaging in biomedical engineering.
Technology for the use of imaging is very often a necessary medical diagnosis. Typically, the most sophisticated technology is in the hospital including fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), projection of x-rays such as X-rays and computed tomography, ultrasound machines, optical microscopy, electron microscopy.
An implant is a kind of medical device that replaces and acts as a missing biological structure. The surface of the implants that come in contact with the body can be made of a biomedical material such as titanium, silicone, depending on what it will function for. In some cases, the implants contain electrical devices, such as a pacemaker. Some implants are bioactive, such as subcutaneous devices that deliver drugs, in the form of implantable tablets.
Artificial organ replacement is one of the things bionics can do. In fact, bionics is an applied science about the application in technical devices and systems of the principles of organization, properties, functions and structures of living nature, that is, the forms of living in nature and their industrial analogues. In simple words, it is a combination of biology and technology.
Bionics can be used to solve some technical problems. Biomedical engineering is the foundation needed to replace various parts of the human body. There are a lot of patients in hospitals who have severe injuries due to injuries or illnesses. Biomedical engineers work hand in hand with doctors to build these artificial parts of the body.
Important medical breakthroughs and discoveries 2015
The past year has been very fruitful for science. Scientists have made particular progress in the field of medicine. Mankind has made amazing discoveries, scientific breakthroughs and created many useful medicines that will certainly soon be in the public domain. We offer you to get acquainted with the top ten most amazing medical breakthroughs, which will definitely make a serious contribution to the development of medical services in the very near future.
In recent decades, many governments have given the green light to developing innovative vaccines. The reasons for the researchers freeing their hands at the state level are understandable: the catastrophic spread of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, the increase in the number of cases of those infections that were previously successfully managed, the banal lack of effective vaccines against tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria.
To combat this scourge, recombinant vaccines are created from the world invisible to the naked eye. In this way, it has already been possible to obtain effective vaccines against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.
To create vaccinations by genetic engineering methods, a gene is selected from the DNA of a pathogenic organism that encodes the production of an immune-response protein, after which the gene is inserted into a plasmid, a stable DNA molecule of a neutral microorganism, such as a yeast bacterium. The finished antigen is introduced into the culture for subsequent self-copying by cell division, after which the molecule is again isolated, purified and used as a vaccine. In simple words, all these high-precision manipulations allow you to get proteins that are safe for humans, but at the same time provoke the same immune response as a pathogenic guest. Once in the body, a modified molecule starts the synthesis of foreign proteins in the cells of the body itself, which can be recognized by the immune system and neutralized.
Unfortunately, most of these drugs still have insufficient immunogenicity, but work to correct this deficiency is ongoing tirelessly.
Doctors have grown new vocal cords
One of the most interesting and promising areas in medicine is tissue regeneration. In 2015, the list of organs recreated by an artificial method was replenished with a new paragraph. Doctors from the University of Wisconsin have learned to grow human vocal cords from virtually nothing.
A group of scientists led by Dr. Nathan Velhan in a bioengineered way created a tissue that can mimic the work of the mucous membrane of the vocal cords, namely that tissue, which is represented by two lobes of the ligaments that vibrate to create human speech. Donor cells from which new ligaments were subsequently grown were taken from five volunteer patients. In laboratory conditions, in two weeks, the scientists grew the necessary tissue, after which they added it to the artificial model of the larynx.
The sound created by the resulting vocal cords is described by scientists as metallic and compared with the sound of a robotic kazu (a wind musical instrument toy). However, scientists are confident that the vocal cords created by them in real conditions (that is, when implanted in a living organism) will sound almost like real ones.
As part of one of the latest experiments on laboratory mice vaccinated with human immunity, the researchers decided to check whether the rodent organism would tear off new tissue. Fortunately, this did not happen. Dr. Welham is confident that tissue will not be torn away by the human body either.
The world’s first 3D-printed chest
Over the past few years, 3D printing technology has penetrated many areas, leading to amazing discoveries, developments and new production methods. In 2015, doctors from the University Hospital of Salamanca in Spain performed the world’s first surgery to replace a patient’s damaged chest with a new 3D-printed prosthesis.
The man suffered a rare kind of sarcoma, and the doctors had no other choice. To avoid the spread of the tumor further throughout the body, specialists removed almost the entire sternum in a person and replaced the bones with a titanium implant.
As a rule, implants for large sections of the skeleton are made from a variety of materials, which can wear out over time. In addition, the replacement of such a complex joint of bones as the sternum bones, which are usually unique in each individual case, required doctors to conduct a thorough scan of the human sternum in order to develop an implant of the right size.
As a material for the new sternum, it was decided to use a titanium alloy. After conducting high-precision three-dimensional computed tomography, scientists used a $1.3 million Arcam printer and created a new titanium rib cage. The operation to install a new sternum for the patient was successful, and the person has already completed a full course of rehabilitation.
From skin cells to brain cells
Scientists from the California Salk Institute in La Jolla have dedicated the past year to the study of the human brain. They developed a method for transforming skin cells into brain cells and have already found several useful areas for applying the new technology.
It should be noted that scientists have found a way to turn skin cells into old brain cells, which simplifies their further use, for example, in studies of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and their relationship with the effects caused by aging. Historically, animal brain cells were used for such studies, but scientists, in this case, were limited in their capabilities.
More recently, scientists have been able to turn stem cells into brain cells that can be used for research. However, this is a rather time-consuming process, and the output is cells that are not able to mimic the brain of an elderly person.
Once the researchers developed a method for artificially creating brain cells, they focused on creating neurons that would have the ability to produce serotonin. Although the cells obtained have only a tiny fraction of the human brain’s working ability, they actively help scientists research and search for drugs for diseases and disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression.
3D printing technology has led to the emergence of a unique new industry – printing and selling DNA. True, the term “printing” is rather used here precisely for commercial purposes and does not necessarily describe what is actually happening in this area.
Cambrian Genomics’ Executive Director explains that this process is best described by the phrase “error checking” rather than “printing”. Millions of pieces of DNA are placed on tiny metal substrates and scanned by a computer that selects the chains that will ultimately need to make up the entire DNA chain. After that, the necessary connections are carefully cut out with a laser and placed in a new chain, previously ordered by the client.
Companies such as Cambrian believe that in the future people will be able to create new organisms with special computer equipment and software just for fun. Of course, such assumptions will immediately cause the righteous anger of people who doubt the ethical correctness and practical usefulness of these studies and opportunities, but sooner or later, as much as we wanted or did not want to, we will come to this.
Now, DNA printing is showing promising potential in the medical field.
Researchers from the Carolina Institute in Sweden went even further and began to create various figures from DNA chains. At first glance, DNA origami, as they call it, may seem like usual pampering, but this technology also has practical potential for use. For example, it can be used in the delivery of drugs to the body.
Nanobots in a living organism
At the beginning of 2015, the field of robotics won a big victory when a group of researchers from the University of California at San Diego announced that they had carried out the first successful tests using nanobots that performed their task inside a living organism.
In this case, laboratory mice acted as a living organism. After the nanobots were placed inside the animals, the micromachines went to the stomachs of rodents and delivered the load placed on them, which was microscopic particles of gold. By the end of the procedure, scientists did not notice any damage to the internal organs of mice and thereby confirmed the usefulness, safety and effectiveness of nanobots.
Further tests showed that there were more particles of gold delivered by nanobots in the stomachs than those that were simply introduced there with food. This led scientists to the idea that nanobots in the future will be able to deliver the necessary drugs much more efficiently into the body than with more traditional methods of their introduction.
The motor chain of tiny robots consists of zinc. When it comes into contact with the acid-base medium of the body, a chemical reaction occurs, as a result of which hydrogen bubbles are produced, which promote the nanobots inside. After some time, the nanobots simply dissolve in the acidic environment of the stomach.
Despite the fact that this technology has been developed for almost a decade, only in 2015, scientists were able to conduct its actual tests in a living environment, and not ordinary Petri dishes, as was done many times before. In the future, nanobots can be used to determine and even treat various diseases of the internal organs by exposing the necessary drugs to individual cells.
Injection brain nano implant
A group of scientists from Harvard developed an implant promising the possibility of treating a number of neurodegenerative disorders that lead to paralysis. An implant is an electronic device consisting of a universal frame (grid), to which later it will be possible to connect various nanodevices after it is inserted into the patient’s brain. Thanks to the implant, it will be possible to monitor the neural activity of the brain, stimulate the work of certain tissues, and also accelerate the regeneration of neurons.
An electronic grid consists of conductive polymer filaments, transistors or nanoelectrodes that connect the intersections. Almost the entire area of the grid consists of holes, which allows living cells to form new compounds around it.
By the beginning of 2016, a team of scientists from Harvard is still conducting safety tests using such an implant. For example, two mice were implanted in the brain with a device consisting of 16 electrical components. Devices have been successfully used to monitor and stimulate specific neurons.
The importance of genetic engineering for medicine
For some hematological, cardiological, endocrinological and antiviral drugs, it is vitally necessary to maximally correspond to the natural analogs in the human body. In this regard, synthetic drugs have a number of undeniable advantages. Firstly, unlike drugs obtained from the secretion of animals, they are similar to human ones in structure. Secondly, genetic modification in pharmaceuticals has made it possible to abandon specific raw materials that cannot be completely cleaned, such as pituitary glands of corpses or urine of menopausal women. And thirdly, the decisive factor is often the low cost and rationality of production.
Despite notable successes, medical genetic engineering remains an area that scientists are just starting to master.
There remains a host of purely technological difficulties. Besides, we cannot but mention the imperfection of ways to overcome the body’s immune response and the risk of infection when using modified viruses. Nevertheless, the prospects looming on the horizon for a brighter future force stubborn researchers to sacrifice principles and fears without regret.