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Six week-old Kaiba Gionfriddo was out at a restaurant with his family, when he stopped breathing and started turning blue. It turned out that he had a severe form of tracheobronchomalacia, a rare condition in which the trachea collapses due to flaccid supporting cartilage. Although he survived that incident, he proceeded to stop breathing on a regular basis, requiring daily resuscitation. Given the seriousness of the situation, his doctors decided to go for broke and try something new – an implanted 3D-printed tracheal support splint. Read More
No matter what sort of wondrous implantable medical devices are created, they’re not going to do anyone much good if the recipient's body simply rejects them. With that in mind, scientists at the University of Washington have developed a synthetic biomaterial that they claim is “exceptional” at keeping implanted materials from being attacked by the immune system. Read More

When a nerve in the peripheral nervous system is torn or severed, it can take a long time to regenerate – if it does so at all. Depending on the location of the injury, it can leave the affected part of the patient’s body numb and/or paralyzed for years, or even for the rest of their life. Now, however, scientists from Israel’s Tel Aviv University have created a gel and an implant that they claim could vastly aid in the healing of damaged nerves. Read More

Epilepsy seizures can range from something as subtle as a passing localized numbness to something as noticeable and potentially dangerous as wild involuntary thrashing. While some people experience symptoms before a seizure that indicate one is about to occur, others have no warning at all. A new device that is designed to be implanted between the skull and the brain surface has been found to accurately predict epilepsy seizures in humans and can indicate the risk of a seizure occurring in the coming hours. Read More
Deep Brain Stimulation, in which a pacemaker-like device activates select regions of the brain via implanted electrodes, has been used to help people suffering from a variety of neurological problems. Just in the past few years, studies have explored its use for treating anorexia, Alzheimer’s, and memory disorders. Now, perhaps not surprisingly, scientists from Germany’s Bonn University Hospital have found that it also appears to do wonders for acute depression. Read More
You probably don’t give a lot of thought to squid beaks, but they actually possess a pretty interesting quality. While the end of the beak is hard and sharp, the beak material gradually becomes softer as it nears the mouth. This means that there’s no abrupt boundary between the hard beak and the soft mouth, which could result in discomfort or injuries. Inspired by the squid, scientists at Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University have now developed a material with the same qualities, that could be used to create more comfortable, less harmful medical implants. Read More
Blood tests usually involve drawing some blood out of the body. Now scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed an implant that allows blood to be analyzed from within the body, with results then transmitted wirelessly to a computer. While still at the experimental stage, the device could make it easier for health care providers to monitor the chronically ill and provide more personalized treatment to cancer patients. Read More
It took some time, but the age of the cyborg is upon us. For the first time, neuromuscular electrodes that enable a prosthetic arm and hand to be controlled by thought have been permanently implanted into the nerves and muscles of an amputee. The operation was carried out recently by a surgical team led by Dr Rickard Brånemark at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden. Read More
When a child is born with the congenital deformity known as microtia, they have an underdeveloped external ear – also known as the pinna. Even though their inner ear may be normal, the lack of the external structure can affect their hearing, plus it looks unusual. Normally, a replacement pinna is made from a foam-like material (or sometimes even cartilage from the rib cage) and implanted under the skin, although these don’t always look particularly natural. Now, scientists from Cornell University have developed a more realistic pinna grown from biological material, using a 3D printer. Read More
Over the past several years, a number of research institutes have been exploring the use of implants made from material with a scaffolding-like structure, as a means of regrowing bone at severe injury sites. Both MIT and Tufts University, for instance, have been working on collagen-based materials. Now, England’s University of Southampton has announced the development of a new type of bone-growing substance, made from plastic. Read More