Photokina 2014 highlights

Implant

Retinal implant with power cable (Image: Retinal Implant AG)

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a degenerative eye disease that affects 200,000 people in the United States and Europe and has left 15 million people permanently blind worldwide. German biotechnology firm Retina Implant AG has developed a microchip that provides a useful degree of artificial vision in patients who have been blind for even long periods. The 3 x 3 mm (0.118 in) chip is implanted below the surface of the retina where it electrically stimulates the optical tissues. After successful clinical trials in Germany, the chip is now being tested in Hong Kong and Britain before moving on to planned trials in the U.S.  Read More

Drawing of a Bio-Retina being inserted into an eye and affixed to the AMD damaged retina b...

At least 25-30 million people worldwide have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in middle-aged and older adults. The Israeli start-up Nano Retina has announced their new Bio-Retina, a tiny array of photodetectors which can be implanted directly on the retinal surface. Ready to enter clinical trials in 2013, the Bio-Retina restores vision to AMD sufferers almost immediately following the simple implantation process.  Read More

Wake Forest's muscle-implant-stretching machine

We all know that you need to exercise if you want to develop your muscles. As it turns out, however, exercise also makes lab-grown muscle implants more effective when introduced to the body. Scientists from North Carolina’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have discovered that after being gently expanded and contracted, implants placed in lab animals were better able to stimulate new muscle growth than implants that were left “unexercised.”  Read More

This silicon wafer consists of glucose fuel cells of varying sizes; the largest is 64 by 6...

A new implantable fuel cell that harvests the electrical power from the brain promises to usher in a new generation of bionic implants. Designed by MIT researchers, it uses glucose within the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain to generate several hundred microwatts of power without causing any detrimental effects to the body. The technology may one day provide a whole new level of reliability and self-efficiency for all sorts of implantable brain-machine interfaces that would otherwise have to rely on external power sources. If proven harmless, the method could be used to power implants that could, among other things, help the paralyzed regain the ability to walk.  Read More

A paralyzed woman has used the experimental BrainGate neural interface system to get herse...

Last April, for the first time since she became paralyzed 15 years ago, a 58 year-old woman was able to get herself a drink of coffee – she did so via a robotic arm, which was controlled by her thoughts. Although that rather astounding feat took place over a year ago, it was just made public today, in a report published in the journal Nature. The woman was a volunteer test subject, in a clinical trial of the experimental BrainGate neural interface system. Although still very much in development, the system could someday restore mobility to people who have suffered paralysis or limb loss.  Read More

Fraunhofer's experimental new artificial hip (right)

While modern artificial hips are made of a number of high-tech materials, metal is still often the material of choice for younger, more active patients. This is due mainly to the fact that it’s so robust. Unfortunately, however, difficulties can arise in the metal ball-and-socket interface – where the artificial head of the femur meets the artificial socket of the pelvis – if things aren't perfectly aligned. In particular, the metal surfaces can wear against one another, decreasing the longevity of the implant and potentially causing health problems in the patient. Now, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation are developing a new type of heavy-duty artificial hip, that contains no metal at all.  Read More

The prototype middle-ear microphone attached to a cadaver’s umbo (Photo: Case Western Rese...

U.S researchers are developing a tiny middle ear "microphone" that could remove the need for any external components on cochlear implants. Led by University of Utah engineer Darrin J. Young, the research team has produced and tested a prototype of the device which uses an accelerometer attached to the tiny bones of the middle ear to detect sound vibration.  Read More

Hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, seen within the MIT-designed film coating

Probably the simplest way to describe an artificial hip would be to say that it’s a ball attached to a stem. The stem is often fastened to the open end of the femur using a glass-like polymer known as bone cement, while the ball takes the place of the original hip bone’s ball joint, rotating within a corresponding implant in the socket of the pelvis. Although problems can occur at that ball-and-socket interface, they can also result when the bone cement cracks, causing the stem to detach from the femur. Scientists at MIT, however, have developed a new type of nanoscale film coating, designed to keep that from happening.  Read More

The curved spine of a child with scoliosis

Scoliosis is a lateral deformity of the spine, that most often shows up in young children and adolescents. Besides resulting in disfigurement, in some cases it can also cause breathing problems. In severe cases, if the child is still growing, telescoping steel rods are surgically implanted alongside the deformed section of the spine, in order to straighten it. Unfortunately, repeat surgeries are necessary every six months, in order to lengthen the rods as the child grows. Now, however, scientists from the University of Hong Kong are reporting success in the first human trials of a system that incorporates rods which can be lengthened using magnets instead of surgery.  Read More

Researchers have developed a neuroprosthesis that restores hand movement in paralyzed monk...

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a neuroprosthesis that restores complex movement in the paralyzed hands of monkeys. By implanting a multi-electrode array directly into the brain of the monkeys, they were able to detect the signals that generate arm and hand movements. These signals were deciphered by a computer and relayed to a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device, bypassing the spinal cord to deliver an electrical current to the paralyzed muscles. With a lag time of just 40 milliseconds, the system enabled voluntary and complex movement of a paralyzed hand.  Read More

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