Are the famous lines "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him – we have the technology" from The Six Million Dollar Man
coming true? Perhaps not entirely, but a new Channel 4 documentary entitled How to Build a Bionic Man
will demonstrate the current state of the art in artificial limbs, organs, and even blood, through the construction of a 6-foot tall android. The documentary is set to air on British televisions come February 7, but you can learn about what went into it after the break.
There may soon be help for people who have been rendered functionally deaf by problems of the middle ear. Researchers from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have developed an implant that bypasses the defective middle ear, transmitting sounds to the inner ear by sending vibrations right through the skull bone.
There's good news and bad news in the fight against morbid obesity. The good news is that there is a new approach to surgical weight-loss which is far less invasive than conventional operations. The bad news is how it works.
Earlier this year, a 58 year-old woman who had lost the use of her limbs was successfully able to drink a cup of coffee by herself using a robotic arm controlled by her thoughts
via a brain computer interface (BCI). Now, in a separate study, another woman with longstanding quadriplegia has been able to feed herself a chocolate bar using a mind-controlled, human-like robot arm offering what researchers claim is a level of agility and control approaching that of a human limb
The process of deep brain stimulation
involves using a pacemaker-like implanted device to apply controlled mild electrical pulses to specific areas of the brain. In recent studies, it has been used – with some success – to treat conditions such as Parkinson's disease, major depression and Tourette syndrome. Now, in the ADvance Study, researchers at several research centers are exploring its use in restoring memory function to people with Alzheimer’s disease.
A team of researchers from MIT and Harvard Medical School have devised a cheap way of artificially growing three-dimensional brain tissues in the lab. Built layer by layer, the tissues can take on just about any shape and closely mimic the cellular composition of the tissue found in the living brain. The advance could allow scientists to get a closer look at how neurons form connections, predict how cells of individual patients will respond to different drugs, and even lead to the creation of bioengineered implants to replace damaged brain tissue.
Researchers based at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have developed the world’s first thought-controlled, fully implantable robotic arm, which uses an amputee's own nerves and remaining muscles to afford a much more intuitive level of control than previously possible. Initial operations on patients are scheduled to take place during the Northern Hemisphere’s upcoming winter.
Using implants made from porous biocompatible materials, scientists have recently been successful in regrowing things such as teeth
and heart tissue
, plus bone and cartilage
. The materials act as a sort of nanoscale three-dimensional scaffolding, to which lab-cultivated cells can be added, or that the recipient’s own cells can colonize. Now, a Spanish research team has used the same principle to grow new brain tissue – the technique could ultimately be used to treat victims of brain injuries or strokes.
Second Sight’s Argus II Retinal Prosthesis
is definitely an interesting piece of technology, allowing a blind user to “see” objects, colors and movement in their environment. Ordinarily, this is done with the help of a video-camera-equipped pair of glasses worn by the user. In a recent experiment, however, researchers bypassed the camera, transmitting visual braille patterns directly to a blind test subject’s retina.
Generally speaking, injured cartilage doesn’t heal well ... if at all. In recent years, however, scientists have successfully regrown cartilage at injury sites, using things like hydrogel
and collagen-based nano-scaffolding
. Now, a team of scientists led by Prof. James Yu of North Carolina's Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed something else – a 3D printer that creates implantable cartilage.