Tattoos to 3D printing!

http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2015/sep/04/tattoos-to-3d-printing-five-inventions-that-will-revolutionise-healthcare

contact lens

Tattoos to 3D printing: five inventions that will revolutionise healthcare

Most people know they are sick or their health is at risk because of symptoms – pain, temperature, swelling, rash etc. These are the alarm bells that drive people to doctors. However, new epidemics like obesity and type 2 diabetes can start causing damage a long time before symptoms appear, and no alarms go off.

Today we can meet these challenges with new allies. Beyond the health and fitness uses, the new world of wearables (external surface sensors) and, in time, digestibles (nanoparticle sensors that can transmit information from within), offer the opportunity to restore control back to us. Advances in biotechnology as well as material science offer us alternatives never before dreamed possible.

Google’s smart contact lens
This contact lens has an embedded sensor that measures the glucose level in your tears every second and transmits that data to a device (ie a smartphone) where it can be displayed or transmitted to a medical professional. It can also change colour if glucose levels fall below or rise above specific levels. The limiting step at the moment is powering the device. Currently it includes a small antenna which is placed between two layers of glass along with the sensor but this has to be close to a power source.

Medical tattoos
Butterfly biostamps the size of a thumbnail measure sun exposure, and a medical stamp can measure motion, temperature, heart rate and perspiration, or oxygen saturation.

There’s a new version that can be placed directly on brain tissue to monitor epileptic seizures and one that can be draped around the heart helping better detect arrhythmias and give finer control to pacemakers. The latter would use the heart’s motion to convert the energy of muscular contraction into electrical energy.

The 2025 vision is that every baby in the developing world will be tagged with several biostamps at birth. One on the wrist or ankle would replace the hospital bracelet and allow nurses to monitor the baby’s heart rate, temperature respiratory rate and oxygenation.

At UC San Diego, they have created a different type of tattoo which currently lasts on the skin for about 24 hours, applying a very mild electrical current to the skin surface for 10 minutes forcing sodium ions to migrate towards the printed electrodes. A built-in sensor then interprets the strength of the charge generated to determine a person’s overall glucose levels. Two further refinements are needed to make this ready; at present it is not connected to a numeric read out, and they are working to extend the life beyond 24 hours.

Biological 3D printing
A team at Princeton printed a bionic ear and a team at Cambridge has printed retinal cells to form complex eye tissue. But Jennifer Lewis, a biological engineering professor at Harvard, has solved the dilemma of how to print tissues with full blood supply (essential if you are going to create functional replacement organs) and has taken her team closer to being able to print a full kidney (currently the most widely transported organ). Making complete organs requires even more complex structures but with new innovations we can look to a future where damaged or worn out organs, from kidneys to hearts, could be printed to precise design specifications.

Optogenetics
Various forms of direct stimulation to the brain (implanted electrodes, vagal nerve stimulation etc) have been used in a variety of situations including depression. Now there is the possibility to use encoded genetic proteins that change in the presence of light to stimulate areas of the brain non-invasively for a particular purpose. While initial approaches used methods to genetically alter cells that could result in cell destruction limiting their practical value, the University of Chicago has recently developed an alternative which uses tiny gold nanoparticles that allow the modification of cells using low-level infrared lights and which remain intact and effective within cells over the long term without hurting or damaging nearby cells. While still in its infancy, in the next 10 years we will see new approaches and even more refined procedures of central nervous stimulation used to do everything from enhance learning to treat depression.

Real-time physiological monitoring
A low-cost device with multiple sensors that could monitor heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, respiratory rate, fluid state, and glucose could provide a comprehensive output on the body’s dynamic health. While still in phased development, the first versions of such devices exist in the US and Switzerland. Couple their sensor capabilities with analytic data fusion software and you have real-time dynamic physiological data. No longer do I need to do an artificial stress test to see how your heart behaves under strain or what is most likely to push you into diabetic crisis. Now I can see that your heart’s function was pushed to extremes at 2pm on Thursday and 5pm on Friday. With a report of your body’s reaction to exercise, increased stress at work, overeating, episodic illness, lack of sleep, you can not only assess your vulnerability but understand what patterns in your life will most likely tip you over the edge. When I get up in the morning currently I know more about the state of my car than I do about my own health. With these technologies finally that is about to change.

theguardian.com

by David Whitehouse, Chief medical officer, UST Global | Friday 4 September 2015

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A brief history of 3D printing

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/the-evolution-of-3d-printing

A 3D printer used by a clinic in France to create skull and facial implants.

A brief history of 3D printing

On that evening, more than three decades ago, when he invented 3D printing, Chuck Hull called his wife.

She was already in her pyjamas, but he insisted that she drive to his lab to see the small, black plastic cup that he had just produced after 45 minutes of printing.

It was March 19, 1983. Hull was then an engineer working at a U.S. firm that coated furniture with a hard plastic veneer. As part of his work, he used photopolymers — acrylic-based liquids — that would solidify under ultraviolet light. Hull thought the same sort of process might be used to build a three-dimensional object from many thin layers of acrylic, hardened one after another, with targeted UV light from a laser beam.

Hull pursued his research on nights and weekends until finally sharing his eureka moment with his wife, Anntionette.

“I did it,” he told her simply.

Chuck Hull, inventor of the 3D printer

Hull took out a series of patents on his invention and went on to co-found a company, 3D Systems, that remains a leader in the field. Last year, the 75-year-old was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Hull’s invention launched a wave of innovation. Design engineers embraced 3D printers as the answer to their prayers: Instead of waiting weeks or months to have new parts produced, they could design them on computers and print prototypes the same day.

3D printers have since evolved and can now use all kinds of materials, including metals, ceramics, sugar, rubbers, plastics, chemicals, wax and living cells. It means designers can progress rapidly from concept to final product.

Advances in the printers’ speed, accuracy and versatility have made them attractive to researchers, profit-making firms and even do-it-yourselfers.

The cost of the machines has also dropped dramatically, which means it’s easy for home inventors to enter the field. Home Depot sells a desktop version for $1,699 while Amazon.com markets the DaVinci Junior 3D printer for $339.

The machines have been used to print shoes, jewellery, pizza, cakes, car parts, invisible braces, firearms, architectural models and fetal baby models (based on ultrasound images).

The wave of innovation triggered by the 3D printer is only now beginning to crest in the field of medicine. Researchers are racing to engineer implantable livers, kidneys and other body parts with the help of 3D printers.

In Canada, scientists are using 3D bioprinters as they work toward creating new limb joints made from a patient’s own tissue, and implantable skin for burn victims.

ottawacitizen.com

by Andrew Duffy | August 28, 2015 2:00 PM EDT

First drug made by a 3D printer

http://qz.com/471030/the-fda-has-approved-the-first-drug-made-by-a-3d-printer/

The FDA has approved the first drug made by a 3D printer

3D printing, a technology still in search of a market, may have just found a home in the world of medicine. The US Food and Drug Administration approved an epilepsy medicine called Spritam that is made by 3D printers, making it the first 3D-printed product that the FDA has approved for use inside the human body.

Aprecia, the pharmaceutical company behind Spritam, says that its new type of tablet is made by 3D-printing layers of the powdered drug, binding the layers of powder together, and then blowing away the excess powder. The drug’s unique structure allows it to dissolve considerably faster than the average pill, which as the news site 3DPrint points out is a boon to seizure sufferers who often are prescribed large, hard-to-swallow pills. Aprecia also says 3D printing will allow doctors to know that the medicine they’re prescribing delivers the exact dose intended, as each pill will be completely uniform.

This could prove to be an important step for integrating 3D printing more deeply into the US health system. Doctors in the US already use a government-sponsored 3D-printing repository to share tool designs to aid in surgeries and treatments; now scientists are working on 3D-printed tracheas and bones, as well as ears, kidneys and skin—which could one day help cover the massive shortage in donor organs.

While the quick-dissolving Spritam tablet is a world away from 3D-printed organs and body parts, its approval shows that the FDA thinks certain 3D-printed materials are safe for human consumption.

Rather like 3D printing itself, this drug could be the base layer the technology slowly builds upon, perhaps generating future medical innovations.

qz.com

by Mike Murphy | August 03, 2015

3D printed kidneys

Thanks to innovative ink from Harvard’s Lewis Lab.

A 3D-printed battery the size of a grain of sand made its debut earlier this year, with the help of Harvard Professor Jennifer Lewis, a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute. To achieve the feat, Lewis and her team had to create specialized, “disappearing” inks — inks so unique they’re making more than microbatteries; they’re close to creating fully-functioning printed kidneys.

Jennifer Lewis spoke at the MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference Tuesday about microscale 3D printing. Harvard’s Lewis Lab is focused on the directed and self-assembly of soft functional materials, and has made progress in creating human tissues that include rudimentary blood vessels, all with a 3D printer.

The 3D printer builds the tissue in layers, as well as various types of cells and materials. Lewis’s team has constructed “hollow, tube-like structures within a mesh of printed cells using an ‘ink’ that liquefies as it cools,” according to the MIT Technology Review. Once liquefied, the ink can be removed with a light vacuum, leaving behind an empty channel to then be infused with the cells that normally line the body’s blood vessels.

At EmTech, Lewis said “her group is using the same approach to making the tubes inside kidneys that help filter blood.” The team is starting with kidneys, “because they account for 80 percent of the need for organ transplants.”

A lot of work still needs to be done until patients start receiving 3D-printed organs. On stage Tuesday, Lewis said there are still challenges in sustaining cells and keeping them viable as researchers are printing.

“We’ll probably never be able to print the capillaries, which are on the order of 10 microns,” Lewis added. “Our thinking about this is to use top-down printing to create some overarching structure, and then let biology do the rest.”

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by  | 09/25/14 2:11pm