Digest: magic cure, new diagnostic methods, robotic AI surgeons
21 October 2016

A lot of new discoveries in science and medicine happens every week. Here are some incredible science and technology news:

The cure for children spinal muscular atrophy

welltory fatal muscle disease

Francesco Muntoni from London university presented the results of new experimental drug “Nusinersen” tests. Drug was given to children with spinal muscular atrophy. It’s a genetic decease that prevents children from standing, sitting and they rarely live longer that two years. All this happens because patients suffer from neuromuscular communication problems.

Some time after research started, parents of children began to send Francesco videos with positive results. Efficiency of Nusinersen was so obvious and undisputable that it was not ethical to give placebo to kids from control group.

However, there is still a lot of work ahead. The drug injection is subdural – meaning the needle is inserted between the vertebrae in the spinal fluid. Therefore, it has some dangerous side effects, such as headaches, vomiting, dizziness and shock. Finally, Nusinersen doesn’t cure people completely, it has to be injected every several months.

Perfect diagnostic: nano-tubes for viruses and light for internal organs visualization

carbon-nanotube tool welltory

New highly effective method of virus detection was developed in University of Pennsylvania – carbon nano-tubes would be essential for early diagnostic. This method doesn’t require special molecular marks or antibodies that are widely used in other methods.

It allows to identify types of viruses with antibodies that aren’t yet discovered. It’s especially useful for identifying latent forms of strains during outbreaks of dangerous viruses such as Zika, HIV, Ebola or influenza.

New more precise method than X-ray or ultrasonography is developed

MIT welltory

New system of medical visualization was developed in MIT. It’s based on visual specter of electromagnetic emitting.

Scientists state that it’s much safer and also more informative than X-ray or ultrasonography. This method allows to distinguish different body tissues and see bleeding and tiniest structures.

For the demonstration they put letter A inside of the model of human body. Check out how it looks like:

Scientist learned how to knit synthetic muscles


Scientists from Texas University in Dallas and their Australian colleagues developed new technology for synthetic muscles knitting.

This method allows to create new type of synthetic muscles. They’re made of strongly twisted fibers of different materials starting from carbon nano-tubes and finishing with normal nylon and polymer fibers. However, this technology was called synthetic muscles due to its fiber structure. One of future application – orthotics.

Robotic surgery became smarter

Robotics has seriously developed in terms of performance quality of difficult surgeries. Here are some previous week examples.

Russian robot performed surgery on a spinal brain

This is a unique case since robot reconstructed broken spine of a young man that experienced a car accident almost from the scratch. Surgeon and operation scanner helped him on the way. Mistakes can be almost eliminated as neurosurgeons say.

Tactile feedback for robots

One more breakthrough in robotic surgery: tactile feedback system for robotic surgeons. Researchers from Harvard and Deakin universities named the system HeroSurg. It provides surgeons with tactile feelings and prevents them from accidental mistakes during different phases of a surgery.

The recipe for the perfect robot-surgeon is created

New prototype of Robot Surgeon that outperform Da Vince robot that is in use right now is described in the article “The Recipe for the Perfect Robot Surgeon”. Around 80% of prostatectomy surgeries is conducted by Da Vinci robot surgeon – it’s more that 73000 surgeries in a year. But Da Vinci is massive, expensive and stupid.

New robot surgeon has to be smaller, cheaper and more mobile also with AI brain inside. It would allow robots to learn not only from surgeons but also to exchange experience with themselves.

Verb Surgical is currently developing this new technology. Also some daughter companies of Alphabet – Verily and Johnson & Johnson – Ethicon are involved.

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