(AFP) – swallowed as a capsule, microchip attached to the eye or exoskeletons miniature camera: robotics and cutting-edge technologies are hard at work in the human body to diagnose, repair or heal.
is an overview of some of these futuristic techniques, already controlled by medicine but the generalization is often confronted with a problem of cost:
We remember the American film of the 60s, “Fantastic Voyage” where a miniaturized submarine traveling through a human body.
In the same vein, “video-capsule” is a camera the size and shape of a pill. She swallowed with a glass of water. The aim is to explore the digestive tract.
This capsule takes more than 50,000 photographs during his inner journey to expulsion by natural means.
Advantage: unlike endoscopy, it does not require anesthesia. Hundreds of patients have already used in France.
“The capsule works well,” says gastroenterologist Jean-Christophe Saurin (Hôpital Edouard Herriot, Lyon). Disadvantage: it costs about 600 euros each
Electrodes to see
Against retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that causes blindness to 40 years, a high-tech solution, “bionic eye” is needed in the West.
The idea is to artificially stimulate the eye with electrodes placed on the deficient retina to recreate the vision. More than 100 patients in the United States and Europe have already received these “artificial retinas.”
“There is ten years, it seemed this is science fiction. Today it is a reality,” said ophthalmologist Gérard Dupeyron (CHU de Nîmes). It takes 100,000 euros for a “bionic eye”.
exoskeletons for walking
Several teams of engineers develop robotic legs “exoskeletons” type (external skeletons) to enable the paralyzed to walk.
international project “Walk again” Brazilian researcher Miguel Nicolelis shined during the coup d’sending fictitious World given by a young paralyzed with a bulky exoskeleton controlled by brain activity.
United States, is the first ReWalk exoskeleton for personal use authorized by the federal agency FDA. Manufactured by an Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies, it is not run by thought but by a command and the user must accompany his walk with crutches.
Its price? $ 70,000 or more than 50,000 euros. “A prohibitive tariff” critical independent website Handicap.fr.
Robots help surgeons
miniature remote-controlled by a surgeon assisted by computers: surgery today rhyme with high technology
Marc Simard, American University of Maryland, created a curious prototype articulated as a worm to go destroy hard to reach tumors in the brain.
other devices are already at work to a so-called “minimally invasive” surgery as capable of operating practicing small incisions using instruments for remote and mini-cameras articulated type endoscopy.
endoscopists “will allow more and more things” with complications “still weak,” said the specialist Geoffroy Vanbiervliet (CHU of Nice). Last achievement: the French surgeons have replaced heart valves without open, fully endoscopic
For many diabetics, bites are just a memory: the insulin pump has revolutionized their habits, simple injection of insulin that mimics the normal functioning of the pancreas system
Worn on a belt, an electronic box with a supply of insulin and injection connected to the body through a tiny tube and needle system, can deliver continuous and flexible way insulin.
France, more than 35,000 diabetics already have access. New advanced: the continuous measurement of glucose with a device coupled to the pump, making it autonomous, all stations. A solution close to the artificial pancreas.
3D printing life
Apply the principle of industrial 3D printers in the world of the living is the Grail pursued several laboratories in the world.
The idea is to stack thin layers of cells to reproduce tissues such as cartilage or liver, or whole organs, then the graft.
United States, the listed Organovo company is specialized in the “design and manufacture of functional human tissues in 3D”, to test new drugs or to be implanted in the body.
France, INSERM laboratory in Bordeaux is also working on the creation of tissues by laser printing technology.