Where medical care used to be cure-based, it is now shifting towards prevention-based, with a focus on the patient’s well-being. Technology companies, too, are trying their hand at coming up with novel and innovative answers to some of the longstanding problems in healthcare.

Here are four more examples of how quickly medical technology is changing.

1. Curing cancer by reprogramming diseased cells

Tech giant Microsoft has vowed to “solve the problem of cancer” by applying its expertise in computer science to the medical field, as what is “going on in cancer is a computational problem,” according to Chris Bishop, laboratory director at Microsoft Research.

Already, software mimicking the behaviour of healthy cells has been developed to be compared with that of diseased cells. This would allow researchers to determine the source of the disease and find therapeutic solutions.

Currently, molecular computers made from DNA are being developed. The researchers envision them living inside cells and capable of identifying signs of cancer, where it will reboot the system and eradicate the diseased cells.

“It’s long term, but… I think it will be technically possible in five to 10 years’ time to put in a smart molecular system that can detect disease,” said Andrew Philips, head of the group.

Dr. Jasmin Fisher, senior researcher and associate professor at Cambridge University, believes that such computer models are the key towards “control[ling] and regulate[ing] cancer… like any chronic disease”.

2. Cracking the complex genetic code

With newfound knowledge on the workings of genes, new modes of treatment for previously incurable genetic diseases are now accessible.

Deeper understanding on the function of genes “could reduce the time and the cost it takes for them[scientists] to develop a drug,” as Maria Luisa Pineda, chief executive of Envisagenics puts it. “It cuts ... the failure risk to actually make or develop drugs.”

However, genetic material can generate vast amounts of data. “DNA and RNA sequencing has revolutionised medical research – these data could be the key to unlocking cures for countless diseases — but the technology has quickly created an abundance of data that is difficult to analyse,” said Maria Luisa Pineda, CEO of Envisagenics.

By identifying gene errors from alternative splicing, Envisagenics’ software, the SpliceCore, aims to help analyse and interpret genetic information more easily while cutting down the amount of data generated.

“Our platform will enable efficient analysis of complex data for the discovery of new drug targets,” added Pineda.

3. Safe wound-healing without antibiotics

As part of the ongoing efforts towards finding antibiotic alternatives, Gel4Med, a regenerative medicine company, is developing “smart” biomaterials which promote safe, infection-free tissue healing.

The first product that has been developed, G4Derm, is a flowable tissue-scaffolding hydrogel matrix. It exhibits broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties and guide tissue regeneration, without the use of antibiotics or biologics.

“Methods for preventing and treating wound infections are becoming less effective due to a rapid increase in multidrug-resistant organisms, or MDROs,” said Manav Mehta, the CEO of Gel4Med.

“Our solution, G4Derm, will one day treat patients suffering from wounds ranging from diabetic foot ulcers to battle-field injuries, by preventing infection and promoting tissue regeneration without the concerns of creating further antibiotic resistance—all while being administered quickly and easily by any healthcare professional.”

4. The next-generation infusion pump

Medication errors are fatal, but very preventable causes of death in medical settings. According to Ivenix, infusion-related errors are associated with 56% of such errors, due to reasons such as complicated user interfaces, which lead to inaccuracies in programming, especially when healthcare givers are distracted.

“The Ivenix Infusion Management System is designed to address all the major pain points that exist with older systems,” said Jesse Ambrosina, co-CTO and VP of Infusion Systems at Ivenix, in a statement.

According to Ambrosina, the device “not only fully adheres to the current FDA guidelines, but is also cost-effective.”

The pump delivery system delivers drugs at a steady and consistent rate, and does not require adjustment for proper bag height or pump delivery setting. It includes a guided interface which offers alerts for potential complications; as well as an IT system that can update a patient’s electronic medical record with device data.

These are “designed to prevent the errors inherent in currently-available systems, and enable clinicians to spend more time on what really matters - patient care," states George Gray, co-CTO and VP of Information and Software Systems at Ivenix. MIMS

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