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medicine

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Resource Fix: Printing synthetic tissues

Researchers at the University of Oxford have developed a method to print material “with the properties of living tissues.” Eventually, the technique could be used not only to replace damaged tissue, but to deliver medicine precisely where it’s needed.

The material itself consists of tiny water droplets, each encased in a lipid film, connected together. These droplets can be programmed to fold into specific shapes. (You can see a video of the droplets here.) It’s not exactly like living tissue, but it’s intended to perform the same functions.

The field of printing continues to expand, from consumer products, to industrial applications, to medicine. Have you seen other applications that open up new areas for using the precision of printing to perform a certain function?

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Resource Fix: A “tattoo” to monitor health

The field of health monitoring is growing all the time, while the monitoring devices themselves are getting smaller. Small heart rate monitors, bracelets, and other networked devices that track exercise, sleep, and movement have become commonplace. Now the ability to collect and track more sophisticated health data using just a thin, stick-on sensor is becoming a reality.

MC10 has developed a diagnostic sensor that bonds to skin to collect information on activity, to track temperature, and to potentially even collect electrocardiogram data. The electronic sensor is waterproof, it stretches, and it’s unobtrusive. It’s also a major advance in integrating electronics in the skin for a variety of health applications.

The first step in improving health monitoring was to make devices more portable. Now they’re becoming even smaller, and in some cases integrated with our bodies. Do you see other industries or technologies with the potential to move from big and standalone, to smaller or even integrated within larger systems?

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Resource Fix: Vaccines without needles

Delivering vaccines involves a host of challenges. Live vaccines must be refrigerated, which requires a lot of resources and is often difficult in remote or less developed locales. Needles pose risks to patients and to healthcare workers, and they create a significant waste stream.

 

Now scientists at King's College in London have developed a dried version of a vaccine and successfully administered it to mice using sugar-based microneedles that dissolve in the skin. This new method for storing and delivering vaccines not only eliminates the need for hypodermic needles, refrigeration, and the associated resource use, but also improves safety because the vaccine itself isn't dependent on temperature to remain potent.

The scientists' solution has the potential to improve human health while reducing resource use. What other innovations have you seen that solve multiple problems?

 

 

 

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