In the age of the digital technology, we can not imagine our life without gadgets and other digital devices. The field of medicine has also not escaped this development. This article is devoted, in my opinion, to the most unusual solutions in medicine, which we could only see in a fantastic movie 10-15 years ago.
In 2012, Google Inc. filed a number of applications and afterwards it obtained the patents for a digital contact lens (for example, the US patent US8960899B2). The Google-lens will provide its owner with the information about the presence of allergens in the atmosphere, hazardous substances or other particles that can have a destructive impact on his health. This development includes a built-in scanner that will be able to collect the data and it will possibly be able to bring the person to the multi-channel visual perception of the world. It is difficult to overestimate the possibility of smart lenses for a person. Despite the fact that such device will be used by many people, in the first instance, as an entertainment, however, its main purpose is to provide a help to the user, including a medical help. The possibilities of the lenses as a medical tracker are almost unlimited – using the microscopic sensors, these devices will be able to collect the most complete picture of the state of health of their carrier. One of the peculiarities of the patented device is its communication with a smartphone to transmit the data about the body biometrics and to take into account the level of alcohol in the blood. Also, the important advantage of the smart lens is the ability to scan quickly a surrounding space, what can provide the additional information for the people with the impaired vision or hearing.
In addition, the modern medicine does not stand still in the field of transplantation as well. One of the progressive trends is printing organs on a 3D printer. The companies all over the world compete to defend their exclusive rights to this technology. A number of urgent problems confront the healthcare industry. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) registered 105305 patients, who are in need of the organ transplantation as of December 2009. Every year, rather more patients are added to the UNOS list than the number of the transplantation operations being conducted, what results in an overall increase in the number of the patients waiting for transplantation. In 2010, Organovo Inc. filed an application for the devices, systems and methods for manufacturing fabric (the US application US 61/405,582) and afterwards extended its validity in many countries of the world. This technology allows printing liver tissues. Many other companies are also involved in printing viable human organs. For example, Princeton University has patented a 3D (the US patent US 9517128 B2) printer capable of printing a cartilaginous tissue such as auricular cartilage, etc.
Also, an important breakthrough in medicine, and especially in surgery, is the Da Vinci robot. This technology is protected by a number of patents. One of these patents is issued in Russia (the RF patent RU 2412800 С2) for a robotic surgical system to perform minimal invasive interventions. The main control of this system will be entrusted on a real surgeon, but many steps of performing will be corrected by the computer itself. The undoubted achievement is that the robot-surgeon allows performing those microsurgical manipulations, in which the accuracy is important up to a nanometer, and, at the same time, its hand will never tremble with excitement or fatigue, what eliminates completely the human factor during an operation.
And finally, in my opinion, one of the main patented solutions that I would like to pay special attention to is a nerve-transplantat. The US patent US9370607B2 for this solution belongs to the Chinese company TSINGHUA UNIVERSITY. The nerve-transplantat is a freely constructing carbon structure from the combined nanotubes attracting to each other by the van der Waals attracting force, a hydrophilic layer and a nervous system, which has polarity facing the polar surface of the hydrophilic layer, wherein the polar surface material contains polyetherimide, wherein the hydrophilic layer is located between the structure, the carbon nanotubes and the nervous system, wherein the nervous system contains a lot of neurons connected with each other.
The communications and impulses that arise in such new structures are in no way inferior in the speed of transferring to the natural ones, and they are often even superior to them. This invention will make it possible for a huge number of the patients, who have suffered stroke, to avoid paralysis, to solve the problem of many neurological diseases. It is also planned to use this approach to ensure a successful treatment of ICP (infantile cerebral paralysis), what will save millions of people in the world from disability.
The above examples are a very small part of what is being currently patented in the medical field. Despite the fact that the patent is essentially a “tool” of business, but not of science, it nevertheless influences significantly on the development of science. It is just the availability of the patent that allows attracting the investors, who are willing to invest in the development of science.
With the modern rates of the development of science and technology, it may be assumed that, in the nearest future, the mankind will come to a conclusion that the majority of the organs can be grown and transplanted to a person in need. Also, it will be possible to make the life easier to the people, who are born with developmental disorders or who have suffered in an accident.