The Future of Medicine at Wired Magazine’s Nextfest
Hey Sci-fi Health fans,
We visited the health pavilion at Wired Magazine’s Nextfest at the LA Convention Center. Here’s a recap of some exciting things to come in the world of health and green living.
Firstly, this isn’t really on the health tip, it’s more eerily reminiscent of the 1973 Sci-fi classic, Westworld. Here is a Chinese gentleman with his robotic twin. They seemed very close.
In a similar vein, The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is now making bodily organs in the laboratory. For the first time, scientists have reconstructed a human bladder from lab-grown tissue, extracting bladder and muscle cells and allowing them to regenerate in collagen scaffolds.
This technology may eventually eliminate the need for ogran donors and make host rejection a moot issue. In addition, since it is made from the host’s own cells, there is no need for immunosuppresant drugs. They also had a heart valve beating away on a scaffold of its own. If you are thinking, “Great, I don’t need to change my lifestyle, I’ll just have some new organs built for me in the lab”, not so fast. These are probably another couple of decades from being ordered online.
Another interesting and potentially lifesaving innovation is called Lifestraw.
This device, which looks like a big blue straw, removes 99.999% of bacteria, and 99.99% of viruses with no electrical power, batteries or spare parts required. Lifestraw contains a specially developed halogenated resin that kills bacteria and viruses on contact. It apparently is good for a minimum of 700 liters.
Activated carbon absorbs residual iodine thereby improving the taste of water. This would be for the billions worldwide who can’t afford Brita water filters.
While you Americans are probably asking, “So what?” , this is a huge innovation for the developing world. One billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. 5 million people, mostly children, die each year from waterborne diseases like typhoid and dysentery. Diarrhea kills over 3 million people a year.
A truly inspirational story came from an Iraq veteran named Heath Calhoun. In 2003, while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, his convoy was hit by an RPG. This resulted in the amputation of both his legs. Two and 1/2 years later, he found the right combination of therapy and prosthetics to allow him to walk, run, play golf and swim. It was totally amazing.
He was wearing the C-leg system from Otto Bock. The C-leg’s microprocessor crunches data from internal sensors that measure angle and force 50 times per second, then adjusts the limb as the wearer moves to keep motion fluid. Check out his website www.heathcalhoun.com to see him walk, run, swim and flip. A real life bionic man.
Finally, on the Green Health tip came a product called Greenlight.
This is a “…solar powered light system designed to support vegetation that remediates indoor air contaminants”. Translation? These hanging plants are lit by lights powered by solar panels and the plants are chosen for their ability to filter the air of common household toxins. Check out Episode 110 of Green Health Live to Learn about how bad some of these can be.
If that’s any indication of things to come we have lots to look forward to. But, none of this changes the basic facts that we need to be responsible for our behavior regarding our health and well being. That’s all for now. Have to get back to treating patients in the present.
Your Green Health Host.