ReactionWare 3D printed medicine

The University of Glasgow has released a Chemistry research paper covering the applicational process of printing pharmaceutical compounds.

Yes thats correct actually printing medication. Using various feedstock of chemicals they see a future where manufacturing your medication from home will be possible. Using standard 3D printing technology it is possible to assemble pre-filled “vessels” in such a way that the required chemical reactions take place to produce the required medication. This will be like having a minature medication manufacturing facility in your home. The possible implications of this could be far reaching.

There would need to be a locked down software etc or certain chemcials restrictions to prevent the misuse of this technology. Prof [Lee Cronin], who came up with the paper’s principal has called this process “reactionware”

Professor [Cronin] found, using this fabrication process, that even the most complicated of vessels could be built relatively quickly in just a few hours.

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Printing organs with a 3D printer

[Jordan Miller], [Christopher Chen], and a whole bunch of other researchers at the department of bioengineering at U Penn have figured out a way to print 3D tissues using a 3D printer. In this case, a RepRap modified to print sugar.

Traditional means of constructing living 3D tissues face a problem – in a living body, there’s a whole bunch of vasculature sending Oxygen and nutrients to the interior cells. In vitro, these nutrients can’t get to the cells in the core of a mass of tissue. [Jordan], [Chris], et al. solved this problem by printing a three-dimensional sugar lattice. After encasing this lattice in a gel embedded with living cells, the sugar can be dissolved and the nutrients pumped through the now hollow capillaries in the gel.

If you have access to Nature, the full text article is available here. There’s also a great video showing off this technique after the break.

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Tearing down a colonoscopy pill camera

Normally, colonoscopies are rather invasive affairs. Swallowing a small pill with a camera is much more amenable to a patient’s dignity and are seeing increasing usage in colon cancer screening. [Mike] acquired a pillcam from a relative who underwent the procedure and did a teardown to figure out how it works.

To get the video signal out of the body, the pillcam has two contacts that conduct the video signal through the body to stick-on contacts; It’s a more power efficient way of doing things versus a radio transmitter. After opening the plastic and metal capsule, [Mike] found three batteries and an impressively small circuit that contained an array of LEDs, a camera, and what might be a small MCU.

Taking a scope to the electronics in the pill, [Mike] found an impressively complex waveform that sends uncompressed image data to the receiver every few seconds. Although the camera was somewhat destroyed in the teardown, we’re pretty confident [Mike] could decode the image data if he had another… ‘sample.’

[Mike] says if you can ‘retrieve’ another one of these pill cameras, he’ll gladly accept any donations and look into the differences between different makes and models. Just make sure you sanitize it first. After the break you can see [Mike]’s teardown and the inevitable poop jokes in the comments. One last thing – if you’re over 50, doctors should be looking at your colon every 5 or 10 years. Get screened.

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Building an artificial heart with ferrofluids

Here’s something we thought we’d never see on Hackaday. [Chris Suprock] is developing an artificial heart he calls Steel Heart. It’s an artificial heart powered by electromagnets and ferrofluids.

The idea behind [Chris]’ artificial heart is ingenious in its simplicity. An elastic membrane is stretched across a frame and a magnetic liquid (or ferrofluid, if you prefer) is poured across the membrane. An electromagnet is activated and the membrane stretches out, simulating the beating of a heart. Put a few of these together and you’ve got a compact, biologically inert pump that’s perfect for replacing an aging ticker.

[Chris]’ plan to use ferrofluids and electromagnets as an artificial heart give us pause to actually think about what he’s done here. Previously, artificial hearts used either pneumatics or motors to pump blood throughout the body. Pneumatic pumps required plastic tubes coming out of the body – not a satisfactory long-term solution. Motor-driven pumps can rupture red blood cells leading to hemolysis. Using ferrofluids and an elastic membrane allows for the best of both worlds – undamaged blood cells and transdermal induction charging.

Not only is [Chris] designing a freaking artificial heart, he also came up with a useful application of ferrofluids. We were nearly ready to write off magnetic particles suspended in a liquid as a cool science toy or artistic inspiration. You can check out [Chris]’ indiegogo video with a demo of the ferrofluid pump in action after the break.

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Build your own CT scanner

[Linas] built himself an x-ray generator for a scholarship contest. We assume this wasn’t enough of a challenge for [Linas] because after the x-ray generator was done, he used his project to model objects in 3D (Google Translate link). It’s an amazing build, leaving us feeling sorry for the guy that came in second place to the home-made CT scanner.

The theory behind a CT scanner is fairly simple – take a series of x-rays of an object around an axis of rotation. From there, it’s a fairly simple matter to digitize the x-ray images to produce a 3D model. The hard part is building the x-ray generator. [Linas] used directional x-ray tubes, a few power supplies and from what we can gather x-ray film instead of a CCD sensor. The film was scanned into a computer and reassembled to get a 3D image.

[Linas] doesn’t seem too keen on giving away the schematics for his build to any old joker on the Internet because of the high voltage and radiation components of his build. Still, it’s an amazing build.

Check out the YouTube demo of [Linas]’s CT scanner imaging an old computer mouse and a reconstruction of the same data done in MATLAB after the break.

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Tiny medical bot

blood-robot-8gwd4

This tiny bot wants to go inside your body. That’s right, it was designed to travel through veins. The little bot has no on board propulsion system. It is controlled by a magnet outside the body. See those little spines? Those straighten out to keep the bot in place when it isn’t supposed to move.  Creepy right? In all the articles we’ve seen on this bot, there aren’t any details about what actually is on board. They mention adding a camera in the near future, but why are they calling it a robot? Surely there’s something cool in that little body. This is a quite practical application of a project we covered recently. Commenters weren’t impressed with the external control system, likening it to the old vibrating football player game. Well, here’s where it could be usefull.

Remote controlled pill-bot


The NanoRobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University has come up with a medical robot that can be swallowed, and is then able to be controlled from outside the body. The device has small arms with adhesives that can attach to slippery internal surfaces, which has previously proven difficult. Once inside the body, it can be used to view damaged areas, deliver drugs, as well as biopsy questionable tissues, and possibly even be used to cauterize bleeding wounds with a small laser. The device could be stopped, and even reversed to get a better look at areas that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. This would be a major advancement in diagnosing intestinal problems, and could lead to potentially life saving treatments. Did we mention that it has lasers?

[via Neatorama]