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Regenerative medicine using biotherapy and bioprinting is providing much hope for previously irreversible conditions such as burns, muscle damage, and cancer. Cells and cellular environments are extremely difficult to reproduce once they are damaged, and much of regenerative medicine focuses on how to repair what our bodies originally made so easily.  3D cell production, versus 2D cell production, mimics the organic environment of our bodies to produce cells. In biotherapy, living organisms are used as the starter in this process.

The complexity in the specificity of our cells is part of why it is so difficult to reverse cell damage. Thus, stem cells are valuable biological material due to their ability to differentiate into any type of cell based on their environment and genetic factors. A stem cell starts out as a blank slate, and by receiving environmental and genetic signals, can become virtually anything in the human body, from a kidney to a blood cell to a muscle in the leg.

Placental stem cells are organically derived and the natural byproduct during a birth. Instead of being discarded, they can provide a very important product for placental cell therapy, which helps direct cells toward regeneration and promotes healing. In biotherapy, these placental stem cells can be very valuable for the cell production process.

Pluristem, a company quickly gaining international presence, produces 3D cultured placental stem cell therapies for various conditions. The company uses a 3D platform to produce their line of PLX products, mimicking the environment of the human body for cell production. This cell therapy is developed to provide cell therapy which is easy to use and does not require genetic or tissue matching. Once the therapy is administered, it promotes the body to heal itself in the target area.

Pluristem products provided regenerative therapy for a variety previously potentially irreversible conditions. Among these is acute radiation syndrome (ARS), which involves irreversible damage to organs and bone marrrow from radiation exposure. Pluristem also aims to provide therapy for vascular conditions such as critical limb ischemia, intermittent claudication, and pulmonary arterial hypertension, all which are dangerous and can lead to decreased life span or surgery.

Pluristem is currently in its clinical trial phase, with collaborations with several universities and industry partners, including the NIH.

Image result for pluristem

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Surgery has come a long way with many facilities now using robotics to either assist or replace human tasks. Delicate procedures that require a lot of precision, repetition, and endurance can benefit from the use of such technology. A few years ago, CardioARM was developed for minimally invasive heart surgery. This device resembles a snake, which can travel to the target areas through insertion beneath the sternum and perform ablations of heart tissue that is disturbing heart rhythm. Ablation, meaning the target area of heart is burned away. This procedure replaces the more invasive task of opening the chest cavity and cutting away into your vitals. For anyone who has ever visualized the inside of a body, it is amazing that a device is not only able to navigate but reach a specific area of the heart and perform an ablation on target tissue.

CardioARM features 50 links which are connected by cables and can move in a combination of 105 different movements. The device can move forward and reverse, and is headed with a camera and light guide to allow for visualization. Once the CardioARM enters under the xyphoid process (bottom of the sternum), it is directed toward the specific region of troublesome heart tissue. Once it reaches its target, it delivers a “dot to dot” procedure for the ablation. Each lesion is delivered 30 watts of power for 30 seconds.

In 2011, this device was first successfully tested in human clinical trials. As it takes a long time for such devices to actually enter hospitals, this will hopefully become an option soon for surgeons dealing with life threatening arrhythmias.

As an adult, you are expected to enter situations with a certain composure. Hyperventilating or crying while getting your blood drawn is frowned upon, though many of us naturally have this reaction as someone is prodding our blood vessels, looking to extract the blood our body works so hard to make.

Veebot looks to make this a more efficient, accurate process for predictability and efficiency, which may possible quell the young and not so young when going in for a common blood drawing procedure. According to their website , 20-25% of phlebotomy procedures fail to draw blood on the first stick. That’s 20-25 out of every 100 procedures. Not very efficient.

Veebot’s team has developed a robotic devices with a viewing system that identifies and selects the best insertion site. Using lighting and ultrasound viewing techniques, once selected the machine can insert the needle. According to sources, the process takes about a minute.  A technician must still be present to oversee the procedure, so to assuage some fears  it will not just be you and a needle-sticking robot alone in a room together.

RP-7i Remote Presence Robot

As a physical therapist, being required to be physically present for your career can be both a burden and a relief. I can breathe a little easier (for now) knowing that my job probably won’t be outsourced any time soon, as it requires physical touch and presence. I also look forward to the day, however, when I am feeling under the weather, or when life’s circumstances keep me from going into work that I can still, at least partially, do my job from home.

Interestingly enough, there are now telepresence robots which allow doctors to advise patients by telecommuting. While this may be in the further future for PT’s,  There are 5 different models listed on the InTouch Health website.

These products are described as remote presence devices, they allow clinicians to interact with patients in real time. In life threatening situations, these can be vital in saving time so that a physician in a hospital can consult patients or support staff to guide treatment without wasting wait time. In less immediate situations, they can just add convenience to healthcare without patients losing work time with travel. Many people simply let medical conditions fester to the point of immediate concern because of the time and effort it takes to get to a medical appointment, and we could potentially save so much in healthcare costs by allowing people the gift of time and convenience to address medical concerns before they require increased tests and procedures.

I hope that as a PT I can soon provide consults to patients requiring less manual treatment and more instruction and guidance without the inconvenience and costs required to physically attend a medical appointment.

photo above: http://www.intouchhealth.com/images/rp-7i-big.png