By all layman’s logic, biologics should work. The process, which still has FDA hurdles to clear in the U.S., involves taking the body’s natural resources, altering certain properties, and then injecting them back into the body at specific points of ailment. This usually involves either concentrated bone marrow infusions or having blood drawn, heated and spun in a centrifuge to extract magnified levels of its life-giving forces, and finally re-injecting it. In the case of Kobe Bryant – the procedure’s highest-profile patient – it gave the Lakers guard the spring in his step that had been missing for half a decade.
Dr. Peter Wehling, a spinal surgeon based in Düsseldorf, has patented a form of biologics called Regenokine, and after Bryant’s success, athletes have flocked to Germany to receive the five-day treatment. Part of the appeal is the lack of recovery time associated with invasive surgeries; another benefit is avoiding synthetic chemical injections like Cortisone. Proponents say the feel-good package can employ and improve the body’s existing functions so that patients like Bryant can jump like a 24-year-old at the advanced NBA age of 34. As with all medical procedures, there are skeptics about biologics, and rightfully so. Only time will tell how these methods of refining and re-injecting the body’s resources will ultimately affect patients.
MALE BIRTH CONTROL
While researching a possible cancer drug, scientists may have stumbled upon a way to ease one of society’s great ills: a male birth control pill. In tests by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Baylor College of Medicine, mice “forgot” how to produce sperm while on a hormone-free drug and were able to father normal offspring after it was removed from their system, according to an NBC News article in August. For years, researchers have been able to stop a man’s production of sperm but unable to kickstart it again, hence the lack of equal opportunity child prevention. However, it only seems inevitable that “Baby, don’t worry, I’m on the pill” will soon be uttered by both sexes.
Thirteen years ago, Chris Rock joked, “Stevie Wonder wrote Songs in the Key of Life; can’t we just get him a little peek?!” That current impossibility is getting closer and closer to being a reality, especially after a woman in Australia – who had been blind for more than 20 years – got herself a peek this summer with the help of a bionic eye. Researchers at the Bionics Institute in East Melbourne have successfully experimented with the insertion of electrodes into the retinas of visually impaired patients in a groundbreaking study that could literally change the way we see the world.
It’s often said – usually with an aggressive eye-roll – that testosterone drives everything men do. While the cliché is mostly about the hormone’s control over a man’s sex drive, testosterone is a vital component in men’s health, affecting everything from bone density to red blood cell production to, yes, sperm production. It is testosterone’s direct effect on so much of the human body – women have testosterone too – that has science exploring options for perfecting the baseline.
Could testosterone therapies increase energy levels? Sharpen memory? Stimulate muscle mass? Just see the hat size of baseball players in the late 1990s for the answer to that third question.
Even more exciting are the prospects for a potential therapy to reverse the effects of aging. And wouldn’t slam-dunking grandfathers be the epitome of bionic men?
In 2011, the Los Angeles-based company Equipois announced production of the X-Ar, a mechanical arm created to help filmmakers capture steadier shots in an increasingly handheld digital medium. According to Equipois, the X-Ar allows camera operators to “reduce injuries, increase productivity, and decrease costs in the workplace.” In addition, the base technology offers an array of possibilities for numerous professions, from surgeons to tattoo artists.
The American military has experimented with exoskeletal devices since the 1960s, and many of the advances are already field-activated. Also known as powered armor or exoframes, they can help soldiers carry their increasingly heavy equipment across the often inhospitable environments soldiers face in places like the Middle East. This technology has also carried over to wounded soldiers returning home, aiding the limb movement that so many of us take for granted.
Then there’s the inverse: could these powers be harnessed to create a human capable of leaping 20 feet high and running at 40 mph? Perhaps Tony Stark’s super-suit isn’t so far off.
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Thursday, 21 February 2013