The world’s first head transplant, wound-healing maggots and medical drones. Science fiction or science fact? We count down three of the latest medical innovations.
1. Head start – the world’s first head transplant
The world’s first head transplant could take place this year. Controversial Italian surgeon Professor Sergio Canavero says the technology now exists to transplant a patient’s head onto a donor body.
The patient was to be Valery Spridonov, a Russian man with the degenerative muscular condition Werdnig-Hoffman’s disease. Currently this is uncertain.
Canavero claims the operation would take 36 hours and involve 150 medical staff. He was among the team of surgeons that earlier this month carried out a successful head transplant on rats.
2. Stuck on you – maggots for wound healing
Doctors stopped using leeches to treat wounds in the medieval era ago, right? Wrong.
Surgeons already use leeches for microsurgery and plastic surgery. Now, scientists at North Carolina State University in the US plan to deploy genetically modified maggots to boost tissue regeneration.
Then the green bottle fly larvae can produce and secrete a molecule that helps promote cell growth and wound healing. As a result, this human growth factor could be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers.
3. Blood not bombs – Zipline drones
California start-up Zipline is using drones to deliver lifesaving blood supplies to remote regions in Rwanda. The fixed-wing drones have completed more than 350 delivery flights over mountains and through tropical rainstorms. As a result, eight million Africans have instant access to vital medicine.
Drones are not just used as weapons or toys. Google’s Project Wing plans to use unmanned aircraft to deliver everything from consumer goods to emergency supplies. Amazon wants to use drones for deliveries and Facebook aims to launch 10,000 of them to deliver data using laser beams.
Want to read more about the latest patient, medical device and pharmaceutical news and medical innovations? Check out the latest editions of Practical Patient Care, Medical Device Developments and World Pharmaceutical Frontiers.