Origami Robots Enter the Surgical Fold

MM_MicrosurgeonPerhaps the most creative way to fold a piece of paper — origami — is now being used to create small, ingestible robotic tools, an MIT News article reports.

Developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Sheffield in England and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the origami robot is swallowed in capsule form, then travels to the stomach where it unfolds itself and can be maneuvered from outside the body using magnetic fields, MIT notes.

This isn’t the first time MIT’s department of electrical engineering and computer science has created an origami robot, but the newest model has a significantly different body design, states the report.

“It’s really exciting to see our small origami robots doing something with potential important applications to health care,” said Daniela Rus, leader of the research group that authored the technology. 

Can Memory Be Regained Through Electric Current?

There are a number of researchers who are studying the use of the electric current in deep-brain stimulation already used to treat Parkinson's disease to treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, an NPR blog reports.

Andres Lozano, M.D., chair of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, is one who has done several studies on the topic. Among them is a randomized trial of 42 patients on which he implanted electrodes in the fornix — “the highway leading into the hippocampus,” he said in the blog. The electric current was turned on in only half right away and the other half a year later, although they didn't know it. Findings showed both the surgery and the deep-brain stimulation to be safe, but results were not as conclusive.

After a year there were no differences in cognition worth mentioning, but because Alzheimer’s works slowly it may take time to see any effect. We’ll have to wait four years until Lozano’s results are made available, says NPR. Hopefully there will be some promise.

App Helps Families ‘Stumble’ Into Autism Abilities

Husband and wife, Cuong Do and Lori Rickles tirelessly searched for a device to help them realize their autistic son’s strengths so they could tailor his future around them — with no success. Instead, they founded Identifor and aided in developing a web and mobile platform that helps those with autism spectrum disorder to discover their hidden talents, according to an Identifor news release.

The free platform was designed with the help of a host of leaders in their respective fields and uses a specially designed algorithm to create highly engaging games to cater to those with autism spectrum disorder. A dashboard then shows each user’s strengths and possible career interests among other data, the release says.

“We’re motivated by the stories of how parents stumble upon their child’s abilities and are then able to pursue schooling or jobs that build on those strengths,”said Cuong Do in the release.

Wipe On Transparent Skin and Wipe Out Wrinkles

MM_SecondSkinWe’ve all seen those plastic surgery nightmares with swollen lips and cheeks, but an invisible polymer “second skin” soon may make those surgeries obsolete, and even have some real medical benefit down the road, a STATnews report finds.

Olivio Laboratories developed the surprisingly simple skin tech. Rub two gels on your skin, and as they dry the gel hardens into an invisible flexible layer on top of your natural skin. It can be used to tighten those wrinkles you’re worried about, but may also be used to deliver medication that could be absorbed by the wearer in the future, according to the report.

The paper detailing the technology was published in Nature. Read for yourself and consider the possibility of kissing those wrinkles goodbye.