Healthcare industry is all set for a revolution in the new decade, the industry is flourishing with the advent of artificial intelligence and breakthrough innovations. However, making patient safety as the central scheme of things, regulatory authorities are also gearing up accordingly. Disruptive technologies are all set to change the face of modern healthcare and a lot is attributed to the upliftment of conservative medical fraternity, over the last decade.
By: Sukrita Saraswat
In this ever-changing healthcare scenario, newer technologies keep touching the market sooner than later. This month, we bring to you the latest of the lot. Technologies and techniques that have the capacity to change the future landscape of our industry.
Here are the latest innovations being talked about in the medical fraternity.
Targeted cancer therapy using Turmeric!
Trust Indians to use our age-old medicinal properties and turn them into something new age.
Thiruvananthapuram’s Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences has obtained a patent for a cancer fighting technology.
Lately, phytochemicals are being extensively used as drug molecules. Turmeric (Curcumin), which has low intrinsic toxicity and several properties like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antitumor, make it a suitable candidate for cancer treatment.
Problem – its application has been limited due to poor solubility and limited bioavailability
Solution/Innovation – The research focuses on a “fibrin-based carrier system (wafer)” for the targeted delivery of curcumin, which increases the bioavailability and sustained release.
Curcumin is immobilised with human fibrin clot, which is then converted into a wafer.
“The fibrin wafer is targeted for implantation into the affected site after surgical removal of cancer tissue for killing any remaining malignant cells that have the potential to cause recurrence of cancer or spread to other parts of the body. In addition to drug delivery, the fibrin wafer can promote blood clotting at the surgical site,” Asha Kishore, Director of Sree Chitra, has quoted in a media interaction.
Advantages – Biocompatible carrier system with increased bioavailability and efficacy of curcumin which targets the malignant cells.
Current scenario – The institute is ready to transfer the technology for clinical trials.
Coronary shockwave lithotripsy used for hard calcified blockage
In a 70 year old patient, recently Dr. Ashok Seth, Chairman, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, along with his team, performed the first ever surgery using coronary shockwave lithotripsy to open a hard calcified blockage, who recently had a heart attack.
Problem – Patients suffering from advanced form of coronary artery disease (CAD) having angina or heart attack in which blockages are very hard due to calcium deposits. Calcium deposition increases case complexity and decreases treatment effectiveness. Patients face an increased risk of adverse events due to calcium deposition. Conventional treatment options Rotablator or ultra-high pressure balloons are difficult to use.
Solution – Shockwave IVL, developed by Shockwave Medical Inc. USA, minimises the trauma to soft tissue by safely selecting and fracturing the intimal and medical calcium. This system creates ultrasonic pressure waves to modify calcium. The sonic waves create a localised field through which the intimal and medical calcium travels within the blood vessel, thereby modifying the same. Post calcium modification, artery can be expanded using low pressure balloon which helps in the placement of stent. Dr. Ashok and his team are the first to adopt this treatment strategy in India. The path breaking therapy is revolutionising the treatment of hard calcium plaques and India is set to adopt the treatment.
Advantages – Effectively modifies calcium, which makes it easy to break. It also reduces the risk of artery rupture.
Current scenario – India is amongst the 10 countries where the therapy is adopted, which may reduce the need of Indian patients to travel abroad to get IVL.
Artificial Intelligence for diagnosis of prostate cancer
Use of artificial intelligence is on a rise in the healthcare industry, according to a study published in the Lancet Oncology. Scientists aim to develop an AI system for prostate cancer detection, localisation and grading.
Problem – Increasing volume of prostate biopsies and shortage of urological pathologists has strained the pathology departments and to eliminate the subjectivity in the assessment, hence, alternate methods of diagnosis are required.
Solution – Developing an AI system, where the data from over 6000 needle core biopsies and their diagnoses was used to train the deep neural network. As a result, the AI network could detect and grade the samples comparable to the experts. “Our results show that it is possible to train an AI-system to detect and grade prostate cancer on the same level as leading experts,” said study researcher Martin Eklund, Associate Professor at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, in a media interaction.
Advantages – Apart from reducing the workload, the AI powered detection and grading can serve as a second opinion. It can provide pathological expertise in different parts of the world which lack standard medical care
Current scenario – The research is promising but it further requires validation before it is adopted in the clinical practice.
Surgical robot gets FDA “breakthrough” status
Vicarious’ surgical robot, a combination of surgical robotics and virtual reality, is the key to minimally invasive surgery.
FDA has recently granted the “breakthrough device” status to the surgical robotic system. The status, which Vicarious says is the first awarded to a surgical robot, covers technology designed to “shrink the surgeon and put them inside the patient”.
Vicarious will enable the surgeon to perform the surgery with a single micro incision with the help of miniaturised robotics.
Problem – Lack of cost-effective robotic surgeries
Innovation/Solution – By combining virtual reality with proprietary human-like surgical robots, complex surgeries can be performed at ease.
Advantage – Minimally invasive surgery performed with robotic precision with improved patient outcomes.
Current scenario – The company is currently testing its miniature robots in laboratories and has now obtained FDA’s breakthrough device classification, which validates the platform. The company has raised almost $30 million by series of funding. The disruptive technology is still in the development phase but with the extra input from FDA, speedy regulatory review and reimbursement can be assured.
Early breast cancer detection possible through AI
NIRAMAI, a healthcare startup, is developing a novel software to detect breast cancer at much earlier stages than traditional methods or self-examination. Geeta Manunath, CEO of the company and her team, have come up with a non-invasive solution for this problem.
Problem – Early diagnosis is very critical for breast cancer survival and current genetic screening tests are expensive, not available to women at large.
Innovation/Solution – The novel software developed by NIRAMAI aims to provide for cost effective cancer diagnosis in rural and semi urban areas. Thermalytix© is a novel fusion of Artificial Intelligence and Thermography for Breast Screening.
The solution uses a high resolution thermal sensing device and a cloud hosted analytics solution for analysing the thermal images. Solution uses big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning for reliable, early and accurate breast cancer screening. The innovative methods used in the solution have led to multiple US patents. The novel algorithms have also been peer-reviewed in international scientific conferences.
Best part? There is no touch involved. The entire system works on heat remittance.
SMILE (Software with Machine Intelligence for Life Enhancement) is a web interface for the NIRAMAI to study the thermal images and recommend a breast health score
“The artificial intelligence, which we have developed, analyses 4 lakh temperature points per person and provides a breast health report with multiple scores telling about the health” said Dr Geeta Manjunath, in a media interaction.
Advantage – FDA approved, Low cost, accurate, automated, portable screening tool. Imaging is radiation free, non-touch and non-painful. Trials depict over 90% sensitivity and 27% higher accuracy as compared to mammography
Frequency of the scan is recommended as twice per year since the method is not harmful and can detect the abnormality earlier than any other modality. Unlike other diagnostic modalities, there is no minimum age for thermographic screening.
Current scenario – NIRAMAI continues to work with hospitals to collect data and improve the algorithms. The customers can drop a note on the website and NIRAMAI’s team will contact for the screening at their nearest center. The NIRMAI solution can be deployed in the center.