Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 31, 2012

Bone Marrow Transplants Cure Two Patients of HIV, Lay a Roadmap for Medical Technology

Over the last four years, the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. tended to two patients with a history of HIV, providing each one with a bone marrow transplant as a part of a larger treatment regimen. Doctors at the heath center recently followed up with both individuals, and discovered the AIDS-causing disease had completely disappeared.

Another few patients have since turned up similar progress, prompting medical professionals worldwide to officially discuss the possibility of a cure in the not so distant future. What this might mean for the future of automated medical equipment, however, is just as exciting.

Doctors expected to eliminate HIV from the patients’ plasma, according to Dr. Timothy Henrich, but its absence from their cells is what has researchers interested.

Bone marrow transplants are not the end-all solution, though. The nature of HIV and how a patient’s cells connect with the rest of the body are subjective, bone marrow being perhaps the most promising springboard to a more comprehensive remedy.

Just as well, “bone marrow transplants are currently too costly and dangerous for all HIV patients to be able to undergo them,” ABC News reported recently. Practices in robotics and other biomedical technology – things that lend themselves to efficient and cost-effective experimentation – are therefore more subject to development.

Two areas of technical growth in the healthcare industry come to mind: physical, the things we use to perform these surgeries; and geographical, our ability to easily interact with patients around the world to optimize our pursuit of a cure.

The Marrow Miner, a device by Daniel Kraft, is an example of one M.D.’s initiative in more advanced machinery for the things we now know should come in handy. Drawing bone marrow from a patient can be a tedious process for doctors; harvesting it more efficiently may get us one step closer to our goal.

Daniel Kraft is a physician and medical inventor from Stanford University. See more on his latest concept below.

Remote surgeries
, or procedures conducted by doctors from elsewhere in the world, are also about to change. The past decade has fostered a number of types of “telesurgeries” that allow professionals to assist patients in need of expertise too far away from them. Patients may now have the opportunity to return the favor, making themselves available to doctors in search of subjects with the potential to bring a cure to HIV that much closer.

Both patients from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have maintained HIV-negative status since their reported diagnosis last week, but it’s not enough to declare a solution. Our new eye for bone marrow, however, will surely move the market up a square – whether it’s by the hand of Dr. Kraft or an operation two continents apart.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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