How Technology is Helping Researchers Develop Groundbreaking New Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Products

Technology has changed the world we live in considerably, from how we communicate and find our way around, to where and how we work, design and build homes, market products, and so on. The pharmaceutical and biomedical industries are also being rapidly affected by new technologies, and each year more and more groundbreaking new products are invented, approved, and then released.

Are you interested in studying an online biomedical engineering Master’s degree so you can be on the cusp of creating new designs yourself? Or perhaps you work in pharmaceuticals and like to keep up to date on where the industry is headed? No matter your background or current career status, it pays to know what’s new and on the way. Read on for some of the interesting designs researchers and companies have come up with lately.

Golden Nanopill

One of the most recent developments has been worked on by a team of researchers at the University of Texas, in collaboration with others from the University of Reims. These scientists and engineers are designing what’s been coined as a “golden nanopill”, through their time spent studying complex plasmonic nanovesicles.

These minute capsules will be able to be taken as a pill. From there, the tablet will work its way through the bloodstream and travel to a specific part of the body where it can deliver a drug in a precise location, exactly where it’s required. Once in position, the pills can be hit with a short laser-light pulse which makes the nanoparticles change shape and release their contents on demand, in a set spot.

Using supercomputers, researchers are studying how this particular type of drug-delivery method can be most efficiently designed, activated, and used. This biomedical development has huge breakthrough potential and could transform medicine. In particular, it is believed that this type of technology could be incredibly helpful in the study of the brain, and in the treatment of various types of cancers.

Obalon Balloon System

With so many millions of people across the globe struggling with weight issues these days and more cases of obesity than ever, weight loss is another area researchers and companies are focused on. One new treatment option which has been approved by the FDA is the Obalon Balloon System. This potential lifesaver is the first and only swallowable, intragastric balloon system designed and approved for losing weight.

The Obalon Balloon System helps people shed pounds because it enables them to eat less while the product takes up space in their stomach. By eating less, people can more readily change their eating habits and, in turn, keep weight off over the long term. The system is specially designed for obese adults who have not been able to lose significant weight through diet and exercise, and is indicated for temporary use only  –  the balloons have to be removed after six months.

The Obalon is made up of a capsule which contains a small balloon within it. Patients swallow this capsule (no sedation or anesthesia is needed) and the balloon is inflated by their physician. The placement time is generally ten minutes or less, and the balloon has a volume of 250cc once fully inflated. Weighing less than a penny, it is roughly the size of an orange. The lightweight Obalon system treatment is fully reversible, and it is recommended that people have a treatment of three balloons.

3D Printed Organs

While surgeons have been using replica organs for years to practice operations, technology is now making it possible for them to really get amazing results from doing so. Thanks to 3D printing advances, new 3D-printed anatomical models can improve the outcomes of surgeries because the created organs are more lifelike and have tissue-mimicking tactile behavior and sensation. Rather than feeling like hard plastic and being tough to cut into, newer models will have the same mechanical properties as actual living tissue.

A research team led by the University of Minnesota has been making headway on 3D-printed organ models of this type which are also equipped with soft sensors to provide doctors with feedback as they practice. This will enable them to determine when they’re applying the right amount of pressure to organs, without damaging tissue.

These new designs make it easier for surgeons to predict how patient organs will react to and recover from surgeries, and they will enable better planning to boot. In the future, there is also the hope that bionic organs can actually be printed on demand, alleviating the need for organs to be donated for transplants.

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