nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Implantable Microsensor Measures When Heart Begins To Fail

It's not nanobots yet, but microchips are gaining a foothold in monitoring patients' internal physiology.

From the FoxNews Health Blog (June 2), Dr. Siegel talks about how it's now possible to implant a sensor in the pulmonary artery that can monitor pressure changes that can give a heads-up to impending heart failure, long before it becomes apparently clinically.

The Device developed by CardioMEMS, called the Endosure Wireless AAA Pressure Sensor, was originally developed to read pressures in aneurysms of the aorta.  When large arteries weaken, they form a bulge that can rupture.  It's important to know when such bulging is becoming dangerous, not only to intervene surgically to repair the artery, but also to know when surgery is not needed yet.  The surgery is major...and a significant risk.  

The sensor is implanted through a catheter, avoiding an invasive procedure, and requires no power supply--a major safety advantage.

A study of the microsensor's ability to detect heart failure was presented this month at the European Society of Cardiology Heart Failure Congress 2010.
"The CHAMPION (CardioMEMS Heart Sensor Allows Monitoring of Pressure to Improve Outcomes in NYHA Class III Patients) trial met its primary efficacy endpoint with a 30% reduction in heart failure hospitalization rates at 6 months (p<0.001) in heart failure patients whose treatment was guided by pulmonary artery pressures obtained through a miniature, permanent wireless implant."
This is waay cool, because it overcomes traditional limits on what doctors can learn by examining a patient, or by intermittent testing.  The ability to anticipate, and abort, a developing problem is a major advance.

Other similar devices are used in the brain to anticipate elevated intracranial pressure in patients with difficulty maintaining a balance in the fluid that surrounds the strokes, tumors or trauma.

Nanobots, on the other hand, are not quite here yet.   These robots are organic:  a synthetic molecule that is shaped in such a way as to perform an action in the body when injected in large numbers.  Like killing cancer cells.  There's a body of science fiction work out there that explores this concept (like the Borg nanoprobes in Star Trek).
But it's no longer's just around the corner.
Doc D

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