German scientists develop superhuman robotic hand: Medgadget’s contributors have never seen anything quite like what a team of researchers from the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics have come up with. Unlike existing robotic hands, DLR’s design incorporates tendons with variable stiffness. By changing the tension in its tendons, the hand is able to absorb high impact shocks, such as being hit with a baseball bat. In addition to its impressive resiliency, the hand has 19 degrees of freedom, and can exert up to 30 newtons of force at its fingertips. "Why build such a super strong hand?" IEEE Spectrum writes. "Markus Grebenstein, the hand’s lead designer, says that existing robot hands built with rigid parts, despite their Terminator-tough looks, are relatively fragile. Even small collisions, with forces of a few tens of newtons, can dislodge joints and tear fingers apart."
Light-sensitive material a candidate for synthetic muscles: Researchers at RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako and University of Tokyo discovered a method of making a novel material that bends in response to light. The press release claims that the new material could be used in artificial muscles, though why light would be a better way to control muscles is not clear. “They made their discovery while studying a polymer in which each side chain, or bristle, of the brush structure incorporates light-responsive azobenzenes — two benzene rings separated by a pair of nitrogen atoms. When hit by UV light, the bond between the nitrogens rearranges, contracting the side chain,” according to a statement from RIKEN.
Canadian researchers aim for medical isotope production without nuclear reactors: The supply of radioactive isotopes for medical use is regularly at risk due to a limited number of suppliers and the fact that nuclear reactors are involved. The Canadian government just allotted funds to sponsor a project which may lead to the generation of molybdenum-99 using X-rays powered by a linear accelerator. "The project will use a high energy linear accelerator to bombard coin-sized discs of molybdenum-100 with X-rays to produce molybdenum-99 isotope. The molybdenum-99 decays into technetium-99m, the isotope used in approximately 5500 diagnostic medical procedures in Canada every day," according to Canadian Light Source, which received C$12 million to fund the Medical Isotope Project.
Nano-filter removes circulating tumor cells: Scientists at Georgia Tech developed a method that relies on injected nanoparticles to filter circulating tumor cells (CTC) out of blood. In some cancers, like ovarian, the primary tumor is not the typical cause of death. Rather metastasis, thanks to CTC’s, creates secondary tumors that are the truly dangerous ones. The new filtration system was tested on mice, each of which was injected with half a million murine ovarian cancer cells, according to the university. The final results of a study published in Nanomedicine showed that mice treated with the new system lived on average a third longer than mice without treatment. A spinoff company called Sub-Micro Inc. has been formed to commercialize the technology.
A weekly roundup of new developments in medical technology, by MedGadget.com.