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Guest post written by Medical Devices Group member Clifford Thornton and edited by Joe Hage.
Remember the 1966 science-fiction movie “Fantastic Voyage” about a miniaturized submarine navigating through the human vessel system?
It’s becoming a reality, courtesy of William Zurn, inventor of a now-patented vessel clearing system.
In the film, a crew, consisting of a Doctor, who is supposedly the most successful brain surgeon in the United States, scientists, and other specialists board a customized submarine, commissioned “Proteus” designed to navigate through the human vasculature or vessels and is miniaturized or shrunk to a microscopic size.
The mission – to save the life of a scientist, who holds the secrets of miniaturization technology, for which is invaluable to the Army.
The scientist is in a coma, the crew is inserted into the scientist’s blood stream via his carotid artery through a syringe, which holds the miniaturized submarine, the scientist is placed into hypothermia (i.e. around 20 degrees Celsius) to slow his circulation.
[SPOILER ALERT!] The submarine reaches the clot, and the crew, armed with a laser-energy gun untether the clot from the blocked vessel. A happy ending!
Zurn’s Vessel-Clearing Version
What does “Fantastic Journey” have to do with nano-technology and MEMS – the technologies of today?
Inventor and founder of Zur Technology, William Zurn, has designed a now-patented vessel clearing system which will accomplish, in a very similar fashion, what Proteus and its crew set out to do.
For context, clotting of the blood is a “normal” occurrence in the body, such as when an external wound occurs and the body limits or stops blood to the wound by clotting.
However, clotting can also be very threatening to a human, causing irreparable bodily damage or even death. Clots which pose a risk or threat to a patient can occur in the heart, veins, or the arteries.
• When a clot occurs in the heart it can be the result of an abnormal heart rhythm called Atrial Fibrillation (i.e. A-Fib).
• When a clot occurs in the veins it can be due to prolonged immobility, pregnancy, inherited blood clotting disorders, smoking or hormone therapy (i.e. birth-control pills)
• When a clot occurs in the arteries it can be the result of high blood-pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease (i.e. heart failure).
Zurn developed a patentable stent after researching the causes and effects of aneurysms.
This in-depth research led to a system of controlling, guiding, and placement of the medical implant modules utilized within principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Zurn’s vessel clearing device will enable complete mapping of the cardiovascular system via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and precise locating and targeting of the occlusion(s).
Additionally, computer assisted surgical methods of clearing said clots and atherosclerotic plaque will be employed.
The computer system computes the circulatory system path algorithm and allows for navigation to, around, and from the source of blockages. Finally, an algorithm for removing blockages directs the motion of a biocompatible module apparatus (BCM), constructed by nano-technology and/or semiconductor material, which then utilizes laser energy to remove the blockage.
Within the vessel clearing system, a biocompatible module (BCM) comprised of multiple sub-sections, which we can refer to as “pods” are constructed by a combination of nano-technology and integrated circuit technology. The actual size of these injectable pods will be approximately 100 nanometers by 50 nanometers (i.e. a nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter or 10-9 meter). These pods will be analogous to Proteus.
And just as Proteus was introduced to the scientist’s body through a syringe and needle, the BCMs or pods will be inserted into patients in the same fashion, through a syringe and needle and into a patient’s vessel, in the surgical room.
In the way that Proteus offered radio communication between its crew and the control center, the vessel clearing system will allow for similar communication between the pods and the control console (i.e. located outside of the patient’s body, controlled by an operator (i.e. the surgeon) in the surgical room).
As such, the pods have a communication unit, radio frequency (RF) receiving section, RF conversion section, and a laser transmitting section (possessed by the BCMs or pods). The laser will function as the tool to untether and fragment the clot. The remaining residue is processed by the kidneys.
Also, just as Proteus’ location in the scientist’s body was tracked by the control center via nuclear emissions, the vessel clearing pods will be transmitted and closely and very accurately tracked by nuclear resonance imaging (NMR), information which will be displayed on the control console.
The vessel clearing device, USPO Patent 8,663,209 truly exists and you can look it up by visiting http://www.google.com/patents/US8663209
Also, see related press release: “USPTO Approves Patent for Robotic Medical Device Available through IpAuctions, Inc.”
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