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BioMEMS - The Driving Force of Healthcare Technology

Many of us would have heard the saying 'Small things do Big wonders' and this is what MEMS are exactly. Imagine a device that restores sight when implanted on the retina of the eye, or a skin patch capable of detecting an invading microorganism before symptoms develop.

What are MEMS ?

Micro electric mechanical systems as the name indicates are miniaturized mechanical and electro-mechanical elements that are made using the techniques of microfabrication.

BioMEMs applies micro devices to biological and medical problems where it is applied in both biomedical and biotechnological fields I.e.( in vivo and in vitro).Mechanical detection in bio-MEMS is achieved through micro- and nano-scale cantilevers for stress sensing and mass sensing, or micro- and nano-scale plates or membranes. It has found its various applications in the field of diagnosis, therapeutics, drug delivery and so on.

For diabetic patients, The MEMS insulin pump, with sensor, transmitter and infusion line is one of a few devices on the market that can not only monitor a person’s glucose levels 24/7, but can deliver insulin on needed basis. Also a therapeutic bioMEMS device currently being tested is the artificial retinal prosthesis called the Retinal Prosthesis System .The heart of the system is an artificial retina - an electrode array placed directly on the retina at the back of the eye.

And not only that it has a wonderful contribution in the field of minimally invasive surgery and here the advantage is that it is haptic. Another example of bioMEMS drug delivery currently on the market is the nanopore drug delivery coating system associated with stents (devices inserted into obstructed arteries). These stents are referred to as drug-eluting stents.The stent coating is a medication that is slowly released (eluted) to decrease restenosis (tissue growth in the artery lining that decreases the diameter of the opening in the stent).

A bioMEMS device currently used for MIS is a micro-sized robot. Robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery offers improved range of motion over standard laparoscopic techniques. The da Vinci S MIS is one of the most advanced surgical robots on the market. "The robot looks a little like an octopus with four arms – one arm holds the camera and three working arms hold surgical instruments."

Almost ninety-thousand Americans are waiting for a new organ. These patients live with the knowledge that a transplant could save their lives, but understand there is a good chance they will die because of a donor shortage. On average, there are only three thousand livers for thirty thousand patients annually. For patients waiting for a kidney, dialysis offers some mechanical support; however, a quarter of them will not survive the wait. BioMEMS innovation is addressing this problem. The CIMIT tissue engineering program is working to develop a kidney dialysis unit that can be worn around the waist. CIMIT is also working on MEMS that can build complex organs such as kidneys, livers, and replacement tissue.

Ever heard about a lab that can function on a tiny chip ? Yes, Microfluidics are integrated microchips that allow separations, chemical reactions, and calibration-free measurements to be directly performed with minute quantities of complex samples.

Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) systems enable the design of small, portable, low-cost, yet extremely versatile and capable diagnostic instruments. In endoscopy, a swallowable pill with mems scanner is taken inside and the images and videos are collected and transmitted which is a marvelous innovation. Micromachined surgical tools such as tiny forceps, microneedle arrays and tissue debriders have been made possible by metal and ceramic layer-by-layer microfabrication techniques for minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery.

DNA microarrays are tools used to analyze and measure the activity of genes as well as detect and identify specific genes and gene mutations. The DNA microarray in the graphic uses single-stranded DNA probes to identify the target DNA in a sample.

In invitro analysis, Cell Culture Array is used. This array creates a microenvironment for growing cells in vitro and in parallel, allowing for the analysis of multiple cell growth conditions. Microneedles, formulation systems, and implantable systems are bio-MEMS applicable to drug delivery. Microneedles of approximately 100μm can penetrate the skin barrier and deliver drugs to the underlying cells and interstitial fluid with reduced tissue damage, reduced pain, and no bleeding.

Microneedles can also be integrated with microfluidics for automated drug loading or multiplexing.

Many other bioMEMS applications are emerging in various fields such as neural probes, nerve regeneration, tissue engineering, olfactory sensors, in vivo stents, valves and pumps .Based on the numerous applications and application possibilities, it seems safe to say that bioMEMS devices will impact every aspect of our lives, from medical devices to food and environmental screening. Ultimately these systems promise to significantly improve medical care on a global scale. And this bio Mini Enthralled Mechanical Stunner has started to mark its footprints and will definitely have a great trend in the upcoming days.



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