Israeli scientists invent robot ‘sub’ that travels through human veins

Tel Aviv: Israeli scientists have created a robot ‘submarine’ which is so small it can swim through the veins to provide medical treatment.

Dr Nir Schwalb, of the Judea and Samaria College, and Oded Salomon, of the Israel Institute of Technology, say their machine has the unique ability to ‘crawl’ through tubes the width of blood vessels and is even able to travel against the flow of blood, using magnetic power, as it passes through veins and arteries.

Previous micro-robots have been too large to enter the smallest and most complex areas of the body but the latest is one millimetre in diameter and has tiny arms which allow it to ‘grip’ as it travels along. The robot is still in development but it is hoped that in future it may be used to treat a variety of diseases including cancer.

Mr Salomon said: ‘We believe we have created a robot that will be tiny enough to pass through the body and at the same time have navigational abilities for performing-complex medical tasks. We are discussing with doctors from many different fields which application will be most useful.

Micro-surgery is usually carried out with catheters and endoscopes which are far too large for most parts of the body.

Light technology does help winter depression, says new report

London: A three year trial trial has confirmed the effectiveness of a revolutionary new LED technology that emits an intensely bright uv-free light at exactly the right wavelength to achieve the maximum and most rapid suppression of the sleep hormone melatonin.

The conclusion of the study at five centres in Canada and Holland was titled “Treatment with The Litebook is an effective treatment for SAD as assessed by both clinicians (SIGH-SAD, CGI) and patients (BDI).”

The short treatment time (30 minutes) and portability of the device may increase patient appeal and adherence over other treatment options, including chemical antidepressants and other light therapy devices.

This study comes hot on the heels of clinical trials, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, that demonstrated that light therapy is more effective than fluoxetine (Prozac) in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Light therapy is a drug free and non-addictive.

Compared to fluoxetine it was shown to have a more rapid onset of improvement and a lack of side effects. It is estimated that only 3 -5% of people suffer from SAD but the incidence of ‘Winter Blues’ is as high as 40%.

Dr. Jan Wise, London-based consultant psychiatrist and expert in seasonal depression and light therapy, comments, “Two in five people will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. If you notice symptoms such as lack of energy, trouble sleeping and a general low feeling for prolonged periods, then this is a very real sign of SAD. Light therapy is an important and clinically proven treatment for seasonal depression. It is non-invasive, non-chemical and enables anyone with SAD to control their symptoms as naturally and effectively as possible.”

Typical SAD symptoms of lethargy, low energy, carbohydrate and nicotine craving, poor sleep patterns and depressed mood are not restricted to winter months. The effects of light and lack of sleep on body rhythms can cause year-long social jetlag. The Litebook also offers an effective drug-free treatment for shift workers, teenagers, over 50s and anyone living out of kilter with their body clock. Typical usage time is just 15-30 minutes compared to up to 2 hours using large and unwieldy legacy systems.