One of the top news stories about the future of medical technology making the rounds last week was based on a journal article now almost a year old. In the April 2004 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology doctors reported on “The Artificial Silicon Retina Microchip for the Treatment of Vision Loss From Retinitis Pigmentosa.” These tiny chips contain about “5000 microelectrode-tipped microphotodiodes”, or solar collectors which send their signal to still-functioning retinal neurons. The six patients in the study, all suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, reported improved vision and no side effects, such as infection.
The prospect of silicon computer technology and human biological cells working together to correct and cure medical conditions was once dismissed as fantasy. This work, along with the many other threads of technology being tested successfully elsewhere, is proving just how adaptive biology can be.