January 24, 2005
Sometimes it is much more effective to consider a human body as an engineering construction.
Numerous ideas “patented” by nature have applications in technology. Engineers know about navigation devices working on principle used by birds for orientation during long-distance flies. Suspension bridges copy the spider web structure.
Typically, the design of nature's analogues is simplified and adapted to technical needs. Surely natural systems are technically much more complicated. Removing their operational failures, for example, treatment of a sick man is a very complicated and delicate job. However, sometimes it is much more effective to consider a human body as an engineering construction and try to use simple but effective treatment and preventive measures.
For example, what is apoplexy? A clot breaks away, gets into the brain and causes occlusion of a vessel. Doctors try to dissolve blood clots and minimize possibility of their emergence. Doctor Ofer Iodfat from the Israeli company “Meind Gard” wondered whether it is possible to prevent the clot getting into the brain and whether that problem can be solved by using some mechanical obstacle.
A small gauze filter, a kind of tea-strainer, is implanted into the artery which supplies blood to the brain. Such a filter will retain clots. To prevent accumulation of clots and clogging of the filter meshes, a good place was found for it in the neck where the blood stream splits into two channels. One of them feeds face muscles while the other one supplies blood directly to the brain tissues. The brain is reliably protected from blood clots which only can reach face muscles where blood circulation problems have no such disastrous effects.
This method has been thoroughly tested on animals and presently tests are being carried out on sick people. Last year, such a filter was implanted to an 80 year old patient who had survived two apoplexies. It looks as if there is a chance to avoid the third one.