At MEDICA 2004, the medical trade fair taking place in Düsseldorf, Germany, from 24-27 November 2004, the European Space Agency will introduce highly progressive methods in space medicine and their application on Earth.
Over 4000 exhibitors from 67 nations will showcase state-of-art products in the fields of medical technology, diagnostics, analytics and therapy. The variety of products exhibited ranges from biochips for fast classification of tumors to micro-systems for analytics, to newly developed tomographs, telemedicine and laser-technology - a perfect environment for ESA to show to a specialised audience the vast range of possibilities which space research offers to the health sector. Space medicine is not limited to monitoring the health of astronauts, indeed; it is meant to help people on Earth too. Space medicine research has a lot to offer, especially for elderly people. Many conditions experienced by the elderly – like for instance osteoporosis, or problems with the circulatory and vestibulary system – also affect astronauts after a longer period in space.
Medical research on ISS
The International Space Station (ISS), which operates at an altitude of 400 km above the Earth, is the ideal place for research, as well as for the testing of new instruments and methods in weightlessness. For instance, the bone loss experienced by astronauts is intensely researched on ISS. Over the years, researchers and medical doctors at ESA have developed many innovative methods, instruments and technologies to deal with the adverse effects of weightlessness and to monitor astronauts' bodies as they live and work in space. Products that use results from ESA 's research are already available in Europe, for the health and well-being of the population, and will be showcased at MEDICA 2004.
However, the ISS is far more than a laboratory in space. The Station not only provides a great opportunity to conduct scientific experiments that it is simply not possible to carry out on Earth, it also offers a unique environment for technology demonstrations, product testing and marketing campaigns. An example of successful technology demonstration in space is the commercial Blood Pressure Measurement Instrument BMI, which was tested on the ISS in various experiments, last time by the ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers during the Dutch Delta Mission in April 2004.
ESA offer to the health industry
This is just the beginning of what ESA can offer the medical industry. Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of Commercial Development at ESA's Commercial Promotion Office, points out: "We offer to any company in the health sector the perfect environment not only for research and product testing, but also a unique marketing platform which offers possibilities that are literally out of this world. We want to share this chance and cooperate with innovative medical companies who are keen to utilise the space environment to innovate and promote their products and services. We are ready to support their activity from concept to implementation".
The future of the medical sector, it is said, is in telemedicine. For many people, the nearest doctor is hundreds of kilometres away, and so diagnosis and treatment from a remote place can be lifesaving. An entire exhibition hall at MEDICA 2004 is dedicated to this technology, which has revolutionised several branches of the medical sector.
The roots of telemedicine lie in space, where telemedicine was used to monitor the health of astronauts. ESA is at the forefront of developments in telemedicine. Taking advantage of its wealth of experience in sensor technology development and in the management of international projects, ESA has started to support and market telemedicine services via satellite.
In parallel, ESA also plays a role as a coordinator of international telemedicine organisations with the ultimate objective of making this a routine medical procedure. At MEDICA 2004, ESA will inform companies about achievements and perspectives in the fields of eHealth and telemedicine.
ESA at MEDICA 2004
The 36 International Exhibition MEDICA 2004 will take place in
24-26 November 2004 - from 10:00 to 18:30
27 November 2004 - from 10:00 to 17:00
Visit the ESA Stand, C22 in Hall 10
Experts from ESA and partner companies will be available on the stand to explain how the health industry can benefit from space research and how ESA can assist companies in supporting their projects from concept to implementation.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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