Archive for September 5th, 2012

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PEEK Orthopedic Implant Uses Stem Cells to Increase Strength and Longevity

PEEK Orthopedic Implant Uses Stem Cells to Increase Strength and Longevity

PEEK Orthopedic Implant Uses Stem Cells to Increase Strength and Longevity

Scientists at the University of Glasgow are working to harness the regenerative power of stem cells to improve orthopaedic implant surgery.

They are collaborating with surgeons at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital to develop a new type of orthopaedic implant which could be considerably stronger and more long-lived than the current generation of products.

Currently, implants are commonly made from materials such as polyethylene, stainless steel, titanium or ceramic and have a limited lifespan due to loosening, requiring replacement after 15 or 20 years of use. In hip replacement surgery, the head of the thigh bone is removed and replaced with an implant which is held in place by a rod fixed inside the marrow along the length of the bone.

Marrow is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells, which have the potential to divide, or ‘differentiate’, into other types of cells such as skin, muscle or bone which can improve the process of healing. However, stem cells can also differentiate into cells which have no use in therapy. Artificially controlling the final outcome to ensure the desired type of cells are created is very difficult, even under laboratory conditions.

When traditional implants are fixed into bone marrow, the marrow’s stem cells do not receive messages from the body to differentiate into bone cells, which would help create a stronger bond between the implant and the bone. Instead, they usually differentiate into a buildup of soft tissue which, combined with the natural loss of bone density which occurs as people age, can weaken the bond between the implant and the body.

The team from the University of Glasgow’s Colleges of Science and Engineering and Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences have found a reliable method to encourage bone cell growth around a new type of implant. The implant will be made of an advanced implantable polymer known as PEEK-OPTIMA®, from Invibio® Biomaterial Solutions, which is already commonly used in spinal and other orthopaedic procedures.

Dr Matthew Dalby, of the University’s Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, explained: “Last year, we developed a plastic surface which allowed a level of control over stem cell differentiation which was previously impossible. The surface, created at the University’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, is covered in tiny pits 120 nanometres across. When stem cells are placed onto the surface, they grow and spread across the pits in a way which ensures they differentiate into therapeutically useful cells.

“By covering the PEEK implant in this surface, we can ensure that the mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into the bone cells. This will help the implant site repair itself much more effectively than has ever been possible before and could well mean that implants will last for the rest of patient’s life.”

Dr Dalby added: “People are living longer and longer lives nowadays; long enough, in fact, that we’re outliving the usefulness of some of our body parts. Our new implant could be the solution to the expensive and painful follow-up surgeries which conventional implants require.”

The team is supported by the UK biomaterial solutions provider Invibio, the world’s leading provider of PEEK-based materials.

Dr Nikolaj Gadegaard, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at the University, explained: “One of the main selling points of PEEK is that it is very strong, has excellent stability and is very resistant to wear. However, the inertness of the material is not always suitable for implants that require some interaction with the surrounding tissue. Our nanopatterned surface may allow Invibio’s PEEK polymer to interact with stem cells and enable an effective integration between the implant and the body for the first time.

“Another benefit of PEEK is that it matches the mechanical properties of our own bodies much better than traditional materials. While bone has a certain amount of flex to it, the use of inflexible titanium in implants results in loss of bone density because the bone is not exercised. The flexibility of PEEK is similar to that of bone, and will allow the implant to flex in a natural manner, significantly helping the process of bone regeneration.”

“PEEK products can be made using an injection-moulding technique. Although our nanopatterned surface is complex, the process of production is similar to that which makes Blu-Ray discs, which means that future mass-production of the implant is a very real possibility.”

The partnership between the University’s academics and surgeons at the Southern General is a result of the Glasgow Orthopaedic Research Initiative (GLORI). GLORI, formed in 2009, aims to foster collaboration between scientists and clinicians to turn novel materials research into the next generation of orthopaedic care.

Dominic Meek, Consultant in Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, has been participating in the development of the new implant. He said: “I originally began working with Dr Dalby and Dr Gadegaard to supply samples of bone marrow stem cells for their research but it quickly became clear that their work had a lot of potential for direct applications in my area of surgery.

We’ve been working closely together ever since and we’ve created an enthusiasm for orthopaedic research in the west of Scotland which has been re-emerging over the last 15 years or more. Four postgraduate students have completed MDs or PhDs related to the subject and we currently have a team of six students, clinical fellows and post-doctoral researchers focusing on this new innovation.

“It’s an extremely exciting project to be working on, with implications for improving a wide range of joint replacements and other orthopaedic surgeries. We’re keen to see a prototype ready for use in hip replacement surgery within a decade.”

The research to date has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office and the European FP7 project NaPANIL.

Orthopedic procedures, such as hip replacement surgeries, restore mobility to thousands of people each year, but current technology makes them far from perfect. Current implants use polyethylene, stainless steel, titanium or ceramic, which each have their own drawbacks ranging from biocompatability issues, which could lead to infection, to inflexibility, which can lead to the loss of bone density. Moreover, when an implant is placed, it is usually held in place by a rod that is fixed into the marrow of a bone. Bone marrow, which is rich in stem cells that can differentiate into many different kinds of cells, tends to differentiate into soft tissue, which weakens the bond between bone and implant, requiring replacement surgery after 20 or so years.

Researchers as the University of Glasgow in Scotland, however, have developed an orthopedic implant that addresses many of these issues and could very well last for the rest of a patient’s life. The key ingredient of this new, super-strong implant is Invibio Biomaterial Solutions‘ PEEK-OPTIMA, an advanced polymer that is already commonly used in spinal and other orthopedic implants. PEEK is not only biocompatible, but is also flexible; because its mechanical properties are similar to bone, PEEK implants can flex and exercise the surrounding bone, which promotes bone regeneration.

Moreover, the implant is covered with a special surface consisting of tiny pits 120 nanometers in diameter. The pitted surface encourages stem cells to differentiate into bone cells and fuse to the implant, creating a much stronger bond between bone and implant.

An added benefit to potential users of the implant is that they can be made using an injection-molding technique, which could keep costs low by allowing for mass production.

Source : http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_240245_en.html

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New Wireless Scale from Withings

New Wireless Scale from Withings

New Wireless Scale from Withings

Hassle-free weight tracking for the whole family with the all new Wireless Scale WS-30: weight and BMI measurement, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, entirely PC free with your iOS or Android device.

Withings is soon releasing a new, easier to use wireless smart scale, the WS-30. Basically, the new scale doesn’t require a traditional computer to setup for multiple family members. Via Bluetooth it will connect directly to any iPhone/iPad or to an Android device, regardless of the kind of fanboys in the house. It also has WiFi for connecting with Withings’ servers to upload everyone’s weights to their online accounts.

It identifies individuals after the initial weighing automatically based on the latest data points taken, so you just stand on it and walk off, knowing that it recorded the reading for charting on the Withings Health Companion app. The scale also features the company’s Position Control technology that makes sure you’re well positioned on the scale when it’s taking a reading.

Here’s a preview video of the soon to be released WS-30: withings scale ws 30 New Wireless Scale from Withings (video) withings iphone New Wireless Scale from Withings (video) Withings is soon releasing a new, easier to use wireless smart scale, the WS-30. Basically,

Source : www.withings.com/static/press/ws30/PR_Withings_Introducing_WS30_EN_20120831.pdf

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Bayer’s CONTOUR NEXT LINK Glucometer Now a Medtronic Standard

Bayer’s CONTOUR NEXT LINK Glucometer Now a Medtronic Standard

Bayer’s CONTOUR NEXT LINK Glucometer Now a Medtronic Standard

Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) and Bayer HealthCare today announced that Bayer’s CONTOUR? NEXT LINK, a new blood glucose meter, is now available in the U.S. with Medtronic’s compatible integrated diabetes management systems.

Bayer’s new meter provides exceptional accuracy utilizing high-performance CONTOUR? NEXT test strips, helping optimize insulin delivery through wireless communication with the MiniMed? Paradigm™ REAL-Time Revel™ insulin pump and the MiniMed? Paradigm™ REAL-Time insulin pump. People with diabetes can have greater confidence that seamless integration with Medtronic’s Bolus Wizard? makes bolus calculations quick and easy, eliminating inaccuracies due to manual entry errors.

Bayer’s CONTOUR? NEXT LINK utilizes the new, high-accuracy CONTOUR? NEXT test strips that deliver exceptional accuracy for close-to-professional lab results that people with diabetes can count on, especially in the low glucose range (

About Bayer HealthCare

The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 17.2 billion (2011), is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Medical Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. Bayer HealthCare’s aim is to discover, develop, manufacture and market products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Bayer HealthCare has a global workforce of 55,700 employees (December 31, 2011) and is represented in more than 100 countries. Find more information at www.bayerhealthcare.com.

About the Diabetes Business at Medtronic

The Diabetes business at Medtronic (www.medtronicdiabetes.com) is the world leader in advanced diabetes management solutions, including integrated diabetes management systems, insulin pump therapy, continuous glucose monitoring systems and therapy management software, as well as world-class, 24/7 expert consumer and professional service and support.

About Medtronic

Medtronic, Inc. (www.medtronic.com), headquartered in Minneapolis, is the global leader in medical technology – alleviating pain, restoring health and extending life for millions of people around the world.

Bayer Forward-Looking Statements

This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group or subgroup management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

Medtronic Forward-Looking Statements

Any forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties such as those described in Medtronic’s periodic reports on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Actual results may differ materially from anticipated results.

Bayer is releasing in the U.S. its new high accuracy CONTOUR NEXT LINK, a wireless blood glucose meter designed to work with insulin pumps. As a matter of fact, the new glucometer will come standard with Medtronic‘s pumps, including the flagship MiniMed Paradigm REAL-Time Revel. The meter is also compatible with Medtronic’s stand-alone Guardian REAL-Time continuous glucose monitor.

Medtronic is planning on shifting all its insulin pump customers to the CONTOUR NEXT LINK, including shipping out the new glucometer to those using older devices.

Enables fast and easy bolus dosing and continuous glucose monitoring calibration

Pass-through feature allows for easy downloading to Medtronic’s convenient online CareLINK software, replacing the CareLINK USB device

Bayer’s No Coding™ technology makes testing easy by automatically setting the correct code each time a test strip is inserted

Easy-to-read display with large, clear numbers

Fast 5-second countdown and small 0.6 ?L blood sample

Optional pre- and post-meal markers with audible reminders

I promised details on the investigational Bayer Contour Next LINK Meter provided with my pump for the trial, so here you have it. A picture says a thousand words, so I’m going to take advantage of that. Forgive me, however, for the not-so-great picture quality. I had to use my phone camera today, as the other camera’s batteries were dead. FYI – If you click on an image, you can see it in a larger format. You also have the option of clicking through all the image up close.

Bayer Contour Meter has a USB connection for charging and downloading readings,

Results are displayed across the screen first in a big bold font, then it shoots to a smaller font as seen as it sends the results to the pump. Tough shot: Green bar says, “Results Sent.”

There is a useful “Notes” screen that includes this and the following image.

Notes also includes “Activity,” which isn’t pictured

The meter also includes a reminder to recheck your blood sugar. I haven’t used this yet, but this is a new feature, so I’m trying it out.

This is the Menu screen.

This is what you see when you select “Trends.”

The is an image of the Logbook. The text under this reading has a scrolling, “Sent, High Blood Sugar.”

Same scrolling text and amber color for a low. Font is white if reading is normal.

Easy on/off button, which seems like a silly thing to show you, but if you have the One Touch UltraLink, you understand. Just try turning the sucker off without throwing it out the window. Such an incredibly simple thing to make so hard.

Pretty cool! I didn’t give it enough credit in my first post, but I also hadn’t played with it much at that point. I don’t upload the meter into Carelink, all results are sent to the pump, so they are uploaded with the pump info. However, if you needed to upload the meter only, you could. Whatcha think?

Source : http://www.tudiabetes.org/forum/topics/bayer-s-new-contour-next-link-blood-glucose-meter-now-available-w

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Contrast-Free Imaging for Peripheral Artery Disease Shows Promise

Contrast-Free Imaging for Peripheral Artery Disease Shows Promise

Contrast-Free Imaging for Peripheral Artery Disease Shows Promise

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the narrowing of arteries due to plaque accumulation in the vascular walls. This leads to insufficient blood supply to the extremities and can ultimately cause cell death. Currently available methods are ineffective in diagnosing PAD in patients with calcified arteries, such as those with diabetes. In this paper we investigate the potential of dynamic diffuse optical tomography (DDOT) as an alternative way to assess PAD in the lower extremities. DDOT is a non-invasive, non-ionizing imaging modality that uses near-infrared light to create spatio-temporal maps of oxy- and deoxy-hemoglobin in tissue. We present three case studies in which we used DDOT to visualize vascular perfusion of a healthy volunteer, a PAD patient and a diabetic PAD patient with calcified arteries. These preliminary results show significant differences in DDOT time-traces and images between all three cases, underscoring the potential of DDOT as a new diagnostic tool.

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OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef’s Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2012—For many diabetics, monitoring their condition involves much more than adhering to a routine of glucose sensing and insulin injections. It also entails carefully monitoring the ongoing toll this disease takes on their body.

An innovative new optical diagnostic tool created by Columbia University researchers and reported today in the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express may soon make it easier to diagnose and monitor one of the most serious complications of diabetes, peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD, which is marked by a narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque accumulation, frequently results in insufficient blood flow to the body’s extremities and increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.

This new noninvasive imaging technique – known as dynamic diffuse optical tomography imaging (DDOT) – uses near-infrared light to map the concentration of hemoglobin in the body’s tissue. This mapping can reveal how effectively blood is flowing to patients’ hands and feet.

“Currently, there are no good methods to assess and monitor PAD in diabetic patients,” explains Andreas Hielscher, Ph.D., professor of Biomedical and Electrical Engineering and Radiology, and director of the Biophotonics and Optical Radiology Laboratory at Columbia University.

“Patients with PAD experience foot pain, called ‘claudication,’ while walking,” adds Gautam Shrikhande, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, and director of the Vascular Laboratory at Columbia’s Medical Center. “This pain continues, even at rest, as the disease progresses. In more advanced stages, PAD patients develop sores or ulcers that won’t heal. Then, cell death, a.k.a. ‘gangrene,’ occurs and amputation is often the only solution. It’s extremely important to diagnose PAD early, because medication and lifestyle changes can alleviate the disease.”

This is where DDOT can help. “We’ve successfully used DDOT to detect PAD in the lower extremities,” says Michael Khalil, a Ph.D. candidate working with Hielscher at Columbia. “One key reason why DDOT shows so much promise as a diagnostic and monitoring tool is that, unlike other methods, it can provide maps of oxy, deoxy and total hemoglobin concentration throughout the foot and identify problematic regions that require intervention.”

“Using instrumentation for fast image acquisition lets us observe blood volume over time in response to stimulus such as a pressure cuff occlusion or blockage,” said Hielscher.

To map and monitor the presence of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood, red and near-infrared light is shone at different angles around areas that are susceptible to arterial disease. These specific wavelengths of light are then absorbed or scattered, depending on the concentration of hemoglobin.

“In the case of tissue, light is absorbed by hemoglobin. Since hemoglobin is the main protein in blood, we can image blood concentrations within the foot without using a contrast agent,” Hielscher points out. Contrast agents pose the risk of renal failure in some cases, so the ability to monitor PAD without using a contrast agent is a great advantage.

Since more than 25 million people—or 8 percent of the population—in the United States are diabetic, this diagnostic tool has the potential to make it significantly simpler to diagnose and monitor diabetics with PAD in the future.

Khalil, Hielscher, and colleagues hope to bring their diagnostic tool to market and into clinics within the next 3 years.

Paper: “Dynamic diffuse optical tomography imaging of peripheral arterial disease,” Biomedical Optics Express, Vol. 3, Issue 9, pp. 2288-2298 (2012).

EDITOR’S NOTE: High-resolution images and a brief video clip are available to members of the media upon request. Contact Angela Stark, astark@osa.org.

About Biomedical Optics Express

Biomedical Optics Express is OSA’s principal outlet for serving the biomedical optics community with rapid, open-access, peer-reviewed papers related to optics, photonics and imaging in the life sciences. The journal scope encompasses theoretical modeling and simulations, technology development, and biomedical studies and clinical applications. It is published by the Optical Society and edited by Joseph A. Izatt of Duke University. Biomedical Optics Express is an open-access journal and is available at no cost to readers online at http://www.OpticsInfoBase.org/BOE.

About OSA

Uniting more than 130,000 professionals from 175 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), a narrowing of arteries in the arms and legs, is an all too frequent result of runaway diabetes, sometimes even leading to amputations. Symptoms like foot pain and numbness are often the first signs that patients have PAD. An earlier diagnosis would be extremely helpful for thousands, long before meaningful intervention becomes useless.

A new technique called dynamic diffuse optical tomography imaging (DDOT) from a research team at Columbia University may do just that. DDOT uses near-infrared light to visualize hemoglobin within tissue, providing an indication of how well blood is moving below the probe. The technique doesn’t require the injection of risky contrast agents nor the use of X-ray radiation, potentially helping make it perfect for a screening test.

From the announcement:

Michael Khalil, a Ph.D. candidate working with Hielscher [Andreas Hielscher, Ph.D., professor of Biomedical and Electrical Engineering and Radiology, and director of the Biophotonics and Optical Radiology Laboratory] at Columbia. “One key reason why DDOT shows so much promise as a diagnostic and monitoring tool is that, unlike other methods, it can provide maps of oxy, deoxy and total hemoglobin concentration throughout the foot and identify problematic regions that require intervention.”

“Using instrumentation for fast image acquisition lets us observe blood volume over time in response to stimulus such as a pressure cuff occlusion or blockage,” said Hielscher.

“In the case of tissue, light is absorbed by hemoglobin. Since hemoglobin is the main protein in blood, we can image blood concentrations within the foot without using a contrast agent,” Hielscher points out. Contrast agents pose the risk of renal failure in some cases, so the ability to monitor PAD without using a contrast agent is a great advantage.

Source : http://www.osa.org/About_Osa/Newsroom/News_Releases/Releases/08.2012/Shedding-New-Light-on-One-of-Diabetes-Complications.aspx

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Northeastern U. Seniors Develop Robotic Feeding System Activated With Just a Glance

Northeastern U. Seniors Develop Robotic Feeding System Activated With Just a Glance

Northeastern U. Seniors Develop Robotic Feeding System Activated With Just a Glance

“There’s no right pace,” said Mohamed Kante, E’12, who worked with elderly and dis­abled patients at Kin­dred Tran­si­tional Care and and Reha­bil­i­ta­tion — Craw­ford in Fall River, Mass. No matter how fast or slow he and his col­leagues offered patients bites of food, they could never match the patients’ indi­vidual needs.

So Kante and five of his elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering class­mates decided to solve that problem with a senior cap­stone project that puts the con­trol in the patient’s hands, or — in this case — their eyes.

The under­grad­uate student-researchers won this year’s first-place award in the ECE cap­stone com­pe­ti­tion for devel­oping an eye-controlled robotic arm that allows patients to feed them­selves. “Once they have the ability to do it them­selves, there’s an enor­mous sense of freedom,” said James Barron, who devel­oped soft­ware for the project.

The cap­stone team included Nick Aquino, Barron, Kante, Ryan LaVoie, Pedro Lopes and Basel Mag­fory. Waleed Meleis, an asso­ciate pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Elec­trical and Com­puter Engi­neering, served as the group’s fac­ulty advisor.

The eye Con­trolled Robotic Arm Feeding Tech­nology, or iCRAFT, has the poten­tial “to give thou­sands of par­a­lyzed indi­vid­uals the inde­pen­dence to eat with min­imal help from a care­giver,” Meleis said.

Sim­ilar tech­nolo­gies exist, including the recently reported Brain­Gate implant, which allows patients to con­trol a robotic arm merely by thinking about it. But these require some kind of inva­sive — or even sur­gical — inter­face to con­nect the user’s desires with the robot’s behav­iors, Lopes said.

In this case, there is no phys­ical con­nec­tion between the user and the con­trol device — no joy­stick under their chin, for example. Instead, the patient needs only to look at a box on a com­puter screen.

The team devel­oped an eye-tracking soft­ware that cou­ples the direc­tion of a patient’s pupils with his or her food choices. Three col­ored seg­ments of the screen cor­re­spond to two bowls of food and a drinking bottle. A fourth, larger seg­ment allows the patient to take a break from eating.

Meleis said that the graph­ical user inter­face designed by the team is impres­sive because of its sim­plicity. The judges, 12 prac­ticing alumni engi­neers, “were par­tic­u­larly impressed with the impact iCRAFT will have on the target pop­u­la­tions and by the suc­cessful inte­gra­tion of eye tracking, robotics, a custom GUI and spe­cial­ized equip­ment,” he said.

“The single best moment of this cap­stone expe­ri­ence was the first time we were actu­ally able to con­trol the robot arm with nothing but our eyes,” Barron noted. “Once we were able to accom­plish this feat, I was con­fi­dent that every­thing else would fall into place.”

He was right. Aside from win­ning first place in the cap­stone com­pe­ti­tion, the team has devel­oped a tool that com­mu­nity mem­bers can use imme­di­ately with the appro­priate tech­nical know-how: The iCRAFT team has pub­lished the robotics plans online and the soft­ware package is avail­able as an open-source download.

Cur­rent alter­na­tive self-feeding devices cost in the range of $3,500, but iCRAFT can be con­structed for around $900, making the tech­nology a more afford­able option for dis­abled indi­vid­uals and their care­givers and families.

We love all the high-tech rehab robots being developed, but if we’d find ourselves paralyzed we’d prefer not to have to manipulate various parts of our mouth and face, or have electrodes implanted in our skull, to move a robotic arm to simply feed ourselves. With iCRAFT (eye Con­trolled Robotic Arm Feeding Tech­nology), a senior capstone project developed by students at Northeastern University, moving a robotic arm is as simple as moving your eyes.

With the iCRAFT system, there is absolutely no physical connection between the device and the user. All the user needs to do is look at one of four large, brightly-colored rectangles on a computer screen that corresponds to his or her food or drink choice. The eye-tracking camera near the monitor and the special software takes care of the rest, tracking the user’s pupil movements and activating a robot arm with attached eating accoutrement to scoop the food and bring it to the user’s mouth.

The simplicity of the system makes it an attractive solution for giving paralyzed patients more independence in eating with minimal help from a caregiver. Current self-feeding devices on the market cost around $3500, but iCRAFT can be constructed for just around $900. Best of all, the team has published the robotics plans online and has released the software as a free, open-source download so anyone can make their own iCRAFT system.

Here’s a video of iCRAFT in action serving these college seniors a gourmet college meal:

Source : http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2012/05/engineering-capstone-offers-independence-to-physically-disabled/

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Engineered Microvessel Structure Provides More Accurate Testbed for Studying Human Diseases

Engineered Microvessel Structure Provides More Accurate Testbed for Studying Human Diseases

Engineered Microvessel Structure Provides More Accurate Testbed for Studying Human Diseases

Mice and monkeys don’t develop diseases in the same way that humans do. Nevertheless, after medical researchers have studied human cells in a Petri dish, they have little choice but to move on to study mice and primates.

University of Washington bioengineers have developed the first structure to grow small human blood vessels, creating a 3-D test bed that offers a better way to study disease, test drugs and perhaps someday grow human tissues for transplant.

The findings are published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In clinical research you just draw a blood sample,” said first author Ying Zheng, a UW research assistant professor of bioengineering. “But with this, we can really dissect what happens at the interface between the blood and the tissue. We can start to look at how these diseases start to progress and develop efficient therapies.”

Researchers made a functional microvessel that spells the letters ‘UW.’ The white bar measures 100 micrometers, about the width of a human hair.

Y. Zheng, U. of Washington

Researchers made a functional microvessel that spells the letters “UW.” The white bar measures 100 micrometers, about the width of a human hair.

During a period of two weeks, the endothelial cells grew throughout the structure and formed tubes through the mold’s rectangular channels, just as they do in the human body.

When brain cells were injected into the surrounding gel, the cells released chemicals that prompted the engineered vessels to sprout new branches, extending the network. A similar system could supply blood to engineered tissue before transplant into the body.

After joining the UW last year, Zheng collaborated with the Puget Sound Blood Center to see how this research platform would work to transport real blood.

Engineered microvessels can form bends and T-junctions, like this one. The blue dots are the nuclei of the cells in the vessel walls, and the red lines are the cell junctions. Smooth muscle cells (green) wrap and tighten around the vessels, just as they do in the human body.

Y. Zheng, U. of Washington

Engineered microvessels can form bends and T-junctions, like this one. The blue dots are the nuclei of the cells in the vessel walls, and the red lines are the cell junctions. Smooth muscle cells (green) wrap and tighten around the vessels, just as they do in the human body.

The engineered vessels could transport human blood smoothly, even around corners. And when treated with an inflammatory compound the vessels developed clots, similar to what real vessels do when they become inflamed.

The system also shows promise as a model for tumor progression. Cancer begins as a hard tumor but secretes chemicals that cause nearby vessels to bulge and then sprout. Eventually tumor cells use these blood vessels to penetrate the bloodstream and colonize new parts of the body.

When the researchers added to their system a signaling protein for vessel growth that’s overabundant in cancer and other diseases, new blood vessels sprouted from the originals. These new vessels were leaky, just as they are in human cancers.

“With this system we can dissect out each component or we can put them together to look at a complex problem. That’s a nice thing—we can isolate the biophysical, biochemical or cellular components. How do endothelial cells respond to blood flow or to different chemicals, how do the endothelial cells interact with their surroundings, and how do these interactions affect the vessels’ barrier function? We have a lot of degrees of freedom,” Zheng said.

The system could also be used to study malaria, which becomes fatal when diseased blood cells stick to the vessel walls and block small openings, cutting off blood supply to the brain, placenta or other vital organs.

“I think this is a tremendous system for studying how blood clots form on vessels walls, how the vessel responds to shear stress and other mechanical and chemical factors, and for studying the many diseases that affect small blood vessels,” said co-author Dr. José López, a professor of biochemistry and hematology at UW Medicine and chief scientific officer at the Puget Sound Blood Center.

Future work will use the system to further explore blood vessel interactions that involve inflammation and clotting. Zheng is also pursuing tissue engineering as a member of the UW’s Center for Cardiovascular Biology and the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.

Other co-authors are UW physics senior Samuel Totorica; Abraham Stroock, Michael Craven, Nak Won Choi, Michael Craven, Anthony Diaz-Santana and Claudia Fischbach at Cornell; Junmei Chen at the Puget Sound Blood Center; and Barbara Hempstead at Weill Cornell Medical College.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Human Frontier Science Program and Cornell University.

It’s a fairly common practice when studying a disease, testing a new drug, or developing new medical technology to do murine or simian studies to measure efficacy or to look for certain issues like side effects. However, we know that mice and monkeys don’t develop diseases the same way that humans do, so they often don’t make for the most ideal test subjects.

A University of Washington bioengineer has succeeded in creating a 3D structure of human blood vessels that can not only smoothly transport human blood, but can also react similarly to human blood vessels when subjected to chemicals and proteins found in the body. The structure consists of a scaffold made of collagen, the body’s most abundant protein, and human epithelial cells (found in the lining of human blood vessels), which grew to form a network of tubes capable of transporting blood cells.

As we mentioned, the engineered blood vessels act amazingly similar to human blood vessels when exposed to certain substances. When brain cells were injected into the surrounding collagen scaffolding, the cells released a chemical which caused the blood vessels to sprout new branches. Treating the vessels with an inflammatory compound caused them to form clots, much like actual inflamed blood vessels. When a signaling protein that’s found to be abnormally abundant in cancer was added to the system, new, leaky blood vessels formed. That’s similar to the way cancer metastasizes; chemicals are secreted from a tumor that cause surrounding blood vessels to bulge and sprout and help spread cancerous cells to other parts of the body.

The system will eventually be used to study inflammation, clotting, and diseases such as malaria. Someday, we may even use to test drugs and devices and help grow human tissue.

Source : http://www.washington.edu/news/2012/05/28/engineered-microvessels-provide-a-3-d-test-bed-for-human-diseases/

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A Needle-Free Injection System Akin to a Railgun

A Needle-Free Injection System Akin to a Railgun

A Needle-Free Injection System Akin to a Railgun

MIT researchers have engineered a device that delivers a tiny, high-pressure jet of medicine through the skin without the use of a hypodermic needle. The device can be programmed to deliver a range of doses to various depths — an improvement over similar jet-injection systems that are now commercially available.

The researchers say that among other benefits, the technology may help reduce the potential for needle-stick injuries; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that hospital-based health care workers accidentally prick themselves with needles 385,000 times each year. A needleless device may also help improve compliance among patients who might otherwise avoid the discomfort of regularly injecting themselves with drugs such as insulin.

“If you are afraid of needles and have to frequently self-inject, compliance can be an issue,” says Catherine Hogan, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the research team. “We think this kind of technology … gets around some of the phobias that people may have about needles.”

The team reports on the development of this technology in the journal Medical Engineering & Physics.

Pushing past the needle

In the past few decades, scientists have developed various alternatives to hypodermic needles. For example, nicotine patches slowly release drugs through the skin. But these patches can only release drug molecules small enough to pass through the skin’s pores, limiting the type of medicine that can be delivered.

With the delivery of larger protein-based drugs on the rise, researchers have been developing new technologies capable of delivering them — including jet injectors, which produce a high-velocity jet of drugs that penetrate the skin. While there are several jet-based devices on the market today, Hogan notes that there are drawbacks to these commercially available devices. The mechanisms they use, particularly in spring-loaded designs, are essentially “bang or nothing,” releasing a coil that ejects the same amount of drug to the same depth every time.

Breaching the skin

Now the MIT team, led by Ian Hunter, the George N. Hatsopoulos Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has engineered a jet-injection system that delivers a range of doses to variable depths in a highly controlled manner. The design is built around a mechanism called a Lorentz-force actuator — a small, powerful magnet surrounded by a coil of wire that’s attached to a piston inside a drug ampoule. When current is applied, it interacts with the magnetic field to produce a force that pushes the piston forward, ejecting the drug at very high pressure and velocity (almost the speed of sound in air) out through the ampoule’s nozzle — an opening as wide as a mosquito’s proboscis.

Needleless injection system

MIT-engineered device injects drug without needles, delivering a high-velocity jet of liquid that breaches the skin at the speed of sound.

Image courtesy of the MIT BioInstrumentation Lab

The speed of the coil and the velocity imparted to the drug can be controlled by the amount of current applied; the MIT team generated pressure profiles that modulate the current. The resulting waveforms generally consist of two distinct phases: an initial high-pressure phase in which the device ejects drug at a high-enough velocity to “breach” the skin and reach the desired depth, then a lower-pressure phase where drug is delivered in a slower stream that can easily be absorbed by the surrounding tissue.

Through testing, the group found that various skin types may require different waveforms to deliver adequate volumes of drugs to the desired depth.

“If I’m breaching a baby’s skin to deliver vaccine, I won’t need as much pressure as I would need to breach my skin,” Hogan says. “We can tailor the pressure profile to be able to do that, and that’s the beauty of this device.”

Samir Mitragotri, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara, is developing new ways to deliver drugs, including via jet injection. Mitragotri, who was not involved with the research, sees the group’s technology as a promising step beyond jet injection designs currently on the market.

“Commercially available jet injectors … provide limited control, which limits their applications to certain drugs or patient populations,” Mitragotri says. “[This] design provides excellent control over jet parameters, including speed and doses … this will enhance the applicability of needleless drug devices.”

The team is also developing a version of the device for transdermal delivery of drugs ordinarily found in powdered form by programming the device to vibrate, turning powder into a “fluidized” form that can be delivered through the skin much like a liquid. Hunter says that such a powder-delivery vehicle may help solve what’s known as the “cold-chain” problem: Vaccines delivered to developing countries need to be refrigerated if they are in liquid form. Often, coolers break down, spoiling whole batches of vaccines. Instead, Hunter says a vaccine that can be administered in powder form requires no cooling, avoiding the cold-chain problem.

Trypanophobes, or people with a fear of medical procedures that involve needles, may have a reason to rejoice thanks to MIT researchers who are developing a needle-free jet injection system. The underlying principle, known as the Lorentz force, is the same that powers the military’s railguns. In brief, a large current is applied across two parallel rods, generating a magnetic force that accelerates a piston to extremely high velocities. The piston then collides with the drug compartment and forces the drug to eject through a small-diameter ampoule and eventually through the skin at speeds up to that of sound, or 340 m/s (768 mph). The video below explains the process further:

Though needle-free drug delivery systems – such as transdermal patches – already exist, many of these are restricted in the consistency and size of the particles being delivered. There are other systems which can deliver larger molecules, but these often are not able to accurately vary either the penetration depth or the dosage. The MIT team’s model is able to do both, as they describe in their paper in Medical Engineering & Physics. It may still take a few years before this or a related system is used widely, but there is hope that this type of technology will significantly reduce the dangerous number of occupational needle-stick injuries (estimated at over 385,000 in the US per year) as well as improve patient medication compliance.

source : http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/needleless-injections-0524.html

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Draeger Infinity Acute Care System Coming to North America

Draeger Infinity Acute Care System Coming to North America

Draeger Infinity Acute Care System Coming to North America

While technology brings many benefits to the delivery of patient care, it can cause unwanted complexity for caregivers. Complexity that results in clinicians spending more time on technical interfaces and complicated workflow – and less time directly focusing on the needs of their patients.

Telford, PA – Today Dräger announced the availability of its breakthrough Infinity Acute Care System monitoring solution in the United States and Canada*. This system pairs a handheld device for monitoring at the bedside and in-hospital transport with a widescreen medical workstation at the point of care. The system provides continuous surveillance, interoperability with Dräger’s ventilation systems, comprehensive patient information at the bedside, and the full suite of Masimo’s rainbow® SET noninvasive Pulse CO-Oximetry measurements, which can help hospitals increase patient safety and reduce costs. The Infinity Acute Care System has been in commercial use in European hospitals since 2010.

Medical technology brings many benefits to the delivery of patient care, but it can also add unwelcomed complexity for caregivers. As a result, clinicians often spend more time dealing with technical interfaces and complicated workflow and less time focusing on direct patient care.

“At Dräger, our response to increased technical and clinical complexity is to explore ways we can simplify acute care delivery for clinicians,” says Marita Klafke, President, Draeger Medical Systems Inc. “The Infinity Acute Care System monitoring solution is designed to help streamline workflow so that the clinician can focus on the needs of the patient.”

First installation at Rush University Medical Center

The highly rated Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is the first US hospital to fully incorporate this advanced new patient monitoring system. Dräger worked closely with Rush staff as they developed the hospital’s new 376-bed building known as the Tower, where Dräger’s monitoring and IT technology is installed in 304 acute and critical care rooms.

The monitoring solution consists of a handheld Infinity M540 patient monitor integrated with the Dräger Medical Cockpit®. The M540 transitions seamlessly from the bedside to wireless transport, eliminating the time consuming process of changing monitors and cables. The Medical Cockpit integrates vital signs data from the M540, together with networked information such as patient history, diagnostic images, lab results, and other relevant networked clinical information into one widescreen display at the point of care. The system also enables ventilation parameters from Dräger ventilators to be displayed on the Medical Cockpit and sent over the network.

Wireless on transport

This fully networked solution allows a single monitor to accompany the patient during the entire care pathway to minimize undetected events. When the Infinity M540 is undocked at the bedside, it automatically switches to wireless and broadcasts patient vital signs data to the Infinity Network allowing uninterrupted monitoring during transport on the Infinity CentralStation. At the same time, it opens the flow of patient information throughout the hospital and beyond to support time-critical decision making.

Masimo rainbow® SET technology for noninvasive, continuous Pulse CO-Oximetry measurements

The Infinity M540 integrates Masimo rainbow® SET technology – a new monitoring platform that noninvasively and continuously measures multiple blood components and hemodynamic parameters that previously required invasive procedures. Dräger is one of the first major monitoring vendors to offer the full suite of Masimo’s rainbow® SET Pulse CO-Oximetry measurements.

The Infinity Acute Care System monitoring solution is manufactured by Draeger Medical Systems, Inc. in Andover, Massachusetts for Draeger Medical GmbH.

Dräger. Technology for Life®

Dräger is a leading international company in the fields of medical and safety technology. Dräger products protect, support and save lives. Founded in 1889, in 2011 Dräger generated revenues of around EUR 2.26 billion. The Dräger Group is currently present in more than 190 countries and has about 12,000 employees worldwide. Please visit www.draeger.com for more information.

*The Infinity Acute Care System monitoring solution is pending Health Canada approval.

Source : http://www.jems.com/article/product-announcements/dr-ger-launches-breakthrough-infinity-ac

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New Microscope Enables Needle Free Blood Testing

New Microscope Enables Needle Free Blood Testing

New Microscope Enables Needle Free Blood Testing

Optical microscopy of blood cells in vivo provides a unique opportunity for clinicians and researchers to visualize the morphology and dynamics of circulating cells, but is usually limited by the imaging speed and by the need for exogenous labeling of the cells. Here we present a label-free approach for in vivo flow cytometry of blood using a compact imaging probe that could be adapted for bedside real-time imaging of patients in clinical settings, and demonstrate subcellular resolution imaging of red and white blood cells flowing in the oral mucosa of a human volunteer. By analyzing the large data sets obtained by the system, valuable blood parameters could be extracted and used for direct, reliable assessment of patient physiology.

OCIS Codes

(170.1470) Medical optics and biotechnology : Blood or tissue constituent monitoring

(170.1610) Medical optics and biotechnology : Clinical applications

(170.1790) Medical optics and biotechnology : Confocal microscopy

ToC Category:

Microscopy

History

Original Manuscript: March 9, 2012

Revised Manuscript: May 2, 2012

Manuscript Accepted: May 4, 2012

Published: May 21, 2012

Citation

Lior Golan, Daniella Yeheskely-Hayon, Limor Minai, Eldad J Dann, and Dvir Yelin, “Noninvasive imaging of flowing blood cells using label-free spectrally encoded flow cytometry,” Biomed. Opt. Express 3, 1455-1464 (2012)

http://www.opticsinfobase.org/boe/abstract.cfm?URI=boe-3-6-1455

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef’s Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

OSA Journals

Imaging granularity of leukocytes with third harmonic generation microscopy

Biomedical Optics Express, Vol. 3, Iss. 9, pg. 2234 (2012).

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Glucose and Other Measurements

For most people blood tests are synonymous with needle-sticks. However, researchers from the biomedical engineering department at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) may have found a way to take the pain out of some of our blood tests in the future. The researchers have developed a new microscope that can non-invasively image individual blood cells.

scanned blood cells New Microscope Enables Needle Free Blood TestingThe microscope uses spectrally encoded confocal microscopy (SECM), a technique which allows for 2D spatial imaging of the blood cells. In order to image the moving blood cells, a probe is pressed against the skin which generates a line spectrum of light from red to violet. As blood cells near the surface of the skin cross the projected spectrum they scatter the light, which is collected by the probe and analyzed to generate 2D images of the blood cells.

The researchers have just published details of an early validation study of the microscope in the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express. Using the device, the researchers scanned blood cells flowing through the lip of a healthy volunteer and measured the average diameter of the red and white blood cells and also calculated the percent volume of the different cell types.

While a number of other blood-scanning systems exist with the capability to image at cell resolution, the researchers believe their device will offer significant advantages in terms of speed, portability and safety. The team is currently working on a second generation device in order to achieve a greater penetration depth for imaging.

Source : http://www.opticsinfobase.org/boe/abstract.cfm?uri=boe-3-6-1455

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Data Design Diabetes Demo Day Semi-Finalist: iRetainRx

Data Design Diabetes Demo Day Semi-Finalist: iRetainRx

Data Design Diabetes Demo Day Semi-Finalist: iRetainRx

First up in our coverage of semi-finalists for Sanofi‘s Data Design Diabetes Demo Day is iRetainRx. Previous coverage here and here.

iRetainRx’s founder and CEO, David Parpart, began the pitch boldly, by saying, “We are going to save 500,000 lives this decade.” He then went on to describe how their interactive mobile system will allow caregivers, patients and pharmacists to collaborate on care plans. See, for every 100 prescriptions, only a fraction are filled, and only a fraction of those are even taken correctly. This attrition is particularly difficult with diabetes, where the regimens are complicated, the effect of the drugs can be hard to notice, and yet: noncompliance leads to huge extra social costs.

Parpart likens iRetainRx to “a good friend” who helps patients navigate a treatment plan. And he’s taking advantage of a trend of MTM – medication therapy management, which represents a big step forward for the pharmacist role, and a big opportunity for payers to intervene.

iRetainRx is more than a mobile app – he calls it a platform for effective med adherence outreach. Their app optimizes the pharmacist-patient encounter (they call it OBRA90 consult optimization) with patient and pharmacist-facing apps for web and tablet.

Dispensed medication bottles are outfitted with “smart sitckers” – NFC (near field communication) tech – so you can tap your mobile phone near the pillbox to get information on dosage and schedule. The potential is there (we think) to interface with your current blood sugar or even meal diary and tell you whether you need a medication or not. The stickers are cheap ($1.59) and provide emergency contact numbers and links for more info, as well.

So iRetainRx takes the big, nebulous idea of a treatment plan, with a confusing array of meds and diets and blood sugar data, and shrinks it down to something simple and actionable.

In the Q+A, it was revealed that they’re maneuvering this app so that it will not require an FDA clearance. And when someone asked if the problem in noncompliance was more about lifestyle than drug adherence, Parpart responded that people need to feel cared for to make necessary changes, and so iRetainRx is going to nudge patients at every opportunity.

Source : http://www.datadesigndiabetes.com/vote/

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