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Functional Neuromodulation for Alzheimer’s Begins Trial

Functional Neuromodulation for Alzheimer’s Begins Trial

Functional Neuromodulation for Alzheimer’s Begins Trial

Functional Neuromodulation, a medical technology company, develops neuromodulation technologies for cognitive and memory disorders. It offers deep brain stimulation therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. The company was founded in 2010 and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Description

Functional Neuromodulation Inc. is advancing the application of deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapies to improve the lives of people with Alzheimer’s and other memory and cognitive disorders. DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device to deliver mild electrical pulses to precisely targeted areas of the brain. Functional Neuromodulation has completed a $10.4M round of financing and has partnered with Medtronic, the pioneer of DBS technology; although DBS has been an effective treatment for movement disorders for over 15 years, it has only recently been applied to Alzheimer’s. Functional Neurotechnology is investigating the usage of DBS of the fornix (DBS-f) to drive neural activity and modulate the brain’s memory circuit. The fornix is a major inflow and output pathway in the brain’s memory circuit, and is one of the first areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s; thus, DBS of this structure may drive critical neural activity and modulate the memory circuit in patients with early Alzheimer’s. This earlier-stage medical device company expects to begin a Phase II multi-center clinical trial of DBS-f in patients with mild probable Alzheimer’s in 2012.

Company Overview

Functional Neuromodulation, Ltd. engages in the application of deep brain stimulation therapies for people with Alzheimer’s, and various other memory and cognitive disorders. The company focuses on assessing the safety and clinical benefits of deep brain stimulation of the fornix in patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease in the United States and Canada. Functional Neuromodulation, Ltd. was founded in 2010 and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Two Devices Treat Alzheimer’s

Pharmaceutical companies developing Alzheimer’s drugs have faced one hurdle after another. The most effective treatments are difficult to get into the brain, while those that show success in animals have yet to benefit humans.

Two startup companies aim to solve these problems by targeting the brain electrically rather than chemically. They’re both using technologies that have proven successful for other brain disorders. One company plans to use deep brain stimulation, which has been used to treat tens of thousands of Parkinson’s patients. The other hopes to find success with transcranial magnetic stimulation, a noninvasive approach used to treat depression and as a research tool to stimulate or inhibit specific parts of the brain.

In deep brain stimulation, electrical pulses are delivered to a dysfunctional part of the brain via a surgically implanted electrode, stimulating neural activity. The technology is being used or tested for a growing number of disorders, including medication resistant epilepsy, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Neurosurgeon Andres Lozano, at the University of Toronto, became interested in its potential for treating Alzheimer’s thanks to an unexpected finding published in 2008. Researchers were testing to see if they could help a morbidly obese patient lose weight by stimulating a part of the brain that governs satiety. Follow-up tests revealed that the patient showed a significant improvement in memory.

Brain imaging revealed that the obesity treatment activated various brain structures involved in memory. Such structures have typically deteriorated in Alzheimer’s patients, and Lozano’s idea is to use deep brain stimulation to boost activity in the memory circuits that patients have left. Late last year, Lozano formed startup Functional Neuromodulation with Daniel O’Connell, founder of Neuroventures and now its CEO, to commercialize the technology.

It’s still unclear how well the approach will work in people with the neurodegenerative disorder. A small study published last fall showed mixed results. The treatment appeared to slow cognitive decline in a few patients, but had no effect in others. However, researchers did find that deep brain stimulation reversed one of the markers of Alzheimer’s: impaired glucose metabolism in the brain. Preliminary evidence suggests that it is more effective when used at earlier stages of the disease.

About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a progressively debilitating disease that ultimately results in death. Today, an estimated 5.9 million North Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, with the cost to society exceeding $200 billion in this year alone. According to The World Alzheimer Report, 36 million people worldwide are living with dementia, with numbers expected to double every 20 years to 66 million by 2030 and 115 million by 2050. The worldwide costs of dementia (US$604 billion in 2010) amount to more than 1% of global GDP.

About Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) uses a surgically implanted medical device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver mild electrical pulses to precisely targeted areas of the brain.

Medtronic, in collaboration with leading physicians around the world, pioneered deep brain stimulation therapy, which was first approved in Europe in 1995 and the United States in 1997. More than 80,000 people worldwide have received Medtronic DBS Therapy.

Since this initial finding, Dr. Lozano and colleagues at Toronto Western Hospital completed a Phase I pilot study to test the safety and potential cognitive benefit of DBS in the fornix (DBS-f) in mild Alzheimer’s patients. The DBS target in Alzheimer’s, the fornix, is a large arch-like bundle of 1.2 million axons that connects the hippocampus to other parts of the limbic system, a group of interconnected structures in the brain that mediate emotions, learning and memory. The fornix is a major inflow and output pathway in the brain’s memory circuit and is one of the first areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s. With the fornix critical to memory function, DBS of this structure may drive critical neural activity.

The results from the pilot study in six patients indicate that DBS-f may drive neural activity and modulate the memory circuit in patients with early Alzheimer’s. While patients in this pilot study remained on medication during DBS treatment, based on the results of this trial, researchers hypothesize DBS-f may slow the rate of cognitive decline over 12 months relative to the expected rate of change in mildly impaired patients. Study data also show that DBS-f may produce improvement in glucose metabolism in brain areas associated with Alzheimer’s, possibly indicating an increase in energy utilization and function of these areas. The researchers conclude that memory circuits can be safely accessed with DBS. The study was published in the Annals of Neurology in 2010.

A follow-up paper evaluating the relationship between brain metabolism and clinical outcomes in that study was recently published in Archives of Neurology. That publication reported increased glucose metabolism in key brain networks after stimulation, indicating an increase in neuronal activity and better functional connectivity in areas affected by Alzheimer’s. At one year, this increase in brain metabolism correlated with better outcomes in cognition, memory and quality of life.

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Siemens’ New Artis Q and Artis Q.zen Angiography Systems

Siemens’ New Artis Q and Artis Q.zen Angiography Systems

Siemens’ New Artis Q and Artis Q.zen Angiography Systems

Siemens Healthcare has developed a revolutionary new X-ray tube and detector technology for its Artis Q and Artis Q.zen angiography systems to improve minimally invasive therapy of diseases such as coronary artery disease, stroke and cancer. In both the Artis Q and Artis Q.zen series, the new X-ray tube can help to identify small vessels up to 70 percent better than conventional X-ray tube technology. The Artis Q.zen combines this innovative X-ray source with a new detector technology that supports interventional imaging in ultra-low-dose ranges. This protects patients, doctors and medical staff, especially during longer interventions. With these new developments, presented for the first time at the 98th Congress of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), Siemens Healthcare has once again demonstrated its innovative strength and market competitiveness as part of its Agenda 2013 global Sector initiative.

Siemens presents new product lines for angiography: The Artis Q and Artis Q.zen introduce groundbreaking new X-ray tube and detector technology

Two hardware components are crucial for angiographic image quality: the X-ray tube and the detector. The X-rays emitted by the tube pass through the patient and hit the detector, which converts them to image signals.

The second generation of Siemens’ flat emitter technology is key to the advances made in the X-ray tube for the Artis Q and Artis Q.zen product lines. Instead of the coiled filaments used in conventional X-ray tubes, flat emitter technology is used exclusively in the new tube to emit electrons. Flat emitters enable smaller quadratic focal spots that lead to improved visibility of small vessels by up to 70 percent. Both physicians and patients benefit from a high level of detail in imaging-supported interventional therapy. Neurologists can more precisely measure the blood circulation in specific areas of the brain, for example; while stenoses in the heart’s smallest blood vessels can be spotted in coronary angiography.

Examinations using ultra-low dose radiation

The Artis Q.zen series combines the X-ray tube with a detector technology that allows detection at ultra-low radiation levels. Artis Q.zen imaging can use doses as low as half the usual levels normally applied in angiography. This improvement is the result of several innovations, including a fundamental change in detector technology. Until now, almost all detectors have been based on amorphous silicon. The new crystalline silicon structure of the Artis Q.zen detector is more homogenous, allowing for more effective amplification of the signal, greatly reducing the electronic noise even at ultra-low doses.

The Artis Q.zen was developed to support better imaging quality at ultra-low-dose ranges, reducing the radiation exposure of patients, physicians, and medical staff. This is especially important in dose-sensitive application fields such as pediatric cardiology and radiology, or electrophysiology, which is being used on more and more patients as rates of cardiac arrhythmia increase in an aging population.

Innovative applications for interventional imaging

In addition to the hardware innovations are several software applications that improve interventional imaging. In coronary artery disease treatment, the applications allow precise correlation of angiography images with ultrasound images taken by a probe inside the coronary arteries. Stents are imaged in real-time during therapy, with motion stabilization created by simultaneous correction for the heartbeat.

Other new 3D applications can image the smallest structures inside the head. Their high spatial resolution is crucial for imaging intracranial stents or other miniscule structures, such as the cochlea in the inner ear. Moving organs such as the lungs can be imaged in 3D in less than 3 seconds, reducing the number of motion artifacts and the amount of contrast agent required. Through visualization and measurement of blood volumes in the liver or other organs, Siemens’ functional 3D imaging provides a basis for planning therapies such as chemo-embolization of hepatic tumors.

Launched in November 2011 by the Siemens Healthcare Sector, “Agenda 2013″ is a two-year global initiative to further strengthen the Healthcare Sector’s innovative power and competitiveness. Specific measures will be implemented in four fields of action: Innovation, Competitiveness, Regional Footprint, and People Development.

Press photos for the Artis Q and Artis Q.zen will be available at: www.siemens.com/healthcare-pictures/Artis-Q

The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world’s largest suppliers to the healthcare industry and a trendsetter in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, medical information technology and hearing aids. Siemens offers its customers products and solutions for the entire range of patient care from a single source – from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, and on to treatment and aftercare. By optimizing clinical workflows for the most common diseases, Siemens also makes healthcare faster, better and more cost-effective. Siemens Healthcare employs some 51,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. In fiscal year 2012 (to September 30), the Sector posted revenue of 13.6 billion euros and profit of 1.8 billion euros. For further information please visit: http://www.siemens.com/healthcare

The products/features (here mentioned) are not commercially available in all countries. Due to regulatory reasons their future availability cannot be guaranteed. Please contact your local Siemens organization for further details.

Siemens has unveiled two new angiography systems at RSNA in Chicago that feature brand new X-ray tubes and detectors that together produce a substantially higher spatial resolution over previous generation systems. brain drainage stent Siemens New Artis Q and Artis Q.zen Angiography SystemsThe new systems allow neuro and cardiac surgeons to visualize small vessels with greater precision during interventional procedures and provide options for radiation dose reduction where the absolute best possible imaging is not necessary.

As an example of what is possible with the new angiography systems, Siemens was showing off an image of an implanted neuro drainage stent that’s about the width of a human hair. Pretty remarkable if you ask us.

More from Siemens:

Instead of the coiled filaments used in conventional X-ray tubes, flat emitter technology is used exclusively in the new tube to emit electrons. Flat emitters enable smaller quadratic focal spots that lead to improved visibility of small vessels by up to 70 percent. In addition to the hardware innovations are several software applications that improve interventional imaging. In coronary artery disease treatment, the applications allow precise correlation of angiography images with ultrasound images taken by a probe inside the coronary arteries.

Artis Q and Artis Q.zen side Siemens New Artis Q and Artis Q.zen Angiography SystemsStents are imaged in real-time during therapy, with motion stabilization created by simultaneous correction for the heartbeat.The Artis Q.zen series combines the X-ray tube with a detector technology that allows detection at ultra-low radiation levels. Artis Q.zen imaging can use doses as low as half the usual levels normally applied in angiography. This improvement is the result of several innovations, including a fundamental change in detector technology. Until now, almost all detectors have been based on amorphous silicon. The new crystalline silicon structure of the Artis Q.zen detector is more homogenous, allowing for more effective amplification of the signal, greatly reducing the electronic noise even at ultra-low doses. Other new 3D applications can image the smallest structures inside the head. Their high spatial resolution is crucial for imaging intracranial stents or other miniscule structures, such as the cochlea in the inner ear. Moving organs such as the lungs can be imaged in 3D in less than 3 seconds, reducing the number of motion artifacts and the amount of contrast agent required.

Source : http://www.siemens.com/press/en/pressrelease/?press=/en/pressrelease/2012/healthcare/imaging-therapy-systems/him201211007.htm

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Nanochip Mimics Nose Function and Sniffs Out Explosives

Nanochip Mimics Nose Function and Sniffs Out Explosives

Nanochip Mimics Nose Function and Sniffs Out Explosives

The dominant physical transport processes are analyzed in a free-surface microfluidic and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) chemical detection system. The analysis describes the characteristic fluid dynamics and mass transport effects occurring in a microfluidic detection system whose analyte absorption and concentration capability is designed to operate on principles inspired by canine olfaction. The detection system provides continuous, real-time monitoring of particular vapor-phase analytes at concentrations of 1 ppb. The system is designed with a large free-surface-to-volume ratio microfluidic channel which allows for polar or hydrophilic airborne analytes to readily be partitioned from the surrounding gas phase into the aqueous phase for detection. The microfluidic stream can concentrate certain molecules by up to 6 orders of magnitude, and SERS can enhance the Raman signal by 9–10 orders of magnitude for molecules residing in the so-called SERS “hot spots”, providing extremely high detection sensitivity. The resulting vibrational spectra are sufficiently specific to identify the detected analyte unambiguously. Detection performance was demonstrated using a nominal 1 ppb, 2,4-dinitrotoluene (2,4-DNT) vapor stream entrained within N2 gas. Applications to homeland security arise from the system’s high sensitivity and its ability to provide highly reproducible, continuous chemical detection monitoring with minimal sampling requirements.

(Santa Barbara, CA —) Portable, accurate, and highly sensitive devices that sniff out vapors from explosives and other substances could become as commonplace as smoke detectors in public places, thanks to researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Researchers at UCSB, led by professors Carl Meinhart of mechanical engineering and Martin Moskovits of chemistry, have designed a detector that uses microfluidic nanotechnology to mimic the biological mechanism behind canine scent receptors. The device is both highly sensitive to trace amounts of certain vapor molecules, and able to tell a specific substance apart from similar molecules.

“Dogs are still the gold standard for scent detection of explosives. But like a person, a dog can have a good day or a bad day, get tired or distracted,” said Meinhart. “We have developed a device with the same or better sensitivity as a dog’s nose that feeds into a computer to report exactly what kind of molecule it’s detecting.” The key to their technology, explained Meinhart, is in the merging of principles from mechanical engineering and chemistry in a collaboration made possible by UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies .

Nanotech Device Mimics Dog’s Nose to Detect Explosives on Vimeo.

Results published this month in Analytical Chemistry show that their device can detect airborne molecules of a chemical called 2,4-dinitrotoluene, the primary vapor emanating from TNT-based explosives. The human nose cannot detect such minute amounts of a substance, but “sniffer” dogs have long been used to track these types of molecules. Their technology is inspired by the biological design and microscale size of the canine olfactory mucus layer, which absorbs and then concentrates airborne molecules.

“The device is capable of real-time detection and identification of certain types of molecules at concentrations of 1 ppb or below. Its specificity and sensitivity are unparalleled,” said Dr. Brian Piorek, former mechanical engineering doctoral student in Meinhart’s laboratory and Chief Scientist at Santa Barbara-based SpectraFluidics, Inc . The technology has been patented and exclusively licensed to SpectraFluidics, a company that Piorek co-founded in 2008 with private investors.

“Our research project not only brings different disciplines together to develop something new, but it also creates jobs for the local community and hopefully benefits society in general,” commented Meinhart.

Packaged on a fingerprint-sized silicon microchip and fabricated at UCSB’s state-of-the-art cleanroom facility, the underlying technology combines free-surface microfluidics and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to capture and identify molecules. A microscale channel of liquid absorbs and concentrates the molecules by up to six orders of magnitude. Once the vapor molecules are absorbed into the microchannel, they interact with nanoparticles that amplify their spectral signature when excited by laser light. A computer database of spectral signatures identifies what kind of molecule has been captured.

“The device consists of two parts,” explained Moskovits. “There’s a microchannel, which is like a tiny river that we use to trap the molecules and present them to the other part, a mini spectrometer powered by a laser that detects them. These microchannels are twenty times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.”

“The technology could be used to detect a very wide variety of molecules,” said Meinhart. “The applications could extend to certain disease diagnosis or narcotics detection, to name a few.”

Moskovits added, “The paper we published focused on explosives, but it doesn’t have to be explosives. It could detect molecules from someone’s breath that may indicate disease, for example, or food that has spoiled.”

The fundamental research was developed through an interdisciplinary collaboration between Professors Meinhart and Moskovits, and carried out by former doctoral researchers Dr. Piorek and Dr. Seung-Joon Lee. Their project was funded in part by UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through the Army Research Office and DARPA.

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The College of Engineering at University of California, Santa Barbara is recognized globally as a leader among the top tier of engineering education and research programs, and is renowned for a successful interdisciplinary approach to engineering research.

The Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies at University of California, Santa Barbara is a uniquely interdisciplinary alliance of more than 150 researchers in academia, industry, and the U.S. Army that conducts unclassified, fundamental bio-inspired research in sensors, materials, biodiscovery, network science, and cognitive neuroscience. Led by the University of California, Santa Barbara, in collaboration with MIT, Caltech, the Army, and industry partners, the ICB transforms biological inspiration into technological innovation.

Why do we still use dogs to sniff out dangerous explosives at the airport? That’s because even with all the modern science and technology available, man’s best friend continues to be the best at it. Things may change, as researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara have now developed a device that may rival a dog’s olfactory ability. Their nanotech device is inspired by the biology of canine scent receptors. It uses microfluidics to detect airborne molecules of TNT explosives and distinguish them from similar molecules. The results of the research were published in Analytical Chemistry.

A dog’s nose is more sensitive than a human nose and can pick up the scent of explosives very well. A dog however, is an animal, and the sensitivity of its nose can be disturbed by fatigue or distraction. This is a characteristic that computers and devices don’t share with living beings. That is what brought Carl Meinhart and Martin Moskovits to the idea of developing a device that is as sensitive as a dog’s nose in picking up TNT vapors.

From UCSB:

Packaged on a fingerprint-sized silicon microchip and fabricated at UCSB’s state-of-the-art cleanroom facility, the underlying technology combines free-surface microfluidics and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to capture and identify molecules. A microscale channel of liquid absorbs and concentrates the molecules by up to six orders of magnitude. Once the vapor molecules are absorbed into the microchannel, they interact with nanoparticles that amplify their spectral signature when excited by laser light. A computer database of spectral signatures identifies what kind of molecule has been captured.

Source : http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac302497y?journalCode=ancham

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Sonar System Enables the Blind to “See”

Sonar System Enables the Blind to “See”

Sonar System Enables the Blind to “See”

A “sonar vision” system that enables people who are blind from birth to perceive the shape of a face, a house or even words and letters, is being developed by a team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Using this device, the researchers have shown that, in people that are blind from birth, the areas of the cerebral cortex normally devoted to reading become activated in response to stimulation. The results of this study, conducted in conjunction with researchers at the ICM Brain and Bone Marrow Institute Research Center (Inserm/UPMC/AP-HP) and NeuroSpin (CEA-Inserm), were published in Neuron on November 8.

Published on Monday 12 November 2012 | A “sonar vision” system that enables people who are blind from birth to perceive the shape of a face, a house or even words and letters, is being developed by a team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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It is generally accepted that the visual cortex fails to develop normally in the congenitally blind, to such an extent that it can prove impossible to recover sight at a later point – even in cases where blindness can be corrected. In reality, the blind can indeed access a kind of vision, describe objects, and even identify written words and letters, using a “sensory substitution device” (SSD), which transforms images into sound.These are the results demonstrated in the study conducted at the Edmond and Lily Safra Neuroscience Center (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). The study was conceived by researchers at the Hebrew University, who carried out the experimental components, with scientific support from French cognitive neuroimaging specialists. The device consists in a small video camera embedded in a pair of eyeglasses, a laptop (or Smartphone) which transforms images into sounds, and stereo headphones to hear the sounds produced. For example, an oblique line is transformed into an increasingly high-pitched sound (or increasingly lower-pitched sound). The same principle is used to encode much more complex images in auditory form.Using this system, the blind can achieve greater “visual” acuity than that defined as blindness according to WHO criteria.After only 70 hours of specialized training, the blind are able to correctly classify images into different categories (faces, houses, etc.). They can also perceive other important information, such as where people are located in a room and certain facial expressions. They can even read words and letters (see videos at http://brain.huji.ac.il/).In addition to the performance enabled by this sensory substitution system, the researchers at the Hebrew University wanted to understand what happens in the brain when a blind person learns to “see” through sound. To this end, they have developed a functional MRI study based on a specific paradigm. In particular, they have shown that the regions of the cortex normally devoted to visual perception, which seem to serve no apparent use in the blind, become highly activated in response to the “sonar vision” of faces, houses and words, etc.Not only is the visual cortex activated, it also demonstrates a “normal” functional selectivity of different categories of objects. Thus, in a sighted person, a very specific region of the visual cortex in the left hemisphere (known by the acronym VWFA), is known to become more activated when perceiving a string of letters than when perceiving any other kind of object. It is exactly this same region that is activated when a blind person reads letter using the “sonar vision” device.“The fact that this specialization for reading develops after just a few hours of training shows a remarkable degree of cerebral plasticity,” explained Stanislas Dehaene (NeuroSpin brain imaging center). These results back up the idea that that the so-called visual cortex is selective in analyzing the shape of objects, and can perform this function based on visual input (as is generally the case), but also, if necessary, based on auditory or tactile input.“These results suggest that it may be possible, with the right technology and rehabilitation, to ‘wake up’ certain areas of the brain and access certain aspects of the visual world, even after years, or even a lifetime of blindness,” concluded Laurent Cohen (ICM Research Center).

Highlights

The visual word form area (VWFA) is selective for letters without visual experience

Blind VWFA letter selectivity exists even relative to complex stimuli such as faces

This selectivity can develop in the adult brain for a new sense used for reading

The VWFA shows amodal feature tolerance for linking letter shapes to phonology

Summary

Using a visual-to-auditory sensory-substitution algorithm, congenitally fully blind adults were taught to read and recognize complex images using “soundscapes”—sounds topographically representing images. fMRI was used to examine key questions regarding the visual word form area (VWFA): its selectivity for letters over other visual categories without visual experience, its feature tolerance for reading in a novel sensory modality, and its plasticity for scripts learned in adulthood. The blind activated the VWFA specifically and selectively during the processing of letter soundscapes relative to both textures and visually complex object categories and relative to mental imagery and semantic-content controls. Further, VWFA recruitment for reading soundscapes emerged after 2 hr of training in a blind adult on a novel script. Therefore, the VWFA shows category selectivity regardless of input sensory modality, visual experience, and long-term familiarity or expertise with the script. The VWFA may perform a flexible task-specific rather than sensory-specific computation, possibly linking letter shapes to phonology.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a device with which congenitally blind people will be able to see again to some extent. This “sonar vision” device transforms images into sound, enabling the blind to perceive visual information via the ear. Results of the conducted study using the technology were published in Neuron.

The sonar system can transform images into sounds by using a combination of a video camera embedded in a pair of eyeglasses, a laptop and headphones. Before being able to “see” with this device, a person will need about 70 hours of specialized training in identifying shapes transformed into sound. After this training the blind person may become very adept at perceiving information like where people are located in a room and even to read words and letters.

The research also showed that certain regions of the visual cortex become highly activated after perceiving the “sonar vision” of objects. Functional MRI testing even showed a similar functional selectivity of different categories of objects, compared with sighted people. These results point towards the idea that the visual cortex also analyses the shapes of objects through auditory or tactile input. This shows promise that blind people with the right technology and training might be able to perceive the visual properties of the environment through other senses than sight.

Source : http://www.cea.fr/english-portal/news-list/a-sonar-vision-system-for-the-congenitally-blind-96675

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Toshiba Unveils Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition CT Scanner

Toshiba Unveils Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition CT Scanner

Toshiba Unveils Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition CT Scanner

Hospitals will now be able to diagnose diseases faster and safer with Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc.’s newest and most advanced CT system yet, the AquilionTM ONE ViSION Edition. The system offers a low dose exam with the largest bore, widest coverage and thinnest slices.

Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition is equipped with a gantry rotation of 0.275 seconds, a 100 kw generator and 320 detector rows (640 unique slices) covering 16 cm in a single rotation, with the industry’s thinnest slices, 500 microns (0.5 mm). The system can accommodate more patients with its 78 cm bore and fast rotation, including bariatric and patients with high heart rates.

Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition also includes Toshiba’s third-generation iterative dose reconstruction software, AIDR 3D, which incorporates significant system enhancements by reducing radiation dose compared with conventional scanning.

“Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition reduces risk and maximizes returns,” said Satrajit Misra, senior director, CT Business Unit, Toshiba. “It is capable of imaging the entire brain and heart in a single rotation with 500-micron accuracy, and can capture both anatomical and functional data.”

Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition has been installed at Fujita Health University in Japan; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.; Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands; Monash Medical Centre Clayton, Southern Health in Australia; Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital in Hong Kong; and Iwate Medical University in Japan. Future installations include University Health Network—Toronto General Hospital in Canada and Rigshospitalet in Denmark.

Toshiba launched Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting in Chicago, Nov. 25 – 30, 2012 (Booth #3438, South Hall).

About Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc.

With headquarters in Tustin, Calif., Toshiba America Medical Systems (TAMS) markets, sells, distributes and services radiology and cardiovascular systems, including CT, MR, ultrasound, X-ray and cardiovascular equipment, and coordinates clinical diagnostic imaging research for all modalities in the United States. For more information, visit the TAMS website at www.medical.toshiba.com.

About Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation

Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation is a leading worldwide provider of medical diagnostic imaging systems and comprehensive medical solutions, such as CT, X-ray and vascular, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and MRI systems, as well as information systems for medical institutions. Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation has been providing medical products for over 80 years. Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba.

About Toshiba

Toshiba is a world-leading diversified manufacturer, solutions provider and marketer of advanced electronic and electrical products and systems. Toshiba Group brings innovation and imagination to a wide range of businesses: digital products, including LCD TVs, notebook PCs, retail solutions and MFPs; electronic devices, including semiconductors, storage products and materials; industrial and social infrastructure systems, including power generation systems, smart community solutions, medical systems and escalators & elevators; and home appliances.

Toshiba was founded in 1875, and today operates a global network of more than 550 consolidated companies, with 202,000 employees worldwide and annual sales surpassing 6.1 trillion yen (US$74 billion). Visit Toshiba’s website at www.toshiba.co.jp/index.htm.

Toshiba released its new flagship CT scanner, the Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition, at the RSNA in Chicago last week. CTA of Head and Neck Toshiba Unveils Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition CT ScannerYou think 64-slice is state of the art?

This baby does 640 slice reconstruction – sporting “a gantry rotation of 0.275 seconds, a 100 kw generator and 320 detector rows (640 unique slices) covering 16 cm in a single rotation, with the industry’s thinnest slices, 500 microns (0.5 mm),” according to the company.

Aquilion ONE ViSION Edition is a Dynamic Volume CT scanner with the Industry’s largest detector

0.5 mm Quantum Detector, 320 rows with 640-slice reconstruction

16 cm z-axis coverage expands functional and anatomical capabilities

78 cm bore accommodates bariatric patients and interventional procedure

0.275 sec rotation

100 kW generator

Source : http://medical.toshiba.com/news/press-releases/2012/11/25/1509/

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Cios Alpha: Siemens’ New, More Powerful Mobile C-arm

Cios Alpha: Siemens’ New, More Powerful Mobile C-arm

Cios Alpha: Siemens’ New, More Powerful Mobile C-arm

At the RSNA in Chicago, Siemens unveiled a new mobile C-arm that, compared to currently available devices, offers more power and a full uncropped square image even during rotation. This is thanks to beam shaping collimators that rotate along with the X-ray tube which normally would be relatively stationary and so force a cropping of the image corners.

Siemens Cios Alpha Cios Alpha: Siemens New, More Powerful Mobile C armAt 25 kilowatts, the x-rays should penetrate most obese patients and Siemens promises that the new built-in cooling system should hold up during long procedures while offering quick turnaround between patients.

More about the Cios Alpha according to Siemens:

The system’s 30 x 30 cm detector, combined with its 25 kW power output, provides high-resolution, high-contrast images and can cover the finest structures in the range of submillimeters – a particularly beneficial feature in minimally invasive surgery, where fine catheters and instruments are used frequently. Due to the flat, compact design of its flat-panel detector, Cios Alpha also provides doctors and medical personnel with additional space and thus better patient access than traditional image intensifiers.

The Cios Alpha’s special cooling system protects it from overheating, helping to ensure consistently high image quality even during long operations. This is critical, as an overheated system automatically reduces the power level, which leads to reduced image quality. In that case, the C-arm system would have to be changed to complete the intervention, while the original system would require a longer cooling period prior to reuse. Cios Alpha also has a new touch screen interface that offers surgeons greater safety and convenience in the OR. The system can be operated with three identical touch screens — on the C-arm, the monitor cart and the table-side control. Using these touch screens, the surgeon has full control of the equipment at any time during interventions. Operating staff members who often lack full view on the monitor cart can use small image previews integrated into the touch screens that enable direct control of image manipulations such as zooming or running-in of radiographic collimators. Cios Alpha also has a unique C-arm position storage feature. With one click, the motorized C-arm takes on a previously stored projection, eliminating manual repositioning. For a

better overview during vascular procedures, the surgeon can use Cios Alpha’s vessel overlay software.

Source : http://www.siemens.com/press/pool/de/pressemitteilungen/2012/healthcare/clinical-products/HCP201211003e.pdf

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Anatomage Virtual Autopsy Table Extends Possibilities in Anatomical Education

Anatomage Virtual Autopsy Table Extends Possibilities in Anatomical Education

Anatomage Virtual Autopsy Table Extends Possibilities in Anatomical Education

Virtual Dissection Table

Anatomage offers a unique, life-size virtual dissection table for the medical community. The Table offers an unprecedented realistic visualization of 3D anatomy and interactivity. Delivering accurate anatomic details, it is complementary for cadaver based dissection courses. For anatomy courses without cadavers, The Table offers the most realistic virtual cadaver. This cutting edge technology will help raise the standards of medical education to the next level.

Full Body Life Size

The Table offers stunning visualization of full body anatomy in Life Size. The perception is the next best thing to real patients or full body cadavers.

FullbodyAnatomage

Operating Table Experience

The form factor of the Table allows students to replicate a true operating table experience. The virtual patient is recumbent as students stand beside the Table and interact with the volume, rotating it easily to aid in anatomical spacial understanding. In addition, by incorporating physical instruments into a curriculum, the Table provides a medium for simulating operation procedures in a natural and intuitive manner.

Intuitive Touch Operations

Interactivity is intuitively at your finger tips. Turn patients, remove portions or completely change the view with the swipe of a finger. The Table offers both a very natural and very interactive experience.

Group Interaction and Teaching

The Table fosters dynamic, interactive learning environments. The full body, life-size form factor allows for easy integration into small group learning programs. Students and instructors can easily stand around the Table, view images together and collectively determine diagnoses. With the Table simulating a patient table, the similarity to traditional medical and anatomical teaching methods makes for an easy adoption into an existing course without significant changes to the curriculum or design of the classroom.

Gross Anatomy Education

The Table allows students to visualize skeletal tissues, muscles, organs and soft tissue. These various tissues and views can be customized by virtually slicing, layering, and segmenting the anatomy. This adds a new dimension of depth to the education that the students will receive. Custom annotations can be easily added to the visualizations of anatomical structures. With flexible annotation tools, institutions can create innovative programs, quizzes, and new methods of study that have only now become possible.

Unlimited Material

The Table comes with a full body gross anatomy model rendered from CT scan data. The data is fused with anatomically accurate, textured surface models for educational purposes. The Table can also open any data from CT, MRI, and ultra-sound scanners. Additionally 2D photographic images, or even full presentations, can also be displayed on the Table. The Table is immediately ready to incorporate into any curriculum and can be easily and inexpensively augmented with additional materials.

Virtual Dissection

When the luxury of actual dissections is not available, the virtual dissection with imaging data on the Table offers the next best solution. Based on true human anatomy, The Table delivers faithful details and realism. Students can cut the body, peel off soft tissue or remove an organ with their fingers. And unlike cadavers, the students can redo and undo the dissection again and again.

Procedure Based Teaching

In addition to general gross anatomy applications, users can apply the Table to specialty teaching applications as well. In the realm of pathology, specific cases can be used for teaching and examinations. In the realm of surgical procedures, the image data can be used as a three-dimensional framework on which to base the discussion. The images are 1:1 life size and actual devices and instruments can be presented with The Table to effectively illustrate patient and doctor positions and access. Whatever the specialty or application, The Table offers the potential to take the educational process to the next level.

Case Review

The life size 3D rendering displayed on The Table allows for case reviews with a complete medical team. Whether a radiologist is showing a case to a surgeon or a full team of specialists is reviewing a case together, it’s an easy and highly effective communication tool. This will open up new methods of collaboration between doctors that were never before possible.

Patient Consultations

Visual communication with patients is very effective on The Table. It can be used for case acceptance of a particular procedure or simply education and consultation. Showing the patient’s own scan in life-size and illustrating it in 3D is a much more effective and technologically impressive presentation than any other method.

Medical Device Presentations

For medical device companies, the best way to illustrate the usage, efficacy and application of the product is by using The Table along with real patient data. This will convey a very strong message to any potential customer. When placed in a trade-show, this will be the most dramatic attention grabbing tool to pull customers in and increase the time they stay at the booth and ask questions. Due to its advanced educational foundation, this provides the highest quality experience and delivers a trustworthy and effective presentation to doctors and clients.

Academic Institutes

The Table offers a unique digital anatomy teaching platform and digital anatomy offers various benefits:

No chemicals

No costly cadaver labs

No recurring purchasing costs

No facility and ventilation problems

Still, the Table offers a completely unique and effective educational tool that can be incorporated into any curriculum. The faculty and students can engage the subject with a great degree of immersion.

The Table can be a foundation or a supplement to any gross anatomy curriculum and teaching method. The faculty and students will be equally impressed with the visual realism and details of this life-sized virtual dissection table. The Table allows students to visualize skeletal tissues, muscles, organs and soft tissue. These various tissues and views can be customized by virtually slicing, layering, and segmenting the anatomy. This adds a new dimension of depth to the education that the students will receive. Whether the students have access to cadaver based dissections or model based dissections, The Table offers primary and supplemental information. Unlike a cadaver, the imaging data can be altered extensively and instantly restored and reused many times. The students will gain additional understanding of the spacial relationships of anatomy, locations of hard to identify structures, and will be able to better comprehend the relationships of multiple biological systems in the human body. With flexible annotation tools, institutions can create innovative programs, quizzes, and study methods.

Clinics and Hospitals

The Table can be used in many different ways in a hospital setting. It could be installed in the hospital lobby or consultation rooms to create an impressive center piece for patients and guests. It will set a great perception of the institution’s technological edge and levels of quality.

The Table adds a new dimension to patient education and consultation. It can be used for case acceptance of a particular procedure or simply routine education and consultation. Showing the patient’s own scan in life-size and illustrating it in 3D is a much more effective and technologically impressive presentation than any other method.

The life size 3D rendering displayed on The Table allows for case reviews with a complete medical team. Whether a radiologist is showing a case to a surgeon or a full team of specialists is reviewing a case together. The Table is an easy and highly effective communication tool, opening up new methods of collaboration between doctors.

Research Institutes

The Table offers a whole host of new research potential. This could be research directly related to the use of this new technology for academic teaching methods, patient education, case reviews, hospital team work and other similar studies where this new method of interaction could be assessed. It could also be used as a center piece for different researchers to come together and interact with data, images, presentations, and other media all at the same time.

Corporations

The Table adds a tremendous amount of prestige to any conference room. Companies can use it to impress their guests, business partners, or to win corporate relationships within their industry. When placed in a trade-show, this will be the most dramatic attention grabbing tool, pulling customers in and increasing the time they stay at the booth and ask questions. Due to its advanced educational foundation, this provides the highest quality experience and delivers a trustworthy and effective presentation to doctors and clients.

Hardware

The screen is 3960 x 1080 resolution. The LCD technology makes it very bright with high contract even under the day light and does not require to be operated in a dark room.

The optical touch interactive sensors do not require a human finger like capacitive sensors. Any stylus could be used to operate The Table, which could help to keep the surface clean if being used in anatomy lab environments.

The system is mobile. Users can move the system from room to room on rollers and they could be locked into a position. The Table is approximately 500 lbs in weight and is built to be very stable. Around a dozen people can easily stand around and comfortably interact each other and The Table at the same time.

Software

The unique anatomy study software is developed by Anatomage based on the renowned and successful Invivo5 imaging software technology. The software has unique rendering technology that allows for volume rendering, 3D mesh rendering and photographic rendering to simultaneously blend with each other in and accurate and consistent 3D space. When blended together it would be hard to distinguish which portion is volume rendering and which portion is surface rendering, thus creating a very advanced visualization that is unmatched.

3D Digital Anatomy Library

Also available for expanded utilization of the Table is a complete library collection of 100 real-life clinical scans involving hospital emergency cases, pathology cases, and scans featuring routine medical examinations where CT imaging modality is the standard.

Custom Use

The Table is not limited to the provided data set. Users can open any radiology scan data for 3D visualization. The system is based on FDA approved medical imaging software, and it is compatible with any DICOM data, such as CT or MRI data. Users can zoom, rotate and slice with the fingers just like the anatomy data.

Among the rows of equipment vendors and service providers at RSNA 2012, we found an interesting virtual autopsy table that may help change the way anatomy is taught in medical schools. Developed by Anatomage of San Jose, California, it should complement traditional dissection for understanding anatomy while getting students comfortable with looking at tomographic and volumetric images of their subject. Here’s a company rep showing off the Anatomage Table to the Medgadget audience:

Source : http://www.anatomage.com/product-TheTable.html

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GE Combines Fluoroscopy and Ultrasound in New Interventional Suite

GE Combines Fluoroscopy and Ultrasound in New Interventional Suite

GE Combines Fluoroscopy and Ultrasound in New Interventional Suite

For more than three decades, GE Healthcare has been committed to delivering high-quality, innovative advances in the mobile surgical C-arm field – supporting successful surgeries throughout the world with easy-to-use technology. Today at RSNA 2012, GE Healthcare (NYSE: GE) will showcase a number of new advanced imaging solutions for the surgical space, helping clinicians see more in the OR. These new innovations from OEC take surgical imaging to the next level, with offerings including a fluoroscopy ultrasound All-In-One Unit, and OEC’s new, affordable Brivo 865 Advance C-arm.

OEC Elite + Venue 40

Medical professionals worldwide have long recognized fluoroscopy and ultrasound as valuable modalities in the OR, and yet each imaging system is still considered and bought separately. Today, GE Healthcare shares its latest addition to its family of Hybrid Operating Solutions, the OEC Elite + Venue 40*, an integrated fluoroscopy and ultrasound all-in-one unit.

For the first time, surgeons and physicians can access fluoroscopy and ultrasound in a single workstation, to help maximize efficiencies in OR workflow, floor space, and costs. This new system combines the power, precision and performance of the OEC 9900 Elite C-arm with the simple-to-use GE Venue 40 tablet ultrasound to help see more during surgical procedures.

“We’re excited to bring together these two technologies, giving our customers the confidence they need to perform more complex procedures,” said Joe Shrawder, President and CEO, GE Healthcare Surgery. “We take pride in the advanced imaging capabilities of all of our systems across the GE portfolio. Combining two of our leading systems for the surgical suite is a solution our customers will appreciate.”

With this new system, the GE Venue 40 tablet is mounted within the OEC 9900 Elite C-arm’s workstation, allowing surgeons to easily access the ultrasound tablet when needed. Guiding the insertion and placement of needles, guidewires and catheters, surgeons can see more on the screens within comfortable view by leveraging these two modalities.

Instead of moving patients or imaging equipment in and out of the OR during procedures, surgical staff can view collocated displays for fluoroscopy and ultrasound without leaving the OR. The OEC Elite + Venue 40 brings both modalities together, allowing medical professionals to efficiently manage complex treatments while helping to preserve sterile environments.

“With its compact size and combined functions, this new system gives the surgical team more room to maneuver quickly around the OR, especially when responding to sudden changes in a patient’s condition during a procedure,” Shrawder said. “And when patient care requires ultrasound alone, the Venue 40 unit easily detaches from the C-arm to go to the clinical environment where the patient needs care.”

*The OEC Elite + Venue 40 is not available for sale in all areas globally.

OEC Brivo 865 Advance

GE’s leadership in innovation continues with the OEC Brivo 865 Advance**, the company’s latest addition to its portfolio of surgical C-arms. With legacy OEC image quality and ease-of-use the affordability and reliability of this new Brivo C-arm will offer a high quality, affordable option for basic surgical imaging.

The first C-arm from OEC’s Brivo line designed for the needs of US customers, the Brivo Advance utilizes enhancements and extras—such as Advanced Clear Intelligence imaging, an intuitive user interface, and wireless connectivity—to give surgical teams the image quality and easy-to-use technology they’ve come to expect from OEC, with the affordability of the Brivo product line.

“We’re thrilled to bring our line of Brivo C-arms to the US with the new OEC Brivo 865 Advance,” said Shrawder. “The C-arm offers an affordable solution without sacrificing the technology and innovation OEC is known for. It provides easy positioning and maneuverability enabling optimal image acquisition with fewer re-takes, and new advancements in steering and lightweight construction make the system highly portable.”

** 510(k) Pending at U.S. FDA. Not available for sale in the United States.

* Trademark of General Electric Company.

GE Healthcare at RSNA 2012

At RSNA 2012, GE Healthcare is introducing a number of new devices including the OEC Elite+Venue 40. The system combines a fluoroscope and ultrasound into one unit for greater convenience, a smaller footprint, and financial savings compared to using separate devices. Here’s Joe Shrawder, President and CEO Surgery at GE Healthcare, showing off the new system:

Source : http://www.genewscenter.com/Press-Releases/GE-Healthcare-Unveils-New-Suite-of-Surgical-Imaging-Products-3c80.aspx

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New Integrated Approach to Help Improve Control of Prostheses

New Integrated Approach to Help Improve Control of Prostheses

New Integrated Approach to Help Improve Control of Prostheses

PRESS RELEASE: The world’s first implantable robotic arm controlled by thoughts is being developed by Chalmers researcher Max Ortiz Catalan. The first operations on patients will take place this winter.

Every year, thousands of people across the world lose an arm or a leg.

“Our technology helps amputees to control an artificial limb, in much the same way as their own biological hand or arm, via the person’s own nerves and remaining muscles. This is a huge benefit for both the individual and to society”, says Max Ortiz Catalan, industrial doctoral student at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Ever since the 1960s, amputees have been able to use prostheses controlled by electrical impulses in the muscles. Unfortunately, however, the technology for controlling these prostheses has not evolved to any great extent since then. For example, very advanced electric hand prostheses are available, but their functionality is limited because they are difficult to control.

“All movements must by pre-programmed”, says Max Ortiz Catalan. “It’s like having a Ferrari without a steering wheel. Therefore, we have developed a new bidirectional interface with the human body, together with a natural and intuitive control system.”

Today’s standard socket prostheses, which are attached to the body using a socket tightly fitted on the amputated stump, are so uncomfortable and limiting that only 50 percent of arm amputees are willing to use one at all.

This research project is using the world-famous Brånemark titanium implant instead (OPRA Implant System), which anchors the prosthesis directly to the skeleton through what is known as osseointegration.

“Osseointegration is vital to our success. We are now using the technology to gain permanent access to the electrodes that we will attach directly to nerves and muscles”, says Max Ortiz Catalan.

When amputee patients have received their new prosthesis, it will be controlled with their own brain signals. The signals are transferred via the nerves through the arm stump and captured by electrodes. These will then transmit the signals through a titanium implant (OPRA Implant System) to be decoded by the prosthetic arm. The prosthesis is anchored directly to the skeleton by a process known as osseointegration.

Photo: Integrum

Controlling the prosthesis by thought

Currently, in order to pick up the electrical signals to control the prosthesis, electrodes are placed over the skin. The problem is that the signals change when the skin moves, since the electrodes are moved to a different position. Additionally, the signals are also affected when we sweat, since the resistance on the interface changes.

In this project, the researchers are planning to implant the electrodes directly on the nerves and remaining muscles instead. Since the electrodes are closer to the source and the body acts as protection, the bio-electric signals become much more stable. Osseointegration is used to enable the signals inside the body to reach the prosthesis. The electrical impulses from the nerves in the arm stump are captured by a neural interface, which sends them to the prostheses through the titanium implant. These are then decoded by sophisticated algorithms that allow the patient to control the prosthesis using his or her own thoughts.

In existing prostheses, amputees use only visual or auditory feedback. This means, for example, that you have to look at or hear the motors in the prosthesis in order to estimate the grip force applied to a cup if you want to move it around. With the new method, patients receive feedback as the electrodes stimulate the neural pathways to the patient’s brain, in the same way as the physiological system. This means that the patient can control his or her prosthesis in a more natural and intuitive way. This has not been possible previously.

From the lab to the patient

“Many of the patients that we work with have been amputees for more than 10 years, and have almost never thought about moving their missing hand during this time”, says Max Ortiz Catalan. “When they arrived here, they got to test our virtual-reality environment or our more advanced prostheses in order to evaluate the decoding algorithms. We placed electrodes on their amputation stumps, and after a few minutes, they were able to control the artificial limbs in ways that they didn’t know they could, most of the times. This made the patients very excited and enthusiastic.”

The first operations on patients will take place this winter.

“By testing the method on a few patients, we can show that the technology works and then hopefully get more grants to continue clinical studies and develop the technology further. This technology can then become a reality for lots of people. We want to leave the lab and become part of the patients’ everyday life. If the first operations this winter are successful, we will be the first research group in the world to make ‘thought-controlled prostheses’ a reality for patients to use in their daily activities, and not only inside research labs.”

You can watch 4 videos from the project at:

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/pressroom/chalmers/video/list

Caption, top picture: Max Ortiz Catalan demonstrates how the system works with the aid of electrodes, which capture bio-electric signals from the surface of the arm. Amputees will, however, have the electrodes implanted directly on the nerves and muscles inside the body, which will be permanently accessible through the Brånemark osseointegrated implant (OPRA Implant System).

Photo: Oscar Mattsson

Facts about osseointegration

Osseointegration (osseo=bone) is a method for anchoring prostheses directly to the skeleton, and it was developed in the 1960s by Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark. He discovered that titanium is not rejected by the body, but is integrated into the surrounding bone tissue. In the beginning, the method was used to treat tooth loss using dental titanium implants. Since then, the method has been further developed and is also used today for leg, arm and face prostheses as well as for anchoring hearing aids. Since 1990, over 200 amputees have been treated using this method (OPRA Implant System) and have gained increased movement and enhanced quality of life.

Facts on the artificial hand

The artificial hand can mimic a living hand. The motors in each finger can be controlled individually and simultaneously, for example, with a turning motion of the wrist. It is possible to demonstrate how the system works by using electrodes which capture myoelectric signals on the surface of the arm.

Contact information and more information on the research project

The research project “Natural Control of Artificial Limbs through an Osseointegrated Implant” is being conducted by means of interdisciplinary cooperation between the Chalmers University of Technology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Integrum AB:

Doctoral student Max Ortiz Catalan, Chalmers University of Technology: maxo@chalmers.se tel. +46 31-760 10 65, +46 70-846 10 65

Project supervisor at Chalmers University of Technology: Professor Bo Ha?kansson, boh@chalmers.se tel. +46 70-785 32 94

Project supervisor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Gothenburg University: Associate Professor and Doctor Rickard Bra?nemark

PRESS RELEASE: The world’s first implantable robotic arm controlled by thoughts is being developed by Chalmers researcher Max Ortiz Catalan. The first operations on patients will take place this winter.

Every year, thousands of people across the world lose an arm or a leg.

“Our technology helps amputees to control an artificial limb, in much the same way as their own biological hand or arm, via the person’s own nerves and remaining muscles. This is a huge benefit for both the individual and to society”, says Max Ortiz Catalan, industrial doctoral student at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Ever since the 1960s, amputees have been able to use prostheses controlled by electrical impulses in the muscles. Unfortunately, however, the technology for controlling these prostheses has not evolved to any great extent since then. For example, very advanced electric hand prostheses are available, but their functionality is limited because they are difficult to control.

“All movements must by pre-programmed”, says Max Ortiz Catalan. “It’s like having a Ferrari without a steering wheel. Therefore, we have developed a new bidirectional interface with the human body, together with a natural and intuitive control system.”

Today’s standard socket prostheses, which are attached to the body using a socket tightly fitted on the amputated stump, are so uncomfortable and limiting that only 50 percent of arm amputees are willing to use one at all.

This research project is using the world-famous Brånemark titanium implant instead (OPRA Implant System), which anchors the prosthesis directly to the skeleton through what is known as osseointegration.

“Osseointegration is vital to our success. We are now using the technology to gain permanent access to the electrodes that we will attach directly to nerves and muscles”, says Max Ortiz Catalan.

When amputee patients have received their new prosthesis, it will be controlled with their own brain signals. The signals are transferred via the nerves through the arm stump and captured by electrodes. These will then transmit the signals through a titanium implant (OPRA Implant System) to be decoded by the prosthetic arm. The prosthesis is anchored directly to the skeleton by a process known as osseointegration.

Photo: Integrum

Controlling the prosthesis by thought

Currently, in order to pick up the electrical signals to control the prosthesis, electrodes are placed over the skin. The problem is that the signals change when the skin moves, since the electrodes are moved to a different position. Additionally, the signals are also affected when we sweat, since the resistance on the interface changes.

In this project, the researchers are planning to implant the electrodes directly on the nerves and remaining muscles instead. Since the electrodes are closer to the source and the body acts as protection, the bio-electric signals become much more stable. Osseointegration is used to enable the signals inside the body to reach the prosthesis. The electrical impulses from the nerves in the arm stump are captured by a neural interface, which sends them to the prostheses through the titanium implant. These are then decoded by sophisticated algorithms that allow the patient to control the prosthesis using his or her own thoughts.

In existing prostheses, amputees use only visual or auditory feedback. This means, for example, that you have to look at or hear the motors in the prosthesis in order to estimate the grip force applied to a cup if you want to move it around. With the new method, patients receive feedback as the electrodes stimulate the neural pathways to the patient’s brain, in the same way as the physiological system. This means that the patient can control his or her prosthesis in a more natural and intuitive way. This has not been possible previously.

From the lab to the patient

“Many of the patients that we work with have been amputees for more than 10 years, and have almost never thought about moving their missing hand during this time”, says Max Ortiz Catalan. “When they arrived here, they got to test our virtual-reality environment or our more advanced prostheses in order to evaluate the decoding algorithms. We placed electrodes on their amputation stumps, and after a few minutes, they were able to control the artificial limbs in ways that they didn’t know they could, most of the times. This made the patients very excited and enthusiastic.”

The first operations on patients will take place this winter.

“By testing the method on a few patients, we can show that the technology works and then hopefully get more grants to continue clinical studies and develop the technology further. This technology can then become a reality for lots of people. We want to leave the lab and become part of the patients’ everyday life. If the first operations this winter are successful, we will be the first research group in the world to make ‘thought-controlled prostheses’ a reality for patients to use in their daily activities, and not only inside research labs.”

You can watch 4 videos from the project at:

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/pressroom/chalmers/video/list

Caption, top picture: Max Ortiz Catalan demonstrates how the system works with the aid of electrodes, which capture bio-electric signals from the surface of the arm. Amputees will, however, have the electrodes implanted directly on the nerves and muscles inside the body, which will be permanently accessible through the Brånemark osseointegrated implant (OPRA Implant System).

Photo: Oscar Mattsson

Facts about osseointegration

Osseointegration (osseo=bone) is a method for anchoring prostheses directly to the skeleton, and it was developed in the 1960s by Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark. He discovered that titanium is not rejected by the body, but is integrated into the surrounding bone tissue. In the beginning, the method was used to treat tooth loss using dental titanium implants. Since then, the method has been further developed and is also used today for leg, arm and face prostheses as well as for anchoring hearing aids. Since 1990, over 200 amputees have been treated using this method (OPRA Implant System) and have gained increased movement and enhanced quality of life.

Facts on the artificial hand

The artificial hand can mimic a living hand. The motors in each finger can be controlled individually and simultaneously, for example, with a turning motion of the wrist. It is possible to demonstrate how the system works by using electrodes which capture myoelectric signals on the surface of the arm.

Contact information and more information on the research project

The research project “Natural Control of Artificial Limbs through an Osseointegrated Implant” is being conducted by means of interdisciplinary cooperation between the Chalmers University of Technology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Integrum AB:

Doctoral student Max Ortiz Catalan, Chalmers University of Technology: maxo@chalmers.se tel. +46 31-760 10 65, +46 70-846 10 65

Project supervisor at Chalmers University of Technology: Professor Bo Ha?kansson, boh@chalmers.se tel. +46 70-785 32 94

Project supervisor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Gothenburg University: Associate Professor and Doctor Rickard Bra?nemark

We’ve covered dozens of advanced hand and arm prostheses on these pages, many of which are capable of rather accurately recreating the movements of natural limbs. Looking like they can challenge the abilities of healthy persons, these devices continue to be limited due to the seemingly archaic methods used to control them. Skin electrodes, the most common interface, are prone to make mistakes because the skin constantly moves in relation to the muscles from which the signal is read. In addition, salty sweat complicates matters since it changes the electrical properties in the interface between skin and electrodes.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden believe much better results can be achieved by using osseointegration coupled with direct implantation of electrodes onto muscle nerves. Not only would physical coupling be improved and signals would arrive with more consistency to the prosthetic, the device would be able to signal back and provide constant feedback to its wearer. So, for example, once a prosthetic hand has grasped a object, the user would feel it relatively naturally instead of receiving the commonly used audio, visual, or tactile feedback. The team is gearing up for installations of their system on initial amputees this coming winter.

Source : http://www.chalmers.se/en/news/Pages/Thought-controlled-prosthesis-is-changing-the-lives-of-amputees.aspx

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Acuson Freestyle, a Wireless Interventional Ultrasound System from Siemens

Acuson Freestyle, a Wireless Interventional Ultrasound System from Siemens

Acuson Freestyle, a Wireless Interventional Ultrasound System from Siemens

Siemens has entered into an agreement to acquire Invensys Rail, the rail automation business of Invensys for approximately €2.2 billion (£1.742 billion). At the same time, the company plans to divest its baggage handling, postal and parcel sorting activities. Both planned transactions are part of the recently launched “Siemens 2014″ company program, which amongst others, is aimed at strengthening the company’s core activities. With revenues of approximately £800 million, Invensys Rail is a leading software based rail signaling and control company. The acquisition will expand Siemens’ presence in the growing global rail automation market. “Today’s moves are important measures to focus our core activities. We are exiting a non-core business with limited synergy potential while strengthening a resilient and high return business by combining two organizations with similar cultures and attractive synergy potential. The combined business will ensure profitable growth opportunities worldwide for the Siemens Infrastructure & Cities Sector,” said Roland Busch, CEO of Siemens Infrastructure & Cities. The transaction is subject to Invensys shareholder approval and regulatory clearances.

The planned divestment of the baggage handling, postal and parcel sorting activities will further focus the activities of the Siemens Infrastructure & Cities Sector. While the company is one of the leading players in postal automation, parcel and baggage handling systems with a global presence and an installed base around the world, there are few synergies with other Siemens Divisions due to the high mechanical content. It is a highly specialized niche business, dominated by mid-sized companies. The mid-single-digit profit margin business with revenue of approximately €900 million and around 3,600 employees shall be sold.

Invensys Rail shall be integrated into Siemens’ Rail Automation business in the Mobility and Logistics Division of the Infrastructure & Cities Sector. “With the addition of Invensys Rail we are in an excellent position to offer best-in-class solutions and technology to rail operators worldwide. The combination of two excellent organizations will create a truly global player in the Rail Automation business,” said Sami Atiya, CEO of Siemens’ Mobility and Logistics Division.

Invensys Rail has a strong footprint and a well established reputation with customers in the UK, Spain, the U.S. and Australia which will extend Siemens’ Rail Automation existing presence in countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland as well as China and India. In recent years, Invensys Rail has also successfully expanded its business into fast-growing emerging regions. The combined Invensys Rail and Siemens product portfolio will offer a full range of automation and optimization products, solutions and services, covering all customer segments.

The growth outlook of the global rail automation market is driven by increasing urbanization and the demand for enhanced mobility including new and extended mass transit and commuter systems. Overall the rail sector benefits also from trends such as energy efficiency, environmental factors, liberalization, deregulation and low-cost transportation requirements.

Significant synergy potential is expected from the combination of territories and technologies together with cost savings in procurement, portfolio, engineering and SG&A. Synergies of over €100 million are expected, to be fully achieved by 2018.

In its last fiscal year ending March 2012, Invensys Rail generated revenues of £775 million and operating profit before interest and taxes of £116 million, representing a 15% margin. Order intake (excluding framework agreements) was £991 million, including major awards in new countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. As of March 2012, Invensys Rail’s total order book was £1,202 million and it currently employs around 3,200 employees.

Siemens provides integrated mobility solutions and already has a significant and established rail automation business with revenues of €1.4 billion, employing around 6,500 employees. Invensys Rail shall be integrated into this business, which is headquartered in Berlin, Germany. Siemens and Invensys Rail managers will form the new management team and Invensys Rail’s local expertise and relationships will be retained. The new constellation will combine the regional strengths of both organizations for the benefit of its customers.

The transaction is subject to Invensys shareholder approval which is expected to be voted on at a General Meeting planned for December 2012. Furthermore, consent by Invensys’ lenders, the UK pension regulator and anti-trust authorities is required. Overall Siemens will not take on any significant pension liabilities with the transaction. Siemens expects the transaction to close in the second quarter of calendar year 2013.

Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, operating in the fields of industry, energy and healthcare as well as providing infrastructure solutions, primarily for cities and metropolitan areas. For over 165 years, Siemens has stood for technological excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality. The company is the world’s largest provider of environmental technologies. Around 40 percent of its total revenue stems from green products and solutions. In fiscal 2012, which ended on September 30, 2012, revenue from continuing operations was €78.3 billion and income from continuing operations was €5.2 billion. At the end of September 2012, Siemens had around 370,000 employees worldwide on the basis of continuing operations. Further information is available on the Internet at: http://www.siemens.com.

This document contains statements related to our future business and financial performance and future events or developments involving Siemens that may constitute forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “looks forward to,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “will,” “project” or words of similar meaning. We may also make forward-looking statements in other reports, in presentations, in material delivered to stockholders and in press releases. In addition, our representatives may from time to time make oral forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on the current expectations and certain assumptions of Siemens’ management, and are, therefore, subject to certain risks and uncertainties. A variety of factors, many of which are beyond Siemens’ control, affect Siemens’ operations, performance, business strategy and results and could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Siemens to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements that may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or anticipated on the basis of historical trends. These factors include in particular, but are not limited to, the matters described in Item 3: Risk factors of our most recent annual report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC, in the chapter “Risks” of our most recent annual report prepared in accordance with the German Commercial Code, and in the chapter “Report on risks and opportunities” of our most recent interim report.

Further information about risks and uncertainties affecting Siemens is included throughout our most recent annual and interim reports, as well as our most recent earnings release, which are available on the Siemens website, www.siemens.com, and throughout our most recent annual report on Form 20-F and in our other filings with the SEC, which are available on the Siemens website, www.siemens.com, and on the SEC’s website, www.sec.gov. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results, performance or achievements of Siemens may vary materially from those described in the relevant forward-looking statement as being expected, anticipated, intended, planned, believed, sought, estimated or projected. Siemens neither intends, nor assumes any obligation, to update or revise these forward-looking statements in light of developments which differ from those anticipated.

Due to rounding, numbers presented throughout this and other documents may not add up precisely to the totals provided and percentages may not precisely reflect the absolute figures.

Using ultrasound during interventional procedures can be a cumbersome proposition due to the heavy cables linking the transducer to the main device unit. Clinicians often have to reposition the ultrasound to gain better access to the patient, potentially overcoming obstacles like other cables, staff, and their feet. Siemens unveiled a new ultrasound system that uses a wireless transducer that eliminates the cable problem and offers a more natural approach. Here’s a quick demo of the Acuson Freestyle that we were able to capture from the floor of RSNA 2012:

Source : https://www.siemens.com/press/en/pressrelease/?press=/en/pressrelease/2012/healthcare/clinical-products/hcp201211006.htm

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