• 3 Challenges to Overcome with MedTech Sensors

    Advanced sensing technologies and the Internet of Things have vast potential to reboot medtech, from home systems that automatically dial 911 when an elderly person falls to the orthopedic implant version of the “check oil” light.“We are experiencing a sensor explosion across all product lines,” consultant Mark DiPerri told a gathering Wednesday morning at BIOMEDevice Boston.Explosions also have their challenges, though. In particular, DiPerri complains of an overabundance of me-too...
  • 3-D Printing Promises New Degrees of Manufacturing Freedom

    Included among the Learning Labs at BIOMEDevice Boston will be a session on 3-D printing. On Wednesday, March 26 at 3:00 p.m., Anthony Vicari, research associate on the advanced materials team at Lux Research (Boston), will speak on “Advanced Applications of 3-D Printing: From Inoperative to Functional Prototypes and Parts.” In the following Q&A, Vicari offers a sneak preview of the themes he will cover in his presentation at the show.MPMN: How would you advise medical device companies...
  • Designing Futuristic Medical Technology

    What technologies will help drive the future of medicine? In the diagnostic realm, promising technologies include digestible sensors, Big Data analytics that crunch huge number sets coming from patients’ genomics and other sources, and wearable sensing technologies. In the therapeutic space, promising breakthroughs include the ability to create synthetic organs (artificial pancreas, anyone? Or a liver?), and 3-D printing, which can be potentially used to create everything from biomaterials to...
  • Energy Harvesting Picks Up Steam

    Since the beginning of the year, researchers from across the globe have announced a number of breakthroughs in the field of energy harvesting.In January, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign announced that they had created a flexible, piezoelectric patch that can convert energy from the beating of the heart into electricity. In a study on large mammals, the researchers demonstrated that the patch could generate 1.2 μW/cm², enough to power a pacemaker.A separate group of...
  • How Plastic Is Trumping Steel in an Ortho Device

    Royal DSM and Sayan Orthopaedics Ltd. have recently announced that Sayan will use braided DSM Dyneema Purity ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibers in its new orthopedic trauma treatment device.The device's designers chose the Dyneema Purity UHMWPE fiber over stainless steel with the intent of improving patient comfort, reducing potential allergic reactions and increasing flexibility during surgical implantation. The device will employ a braid of several different Dyneema...
  • 3 More Ways Smart Devices Are Becoming Medical Devices

    This week has seen plenty of news about storied high tech companies including Google, Apple, and Samsung increasingly turning their smart devices into health devices.There was Google's announcement about its Android Wear project, which will include health-tracking functions on smartwatch devices. More details are leaking about the pre-installed, iWatch-compatible Healthbook app that Apple has in the works. Meanwhile, Samsung has unveiled smartphone technology to assist blind people.Anything...
  • Getting the Human Factor Out of Extrusion

    Automation is allowing for far more precise tube extrusion, and is aiding the transition away from PVC medical tubes, according to Chris Weinrich, general manager of downstream extrusion at Conair. Chris WeinrichIn fact, Weinrich doubts it would have been economically feasible to move away from PVC tubing without automation. That’s important because of the worries about PVC including potentially toxic phthalate plasticizers such as DEHP.Weinrich recently answered a series of MPMN questions...
  • Spinning New Possibilities from Bioabsorbable Polymers

    The polymers behind bioabsorbable medical devices have been around since the late 1960s, with innovation arguably stifled by fear of numerous FDA hurdles should new materials be employed. Dennis JamiolkowskiThat doesn’t mean that there isn’t innovation with what is out there.Electrospinning has been explored to produce fabrics of even finer diameter, and there’s the possibility of combining the absorbable materials with drugs, says Dennis Jamiolkowski, distinguished research fellow at...
  • Foldscope: The Little Microscope That Could

     Foldscope imaging modalities. A folded-paper microscope that could cost less than 50 cents to manufacture in quantity may help in the battle against disease in third-world countries, disaster areas, and other places without the benefit of a clinical laboratory.At least that is the hope of Manu Prakash, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, and a few of his friends. Called the Foldscope, the device can be assembled from a flat sheet of paper and a few...
  • 3 Things to Learn from the Development of the First ICD

    Think it is hard these days to create an implantable medical device? Try having the FDA tell you that microcontrollers are verboten, or sorting through capacitors that only work 40% of the time, or asking Honeywell if it might shrink one of its high-performance rocket batteries.That is exactly what Mir Imran went through in the early 1980s as he worked on what became the first implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, or ICD.Mir ImranImran, who has a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from...
  • How a Harvard Team Just Made It Easier to 3-D Print Organs

    Vascularized tissue constructs in a layered zig-zag pattern 3-D printed by Harvard researchers. (Courtesy Kolesky et al./Wyss Institute, Harvard)Harvard researchers appear to have overcome a significant stumbling block when it comes to 3-D printing living tissues and organs. They've demonstrated a method for creating tissues interlaced with the blood vessels needed to deliver nourishment to them inside a human body.Led by Jennifer Lewis, PhD, the researchers used a custom four-head 3-D printer...
  • Ultrasound Controls Nanomotors Inside Living Cells

    Optical microscope image of a HeLa cell containing several gold-ruthenium nanomotors. (Courtesy Mallouk lab, Penn State University)A research team at Penn State University composed of chemists and engineers has successfully introduced tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells, then used ultrasound to propel them while steering them magnetically.The team explains their accomplishments in “Acoustic propulsion of nanorod motors inside living cells” by Wang et al. in Angewandte Chemie...
  • Fishing-Line Muscles Are Superstrong

    Artificial muscles in a range of diameters  (Courtesy Haines et al./University of Texas at Dallas)An international team of researchers led by Ray Baughman, PhD, of the University of Texas at Dallas has created artificial muscles from ordinary fishing line that are said to be 100 times more powerful than a human muscle of the same weight and length.The team has published their research, “Artificial muscles from fishing line and sewing thread,” in the February 21 issue of the journal Science...
  • Ekso Taking Wearable Technology to New Heights

    The merging man and machine has long been a staple of science fiction. The lines between the two are blurring with The Daily Beast declaring last week, in hyperbolic fashion, that “The Pentagon Basically Wants to Merge You With a Robot.”In any event, it is true that technology designed for military applications is often been repurposed to drive innovation in medicine. Surgical robotics, prosthetics, and handheld ultrasound have all benefited from pioneering military research.An exoskeleton...
  • Wearable Blood Filter May Be Emergency Dialysis Stand-In

    SEM image of zeolite–EVOH nanofiber composite (scale bar: 8 μm). (Courtesy Namekawa et al.)Envisioning a simple, cheap, and accessible way to treat patients suffering from kidney failure in places where dialysis isn't available, a team of researchers from the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Ibaraki, Japan, has developed a nanofiber mesh that can remove toxins and waste from  blood.In their paper, “Fabrication of zeolite–polymer composite nanofibers for removal of uremic...
  • New Dimension to 3-D Printing: Modeling Aneurysms

    Hear Ankur Chandra present "Case study: Highly Accurate Prototyping for Medical 3-D Printing" at BIOMEDevice Boston, Wednesday, March 26 at 2:40 p.m.Virtually everyone today knows that 3-D printing can be used to create everything from prototypes, tools, and handguns to such synthetic organs and body parts as livers and ears. But less well known is that the technology is also a prime candidate for modeling diseases. For example, at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY), researchers are...
  • How Silk Could Drive Ortho Innovation

    Medical device experts are getting pretty innovative with orthopedic implant materials, even engineering special titanium dioxide nanotube surfaces. But they might have a bit of competition from Mother Nature.Surgical plates and screws made from pure silk protein not only offer improved bone remodeling, but also can also be absorbed by the body over time, according to a research team from Tufts University School of Engineering and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.Silk-based screws, as shown...
  • Apple's Rumored Medical Device? There's an App for That

    iWatch concept by Todd HamiltonOh, the rumors, the rumors!Update from March 6: The most recent reports involving Apple suggest that future iPhones would be able to detect when a user is undergoing a medical emergency and can automatically call for help. This is bolstered by an Apple patent granted by the titled "Mobile Emergency Attack and Failsafe Detection." The system could be triggered after the device's accelerometer detects that the phone has undergone a sudden shock. First offering the...
  • Google Glass as a Remote Rapid Test Reader Demonstrated

    Researcher reads a rapid test using Google Glass app. (Courtesy Feng, et al.)Researchers from the Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering Departments of the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) and the California Nanosystems Institute (CNI) have collaborated to develop a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) reader for the Google Glass device that is capable of returning results from various lateral-flow immunochromatographic assays and similar medical diagnostic rapid tests within seconds.A...
  • Are You Using Sapphire in Your Next Medical Device?

    Imagine a device with a screen so strong that it could stand up to being bashed with a chunk of concrete. What if the screen could emerge unscathed, after an eight-inch concrete block is placed atop of it and then rubbed across its surface?Second only to diamond in terms of its toughness, sapphire crystal can be tapped to make both of the above scenarios possible—as evidenced in YouTube videos that place a sapphire screen atop the normal screen of the iPhone 5S.  Apple is said to be...