• Researchers Develop Method for Aligning Gold Nanorods, Benefiting Medical Imaging Technologies

    Researchers at North Carolina State University (NC State, Raleigh) have developed a simple, scalable way to align gold nanorods. Their accomplishment could eventually benefit emerging biomedical imaging technologies, which rely on the optical properties of gold nanorods.NC State researchers have developed a way to align gold nanorods using electrospun polymer nano/microfibers. This breakthrough could eventually benefit biomedical imaging applications.Depending on the direction in which they are...
  • Weekly Vitals: Lawmakers Request Probe of Medical Device Security, CRM Market in a Slump, and More

    A few weeks ago at the Black Hat security conference, a security researcher created a media frenzy when he presented on his experience hacking into his own insulin pump. While this is not the first time concerns over implant security and hacking have been raised (nor certainly is it the last), this particular publicized hacking attempt has actually spurred action. Two members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have requested that the General Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the...
  • Narrowing Down Choices Speeds Up Flexible Organic Semiconductor Development

    Though inorganic materials like silicone are strong and fast, researchers have been trying to find organic materials for semiconductors with the flexibility needed to make products like roll up displays a reality. But the time it takes to develop and synthesize enough candidate material for a semiconductor takes years, so researchers at Stanford University (Stanford, CA) and Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) figured out a way to narrow down potential materials so they could focus on the most...
  • Tattoo-like Electronic Patch Comfortably Bends and Stretches

    With an aim to create the soft, flexible forms of biology out of the typically hard, rigid forms of electronics, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created thin, stretchy complex electronics on a skin-like patch. Led by professor of engineering John A. Rogers, the researchers incorporated electronic components including sensors, wireless antennas, solar cells, LEDs, transistors, and conductive coils on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic, which is...
  • Polymer Particle Technology Could Promote Drug Delivery, Artificial Tissue Growth

    Contributing to the development of drug-delivery and tissue-growth technologies, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA) have developed a method for producing microparticles of nearly any shape. Their technology relies on the use of a micromold, which can change shape in response to temperature changes. By being able to place drugs in different compartments of the particles, the researchers can control the timing of drug release. And by arranging different...
  • Cardiac Pacing Poised for Change

    While traditional pacemakers and ICDs have been successfully saving lives for decades, they remain vulnerable to dangerous lead fractures, finite battery life that may require risky explantation procedures, and the potential for hacking. In the wake of the much-publicized 2007 Medtronic recall of its Sprint Fidelis transvenous defibrillator leads and as focus intensifies on the need for extending battery life in implantable devices, however, ideas are percolating as to how to overcome these...
  • Mimicking VEGF, Nanofiber Stimulates Growth of Blood Vessels

    Contributing to the effort to regenerate blood vessels for a range of applications, from treating heart attack patients to healing patients suffering from peripheral arterial disease, scientists at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) have developed a nanomaterial that could help the body to grow new blood vessels. Headed by Samuel Stupp, director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern, the team has created an injectable liquid that forms a matrix of loosely...
  • Simple Supercapacitors Created by Laser Writing on Graphite Oxide Films

    By applying heat to a sheet of oxidized graphite(GO), the same material in carbon-based pencil lead, graphite becomes an electrically-conducting material called reduced graphite oxide (RGO). Researchers have been studying GO for the past decade, but a simple process developed by researchers at Rice University (Houston, TX) can turn sheets of graphite oxide into supercapacitors using a laser patterning chamber.Supercapacitors are electrochemical capacitors that are much higher energy density...
  • Weekly Vitals: Goldman Sachs Sours on Medical Device Makers, VC Spending Leaps in Life Sciences, and More

    It's been a rough few weeks for the medical device industry. On the heels of the controversial IOM recommendations for Class II medical devices, Goldman Sachs announced that medical device manufacturers represented less-appealing stocks than supply companies, for example. "The biggest challenge for this industry is top-line growth," says David Roman, vice president of medical technology research at Goldman Sachs. "The growth profile for the supply guys is less risky, higher growth rate at the...
  • Conductive Biofilm Nanowires Could Lead to Novel Nanomaterials for Biosensors

    A team of scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found that microbial nanowires in the Geobacter sulfurreducens  bacterium enable long-range electron transport across distances that measure thousands of times the bacterium's length. This discovery, according to the researchers, could facilitate the development of nontoxic conducting nanomaterials for biosensors and solid-state electronics that interface with biological systems.As part of its research, the cross-...
  • Students Strive to Develop '10-Cent Medical Checkup' Using Cell Phones

    If asked what they did over their summer vacation, four students enrolled in Caltech's summer undergraduate research fellowship (SURF) program may have a more impressive response than many of their peers. As part of a cell phone medicine project, the students have spent their summer developing and fine-tuning prototypes that could someday enable a 10-cent medical checkup for developing or remote regions.Low-cost medical device prototypes are designed for use with cell phones. Image: CaltechThe...
  • Stagnant Market, Increased Volumes Predicted for Drug-Eluting Stents

    While decreasing average selling prices will likely contribute to a stagnant global drug-eluting stent (DES) market, volumes will likely increase in light of higher adoption of DES in treating coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a report released by GlobalData. "Drug-Eluting Stents: Global Pipeline Analysis, Competitive Landscape, and Market Forecasts to 2017" states that CHD affects roughly 16.3 million adults in the United States, and that number will likely increase by about 8 million...
  • Weekly Vitals: IOM Debate Rages On, Companies Need to Prep for Reality of Device Tax, and More

    Because members of the medical device industry had launched a preemptive attack on the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) review of the 510(k) process, it was no surprise that dismissals and condemnations of the report abounded from industry this past week as everyone weighed in on the controversial recommendations by the IOM to scrap the process and create a new one. More surprisingly, however, was FDA's reaction to the report it had commissioned: "I don't think we should eliminate [the 510(k)]...
  • Nano Fibers Release Wound Healing Medication in Bandages

    Bandages have been made from fibers with antibiotic properties, but researchers at North Carolina State University (NC State; Raleigh, NC) are going even further to develop fibers that, when woven into bandages, could deliver drugs that promote healing and tissue regeneration. Elizabeth Loboa, associate professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering, has been working with a team including polymer scientist Benham Pourdeyhimi to develop these innovative fibers.“What we...
  • 510(k) Is Dead—Long Live Medtronic's Review Agreement with Yale?

    Medtronic Inc. (Minneapolis) recently reported that it is providing a grant to Yale University (New Haven, CT) to conduct two fully independent, third-party systematic reviews of the safety and effectiveness of its controversial Infuse recombinant bone morphogenic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) product, which has been linked to the increased risk of male infertility. In light of the conclusion by the Institute of Medicine (IOM; Washington, DC) that the FDA 510(k) review process is broken beyond repair,...
  • Did IOM Put the Final Nail in the Coffin of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants?

    The medical device industry clearly anticipated in advance that it would not support the results of the review of the 510(k) process by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which was released last week. But few expected that the IOM would determine that the current system should be scrapped and a new process devised—perhaps least of all FDA. And while the future regulatory pathway appears to be uncertain for 'moderate-risk' devices, the IOM's report does seem to confirm one thing: Metal-on-metal...
  • Stanford Scientists Develop Flexible Nanowire for All Surfaces

    A group of scientists at Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA) led by Xiaolin Zheng, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has developed a method of attaching nanowire electronics to the surface of virtually any object. By overcoming the rigidity of silicon chips, the new technique could be used to make a variety of wearable electronic devices, including such medical devices as biosensors. For example, the team believes that their nanowire devices could be attached directly to heart...
  • Scientists Fabricate Lithium-Ion Batteries as Thin as a Nanowire

    Researchers at Rice University (Houston) under Pulickel Ajayan, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, have created the smallest lithium-ion battery yet. As reported in Nano Letters, the scientists have designed a lithium-ion energy-storage device into a single nanowire, paving the way for a miniaturized rechargeable source to power a new generation of nanoelectronic products. Miniaturized medical devices could also possibly benefit from this new technology.An ultrathin...
  • Weekly Vitals: IOM Reviews the 510(k) Process, VCs Like Life Sciences, and More

    It seemed like the medical device industry had only one thing on its mind this week: the evaluation of the 510(k) clearance process by the  Institute of Medicine (IOM).  Although the report was only released today, some industry professionals made a preemptive strike to discredit the report as biased earlier in the week. As expected, the IOM's report recommended revisions to the process: "The committee finds that the current 510(k) process is flawed based on its legislative foundation...
  • MIT Team Grows Electronic Components in Water

    A new way to produce entire electronic devices through a liquid-based process has been developed by a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA), which eliminates the need for expensive semiconductor manufacturing facilities and processes. The new technique is called hydrothermal synthesis, which essentially uses a syringe to push solution through a capillary tube one-tenth of a millimeter wide to produce a functional light-emitting diode (LED) array made...