• Weekly Vitals: St. Jude Continues 'Scorched-Earth' Tactic on Lead Controversy

    St. Jude continued on what The New York Times described as 'a scorched-earth defense of its policies and products' this week in regards to an escalating controversy surrounding its recalled Riata defibrillator leads. But it may not quite be having the effect the company was hoping for. Results from a MPMN Medtech Pulse poll, for example, show that St. Jude is doing damage to its public image, although Medtronic and a prominent cardiologist/researcher aren't exactly coming out of the ordeal...
  • Modeling Future Robots on the Sea Lamprey

    Researchers in the UK and the United States are modeling a disease-detecting microrobot on the sea lamprey. (Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Fishery Commission)A tiny prototype robot—dubbed 'Cyberplasm'—is being developed by scientists in the UK and United States. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the device is being designed to mimic key functions of the sea lamprey, a creature found primarily in the...
  • Finalists Selected for 2012 Medical Design Excellence Awards

    Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (MD+DI) announced the finalists in the 2012 Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) competition in its April print issue. The award ceremony, which will take place on May 23, will also honor Thomas Fogarty with the 2012 MDEA Lifetime Achievement Award. Holding 150 patents on surgical instruments, Fogarty invented the Aneurx stent graft, now a Medtronic-branded product. He has also published roughly 180 scientific articles and textbook chapters on topics of...
  • St. Jude vs. Medtronic: Who's Winning the War Over Defibrillator Leads?

    The gloves are off and no one's pulling any punches in the bitter battle currently underway over defibrillator leads. A study conducted by prominent cardiologist Robert Hauser and his colleagues aimed at assessing deaths associated with St. Jude Medical's recalled Riata leads and comparing the numbers to Medtronic's Quattro Secure leads served as the catalyst for the verbal assault. But the two medical device giants quickly escalated the situation, lashing out at each other in a series of...
  • Nanobubbles Could Aid in Cancer Treatment

    Scientists from Rice University (Houston), the MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston), and Baylor College of Medicine (Houston) are developing new methods to inject drugs and genetic payloads directly into cancer cells. By delivering chemotherapy drugs using light-harvesting nanoparticles to convert laser energy into “plasmonic nanobubbles,” 30 times more cancer cells could be killed than by using traditional drug treatment. These nanobubbles could also enable clinicians to use less than one-tenth...
  • Weekly Vitals: Discrediting Consumer Reports' Claims Against the Medtech Industry, More Pacing Woes for St. Jude, and More

    Consumer Reports was front and center in recent weeks as it slammed the medical device industry and the regulatory process, releasing a report with the sensational subhead: "Most medical implants have never been tested for safety." In response, our colleagues at MD+DI presented an interesting counterargument that refutes many of the reports' claims. Both reports are recommended reading for medical device industry professionals. In other news, St. Jude Medical experienced another blow in the...
  • Oscillating Gel Could Lead to Development of Artificial Skin

    A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge) have demonstrated that a nonoscillating gel can be resuscitated in a fashion similar to medical cardiopulmonary resuscitation. These findings pave the way for the development of new applications that sense mechanical stimuli and respond chemically—a natural phenomenon few materials have been able to mimic. The material in question is known as Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gel...
  • Riata Pacing Lead Recall Produces Demands for Increased Postmarket Surveillance

    While all major recalls inevitably tend to attract unwanted media attention, patient outrage, and admonishments from the medical community, the recall of the Riata and Riata ST pacing leads has served as a particular lightning rod for criticism of current postmarket surveillance systems. But will the controversy eventually die down or could the Riata recall be the catalyst for significant change?Recalled by FDA in December, multiple models of the Riata and Riata ST implantable cardioverter-...
  • Porous Metal Films With Record-Setting Conductivity Offer Potential Biomed Applications

    Samples of self-assembled metal-containing films made by the new sol-gel process. The films are essentially glass in which metal atoms are suspended, which imparts the color. Grid lines are 5 mm apart. Image: Wiesner Lab/Cornell UniversityChemists at Cornell University have developed a way to make porous metal films with up to 1,000 times the electrical conductivity provided by previous methods. Their technique offers potential for creating a variety of metal nanostructures for engineering and...
  • Nanoparticle Carrier Could Enable Clinicians to Use Nitric Oxide to Treat Wounds

    Based on a nanoparticle platform composed of silane-based sol-gel and sugar-derived glasses, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Bronx, NY) are developing a carrier for nitric oxide (NO), a compound that plays an important role in the wound-healing process because of its antimicrobial and other properties. The nanoparticle carrier can generate, store, and deliver NO in a controlled and sustained manner."Mechanistically, we found that NO-np treatment accelerates wound healing as...
  • Fraunhofer Researchers Develop Cordless Power Technology for Medical Devices

    Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS (Hermsdorf, Germany) have succeeded in wirelessly transmitting power from a portable transmitter module to a mobile generator module. Using this portable device, the researchers can supply power to implants, medication dosing systems, and other medical applications remotely without touching them—such as ingestible endoscopic capsules that migrate through the gastrointestinal tract and transmit images of the body‘s...
  • Weekly Vitals: Medical Device Tax and Healthcare Reform Cause Tensions to Run High

    The medical device tax has been the subject of heated controversy since it was signed into law as part of Obama's proposed healthcare reform two years ago. Tensions ran especially high and opinions were spouted freely for both sides this week, however, as the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the constitutionality of the hotly contested Affordable Care Act. Read the various views and reports on the medical device tax and healthcare reform in our roundup from around the Web below.Supreme...
  • Pressure Mounts for Medical Device OEMs to Help Address Alarming Trend in Hospitals

    Medical device manufacturers need to pay attention to the warning signs emerging from the clinical setting regarding the growing problem of alarm hazards. After all, FDA's indication that it would enforce 'increased awareness' of alarm fatigue and associated hazards, in addition to the topic's status as the top health technology hazard and subject of a recent medical device summit, seem to signal impending change. But will the industry be prepared?Physiologic monitors, ventilators, infusion...
  • Tiny, Flexible Sensors Gauge Pressure

    Flexible, transparent pressure sensors invented by UC Davis biomedical engineers. Image: Tingrui Pan/UC Davis A new kind of flexible, transparent pressure sensor developed at UC Davis for use in medical applications relies on a drop of liquid, reports the university’s media office.The droplet is placed in a flexible “sandwich” of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The sensor acts as a variable electrical capacitor. When the sensor is pressed down, the sensing droplet is squeezed over conductive...
  • Experimental Breast Implant Surface Deters Breast Cancer Cell Regrowth

    Biomedical scientists from Brown University (Providence, RI) have developed a breast implant with a nanoscale-modified surface that deters cancer cells from regrowing on the implant by causing a reduction in the blood-vessel architecture on which breast cancer tumors depend. At the same time, the surface attracts healthy endothelial cells, fostering the growth of breast tissue.“We’ve created an (implant) surface with features that can at least decrease (cancerous) cell functions without having...
  • Weekly Vitals: Covidien Goes on Buying Spree, Why Medical Device Firms Should Listen to Don Draper, and More

    Covidien dominated headlines this week as the medical device company made two attention-grabbing acquisitions. First, the company announced that it would purchase superDimension Ltd., a private Israeli company focused on the development of minimally invasive interventional pulmonology devices, for $300 million. The announcement followed a few days later that the device maker would also acquire Newport Medical Instruments, a physician-led company focused on the development of affordable...
  • How Electrolyte Thinness Can Affect Li-Ion Battery Performance

    Using transmission electron microscopy, NIST researchers observed nanosized batteries with electrolytes of different thicknesses charge and discharge. The team found that there is likely a lower limit to how thin an electrolyte layer can be made before it causes the battery to malfunction. (Image by Talin/NIST)Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST: Gaithersburg, MD), the University of Maryland (College Park), and Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM...
  • Medtronic Power Struggle Puts Emerging Technologies in the Spotlight

    It's been a rough month for Medtronic's implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) business. The medical device industry giant has been squirming in the hot seat after issuing a safety warning to physicians on March 6 notifying them of a small risk of premature battery depletion in certain models of the company's EnTrust and Escudo lines of ICDs. And as patient panic probably mounts, the industry awaits any word or evaluation of the warning from FDA, and lawyers likely prep for battle, the...
  • Report: U.S. Demand for Implantable Medical Devices to Reach $52B in 2015

    U.S. implantable medical device demand percent annual growth, in millions of dollars. Image: The Freedonia Group Inc. (Cleveland).U.S. demand for implantable medical devices is forecast to increase 7.7% annually to $52 billion in 2015, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based market research firm. The study, “Implantable Medical Devices to 2015,” credits both technological advances and the development of next-generation devices that should increase patient and...
  • Researcher Looks to Venus Flytraps to Develop Artificial Muscles

    A scientist at the University of Maine is studying the movement of Venus Flytraps in an effort to develop bionic enhancements or replacements. (Photo by Noah Elhardt)Not for the first time, researchers are turning to Mother Nature to develop new technologies to solve age-old health problems. As reported in Nanowerk, a scientist in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Maine is investigating the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) in an effort to develop artificial muscles for...