• Out with Traditional Blood Sampling, In with Digital Microfluidics

    A new analysis method based on digital microfluidics developed by researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering could eventually eliminate the age-old practice of drawing blood to collect a blood sample. The old method involves drawing several milliliters of blood, separating serum, freezing the serum in preparation for transport or storage, and later thawing and analyzing it. In contrast, the new method relies on dried blood spots (DBSs...
  • Perspective on Drug-Delivery Coating Companies

    Medical device coatings company SurModics recently announced that it would undergo a strategic realignment that unfortunately necessitates the reduction of 9% of its workforce and the exit of its CFO. In response to this news, competitor Biocoat featured an interesting post on its blog in which Josh Simon speculates as to what may have gone wrong.In essence, he questions the company's focus on drug-delivery technologies. "I think that the idea of creating a business out of making various drug-...
  • Where in the United States is the Next Medical Device Hub?

    Titled "From FAA to FDA," a recent workshop held in Wichita, Kansas—or as it's affectionately known, the "Air Capital of the World"—served to encourage local aircraft subcontractors to diversify into the medical device industry. Through such outreach campaigns and education, the city hopes to cultivate a medical device cluster as part of its long-term economic goals. And it's not the only one. Cities, counties, and states around the country are launching initiatives, investing funds, and...
  • Cell Measurement Imaging Technique Could Aid Medical Diagnostics

    A novel imaging technique uses light to quantitatively measure cell mass, potentially aiding medical diagnostics and drug development. (Photo by Quantitative Light Imaging Laboratory, U of I)A team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) has developed an imaging method called spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM) to measure cell mass. The new technique is helping the scientists gain insights into the problem of whether cells grow at a constant rate or...
  • Weekly Vitals: Another Resignation at Wright Medical, Implant Hacking Continues to Make Waves, and More

    This week saw another high-level resignation at orthopedics manufacturer Wright Medical Group from its vice president and chief compliance officer. The company has been plagued by scandal stemming from a federal investigation and subsequent prosecution deal related to allegations that it paid kickbacks to surgeons for use of its products. However, the company was later accused of "knowingly and willfully" breaching the deal at least twice. Also in the news this week, implant hacking continues...
  • Reliability Issues Could Plague Carbon Nanotubes in Future Electronics

    Carbon nanotubes have been touted as an answer to an array of medical device–related applications, from drug delivery in cancer treatments to batteries. However, despite such advantages as their presumed ability to carry 1000 times more electric current than a metal conductor of the same size, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, MD) are questioning nanotubes' reliability.Micrograph of recession and clumping in gold electrodes after the...
  • MIT’s Wireless Security Scheme Stops Transmission Tampering

    Medical implant hacking has been a hot topic, with MPMN’s Medtech Pulse Blog covering the recent request made by federal lawmakers for a report on how the FCC is addressing challenges and risks. The Representatives stressed the importance that wireless devices operate in a safe, reliable, and secure manner, and a new security scheme from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA) could offer the necessary security by protecting transmissions between wireless...
  • Blood-Monitoring Coatings Increase the Longevity of Prosthetic Heart Valves

    An international joint project involving researchers at the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM; Saarbrücken, Germany), Pediatric Cardiology of Saarland University Hospital (Homburg, Germany), the Indian Institute of Technology (Madras), and Kocaeli University (Turkey), has developed a coating technology that prevents blood buildup on prosthetic heart valves. In addition to testing the pumping systems, the scientists are also monitoring their performance. The new technology, the institute...
  • Noncontact Wireless Technology Performs Vital Signs Monitoring from a Distance

    TNO, a Dutch research organization, has developed a noncontact wireless technology capable of performing continuous vital signs monitoring of a patient from up to 10 m away. Capable of measuring body motion, heart rate, and respiration, the radar-based technology could be on the market within the next six months to a year, according to Ted Punt, who presented on the technology at the Quantified Self Amsterdam conference."Pulse and stethoscope are sufficient for measuring heart rate and...
  • Insulin Pump Hacking Gets Attention of Federal Lawmakers

    The subject of electronic implant hacking has been inducing waves of panic among the general public on and off since 2008, when a team of researchers famously demonstrated that it could maliciously hack a Medtronic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). However, the most recent wave of inflammatory headlines comes courtesy of a security researcher that captivated a crowd at the recent Black Hat security conference during a presentation on how he hacked his own insulin pump. To many in...
  • 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-...