MASSDEVICE ON CALL — For the 1st time Mazor Robotics’ (PINK:MZRTF) Renaissance robot-assisted surgical system system was used to to treat a Parkinson’s patient, implanting a battery-sized neurostimulator that delivers mild electrical stimulation to targeted areas of the brain.
The landmark procedure took place at a Florida hospital earlier this month. Caesarea, Israel-based Mazor said 2 more patients have since been treated with positive results.
Deep-brain stimulation has been used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in approximately 30,000 people worldwide, according to a company statement. The device maker is planning a wider 2014 commercial launch of its surgical system for use in brain procedures.
Mazor’s Renaissance robot system has been cleared in the U.S. for brain surgery, but had never before been used in a deep-brain stimulation procedure to treat Parkinson’s disease. More than 35 patients in Germany alone have successfully undergone brain biopsy procedures using the Mazor robot.
Big companies expect a 7% increase in employee healthcare costs, survey says
In 2014 large companies expect to pay 7% more in employee healthcare benefit costs, according to a survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health. Executives made the same 7% prediction in 2012 and 2013, but this year the poll found that some are exploring the option of health insurance exchanges. Larger companies will not be allowed to enroll in government-organized health insurance exchanges until 2017. This year’s survey also found that more than 1/3 of employers believe a consumer-directed health plan is the best cost control measure.
Using PET scans, researchers glean insights into Huntington’s disease
Researchers at the Feinstein Institute have developed a new tool to measure the progression of Huntington’s disease,
a degenerative disease that usually appears in a person’s 40s and 50s. The researchers took PET scans of 12 people with asymptomatic Huntington’s, examining them over a 7 year period. They then tallied the number of brain abnormalities seen in the images and measured the rate of the disease’s progression. Their findings may help doctors discern the effects of new drugs before symptoms appear.
Bill Clinton going on the Obamacare campaign trail
Former President Bill Clinton is this month launching a campaign to ‘sell’ healthcare reform to the American public. The efforts will kick off with a speech on September 4, in which the former Commander in Chief is slated to discuss reform from his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark.
The White House is currently targeting young people, a key demographic that will help the law function properly if they enroll in the government insurance exchanges. Clinton’s speech will come 1 month before insurance exchanges open for business on October 1.
Urine test might help ID cognitive decline in diabetes patients
A urine test shows promise in identifying which Type II diabetes patients are at a higher risk for cognitive impairment. Researchers found that patients with a certain protein present in urine samples had a steeper cognitive decline than patients whose urine lacked the protein. The study, slated to come out in the next issue of Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, evaluated 2,977 diabetes patients with normal kidney function over a period of 4-5 years.