DNA chip IDs gene mutations in saliva or blood: Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics is developing one of the first commercial genetic therapies for patients with lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD). The firm submitted the therapy, Glybera, to the European Medicines Agency and expects a decision on its approval in mid-2011. Before therapy, however, the genetic mutation must be diagnosed. In collaboration with AMT, Progenika Biopharma developed the LPLchip which detects mutations in the LPL gene, and received CE Mark approval. The chip can detect 120 different mutations in a sample of blood or saliva, enabling identification of patients who may benefit from gene therapy. So far, the picture for Glybera is looking good, with three studies showing a decrease in the incidence of pancreatitis, one of the most important complications of LPLD, in patients undergoing treatment. Expect to hear more about this in the future.
Scientists synthesize cilia: Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi developed a new material that resembles cilia, the sensory and motile hair-like organelles that protrude from virtually every cell in the human body. Cilia play an important role in smell, vision, hearing and promoting fluid flow. The material is similar to the body’s cilia in that it responds to thermal, chemical and electromagnetic stimulation. The scientists employed a process used for years to produce latex paints to create the material comprised of tiny hair-like structures. The filaments are capable of locomotion, waving, shrinking and expanding in response to stimuli, according to the press release. The researchers said that "the ability to engineer this cilia-like biosensor may give scientists an ability to test for the presence of toxins, oxygen or even lack of oxygen in an environment," and "future opportunities for the sensor use might include developing new sensors for testing glucose levels, using the sensors for drug testing, or testing for air or water safety." The findings were published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
Researchers perform robot-assisted fiberoptic intubation: MedGadget recently reported on remotely-performed nerve blocks utilizing a surgical robotic system. In the latest issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, investigators brought this concept to airway management. The medical researchers used Intuitive Surgical Inc.’s (NSDQ:ISRG) DaVinci Surgical Robot to simulate orotracheal and nasotracheal fiberoptic intubation. In their procedure, four of the robot’s arms were used: the first held a camera, another grasped the bronchoscope, and two others had graspers that were used to manipulate the bronchoscope controls. They manually placed the scope into the oropharynx, and then used the DaVinci console to navigate into the hypopharynx and through the vocal cords. The researchers also demonstrated a nasotracheal intubation, and each of these mock intubations were done in under 75 seconds. Their article admits that, due to the expense and cumbersome nature of the equipment, this is not likely to become a common clinical practice, but it is an interesting proof of concept. Suggested applications included battlefield and space flight scenarios.
Induction-powered implantable cardiac pressure sensor: Engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems developed an induction-powered implantable sensor that can supposedly measure intracardiac pressures. Once delivered to the endomyocardium via catheter, the sensor can take readings 200 times a second and transmit them without using a battery, according to the scientists who developed the device. The new system will be displayed at the Munich electronica show in November. The scientists said the rod-shaped sensor is 2 millimeters by 10 millimeters in size and will deliver pressure data over a period of several months. The device also transmits data only on demand like a passive RFID transponder: the sensor was designed to only operate when its associated reader device supplies it with energy via an inductive antenna coupling.
A weekly roundup of new developments in medical technology, by MedGadget.com.