The new Trump administration and Republican Congress – and all the accompanying change and uncertainty – is the major story for the medical device industry.
But there are many other medtech stories worth noting from the first quarter of 2017. There was an FDA warning over Abbott’s Absorb bioresorbable stent, a continued spate of M&A deals, a slew of cardiology research breakthroughs including a customizable robotic heart out of Harvard, and much more.
Here are the top medical device stories of early 2017.
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Medical devices implanted in the body for drug delivery, sensing, or tissue regeneration usually come under fire from the host’s immune system. Defense cells work to isolate material they consider foreign to the body, building up a wall of dense scar tissue around the devices, which eventually become unable to perform their functions.
Researchers at MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital have identified a signaling molecule that is key to this process of “fibrosis,” and they have shown that blocking the molecule prevents the scar tissue from forming. The findings, reported in the March 20 issue of Nature Materials, could help scientists extend the lifespan of many types of implantable medical devices.
By Anne Trafton | MIT News
Image Credit: Felice Frankel
Anxiety and depression make handling everyday life more difficult, but it seems these conditions also make healing from surgery considerably harder. That’s according to a large study of individuals undergoing four types of surgeries, experiencing a range of depression and anxiety symptoms.
The study included just under 177,000 patients having hip replacement, knee replacement, hernia and varicose vein surgeries over a two-year period. The researchers were careful to account for factors that typically influence surgery outcomes, including other health conditions, demographics, complexity of the procedure and when it was performed.
The results show that after taking into account all of those factors, patients with moderate anxiety or depression were more likely to have wound complications and to be readmitted to the hospital, and on average had longer hospital stays. Those with more severe anxiety and depression tended to have worse complications.
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A team of researchers repaired a hole in a mouse’s skull by regrowing “quality bone,” a breakthrough that could drastically improve the care of people who suffer severe trauma to the skull or face.
The work by a joint team of Northwestern University and University of Chicago researchers was a resounding success, showing that a potent combination of technologies was able to regenerate the skull bone with supporting blood vessels in just the discrete area needed without developing scar tissue — and more rapidly than with previous methods.
“The results are very exciting,” said Guillermo Ameer, professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, and professor of surgery at Feinberg School of Medicine.
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The technique of machine learning, where an algorithm makes predictions based on the data it processes without being explicitly programmed, is an important and wide-reaching area of computing. So the prospect of merging machine learning with 3D printing, as can be seen in a new project by researchers at UCLA, is definitely an exciting one. Using a 3D printed prototype detector with a sensor that can be modified by machine learning techniques, the researchers have demonstrated a new, more efficient way to detect tiny items such as cancer biomarkers, viruses, and proteins. This could improve the treatment and diagnosis of serious infections and diseases.
By David | 3ders.org
Image Credit: Advanced Science News
Bone infections are often very difficult to treat, and with the rise of MRSA this issue has become only more challenging. A team of researchers from University of Missouri, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, and Silpakorn University in Thailand has developed a way of making tissue scaffolds that ward off MRSA while promoting natural healing at the site of their implantation.
The structure of the scaffold is made of polylactic acid (PLA), a polymer commonly used in implants. It is bioresorbable and is removed by the body over time. Over the structure a coating of silver ion is applied and stem cells ready to differentiate into bone are added.
The silver ions, already widely used to ward off infections in a variety of medical applications, prevent MRSA from settling in, while the stem cells turn to bone. The PLA structure and silver eventually disappear, leaving nothing but natural tissue.
Image Credit: Medgadget
The sooner a disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be well managed or cured. The challenge to finding a disease early is that most of us don’t seek treatment until we have symptoms, which means the disease has already progressed.
But breakthroughs in nanobiotechnology techniques mean that in five years we will be able to examine and filter bodily fluids for tiny bioparticles that reveal signs of disease like cancer before we have any symptoms, letting us know immediately if we should consult a doctor.
By Gustavo Stolovitzky | theguardian
Photograph: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images/iStockphoto