industry news

03 DECEMBER 2019

Philips partners with Inspira Health to boost patient care

Health technology company Royal Philips has signed a five year $50m partnership agreement with South Jersey healthcare organisation Inspira Health to boost patient care and improve clinical workflow performance across Inspira’s network.

The agreement will help Inspira to standardise patient monitoring and improve diagnostic imaging solutions at more than a dozen facilities.

To provide better outcomes, as well as improved performance and patient and staff experience, the contract will include training and operational services to maximise Inspira’s operational efficacy.

Through the long-term strategic partnership, Philips will provide Inspira with its advanced diagnostic imaging solutions, patient care monitoring systems and minimally invasive solutions, such as the Philips Azurion image-guided therapy platform.

Inspira Health president and CEO John DiAngelo said: “At Inspira, we are focused on leveraging technology that enables our teams to provide the best possible care. By working closely with Philips, we have an opportunity to stay at the cutting edge of imaging and patient monitoring.

“This partnership will bring countless benefits to our patients, physicians and clinical teams. It comes down to ensuring that each individual community within our broader community is taken care of.”

The long-term strategic partnership is expected to help Inspira to standardise its diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring technologies while making data more integrated, enabling its clinicians to gain access to correct patient data for better diagnosis and treatment.

Inspira’s health system consists of three hospitals, a cancer centre, several multi-speciality health centres and a total of over 150 access points. It is also opening a hospital this month and a cancer centre in Mullica Hill, New Jersey in January 2020.

03 DECEMBER 2019

Study finds proteins from single blood test help predict disease risks

A team of researchers from the University of California, Cambridge University and SomaLogic have found that the large-scale measurement of proteins from a single blood test could effectively predict people’s risk of developing a broad range of diseases.

Human blood contains around 20,000-30,000 different proteins coded by DNA and control biological processes.

Some proteins such as hormones are secreted into the bloodstream to regulate processes in health or disease while others leak into the blood as a result of cell damage or cell death.

Secreted and leaked proteins can indicate health and disease risks, according to the research team.

A proof-of-concept study was carried out with nearly 17,000 individuals, divided into five observational cohorts.

This team collected plasma samples from each participant and scanned 5,000 individual proteins from a single blood sample. The trial measured nearly 85 million protein targets.

By using machine learning methods and statistical methods, the team developed predictive models for a wide variety of potential health problems.

Precision levels of the models differed, with some indicating high predictive rate such as in case of percentage body fat while others indicated modest prognostic rate such as for cardiovascular risk.

However, researchers found that the protein-based models were all either better predictors than models that depended on traditional risk factors or a lesser expensive approach than conventional testing method.

SomaLogic chief medical officer Stephen Williams said: “It’s remarkable that plasma protein patterns alone can faithfully represent such a wide variety of common and important health issues, and we think that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“We have more than a hundred tests in our SomaSignal pipeline and believe that large-scale protein scanning has the potential to become a sole information source, a Liquid Health Check for individualised health assessments.”

02 DECEMBER 2019

Siemens Healthineers to introduce AI-based software for MRI

29 NOVEMBER 2019

Biolidics agrees with Sysmex to develop LDT for cancer diagnostics

Singapore-based medical technology company Biolidics has signed a definitive agreement with Japan-based haematology products provider Sysmex for the joint development of laboratory-developed tests (LDT) to diagnose cancer.

Since 2016, the two firms have been collaborating in the research and development of laboratory assays in circulating tumour cells (CTCs). This collaboration has been leveraging Biolodics’ ClearCell FX1 System and Sysmex’s molecular imaging flow cytometer MI-FCM.

Under the agreement, Sysmex will share its MI-FCM technology platform with the technology capabilities of ClearCell FX1 System so that LDT can be developed with an established workflow process.

The process will be clinically validated by SAM Laboratory, an internationally accredited clinical laboratory owned by Clearbridge Health, the controlling shareholder of Biolidics.

Following the validation, Biolidics will commercialise and market this LDT cancer diagnostic test in Asia, outside of Japan. This test is expected to use only a small amount of blood sample.

Biolidics stated that the collaboration is a significant leap forward, as it has the potential of reducing invasive cancer diagnostic procedures and boosting clinical outcomes while optimising cost and efficiency.

The collaboration is also expected to allow both the firms to boost and expand their portfolio.

The Japan-based firm has verified several cancer type-particular biomarkers for CTC characterisation that could allow disease state prediction, as well as treatment selection through MI-FCM.

While MI-FCM is a downstream analytical technology within the cancer diagnostic value-chain in liquid biopsy, Biolidics’ ClearCell FX1 System is an upstream technology that segregates and enriches cancer cells from the blood. Therefore, the two technologies are considered to be complementary for prognosis, diagnosis and treatment.

Sysmex offers healthcare testing solutions and services to customers in more than 190 countries. It has a presence in the haematology, haemostasis and urinalysis fields.

Biolidics focuses on the development of cell enrichment system. Its ClearCell FX1 System is installed across Asia, Europe, and North America.

29 NOVEMBER 2019

Researchers develop direct gene-circuit-to-electrode interface

Researchers at the University of Toronto and Arizona State University have developed a direct gene-circuit-to-electrode interface for the conversion of biological information into an electronic signal.

The electrochemical platform combines cell-free synthetic biology with nanostructured electrodes.

The interface combines the sensing capability of biological systems with the decision-making capabilities of electronic systems.

University of Toronto Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy assistant professor Keith Pardee said: “This is the first example of a gene circuit being directly coupled to electrodes and is an exciting tool for the conversion of biological information into an electronic signal.”

The researchers developed a bio-hybrid system that uses non-optical reporter enzymes found within 16 microlitres of liquid, which combines with micro-patterned electrodes featured on a small chip of around 2.5cm in length.

Gene-circuit-based sensors monitor the presence of nucleic acid sequences within this small chip. When sequences are activated, they trigger the production of one of the reporter enzymes, which react with reporter DNA sequences to give an electrochemical response on the electrode sensor chip.

Pardee’s lab PhD candidate Peivand Sadat Mousavi said: “We created the interface by repurposing enzymes typically found in the bacterial immune system. The enzymes cut DNA like scissors and that’s how we ultimately get them to produce electrochemical signals.”

The team applied the approach to identify colistin antibiotic-resistance genes and found that it effectively detected four genes.

Furthermore, the technique was found to also effectively identify and report each gene either independently or in combination.

University of Toronto professor Shana Kelley said: “What makes this combined approach so powerful is that the underlying connectivity of the gene circuit sensor outputs can be re-programmed at will by simply modifying the code at the level of the software rather than at the level of the DNA, which is much more difficult and time-consuming.”

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research supported the research.

28 NOVEMBER 2019

Philips announces trial to evaluate Direct to Angio Suite impact

Royal Philips (Philips) has announced a clinical study to evaluate the effect of a ‘Direct to Angio Suite’ workflow on outcomes of stroke patients.

WE-TRUST (Workflow optimisation to rEduce Time to endovascular ReperfUsion in Stroke Treatment) is a multicentre, prospective, randomised, controlled, open-label, blinded-endpoint study, which will evaluate if Philips’ advanced image-guided therapy platform can diagnose, plan and treat stroke patients in the interventional suite without needing an initial CT or MRI exam.

The trial will begin in the first half of 2020, with expected completion in 2022. It will be carried out across eight locations and will involve more than 460 patients across the world.

For stroke patients, outcomes are linked to how quickly treatment is carried out. A delay of every 30 minutes reduces the possibility of a positive outcome by 14%, while every hour ages the brain by 3.6 years against a healthy ageing brain.

Several studies have shown that a Direct to Angio Suite workflow can not only cut down the time to treatment but also boost patient outcomes.

Royal Philips is developing technology that can boost the CT-like images of the brain created with the X-ray system in the suite.

The trial is expected to offer a thorough assessment of the impact of this technology and workflow innovation on time-to-treatment and neurological outcomes in patients.

Philips image-guided therapy systems general manager Ronald Tabaksblat said: “With extensive clinical research demonstrating the benefit of a treatment approach that combines thrombectomy and clot-busting drugs, stroke patient triage and treatment has changed dramatically in recent years.

“For stroke patients, ‘time is brain’. The WE-TRUST trial will assess the impact of a streamlined Direct to Angio Suite workflow on patient outcomes and has the potential to make a significant impact in this rapidly advancing field.”

The trial’s primary endpoint is the cognitive function in patients at three months following the procedure.

28 NOVEMBER 2019

Canadian researchers use blood test to assess pulmonary embolism

27 NOVEMBER 2019

Fluorescent probe sheds light on glycogen

UK-based Iceni Diagnostics is using fluorescent probe technology to explore the structure and metabolism of glycogen, as part of a wider pan-European project using ‘systems medicine’ to investigate glycogen storage diseases (GSD).

GSDs are rare diseases based on specific enzyme deficiencies involved in the breakdown or synthesis of glycogen. Iceni Diagnostics researcher Gaia Fancellu is looking into the characterisation of the branched polymer in healthy people versus GSD patients as part of the Polymers in the Liver: Metabolism and Regulation (PoLiMeR) consortium.

PoLiMeR is taking a ‘systems medicine’-based perspective, creating a computational model of the glycogen breakdown process. When this model is fed with patient data it will have the potential to provide a personalised diagnosis and treatment strategy for each individual.

The €4m project acts as a four-year training network which provides innovative research training in personalised systems medicine, and supports 15 PhD students including Fancellu.

Fancellu said: “I am doing this following a top-down approach. The first step will be based on breaking down glycogen using specific enzymes to determine polymer length, positions and number of branching points at different cleavage points. The results will be analysed by high-performance chromatography and mass spectrometry.

“In the second step, I’ll work with fluorescent probes to detect the structure of glycogen based on changes in fluorescence, using spectrophotometer as the reference tool to study the results.”

Fluorescent probes are chemical compounds that act like a molecular rotor, changing colour when its movement is constrained. When glycogen breaks down a cell changes in viscosity, so a fluorescent probe can indicate microenvironmental changes within a live cell.

Fancellu said: “I’ll be using this same fluorescent probe, in a different environment, to detect any changes in the internal viscosity, wavelength, pH and, ultimately, structure of the glycogen cells.”

Funding for this project has been achieved through Horizon 2020, the European Union’s current funding framework to support technological innovation and research on the continent.