industry news

07 JANUARY 2020

New blood test to improve triage for elderly concussion patients

A new blood test could accurately identify elderly concussion patients without brain tissue damage who will then not require computed tomography (CT) scan.

According to a research paper published in January issue of AACC’s The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine, the blood test was 100% accurate at identifying who did not have brain tissue damage.

CT scans can be expensive and expose patients to radiation. Therefore, the reduced use of CT scans could benefit both the healthcare system and patients.

The blood test was not accurate at detecting patients who had brain tissue damage.

In early 2018, Banyan Biomarkers secured marketing clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a blood test to assess mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion in adults.

The Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator measures two proteins, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and ubiquitin carboxyle-terminal esterase L1 (UCH-L1).

As the blood test was not specifically designed for elderly patients, the research team led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine Robert H Christenson aimed to determine the test in patients age 65 years or older.

As a part of the Prospective Clinical Evaluation of Biomarkers of Traumatic Brain Injury (ALERT-TBI) study, the research team analysed data from 1,959 concussion patients, who had both a CT scan and a blood test done for brain tissue damage within 12 hours of their injury.

Christenson said: “This posthoc analysis of the ALERT-TBI study further validates the utility of the mild traumatic brain injury serum assay as a rule-out test across the spectrum of adult ages, based on equivalent sensitivity and negative predictive value.

“However, the identified differences in specificity and serum GFAP / UCH-L1 values in elderly traumatic brain injury patients limits use as a rule-in test, and highlights age-specific characteristics that must be considered in the use of the predictive markers in elderly mild traumatic brain injury patients.”

The research team notes that the test should only be used as a triage tool and not as a replacement for CT scans.

06 JANUARY 2020

Electronic Caregiver, Realtime Senior Living form care partnership

US-based medical technology firm Electronic Caregiver has partnered with Realtime Senior Living to help patients easily locate quality senior living options and care services in real-time.

With Realtime Senior Living’s advanced applications, case managers and care coordinators will be able to track patients and their families to senior living facilities equipped with Electronic Caregiver’s safety health monitoring devices.

Through the partnership, Realtime’s current search app will enable case managers to quickly track available care services in the area that meet the personalised needs of a patient.

Electronic Caregiver chief clinical officer Tim Washburn said: “With this partnership, we are really looking to reimagine the hospital discharge process for families and providers alike.

“We have patients who stay in hospitals extra days because they aren’t able to finalise placement in a senior care facility, so there’s a huge cost to the hospitals; there’s a huge cost to the patients and their families.

“Hospitals are places where people are when they’re sick, so if you’re going to be in a hospital, your very first goal is to get out of the hospital. Anything we can do to speed that up so it’s a good transition, that’s in our wheelhouse, and that’s what this partnership should help us to do.”

The products and service offerings by Electronic Caregiver include Premier and Pro Health.

Electronic Caregiver’s Premier is a wrist pendant and features a Medical Concern Button that connects users with Emergency Medical Dispatch Operators at any time.

ProHealth offers vitals monitoring and emergency response. Both Premier and ProHealth allow medication reminders and round the clock physician-on-demand service, pocketMD.

Realtime Senior Living founder and CEO Steve Gilbert said: “We’ve been looking for opportunities to enhance the experience within the communities and homes that we partner with.”

In early 2020, both the companies aim to launch the app featuring Electronic Caregiver providers.

20 DECEMBER 2019

Medigate and Cerner to protect medical devices and networks

20 DECEMBER 2019

Purdue researchers create new data mining framework for AI models

Purdue University drug discovery researchers have created a new data mining framework for training artificial intelligence and machine learning models.

The software, known as Lemon, helps researchers mine the Protein Data Base (PDB), which hosts data on more than 140,000 biomolecular structures, within six minutes.

A key challenge in using machine learning for drug development is creating a process by which a computer can extract the needed information from a data pool.

Drug scientists must pull biological data and train the software to understand how a typical human body will interact with the combinations that come together to form a medication.

Purdue College of Science assistant professor Caurac Chopra said: “It can take an enormous amount of time to sort through all the accumulated data. Machine learning can help, but you still need a strong framework from which the computer can quickly analyze data to help in the creation of safe and effective drugs.”

Lemon’s fast C++11 library with Python bindings means it can mine the PDB with exceptional speed. Loading all traditional mmCIF files in the PDF typically takes around 290 minutes, but Lemon does this in about six minutes when applying a simple workflow on an 8-core machine.

Lemon also allows the user to write custom functions to use as part of their software suite, as well as develop custom functions in a standard manner to generate unique benchmarking datasets for the entire scientific community.

Purdue PhD chemistry student Jonathan Fine, who worked on the platform, said: “Experimental structures deposited in PDB have resulted in several advances for structural and computational biology scientific and education communities that help advance drug development and other areas.

“We created Lemon as a one-stop-shop to quickly mine the entire data bank and pull out the useful biological information that is key for developing drugs.”

Lemon was originally designed to create benchmarking sets for drug design software and identify the biomolecular interactions that cannot be modeled well in the PDB, which are known as lemons.

20 DECEMBER 2019

Zebra Medical Vision and DePuy Synthes to bring AI to orthopaedic care

19 DECEMBER 2019

Truffle Capital raises €250m for medical venture fund

Major European venture capital fund Truffle Capital has closed two new institutional funds, BioMedTech and Fintech-Insurtech, having successfully raised €390m from international institutional investors.

The company received €250m in commitments for its BioMedTech fund and €140m for its Fintech-Insurtech fund. The BioMedTech fund will be used to fund and create 12 companies, mainly in France, developing medical devices and mini-invasive medications.

These initiatives will be based on disruptive technologies sourced by Truffle from the top 50 US and European universities.

About 60% of the amount raised for the new Truffle Capital funds comes from French investors and 40% from international investors.

The company has already generated five start-ups, which rely on exclusive and global licensing agreements negotiated with international research centres and universities.

These are: HoliStick Medical, a Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff aiming to treat cardiac pathologies without open-heart surgery; Skinosive, a Yale University company which develops dermo-cosmetics to prevent skin cancers; Artedrone, whose autonomous microrobots could prevent and treat cerebrovascular pathologies; PKMed, which develops smart bioactive implants; and Bariatek, which works on non-invasive medical devices to treat obesity and diabetes.

The two funds represent a major acceleration in Truffle Capital’s development compared to the €750m the firm has raised in the past 15 years. Previous Truffle funds were largely non sector-specific and focused on retail.

Truffle Capital co-founder and CEO Dr Philippe Pouletty said: “With €250m new funds, we are now among the top BioMedTech players in Europe, especially in the interventional medical devices segment. Our investment strategy is designed to allow clinicians to treat patients more effectively and in a less traumatic way with revolutionary products, allowing patients to enjoy better and longer lives, and payers to reduce health costs.

“Our proven experience as entrepreneur-investors and our investment fire power allow us to build future world leaders within the excellent French ecosystem, from creation to clinical and commercial stage.”

19 DECEMBER 2019

US researchers develop new technique to detect cancer biomarkers

18 decEMBER 2019

Wearable device may help patients with swallowing problems

A wearable monitoring device could make treatment of swallowing disorders easier and more affordable.

Researchers from Purdue University have created a skin-mountable sensor sticker that attaches firmly to the neck and is connected with small cables to a wireless transmitter unit.

The sensor sticker measures and records the muscle activity and movement associated with swallowing and stores the information in the transmitter unit. The information can then be analysed by a doctor to understand the precise cause of a patient’s swallowing difficulties and prescribe more targeted and effective treatment.

Purdue College of Engineering assistant professor Chi Hwan Lee said: “Our device is unique in that we specifically created it to work well with the small and intricate muscles associated with swallowing events.

“The sensor sticker is stretchable and flexible to work well with the skin and curvilinear head and neck shape, while the connected unit has electronic chips and more rigid components.”

The stickers are designed to be disposable, and can be used about ten times before being disposed of. They are made of relatively inexpensive components, according to the Purdue team.

Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences associate professor Georgia Malandraki said: “We want to provide a reliable, patient-friendly and affordable way to treat the millions of people with swallowing disorders.

“Many devices to help these people are expensive, not able to be taken home and not accessible in many rural areas.”

More than 9 million adults and 500,000 children experience severe swallowing disorders each year in the US. Swallowing requires the coordination of more than 30 pairs of muscles in the head and neck, six pairs of cranial nerves and complex circuitry in the brain and brainstem.

Any disruption in these pathways can lead to difficulty swallowing.

Malandraki and Lee have completed pre-clinical tests of the device and are currently conducting clinical trials. They are working with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization on patenting their technology.