August’s top news stories

31 August 2018 (Last Updated September 4th, 2018 10:14)

The US FDA approved the first generic version of the EpiPen to treat allergic reactions in emergency cases, and an international team of researchers discovered a blood biomarker to help detect the risk of kidney cancer development much earlier than standard diagnosis. Medicaldevice-network.com wraps up key headlines from August 2018.

August’s top news stories
Teva said it will commercially launch the generic products over the coming months. Credit: Phillip Bradshaw.

EpiPen generic version by Teva secures FDA approval

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first generic version of the EpiPen to treat allergic reactions in emergency cases, including life-threatening (anaphylaxis) conditions.

The authorisation, granted to Teva Pharmaceuticals, also covers EpiPen Jr auto-injector. The approval is for the use of 0.3mg and 0.15mg products in adults and paediatrics weighing more than 33 pounds.

Mylan designed EpiPen for automatic injection of an epinephrine dose into a person’s thigh in order to halt an allergic reaction caused due to insect bites or stings, medicines or food, among others.


Blood test can help detect kidney cancer five years early

An international team of researchers discovered a blood biomarker with the potential to help in detecting the risk of kidney cancer development much earlier than standard diagnosis.

The research was supported by Cancer Research UK, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France and the US’ National Institutes of Health (NIH).

During the research, scientists analysed blood samples obtained as part of the EPIC study from 190 people who went on to develop kidney cancer and compared them with 190 controls who did not.


UK Government gives medical product companies no-deal Brexit advice

The UK Government has issued information regarding what medical product businesses should do in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A notice has been issued to inform Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) stakeholders about what they will need to do in order to submit regulatory information to the government in what is claimed to be “the unlikely event of a no-deal scenario.”

The UK is currently part of the EU regulatory networks for medicines and medical devices, which have shared processes and systems such as the European Databank on Medical Devices (EUDAMED).


Simple paper test detects false or insufficient antibiotics

Researchers at Colorado State University developed a simple and inexpensive paper-based test that can quickly identify fake or substandard antibiotics.

The test can indicate in around 15 minutes whether an antibiotic sample is the correct strength or whether it has been diluted with filler substances such as baking soda. It works in a similar way to a home pregnancy test as the strip of paper turns a distinctive colour if a fake antibiotic is present and it can be used by an untrained professional.

This is the latest paper-based chemical assay that has been developed by Professor Chuck Harry. His research team included Dr Kat Boehle, who is the first author of the study.


Facebook and NYU partner to speed up MRI scans with AI

Facebook partnered with New York University (NYU) School of Medicine to initiate a research project focused on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to make magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans ten times faster.

Under the ‘fastMRI’ collaboration, Facebook AI Research (FAIR) group and the medical school’s Radiology department will investigate the use of AI in expediting the reconstruction of MR images.

Patients are commonly required to lie inside an MRI’s chamber for 15-50 minutes. The partners intend to significantly cut down this time by using AI to capture less data during the scan.


Researchers create ultra-thin artificial retina to restore sight

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Seoul National University developed and assessed an ultra-thin artificial retina that could potentially restore sight loss in patients with retinal diseases.

Said to be the first of its kind, the flexible device is based on 2D materials and is expected to improve existing implantable visualisation technology.

The researchers believe that certain modifications to the artificial retina could allow it to monitor heart and brain activity. This can be achieved by implanting the device in required body parts.


NHS, Microsoft and BHF partner to create UK defibrillator map

The NHS, Microsoft and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) entered a partnership to create a UK defibrillator map with the aim of saving thousands of patients from a fatal cardiac arrest.

The companies say they have a shared ambition to make the devices readily available for every out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. This is in response to figures showing that public-access defibrillators are used in less than 3% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests because their location is unknown to bystanders even though they could significantly increase survival chances.


MIT researchers develop in-body GPS system to track tumours

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed an in-body GPS system, called ReMix, which can identify the location of ingestible implants inside the body via low-power wireless signals.

The team expects that such implants can be used to track tumours by monitoring even slight movements. In the future, the implants may also help in dispensing drugs to a specific area in the body.

ReMix is being developed by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in alliance with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).


Google’s DeepMind AI can accurately detect eye diseases

A study has shown that an artificial intelligence (AI) system developed by Google’s DeepMind subsidiary can quickly and accurately detect more than 50 eye disorders using routine medical scans.

Conducted in collaboration with Moorfields Eye Hospital, the study demonstrated the capability of the AI system to correctly recommend the best course of treatment for patients.

Existing diagnosis techniques for eye conditions involve the analysis of optical coherence tomography (OCT) 3D scans. However, these scans are considered ‘hard to read’ and require experts for interpretation.


Spider-shaped micro-robot has surgical potential

Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and Boston University developed an integrated fabrication process that has enabled the design of a soft micro-robot with delicate surgical applications.

To demonstrate the technology, the researchers created the millimetre-scale robotic soft spider from a single elastic material with body-shaping, motion, and colour features. The micro-robot was inspired by the millimetre-sized Australian peacock spider and has micrometre-scale features.