J&J to acquire surgical robotics firm Auris Health for $3.4bn

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has signed a definitive agreement through its subsidiary Ethicon to buy surgical robotics maker Auris Health for a cash consideration of around $3.4bn.

The deal includes contingent payments of up to $2.35bn, based on predetermined milestones.

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Auris Health develops robotic technologies and has a strong focus on lung cancer. Its portfolio includes the Monarch Platform, which is currently used in bronchoscopic diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Google and Verily initiated AI screening programme for eye conditions

Google partnered with its sister company Verily to launch a screening programme in India that will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to detect diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO).

Oedema refers to the swelling of body parts that occurs when small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues. DMO is the most common cause of sight loss in diabetics.

The project will use a machine learning algorithm developed by the companies to facilitate automated screening for early identification of diseases and offer expanded access to screening.

Abbott and Novo Nordisk to offer integrated solution for diabetes

Abbott and Novo Nordisk partnered to bring an integrated digital solution that will involve the sharing of insulin data to facilitate the better management of diabetes.

According to the World Health Organisation, the worldwide population living with diabetes reached 422 million in 2014 and the global prevalence among adults is thought to be at 8.5%. In 2016, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths globally.

As part of the non-exclusive alliance, dose data from Novo Nordisk’s durable connected pens will be integrated directly into the digital health tools that are compatible with Abbott FreeStyle Libre system.

Philips showcased augmented reality for image-guided therapies

Royal Philips unveiled a new mixed reality concept to aid in minimally invasive surgeries, which was developed with Microsoft.

The new concept was revealed at the MWC 2019 mobile technology conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Intended for use in surgery, the technology is based on the Philips Azurion image-guided therapy platform and Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 holographic computing platform.

Current minimally invasive surgeries rely heavily on advanced medical imaging technologies such as ultra-low-dose X-ray imaging and ultrasound to guide surgical actions. Philips provides high-tech interventional suites and hybrid operating rooms for such procedures.

Lab-on-a-chip device to use liquid biopsy to detect cancer quickly

Researchers at the University of Kansas in the US developed a new lab-on-a-chip diagnostic device that will leverage a liquid biopsy principle to quickly detect cancer using a droplet of blood or plasma.

Fast identification of the disease is expected to allow timelier interventions and better outcomes.

The new device is designed to identify exosomes, which are tiny parcels of biological details generated by tumour cells to trigger cancer growth or metastasize.

Bionic hand to help restore proprioception in amputees

A team of Swiss and Italian researchers developed a bionic hand to help amputees regain their proprioception, an instant and accurate sense of the position of limbs during and after movement.

This next-generation prosthetic is a result of a collaboration between the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies and the A. Gemelli University Polyclinic in Italy.

It is designed to enable patients to reach out for an object and recognise its shape, position, consistency and size without having to look at it. The team claims that the device reflects a natural sense of touch.

ResMed and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare settled patent disputes

US-based ResMed and New Zealand-based Fisher & Paykel Healthcare reached an agreement to settle patent infringement litigations worldwide.

The companies have been in dispute over patent infringement since 2016 in multiple countries, including the US, New Zealand and Australia.

A recent litigation involved a claim filed by ResMed against Fisher & Paykel Healthcare seeking a ban on the import and sale of Fisher & Paykel’s Simplus, Eson and Eson 2 nasal masks in the US.

US regulator sought additional details on $4.2bn Boston Scientific-BTG deal

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requested additional information and documentary material from Boston Scientific and BTG on the proposed $4.2bn acquisition deal.

The antitrust regulator is focused on the Boston Scientific and BTG’s therapeutic beads businesses, and the FTC review will see an extension of the waiting period until 30 days after the companies comply with the request.

This request for additional details is part of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, which requires companies to file premerger notifications with the FTC for acquisition clearance in the US.

MDW, Longenesis and Bitfury to bring blockchain to medical imaging

Radiology solutions provider Medical Diagnostic Web (MDW) partnered with Longenesis and Bitfury Group to implement a healthcare blockchain technology across its marketplace.

Longenesisis is an artificial intelligence (AI) firm, while Bitfury offers blockchain technology. MDW marketplace is developed to link all diagnostic digital imaging players and facilitate image interpretation.

The open, decentralised marketplace allows radiologists to form new business alliances and receive immediate compensation for services.

US researchers powered medical implants with heart’s energy

A research team led by Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in the US devised a new approach to recharge implantable medical devices using the heart’s energy.

Implants such as pacemakers and defibrillators are currently powered by batteries that require replacement every five to ten years. These repeated surgeries are costly and could lead to complications and infections.

In the latest three-year research, the team aimed to eliminate the need for replacement by creating an energy source that will power the implantable biomedical devices over the patient’s entire life span.