March’s top news stories

8 April 2019 (Last Updated April 9th, 2019 15:32)

A team at IBM Research Australia is developing a blood test to detect early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, and Researchers at the University of Manchester found small molecules in sebum that emit a distinctive smell in people with Parkinson’s Disease. Medicaldevice-network.com wraps up key headlines from March 2019.

March’s top news stories
Previous studies indicate amyloid-beta to be a biological marker associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Credit: vestque.

IBM’s research leveraged AI to predict Alzheimer’s

A team at IBM Research Australia is developing a blood test to detect early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Led by researcher Ben Goudey, the team used artificial intelligence (AI) technology to identify a set of proteins in the blood that could predict amyloid-beta concentration in spinal fluid.

Previous studies indicated that amyloid-beta is a biological marker associated with Alzheimer’s.


Researchers found Parkinson’s could be diagnosed by distinctive odour

Researchers at the University of Manchester found small molecules in sebum that emit a distinctive smell in people with Parkinson’s Disease.

These findings could be used to develop early diagnostic tests for the neurodegenerative disorder, which leads to progressive brain cell death and significant loss of motor function. There are currently no definitive diagnostic tests available in the market.

The research was led by the University of Manchester and was funded by Parkinson’s UK and the Michael J. Fox Foundation.


US Senators introduced bill to repeal medical device tax

US Senators Pat Toomey and Amy Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal medical device tax across the country.

In 2013, the 2.3% excise tax was introduced as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The tax applies to a wide range of medical equipment such as pacemakers, stents, joint replacements and surgical tools.

Having been suspended twice since January 2016, the latest pause is set to expire on 1 January 2020 and US lawmakers are looking for a permanent repeal.


Ohio State researchers identified biomarkers of fibromyalgia

Researchers from Ohio State University identified the specific biomarkers of fibromyalgia, differentiating it from other related diseases.

The team was able to reliably detect the condition in blood samples as part of a study that compared 50 people diagnosed with fibromyalgia, 29 with rheumatoid arthritis, 19 with osteoarthritis and 23 with lupus, the researchers examined blood samples from each participant using vibrational spectroscopy.

Ohio State University associate professor Kevin Hackshaw said: “We found clear, reproducible metabolic patterns in the blood of dozens of patients with fibromyalgia. This brings us much closer to a blood test than we have ever been.”


MIT researchers created device to deliver TB drugs

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers developed a drug delivery system that could ensure a sustained release of antibiotics in the stomachs of patients with tuberculosis (TB).

The device is intended to help TB patients switch from their six-month course of daily antibiotics to monthly doses.

TB is one of the world’s deadliest infections and responsible for more than one million deaths each year.


Researchers developed test for prostate cancer

An international research team led by University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland developed epiCaPture, a test that detects prostate cancer using urine samples.

The research was supported by the Irish Cancer Society.

Approximately 3,500 men in Ireland are affected by prostate cancer each year. One in three of these patients is diagnosed with aggressive cancer, which requires immediate treatment.


Breath Diagnostics and Mayo Clinic partnered on new lung cancer test

Breath Diagnostics partnered with Mayo Clinic Laboratories to create clinical diagnostic tests that analyse breath samples.

The collaboration aims to identify individual predictive biomarkers for a variety of diseases, including lung cancer. The partners intend to develop a non-invasive, quick and cost-effective test to identify indeterminate pulmonary nodules and monitor for potential recurrence of cancer following surgery.

Breath Diagnostics’ OneBreath micro-reactor technology will be leveraged to develop the test. Originally developed by the University of Louisville, OneBreath analyses breath that is exhaled into a 1l non-reactive bag.


Handheld CRISPR device to enable faster diagnosis of genetic disease

A team of researchers in the US developed a handheld device that diagnoses genetic diseases at point-of-care.

Called CRISPR-Chip, the device combines a deactivated clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) Cas9 protein with electronic transistors to identify genetic mutations in DNA samples without the need for amplification or replication of the DNA segment using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Avoiding the time-consuming PCR step is expected to enable the use of CRISPR-Chip for genetic testing in a doctor’s office or field work setting, rather than sending samples to a laboratory.


Australian researchers created AI-based method to detect eye cancer

The Australian Research Council’s Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) developed an automated system to detect ocular surface squamous neoplasia (OSSN).

This non-invasive technique combines advanced imaging microscopy with computing and artificial intelligence (AI) to differentiate diseased and non-diseased eye tissue in real-time.

It scans the natural light reflected by certain eye cells following stimulation with safe levels of artificial light.


Abbott’s MitraClip device approved for heart failure patients with MR

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the indication of Abbott’s MitraClip device to include the treatment of heart failure patients with clinically significant secondary or functional mitral regurgitation (MR).

In July last year, the regulatory authority approved the device for repairing leaky mitral valves without open-heart surgery.

Abbott structural heart business chief medical officer Neil Moat said: “Since severe secondary MR is extremely difficult to manage and associated with a poor prognosis, people have historically had few options.”