Medtronic to buy Mazor Robotics under $1.64bn deal

Medtronic signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire 100% of the outstanding ordinary shares of surgical systems developer Mazor Robotics for a total consideration of about $1.64bn.

The deal bolsters Medtronic’s footprint in the spine surgery technologies area, while allowing more exposure to Mazor’s core platform technology of robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) systems.

The Mazor X Robotic Guidance System and Renaissance Surgical-Guidance System are designed for accurate guidance during spine surgery procedures.

Abbott gets CE-Mark for blood test to predict heart attack risk

Abbott obtained the European CE-Mark for its Architect Stat High Sensitive Troponin-I blood test designed to predict the chances of a heart attack or other cardiac events in seemingly healthy people.

The test uses a cardiac-specific biomarker to identify at-risk adults potentially months to years in advance.

Current European guidelines recommend analysis of indirect heart health factors such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes or smoking status to establish the risk of a patient developing future heart disease.

Mylan signs HIV test commercialisation deal with Atomo Diagnostics

Pharmaceutical company Mylan formed a strategic alliance with Atomo Diagnostics to boost access to HIV self-testing in low and middle income countries.

As part of the agreement, Mylan received exclusive rights for commercialisation of in-vitro HIV rapid diagnostic tests in more than 100 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and Latin America.

HIV testing rates have improved but expanding access to the tests is still a challenge in certain countries.

Study finds epidural stimulator can help paralysed patients walk again

A small study conducted at Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville (UofL) in the US showed that epidural stimulation and physical therapy can help regain some movement in paralysed patients.

Of the total four participants, two are able to walk over ground with assistive devices and all four achieved independent standing and trunk stability.

All the patients were at least 2.5 years post injury and could not stand, walk or voluntarily move their legs prior to the study.

Canadian researchers develop wearable ultrasound scanner

A research team from the University of British Columbia (UBC) created a new ultrasound transducer that is wearable, portable, cost-effective and can be powered by a smartphone.

Standard ultrasound machines consist of piezoelectric crystals to generate medical images and transmit them to a computer for creating sonograms.

The new wearable ultrasound replaces the piezoelectric crystals with tiny vibrating drums that are made of polymer resin.

Foundation Medicine launches new liquid biopsy test in US

Cancer diagnostics firm Foundation Medicine, a member of the Roche Group, introduced its new liquid biopsy test for solid tumours for commercial use in the US.

The blood test, called FoundationOne Liquid, is a hybrid capture-based, sequencing in-vitro diagnostic device designed to detect substitutions, insertion and deletion alterations (indels), copy number alterations (CNAs), as well as select gene rearrangements.

The device uses a blood sample to analyse 70 genes, including homologous recombination deficiency (HRD), that increase the growth of cancer and then reports the genomic biomarker for microsatellite instability (MSI).

Google’s AI tool can determine lung cancer type from images

A study by a New York University (NYU) School of Medicine research team found that a type of artificial intelligence (AI) tool called Inception v3 from Google can determine lung cancer types by analysing images of tumours.

The machine learning programme demonstrated a 97% accuracy in differentiating adenocarcinoma from squamous cell carcinoma. These two types of lung cancer are considered difficult to distinguish without confirmatory tests.

Study finds higher diagnostic accuracy with Swarm AI system

A study by Stanford University School of Medicine and Unanimous AI found that the new Swarm AI system can make more accurate diagnoses than individual doctors or machine learning algorithms alone.

Developed by Unanimous AI, the Swarm AI technology connects a group of doctors with artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and combines their real-time individual insights into an optimised output.

In the study, the researchers analysed the accuracy of diagnosing pneumonia by using chest X-rays, a common imaging procedure in the US.

Blood biomarkers offer hope for autism diagnosis in children

A panel of blood biomarkers discovered by researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) MIND Institute and NeuroPointDX could create a new test to detect autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in certain children.

As part of the Children’s Autism Metabolome Project (CAMP), the team investigated the role of metabolome molecules in genetic and environmental factors associated with autism development.

The autism diagnosis market currently lacks biomarker tests. Patients are usually identified based on their altered behaviours that may not be evident until 2-4 years of age.

Boston Scientific to buy Augmenix for $500m

Boston Scientific reached an agreement to buy Augmenix for $500m in upfront cash and up to an additional $100m in sales-based milestones.

A privately held company, Augmenix has developed and commercialised the SpaceOAR System, a therapy offered to men to reduce the common and debilitating side effects of prostate cancer radiotherapy.

The SpaceOAR hydrogel is injected into the patient before radiation therapy, which creates additional space between the rectum and prostate during treatment.