March’s top news stories

Divya Tirumalaraju 3 April 2018 (Last Updated April 5th, 2018 14:33)

Harvard University granted Novartis access to commercially develop their therapeutic, biomaterial-based, cancer vaccine technology, and Platinum Equity proposed a binding offer to purchase Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary LifeScan for approximately $2.1bn. Medicaldevice-network.com wraps-up the key headlines from March 2018.

March’s top news stories
Novartis will be working on a device that can be loaded with immunotherapy agents designed to stimulate the immune system to attack tumour cells. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.

Novartis to develop Harvard’s biomaterial-based cancer immunotherapies

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) granted British pharmaceutical company Novartis access to commercially develop their therapeutic, biomaterial-based, cancer vaccine technology.

Under the licensing agreement, spearheaded by Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD), Novartis will have worldwide rights in target-limited applications to bring the biomaterial-based cancer immunotherapies into clinical development and translate this approach to treat patients. The technology will aim to promote anti-cancer immunity.

While cell-based cancer immunotherapies rely on manipulating immune cells outside of the body and transferring them into patients, the implantable immuno-material approach activates endogenous immune cells inside the body to launch an attack on the patient’s own cancer.


Investment firm Platinum Equity offers $2.1bn for J&J’s LifeScan

Private investment firm Platinum Equity proposed a binding offer to purchase Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) subsidiary LifeScan for approximately $2.1bn.

Focused on diabetes management, LifeScan offers blood glucose monitoring systems under the brand OneTouch to ensure simple and accurate testing for around 20 million patients across more than 90 countries.

Available for both hospital and at-home use, OneTouch products include personal blood glucose metres, testing strips, lancets, point-of-care systems for testing and integrated digital solutions.


Wearable brain scanner measures activity while patients move

A new-generation brain scanner can be worn like a helmet, allowing patients to move naturally while being scanned.

The device was created as part of a five-year Wellcome Trust funded project, which aims to revolutionise human brain imaging. It was developed by researchers at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, the University of Nottingham, and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Neuroimaging, UCL.

The researchers have demonstrated that the scanner can measure brain activity while people make natural movements, including nodding, stretching, drinking tea and even playing ping pong.


Boston Scientific to acquire NxThera for $406m

Boston Scientific signed a definitive agreement to purchase US-based NxThera for an upfront payment of $306m, and up to another $100m in potential commercial milestone-based payments over the coming four years.

Boston Scientific currently holds a minority stake in NxThera that is estimated to lead to a net upfront of about $240m after closing and milestone payments of up to $85m.

The acquisition is set to add NxThera’s Rezūm system to Boston Scientific’s Urology and Pelvic Health portfolio of treatments for various urological and gynaecological disorders.


Researchers develop open source template to 3D print stethoscope

A team of researchers from Western University in Ontario, Canada, produced an open-access, clinically validated template that can be used to 3D print stethoscopes from recycled plastic at low costs.

Referred to as the Glia model, the 3D printed stethoscope is said to possess the same acoustic quality as that of existing stethoscopes.

According to the researchers, the new open source software will allow anyone with a 3D printer and ABS plastic to generate the stethoscope within three hours and for less than $3.


Roche launches automated immunoassay to help detect Zika virus

Roche, the world’s largest biotech company, launched the first fully automated Zika IgG immunoassay to help detect Zika virus infection.

The diagnostic test is called the Elecsys Zika IgG immunoassay and will be available in CE-Mark countries.

Accurate diagnosis of patients infected with Zika virus, particularly pregnant women, is an urgent medical need. The virus can cause impaired neurological development such as microcephaly in babies whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.


MIT engineers create ‘body-on-a-chip’ for drug testing

Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US developed a chip device able to carry tissues extracted from up to ten organs, which they will use to test new drugs and their effect on the human body.

The body-on-a-chip / physiome-on-a-chip device is integrated with microfluidic channels that are linked to mimic interactions between various organs.

Researchers expect that the chip could be used as an alternative to animal testing, which can be inaccurate when testing medications designed specifically to target human immune systems such as antibody drugs and immunotherapies.


Apax Funds to buy out BD’s stake in Vyaire Medical for $435m

Apax Funds, managed by private equity advisory firm Apax Partners, signed a definitive agreement to acquire the minority stake held by Becton Dickinson (BD) in Vyaire Medical for $435m.

Subject to customary closing conditions, the transaction is scheduled to be completed this April. BD plans to use the proceeds obtained from this deal to support its capital allocation strategy.

Vyaire Medical was launched in October 2016 as a joint venture (JV) between BD and Apax Partners, when BD divested 50.1% shares from its Respiratory Solutions business to Apax Funds.


Nanotweezers could manipulate cells

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have developed opto-thermoelectric nanotweezers (OTENT) that could one day manipulate cells and be used as a self-monitoring health tool.

The team demonstrated how, using the nanotweezers, light can be used to manipulate nanoscale samples in the same way mechanical tweezers are used to handle larger samples.

Yuebing Zheng, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, and his team from the Cockrell School of Engineering developed the nanotweezers after several years of research.


Ink-jet printed tattoo electrodes can aid medical monitoring

An international research group has devised an ink-jet printing technique for producing temporary tattoo electrodes that can be used for long-term monitoring of electrical impulses from the heart and other muscles.

The team included scientists from Italian organisations, including Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) Pontedera, Università degli Studi and Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna, and Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in Austria.

Standard diagnostic approaches such as electrocardiogram (ECG) and electromyography (EMG) use gel electrodes to transmit the impulses.


Philips unveils advanced tele-ultrasound solution

Philips unveiled an advanced tele-ultrasound solution designed to provide a real-time connection between clinicians across the world through two-way audio-visual calls with live ultrasound streaming.

The compatible, integrated tool is built on Philips’ Lumify portable ultrasound system and backed by Reacts collaborative platform from Canada-based Innovative Imaging Technologies (IIT).

Reacts platform comprises interactive tools such as augmented reality designed to meet the demands of various healthcare professionals and patients.