February’s top news stories

Divya Tirumalaraju 28 February 2018 (Last Updated March 6th, 2018 09:29)

Scientists from Arizona State University (ASU) successfully programmed nanorobots to shrink tumours by cutting off their blood supply, and Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK developed new blood and urine tests that will detect autism in children by checking for damaged proteins. Medicaldevice-network.com wraps-up the key headlines from February 2018.

February’s top news stories
Each nanorobot is made from a flat, rectangular DNA origami sheet, 90 nanometres by 60 nanometres in size. A key blood-clotting enzyme, called thrombin, is attached to the surface. Credit: Jason Drees, Arizona State University.

Nanorobots programmed to seek and destroy cancerous tumours

Scientists from Arizona State University (ASU) successfully programmed nanorobots to shrink tumours by cutting off their blood supply. This study demonstrates the first application of DNA origami for nanomedicine.

The successful demonstration of this technology is the first of its kind in mammals using breast cancer, melanoma, ovarian, and lung cancer mouse models. The ASU study was a collaboration with researchers from the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST), of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Hao Yan, director of the ASU Biodesign Institute’s Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics and a professor in the School of Molecular Sciences said: “We have developed the first fully autonomous, DNA robotic system for a very precise drug design and targeted cancer therapy.

“Moreover, this technology is a strategy that can be used for many types of cancer since all solid tumour-feeding blood vessels are essentially the same.”


New tests can detect autism in children, UK researchers say

Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK developed new blood and urine tests that will detect autism in children by checking for damaged proteins.

The tests are intended to help in early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which are a wide range of developmental conditions that are difficult to identify during initial stages.

Using the new tests, the researchers expect to provide earlier intervention and appropriate treatment for children suffering from the condition.


European research collaboration battles brain cancer

A large European research collaboration is bringing together new technologies to combat two of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer.

The project is developing microtechnology devices by combining the expertise of leading biologists and electronic engineers. They hope the devices will ultimately be able to identify and treat glioblastoma multiforme and medulloblastoma cancer stem cells.

Researchers at Bangor University in Wales, Limoges University in France, IHP Microelectronics in Germany, and the Universities of Padua and Rome in Italy are working together with south Wales-based company Creo Medical.


Banyan Biomarkers obtains US clearance of new test for concussion

Diagnostics developer Banyan Biomarkers secured marketing clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a new blood test to assess mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion in adults.

The Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator is expected to eliminate the need for unnecessary neuroimaging / CT scans and related radiation exposure in patients suspected to have mTBI.

It is designed to detect two brain-specific protein biomarkers called ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), which are released into the blood after a head injury and remain for 12 hours.


Google researchers use AI to analyse eye images for heart attack

Health researchers at Google used artificial intelligence (AI) to predict cardiovascular (CV) risk factors through analysis of retinal images.

The new research is based on the team’s previous findings of using deep learning techniques for accurate diagnosis of diabetic eye disease using medical imaging.

During the latest study, it was found that deep learning algorithms, which were trained on data from 284,335 patients, could predict CV risk factors from retinal images with high accuracy for individuals from two separate datasets of 12,026 and 999 patients.


J&J purchases French surgical robotics firm Orthotaxy

Johnson and Johnson ( J&J) Medical Devices Companies, through its division Apsis, acquired French surgical technologies developer Orthotaxy for an undisclosed amount.

The deal includes a robotic-assisted surgery solution currently being developed by Orthotaxy for both total and partial knee replacement.

J&J intends to advance this solution as a cost-effective, time-efficient and easy-to-use option for a wide variety of orthopaedic surgery procedures and care settings.


Rice University to make wearable diagnostic microscopes

A research team at Rice University in the US is developing wearable, mini microscopes for the non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of around 100 health conditions at point-of-care.

Intended for in-vivo, three-dimensional (3D) bioimaging, the new devices will employ on-chip illumination and sensing to point a camera and see through the skin, eliminating the need for a biopsy or blood test.

The National Science Foundation has provided a $10m grant to support the research through its Expeditions in Computing programme.


Researchers develop new blood test to detect Alzheimer’s early

Japanese and Australian researchers partnered to develop a new cost-effective and minimally invasive blood test for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

Led by the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and University of Melbourne professor Colin Masters, the research aimed at identifying the presence of beta-amyloid buildup in the brain.

The buildup is considered one of the critical markers of the disease as it begins approximately 30 years before the display of dementia symptoms such as memory loss and cognitive decline.


UK researchers develop alternative for existing pelvic meshes

Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK developed a material with similar characteristics to human tissue for use in vaginal mesh procedures, instead of current polypropylene that led to complications in numerous women.

Vaginal mesh procedures are performed to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

To address the issues with existing material, the researchers turned to a softer and flexible material called polyurethane.

They incorporated oestrogen into the new mesh to enable the formation of new blood vessels and accelerate the healing after surgery.


Shire, Microsoft and EURORDIS to reduce rare disease diagnosis time

Shire formed a strategic collaboration with Microsoft and EURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europe, a non-profit organisation, to minimise the time-to-diagnosis for children suffering from rare diseases.

The Global Commission to End the Diagnostic Odyssey for Children aims to address the diagnostic challenges associated with rare diseases. Statistics indicate that diagnosis of such patients takes an average of five years and only 50% of children are diagnosed accurately.

Including multi-disciplinary experts, the commission will come up with an actionable plan to shorten the multi-year diagnostic journey, which they believe would be ‘a key to a longer, healthier life.’