Medtronic GmbH | Date: 2013-07-18
The invention relates to a coupling device for connecting a supply tube for dental instruments with a supply and control unit having a coupling sleeve in which a first coupling body and a second coupling body are at least partially received along the longitudinal axis (LA) of the coupling sleeve, the first and second coupling body have several fluid ducts and electrical plug connections. The coupling device is preferably constructed in the form of a switchable valve coupling.
This year may have marked a turning point in advancements of the biotechnology sector. Venture funding for healthcare startups was close to reaching a five-year high in 2015 while searching for new disease treatments became part of the national agenda. Bioscience Technology took a look back at the year that was and rounded up the most interesting developments. We might’ve missed a few so let us know what you think this year’s biggest biotech moments were in the comments section below. Silicon Valley Gets Serious about Science Tech titans expanded their businesses in new and creative ways through new lifescience-related initiatives. Google: The company started the year by divulging more information regarding its life sciences division, known as Verily. Verily CEO Andy Conrad sat down with The Atlantic’s James Hamblin in January to discuss some of the projects in the company’s pipeline, such as synthetic skin to understand how light filters through different skin pigments. Other items being worked on include a spoon for steadying Parkinson’s tremors as well as a pill that potentially detects cancer. Apple: The iPhone-maker joined the fray in March when they unveiled ResearchKit, a new suite of mobile health tools that morph iPhones into medical diagnostic tools. The company worked with a few universities to develop programs for breast cancer research, tracking glucose levels, and monitoring voice or hand tremors for Parkinson’s patients. The purpose of these apps is to refine medical research and simplify the process for enrolling patients in these studies. Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams told the audience during this event all of the submitted data would be safe and secure. IBM: The computer hardware firm made a slew of investments in their health-care offerings. A new health venture named Watson Health launched in April. This unit will analyze health data from a number of sources to help clients like medical device manufacturer Medtronic create more potent personalized care for diabetes patients. IBM’s artificial intelligence service Watson got a few upgrades too. The enterprise teamed up with 14 cancer clinics to start a precision medicine program to assist doctors in gaining a better understanding of the genetic mutations behind various types of cancer. Watson will be able to study a genetic fingerprint of a tumor in minutes. Also, IBM spent $1 billion in August to buy medical imaging and software company Merge Healthcare to give Watson new capabilities to assist customers in sorting a large quantity of medical scans, lab results, etc. In January, the Obama Administration revealed it would invest in a precision medicine initiative. The goal of this enterprise is to engineer disease therapies based on an individual’s genetic signature. The President’s multi-pronged proposal entails allocating more money to organizations like the National Cancer Institute to explore how certain genes influence various forms of cancer. President Obama said during his State of the Union this plan would have the country that “eliminated polio and mapped the human genome” lead the world into a new era of medicine. 23andMe had a resurgence this year after being told by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2013 to stop selling and marketing its DNA analysis health reports until it received the agency’s clearance, according to The New York Times. The company still offers users ancestry reports to help customers identify DNA relatives. This development caused the company to alter their strategy over the next two years. First, 23andMe announced in April that it was launching a new division dedicated to therapeutics. It hired experienced pharma executive Richard Scheller and noted bioinformatics expert Dr. Robert Gentleman to lead the charge on scouring 23andMe’s database of genetic data obtained from 900,000 customers to pinpoint potential targets for disease treatments. Bioscience Technology chatted with Gentleman in May about his new role, He explained this opportunity involved “a different take on drug development – one based directly on genetics. “Drug development is so risky, but 23andMe’s large database of genetic information provides us with substantial tools to identify strong opportunities to develop novel therapeutics,” added Dr. Gentleman. Partnerships were a key aspect of this new branch of 23andMe. The company signed deals with Genentech in January to identify new therapeutics targets for Parkinson’s and is helping Pfizer with a year-long study of Lupus. Finally, the year capped off with 23andMe being granted the ability to provide customers with health information again, albeit on lesser scale. Theranos, the 12-year-old biotech firm offering cheaper and faster medical diagnostic tests, gained FDA approval for a new herpes test over the summer that could detect traces of the herpes simplex 1 virus in a single drop of blood. However, Theranos came under scrutiny in the fall after an investigation performed by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said the firm’s technology was only examining a fraction of submitted tests while traditional lab tools were being used to analyze the remainder. The company has denied these allegations, but Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes said in an interview the medical-testing enterprise dealt with its highest volume of patients–taken blood tests after the story came out.
Solar Atmospheres Inc., Souderton,Pa., announces that it has become the first company to receive MedAccred critical process re-accreditation. Furthermore, the company expanded its scope of accreditation to include Hardness Testing and Metallography & Microindentation Hardness. MedAccred is an industry-managed critical process supply chain oversight program developed by leading medical device companies to improve device quality and enhance patient safety. The effort to establish MedAccred began in 2010 when the Performance Review Institute (PRI) was asked to consider the development of a Nadcap style special process supplier accreditation program for the medical device industry. An industry roundtable was organized and convened in 2012 among interested medical device companies and PRI. Following this roundtable meeting, briefings were held with the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health's (CDRH) Office of Compliance and the FDA's Office of Global Operations within the Office of the Commissioner. The program purpose and scope was discussed, along with the results of proof of concept audits conducted to demonstrate the program's viability. The FDA provided positive feedback and strong encouragement to pursue the development of the program. By 2014, several critical process Task Groups were operating on a formal basis. Program documents were drafted, circulated, and approved by the executives of the participating companies, and audit criteria had been published in several critical process areas. Solar Atmospheres committed to hosting the first MedAccred audit. In early 2015, the first MedAccred critical process accreditation was issued to Solar Atmospheres or Heat Treating. Today's functioning critical process Task Groups include Cable & Wire Harnesses, Heat Treating, Plastics Injection Molding, Printed Circuit Board Assemblies, Sterilization, and Welding. The industry-managed task groups develop audit criteria, conduct audits, and award MedAccred Critical Process Accreditations to leading suppliers at all tiers in the Medical Device Supply Chain. Many companies are seeking MedAccred Accreditation to demonstrate their commitment to quality and patient safety. Future MedAccred Task Groups under consideration for development include Material Testing Laboratories, Assemblies, PCBs, Batteries, Chemical Processing, NDT, Cleaning, Coating, Optics, and Packaging. Active OEM and Contract Manufacturer participants include Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Stryker, GE Healthcare, Medtronic, NYPRO Jabil, Steris, etc. The list of participating suppliers is growing steadily.
News Article | July 28, 2016
Though there is still some room for improvement, robot doctors are becoming a growing trend in the U.S. — so much so that experts predict that, in the next five years, one in three surgeries will be performed by them. This charge has been led by U.S. company Intuitive Surgicals' "da Vinci" machines, with the company placing more than 3,600 of its surgical robots in hospitals worldwide. The robots have seen a 16 percent increase in the number of procedures they have been used in compared with last year, and that number is expected to rise even further in the future as they find increased use in India and China. Contrary to the autonomous machines that we're used to seeing nowadays, the da Vinci machines are controlled entirely by surgeons in the operating room (there are some instances of such machines performing medical operations, but they aren't as common). To do so, the surgeon sits at a console, which can project 3D and HD images from inside the patient's body, where s/he can watch the procedure and control the robot's four arms. One arm has an endoscope — a thin tube with a camera at the end — while the other three hold various medical equipment that can be be changed based on the operation and that is completely controlled by the surgeon. Naturally, the surgeon's hand movements translate to movements made by the robot's arms, which can then bend and rotate accordingly. In the end, doctors say that, not only does the robot provide greater precision, but it also helps to reduce fatigue when they have to perform multiple surgeries with little rest. Despite da Vinci offering several benefits, and with many American hospitals for cancer treatment, urology, gynecology and gastroenterology already making the plunge, there are still several hurdles the robot must clear before it becomes mainstream. First off, while the robot is indeed designed to alleviate fatigue for doctors who need to perform multiple surgeries with little rest and give them greater precision while in use, some doctors suggest that the machine actually slows operations down. One such doctor is Dr. Helmuth Billy, who, as an early adopter of the da Vinci system 15 years ago, says he rarely uses the machine anymore since equipping the arms with instruments was too labor-intensive. "I like to do five operations a day," Dr. Billy said. "If I have to constantly dock and undock da Vinci, it becomes cumbersome." In a similar vein, there is at least one study that suggests that robotic-assisted surgeries aren't overly advantageous in comparison to traditional surgeries for the patient. Another hurdle is the price. Robotics of this nature are always an expensive affair, and the da Vinci is no different, costing an average of $1.5 million on top of maintenance expenses. Lastly, there are a bunch of features that this machine lacks but that doctors would like to have, such as the ability to feel body tissue remotely, called haptic sensing, and better image quality. Thanks to those aforementioned weaknesses, rivals plan to swoop in and potentially overthrow Intuitive Surgicals and da Vinci. For example, Verb Surgical, a venture backed by Johnson & Johnson and Google, is investing around $250 million in its robotics project, saying that creating a faster and user-friendly system is the priority. Meanwhile another rival, Medtronic, has predicted that its own surgical robot will be ready for launch in mid-2018 and has India planned as its first market. Overall, these two newcomers, as well as the likes of others such as TransEnterix and Titan Medical, have the same objective: to produce a new robotic system that is priced low enough to get hospitals and medical centers that have not purchased da Vinci to get their product instead, and convince those who do have a da Vinci to invest in a second machine or switch suppliers. Regardless of advantages and weaknesses, though, the battle among robots for a space at the operating table is only just beginning, and it's believed the amount of surgical robots will more than double by 2021 in the U.S. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | January 8, 2016
More than six billion dollars: That’s how much health care providers and consumers will be spending every year on artificial intelligence tools by 2021—a tenfold increase from today—according to a new report from research firm Frost & Sullivan. (Specifically, it will be a growth from $633.8 million in 2014 to $6,662.2 million in 2021.) AI will be everywhere—from diagnosing cancer to providing weight-loss coaching, says Venkat Rajan, who has the great title of global director for the company's Visionary Healthcare Program. "Prior to 2015, most of what was happening was sort of academic: pilot programs, exploratory, proof of concept-type stuff," he says. "And now you're actually seeing commercial usage." AI's ability to sort through scads of information, and remember everything it has ever seen, could enable a digital (and congenial) version of Dr. House, the brilliant diagnostician from the eponymous TV show, says Rajan. "At first, it's a complete mystery, it could be one of ten different things," he says, about the process in the show, and real life, called differential diagnosis. "And then he's able to sort through various issues, you know, illuminate certain factors on why it's not one of these other conditions, and he's able to pull something from memory that figures out ultimately what it is, and they can provide the appropriate treatment." Robots won't steal doctors' jobs, says Rajan, but they will spare overworked docs some of the dangerous fatigue that can lead to mistakes. "They're stressed, they’ve got a million different things they're looking at, so [there's] stuff they might have missed." Other staffers, such as almost-doctor nurse practitioners might do the initial workup before a specialist comes to review the results and make a call about how to proceed. AI could be especially helpful for health care facilities that can't afford a Dr. House, says Rajan; places that have, for example, a general cardiologist rather than a team with different subspecialties. This will "democratize" diagnosis and care, he says. Computer-aided diagnosis can weigh more factors than a doctor could on their own, such as reviewing all of a patient's history in an instant and weighing risk factors such as age, previous diseases, and residence (if it's in a heavily polluted area) to come up with a short list of possible diagnoses, even a percent confidence rating that it's disease X or syndrome Y. Much of this involves processing what's called "unstructured data," such as notes from previous exams, scan images, or photos. Taking a first pass on x-rays and other radiology scans is one of the big applications for AI that Frost & Sullivan expects. Computer-aided diagnosis and treatment are already being tried at 16 cancer institutes working with IBM's Watson Health artificial intelligence venture (which launched in April 2015). The Cleveland Clinic, Columbia University, the University of Kansas Cancer Center, and Yale Cancer Center are among those using Watson to process a patient's data, including their genetic sequence, and make recommendations. The system's point-and-click interface is like a decision tree that lists possible diagnoses, recommended tests to further explore the diagnoses, and possible treatment regimens (such as medication plans). It even flags studies, articles, and clinical trials that a doctor might want to look at. "Based on the information that you have in front of you, doctor, here's a confidence level of, let's say, five different potential conditions," says Bill Evans, the CMO of Watson Health, explaining how it might work. "To get that confidence level higher or lower, here's a set of tests that you should probably run." "Right now what you see is that IBM and Watson is at the center of the [health care AI] ecosystem," says Rajan. However, some artificial intelligence competitors are emerging, such as New Jersey-based startup Hindsait, founded by former Accenture managing director Pinaki Dasgupta. Hindsait's A.I. was developed specifically for health care. Watson Health has grown quickly by partnering up. "Mostly what you see is IBM Watson as a sort of platform, and on that are companies who have built, you know, specific solutions that leverage the sort of deep-learning system," says Rajan. In announcing Watson Health last spring, IBM opened its application programming interfaces (APIs) for clients to plug directly into the analytics engine. (IBM recently also opened Watson APIs for "Internet of Things" sensors and data .) "In one sense, it separates [IBM] from the liabilities and risks of health care," says Rajan. But Watson will keep going deeper into the medical field, says Evans. "We certainly see the potential of creating our own offerings around specific categories, diseases, et cetera," he says. Not all the applications of medical AI will be for doctors. A lot of the growth will be in helping people manage their own health—whether it's caring for a chronic condition like diabetes or figuring out a plan to lose weight. At CES, IBM announced three new consumer-focused partnerships. Under Armour will use Watson to power a "cognitive coaching system" in an app that provides customized advice for fitness and health. Its wisdom will come through crunching data from Under Armour’s 160 million-member Connected Fitness community. Medtronic will use Watson to analyze data from its insulin pumps and glucose meters, which it claims can warn people up to three hours ahead of an oncoming blood sugar crash. Pathway Genomics is developing an app that will provide customized health advice based on a user's specific genetic makeup. "It's one level to make the diagnosis, but another to support the patient," says Rajan, noting that one of AI's benefits is to help the patients stay healthy so they don't need a doctor as often. The promise, he says, is in, "being able to understand you better and provide you better feedback and guidance and support."