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Tesla Shows Off Prototype Ventilator For COVID-19 Patients Made Out Of Electric Car Parts

The coronavirus crisis has led Elon Musk to jump into the medical device industry, with SpaceX fabricating components for Medtronic MDT ventilators, corporate donations of BiPAP breathing machines that can be modified for use as non-invasive ventilators and promising to use a Tesla TSLA factory to produce ventilators. Now Tesla engineers have designed a prototype ventilator that uses parts adapted from electric vehicles.

The carmaker posted a video Sunday featuring a group of engineers, all wearing surgical masks and gloves, showing off their creation built with inhouse automotive parts, rather than with the compressors, pumps and other highly specialized components desperately needed by medical device manufacturers to ramp up ventilator production.

“We want to use parts that we know really well, that we know the reliability of, and we can go really fast and they are available in volume,” said Joseph Mardall, Tesla’s engineering directory.  “We’ve used a lot of those.”

The device shown in the video includes a touchscreen display panel, the same used in Model 3 electric sedans, that track intake of oxygen and output of carbon dioxide, a Model 3 infotainment computer system, lithium-ion battery, as well as pumps, compressors, tubes and an oxygen mixing chamber. Given that it’s just a prototype, it’s not clear when or if Tesla will be able to produce the devices in high volume–assuming they are tested and approved for use for COVID-19 patients by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Musk said via Twitter on April 3 that SpaceX is making “proportional solenoid valves for Medtronic.”

Musk’s moves come as General Motors GM and Ford also team up with medical device makers to help them accelerate production, though neither of those automakers has touted their own designs. Instead GM and Ford, like SpaceX, plan to make components at auto parts plants, which companies including Medtronic, Ventec, GE Healthcare and ResMed RMD say is most critical.

“It’s not a final ventilating manufacturing problem. It’s a parts problem,” ventilator maker Mick Farrell said in an April 1 interview on CNBC. “When we get genuine offers from automotive companies, aerospace companies and defense companies, and we’ve had hundreds of offers, we say fantastic! Don’t make a ventilator and buy these parts. Make these 10 parts for us and let us scale, which we can, between us and our competitors, to meet the demands of COVID-19.”

The FDA accelerated the approval process for coronavirus-related treatments on March 31 to help with the health crisis. Nevertheless, ventilators made for patients with the most severe breathing problems are extremely complex and certification will take time, according to Gail Baura, an engineering professor at Chicago’s Loyola University who specializes in medical device technology and is author of a textbook on the subject that’s widely used at medical schools.

“There are all these engineering standards that are used to design these medical devices, and the FDA looks to make sure that you have tested and proved conformity to these standards before you can get FDA clearance and legally sell these devices,” she tells Forbes. A lot of time will be required to validate ventilators coming from these new manufacturing partnerships, “even with the emergency use authorization that the FDA is providing.”



Could running a marathon make your blood vessels ‘younger’?

“First-time marathon runners can ‘reverse ageing’ on blood vessels by four years,” reports the Daily Mirror.

The headline follows a UK study that recruited 138 healthy adults with no previous marathon experience. The participants then spent 6 months training for the London Marathon.

At the start of the study, researchers used a type of heart scan that measures the stiffness of the aorta – the major artery that takes blood from the heart to supply the rest of the body.

Increased artery stiffness is linked with increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s also considered to be a sign of ageing. The researchers repeated these scans after the participants completed their first marathon.

The study found that training was associated with decreased stiffness of the aorta. This was calculated to be the equivalent of up to 4 years’ decrease in the “biological age” of the blood vessel. The effect seemed to be greater in:

  • older participants who had stiffer arteries to start with
  • those with slower marathon running times

It’s worth noting that we do not know the health outcomes of the participants in the longer term, so we do not know if the decreased artery stiffness definitely translated into improved heart health and longevity. However, we do know that regular physical activity boosts health.

Running is not for everyone, and just over half of the people who signed up completed the study. Other forms of exercise such as cycling, swimming or walking may be just as beneficial. The important thing is to do regular physical activity in line with current recommendations.

If you are planning to get fit for the new year, running a marathon may be a little too ambitious as your first exercise goal. Other ways you can gradually increase your fitness levels include running shorter distances, swimming and cycling.



Mindray Medical introduces new point-of-care ultrasound system

China-based medical device company Mindray Medical has launched the TE7 ACE point-of-care ultrasound system to deliver targeted solutions in various point-of-care scenarios, such as anaesthesia, critical care and emergency.

The touchscreen ultrasound system comprises complete disinfection solution, smart fluid management tools and safe needling toolkit, offering seamless data connectivity.

Mindray medical imaging system business unit general manager Xujin He said: “Having identified the clinical challenges, Mindray developed this solution to empower clinicians with more confidence to focus on patient care.”

Mindray states that early assessment will help execute the fluid therapy plan and save lives by managing patient body fluid.

The advanced fluid measurement tools of the system speeds-up patient assessments accurately and efficiently based on deep learning algorithms.

Mindray’s system features Smart VTI that can automatically calculate the velocity-time integral, cardiac output and stroke volume variation. The trending graph assists in efficient recording and guides fluid therapy.

The Smart IVC can automatically trace the IVC diameter change, as well as calculate the collapsibility index or distensibility index and IVC variation to evaluate volume status and responsiveness.

The Smart B-line can automatically calculate -lines number, percentage and distance. It offers a visual scoring map for intuitive overall lung water assessment, helping to guide fluid infusion and prevent pulmonary oedema.

The newly introduced L12-3VNs with three programmable buttons brings together eSpacial Navi and remote controls to helps clinicians carry out puncture without touching the system.

Furthermore, the eGateway connectivity solution allows TE7 ACE to fit into the existing hospital network and integrate patient’s clinical data collected from both ultrasound equipment and patient monitors. Due to the paperless process, productivity becomes enhanced and the risk of transcription errors minimise.



Nikon to buy optical imaging player Optos for $400M in med tech expansion bid

Nikon will acquire the Optos Group for £259.3 million ($400 million) as part of its long-term plan to expand into the medical sector. Last June, the long-suffering camera giant restructured and unveiled a plan to establish itself again as a growth company–part of that is to leverage its optical technologies to expand into the medical industry.


The Tokyo-based conglomerate hopes the Optos acquisition will serve as a platform for its expansion into medical technology. It plans to expand into internal diagnostics, ophthalmology treatment and regenerative medicine such as retina regeneration. Nikon also anticipates that it can use the deal as the basis for technology partnerships. It sees Optos’ ultrawidefield technologies with optical coherence tomography imaging technology as having the potential be combined with other tech to create precise, minimally invasive medical devices.


Nikon President Kazuo Ushida


“I am confident that an Optos/Nikon combination would create a world class ‘retina’ player and would significantly benefit our respective stakeholders. Together, we will pursue various collaboration opportunities and further expand the medical business in the future,” Kazuo Ushida, President of Nikon, said in a statement.

Optos markets the Optomap technology, which is used by ophthalmologists to capture a detailed image of the retina that is used to diagnose disease. It also has next-gen ultrawidefield diagnostic products that are smaller and more portable including the Daytona and the California.


In the year ending Sept. 30, Scotland-based Optos had about $170.6 million in revenues with an operating profit of about $16.3 million. The deal values Optos at 30.5% above its prior market close on Feb. 26. An Optos shareholder Aberforth Partners, which holds about 13.1% of the company, has indicated it’s in favor of the deal. The company first listed publicly in 2006.


Nikon had revenues of ¥981 billion ($9.5 billion) for the year ended March 31, with an operating income of ¥63 billion ($612 million) for that period. It is divided into the following segments: Imaging Products Business, a Precision Equipment Business, an Instruments Business and Other Businesses, including medical, encoders, ophthalmic lenses, customized products and glass businesses.


Nikon, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, has a market capitalization of ¥617 billion ($5.2 billion).


Optimistic Optos shareholders may be looking for a white knight competitor to enter the deal; they drove Optos’ up above the offer price of 340 pence to 341.17 pence on the London Stock Exchange in response to the deal news.






Cyberonics, Italy’s Sorin Merge to Create Medical Technology Leader

Italian medical device maker Sorin and its smaller U.S. peer Cyberonics Inc (CYBX.O) announced a merger on Thursday to create a global leader in cardiac surgery and neuromodulation with an equity value of $2.7 billion.

The all-stock deal values the Italian company at about $1.4 billion, a 14.2 percent premium to its market capitalization before the deal was announced.

Cyberonics will hold a 54 percent stake in the new company and Sorin the rest. The business will be based in Britain and apply for dual-listing on Nasdaq and the London Stock Exchange.

Sorin’s boss Andre-Michel Ballester will become chief executive and the board will be equally balanced between Sorin and Cyberonics.

At Wednesday’s closing price, Cyberonics had a market value of $1.6 billion, or $400 million more than Sorin. The difference is due to better growth prospects, said Martin Brunninger, an analyst at broker Jefferies, although Sorin’s shares soared more than 25 percent on Thursday.

Sorin’s sales account for over 60 percent of the combined entity’s total sales.

Cyberonics had around $290 million in 2014 revenues, two production facilities and 650 employees, compared to Sorin’s sales of nearly $1 billion, 10 manufacturing sites and 3,900 workers.

The deal is expected to boost earnings per share from next year and pre-tax cost synergies between the two companies are estimated to total $80 million by the end of 2018.

Brunninger said the deal gives the new company a critical mass to maintain and win large tender-driven hospital accounts.

“Beyond operational synergies, we see strong R&D overlaps, which makes the NewCo an interesting medical technology play in an otherwise commoditizing industry,” he said, adding the new group could become a takeover target.

The deal brings together two market leaders in cardiac surgery and neuromodulation, or stimulation of the vagus nerve, a superhighway connecting the brain to the rest of the body.

The combined company will also be a major player in cardiac rhythm management and research programs addressing heart failure, “with an initial commercial launch in Europe anticipated in coming weeks,” the companies said in a joint statement.

Cyberonics shareholders will receive one share of the new company for every share held, while Sorin shareholders will receive 0.0472 of a share for each Sorin share owned. Sorin was advised by Rothschild.

The exchange ratio implies a premium of 14.2 percent to Sorin’s closing share price on Feb. 25. Shares in Sorin were halted from trading for excessive gains on Thursday and were indicated 27 percent higher at 2.79 euros by 1123 GMT (0623 ET).

The deal was approved by the board of the two companies. Cyberonics shares will cease trading on the Nasdaq and Sorin shares will stop trading on the Milan exchange.


Telescopic Contact Lens Zooms In With A Wink

Telescopic contact lens

The prototype device. Pic: Eric Tremblay and Joe Ford. Courtesy of EPFL.

A telescopic contact lens that can zoom in and out with the wink of an eye has been unveiled by researchers.

The latest prototype, which offers hope to some of the 285 million people estimated to be visually impaired worldwide, was revealed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in California.

The 1.55mm thick lens contains an extremely thin, reflective telescope.

Small mirrors inside bounce light around, expanding the perceived size of objects and magnifying the view, similar to looking through low-magnification binoculars.

Telescopic contact lens

The 1.55mm-thick lens. Pic: Eric Tremblay and Joe Ford. Courtesy of EPFL.

Optics specialist Eric Tremblay from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland also debuted complementary smart glasses that recognise winks – but ignore blinks – allowing the wearer of the contact lenses to switch between normal and magnified vision.

The user winks with their right eye for magnification and the left for normal vision.

First released in 2013 and refined since then, the hi-tech optical device magnifies objects 2.8 times.

Mr Tremblay said: “We think these lenses hold a lot of promise for low vision and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).”

The sight disorder is the leading cause of blindness among older people in the West.

Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the lenses were meant to serve as a form of bionic vision for soldiers.

Mr Tremblay stressed the device was still at the research stage, but was hopeful it could eventually become a “real option” for people with AMD.

He said: “It’s very important and hard to strike a balance between function and the social costs of wearing any kind of bulky visual device.

“There is a strong need for something more integrated, and a contact lens is an attractive direction.”

The telescopic contacts are currently made using a rigid “scleral” lens, unlike the soft contacts most people wear.

And while larger, Mr Tremblay said they were safe and comfortable.

The lenses are made from several precision-cut pieces of plastic, aluminium mirrors and polarising thin films, along with biologically safe glues.

Because the eye needs a steady supply of oxygen, the scientists have worked to make the device more breathable, using tiny air channels roughly 0.1mm wide within the lens.

The research team, which includes the University of California, San Diego, as well as experts at Paragon Vision Sciences, Innovega, Pacific Sciences and Engineering, and Rockwell Collins, said the device represented a “huge leap” forward.

There are glasses already on the market for people with AMD that have mounted telescopes, but tend to be bulky and difficult to use.

They also do not track eye movement, so the wearer has to tilt their head and position their eyes in a certain way to use them.


J&J in the Process of Selling off Cordis.

J&J readies to rid itself of Cordis–for as much as $2B to Cardinal Health


A deal that was rumored this summer now looks like it’s ready to come to pass. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is ready to sell off its Cordis business to Cardinal Health for as much as $2 billion, according to report by Bloomberg. Cordis has elicited multiple offers from bidders, some of whom may still be in the running.

The Cordis division focuses on coronary and peripheral vascular disease. This includes diagnostic and interventional products such as catheters, balloons, stents, wires and vascular closure.

J&J has seen massive revenue growth on the biopharma side and is working to bring medical devices up to par. In 2014, worldwide medical device sales for J&J were $27.5 billion, a decrease of 3.4% from the prior year. Excluding the net impact of M&A activity, including the June divestiture of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, J&J’s medical device business had underlying operational growth of 1.5%. By contrast, its pharma sales were up an impressive 14.9% to $32.3 billion in 2014.

The company said its best device performers were its orthopedic, electrophysiology and biosurgicals products.

Alex Gorsky

When queried about the rumors of a potential Cordis sale on its January earnings call, J&J chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky responded that the company is interested in remaining in cardiovascular devices, but that it’s focusing its strategy.

“We think can really make a difference for patients, where we think the markets are promising for the future in terms of reaching more patients, expanding share, volume growth, some pricing stability,” he said. “And so, we’re going to continue to evaluate our portfolio to make sure that we’re consistent with our strategy and as it relates to cardiovascular.”

Biosense Webster is J&J’s electrophysiology business, which has been fueling its cardiac device growth. “Cardiovascular growth was driven by a 16% worldwide increase in our BioSense Webster business due to strong growth of the ThermoCool SmartTouch Catheter,” Gorsky said on the January earnings call.

Without Cordis, the conglomerate would still have 11 businesses devoted to medical devices and diagnostics including BioSense Webster, as well as the troubled orthopedic and neurological focused DePuy Synthes, Janssen Diagnostics and advanced surgical care units Ethicon and Ethicon Endo-Surgery.

If a Cordis divestiture occurs, it wouldn’t stand alone as a recent med tech departure for J&J. Last June, J&J sold Ortho Clinical Diagnostics to private equity firm The Carlyle Group for $4.2 billion.

J&J acquired Cordis for $1.8 billion in 1996. But after acquiring the company, it was unable to keep up the pace of innovation and slipped in the race to create the stent market.


Medical business targets Middle East as it looks to replicate NHS

A healthcare manufacturing and distribution company is eyeing the Middle East to help it expand further.

Selby-based GBUK says that the UK healthcare market is very mature and that the Middle East offers great opportunity as the governments in that region look to replicate the UK’s NHS.

Mark Thompson, CEO at GBUK, told The Yorkshire Post: “There’s a lot of London-based hospitals that are helping set up hospitals in the Middle East and whilst we in the UK may think that the NHS is not great, because we hear all the horror stories, around the world they really look up to the NHS.”

GBUK unveiled a new warehouse yesterday, which is intended to help aid its expansion plans, as well as to store contingency stock for the domestic market.

Mr Thompson said a lot of business who suffer a disaster, such as fire, go out of business if they don’t have contingency stock, as they can’t satisfy customer needs.

Being an NHS supplier the firm needs to “morally” take up the slack should a disaster occur at one of its warehouses said Mr Thompson and that was the reason for the new building.

He said: “Because we’re supplying goods to the NHS and we’re a business, we looked at contingency as being very important.”

Earlier this year, GBUK were at the Arab Health exhibition and in 2014 was at the medical trade show MEDICA in Germany.

“When we look at expansion there’s only so much you can expand in a mature market and the UK is a mature market,” Mr Thompson said.

At MEDICA, the firm saw interest in its products, but the Middle East market is the one most likely to offer new opportunities.

Mr Thompson said: “We are interested in Europe but again Europe is a fairly mature market.

“In the Middle East and Africa there is more and more money being spent by the governments in regards to the health of the nation and there’s new hospitals being built, new technologies.”

Although Mr Thompson believes the NHS could do more in certain aspects of cure and prevention, he said: “I think the NHS is up there with the best.”

The company’s new custom-built sustainable warehouse was opened by Selby MP Nigel Adams.

Prime Minister David Cameron made a vow to cut red tape when he came to power, but Mr Thompson said that red tape is still a hindrance to businesses.

He said: “I think the biggest challenge for anybody at the moment is red tape. The amount of red tape there is around businesses has grown dramatically and Mr Cameron, when he came to office, said he was going to cut red tape. I’ll be honest I’ve not seen any evidence of that.”

The North Yorkshire-based business currently employs 55 people and is anticipating turnover of £18m at the end of its financial year in June.

GBUK, which provides suction devices such as catheters and external devices that allowing feeding through a tube, hopes that expansion will see turnover reach £23m by the end of 2016.

Mr Thompson said the new warehouse will now give them 1 million cubic feet of space across the site in North Duffield, Selby.


WHO Urges Shift to Single-use Smart Syringes


Smart syringes that break after one use should be used for injections by 2020, the World Health Organization has announced.

Reusing syringes leads to more than two million people being infected with diseases including HIV and hepatitis each year.

The new needles are more expensive, but the WHO says the switch would be cheaper than treating the diseases.

More than 16 billion injections are administered annually.

Normal syringes can be used again and again.

But the smart ones prevent the plunger being pulled back after an injection or retract the needle so it cannot be used again.

Dr Selma Khamassi, the head of the WHO team for injection safety, told the BBC News website: “This will hopefully help eliminate the 1.7 million new hepatitis B cases, the 300,000 hepatitis C cases and the 35,000 HIV cases every year, and all those we don’t have figures for, such as Ebola and Marburg.”


Nightmare in Cambodia

Mom Heng
The abbot, Mom Heng, has now been prescribed retroviral drugs after being infected with HIV

The people of the farming community of Roka in Cambodia are living through exactly the nightmare scenario that the World Health Organization wants to stamp out with a new policy on syringes.

In wooden huts and farmhouses dotted among paddy fields, families are struggling to cope with the bombshell of a sudden and frightening mass infection of HIV.

To the astonishment and shock of this rural backwater, babies, schoolchildren and even the 82-year-old abbot of the local Buddhist temple, who is celibate, have all tested HIV-positive.

And there is one common factor that links them, directly or indirectly: nearly all of them received injections from an unlicensed doctor suspected of reusing his syringes.

The virus would have been spread from one patient to another, resulting in an escalating tally of infections that now stands at 272, with further rises expected as more tests are carried out.

Four of the victims – three elderly women and a baby – have since died.


This is also a problem in rich Western countries.

An outbreak of hepatitis C in the US state of Nevada was traced back to a doctor who used the same syringe to give anaesthetic to multiple patients.


Standard syringes cost between two cents (1.3p) and four cents. The smart syringes cost between four and six cents.

The WHO describes it as a “small increase”. However, the tiny difference in the price of one needle becomes huge when it is scaled up to 16 billion injections.

Dr Khamassi added: “Injection safety is, I think, the most cost-effective way to prevent all these diseases.

“If we compare the price of most expensive syringes to the cost of treatment for an HIV case, or a hep C case, there is no comparison.”

The WHO is also calling for sheathed needles that prevent doctors accidentally pricking their fingers.

This has happened many times during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

But they would treble the cost of the syringes and the WHO says these would have to be introduced “progressively”.

Reuse of traditional syringes greatly increases the risk of infection

The WHO is calling on industry to expand production and find ways of reducing the cost of the safer needles.

Marc Koska, head of Safepoint – which campaigns to stop the reuse of syringes – told the BBC: “It’s totally, totally possible.

“We’ve already done this with immunisation, which represents less than 10% of the injections given in the developing world, and that has been a fantastic success.

“Now we’re targeting the 90% of what we call curative injections.”

But the measure will not be the end of the typical syringe.

They will be needed for needle exchange programmes for drug users as well as in some treatments in which multiple medicines are mixed in the syringe before being injected.



Scanadu: The ‘Star Trek’ Medical Tricorder Becomes a Reality


Star Trek type tricorder is now a reality with Scanadu

In 2013, a man bilked investors into funding a medical device that worked like the Star Trek tricorder. He even named it after the grumpy doctor who used in on the iconic show — The “McCoy Home Health Tablet.”The man’s “investment opportunity” was a scam, and according to the National Post, he was convicted for bilking people out of their money. However, just a little over a year later, a new tricorder like device, called the Scanadu Scout, has become a reality. And it works.

The device, pictured below, works by placing it on a patient’s forehead. In a matter of seconds, a sensor measures vitals such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. It even provides a complete ECG reading.

Scanadu medical scanner

Scanadu medical scanner.




The device came about after a successful crowdfunding campaign, and begins shipping to backers at the end of July, 2015.

The Scanadu is the invention of Walter De Brouwer, a Belgian entrepreneur, who came up with the idea after his son suffered brain damage from a fall.

De Brouwer told CNN that he got his inspiration from Star Trek, which he said was “more than just a movie, it was a business plan.”

The tricorder in Star Trek was only used by a doctor, but De Brouwer says that the Scanadu can be used by anyone.


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