A Medical Device Daily

Researchers from the National Center of Competence in Research at the newly established Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI; Basel), together with scientists at Roche (also Basel), have developed a new method for the rapid and sensitive detection of disease- and treatment-relevant genes.

Ulrich Certa, head of functional genomics at the Roche Center for Medical Genomics , said, “Our research results show that these new nanomechanical sensors can be used for the direct and continuous monitoring of patients’ response to a given treatment. This promising new technology takes us a step nearer to tailoring treatment directly to patients’ needs, hopefully with ever fewer adverse effects.”

Gene activities often result in differing individual responses to a given drug. What helps one patient may have no effect on another, or may even have adverse effects.

The new method detects active genes directly by measuring their transcripts (messenger ribonucleic acid [mRNA]), which represent the intermediate step and link to protein synthesis. Short complementary nucleic acid segments (sensors) are attached to tiny silicon cantilevers that are only 450 nanometers thick (one nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter) and thus react with great sensitivity. The researchers said binding of the targeted gene transcript to its matching counterpart on one of the cantilevers results in optically measurable mechanical bending.

The results of this research were published in the December issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. In the paper, the researchers cite the example of a tumor cell line in which interferon treatment activates a gene for controlling cell growth to show that this nanomechanical method can be used for rapid gene transcript detection. Being so sensitive, this new type of nanomechanical sensor has no need to label or copy the target molecules, thus greatly increasing measurement precision.

Because the method also works within minutes, the researchers said it could be used as a real-time sensor for continuously monitoring biomedical processes. An array of different gene transcripts can even be measured in parallel by aligning appropriately coated cantilevers alongside each other like the teeth of a comb.

The new method complements molecular diagnostic techniques such as the gene chip and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It could be used as a real-time sensor for continuously monitoring various clinical parameters or for detecting rapidly replicating pathogens that make prompt diagnosis essential.

German firm has AMD surgical solution

Alcon Grieshaber AG (Schaffhausen, Switzerland) has developed a new generation of surgical instruments to help combat acute macular degeneration (AMD), a problem particularly prevalent among older persons.

The company said the Grieshaber Revolution DSP micro forceps and scissors have an advantage over similar instruments in that, in use, they can be freely rotated. Thus, ophthalmic surgeons no longer need to hold the instrument at a certain angle in order to grasp or cut.

This innovative function is enabled in part by a plastic basket of thin-walled ribs that forms part of the instrument corpus. By pressing in on the basket with his fingers, the surgeon is able to manipulate a hinge in each of the ribs to activate a sliding mechanism that actuates the forceps or scissors at the tip of the instrument.

“What was needed was an engineering material with outstanding mechanical strength, stiffness and toughness,” said Markus Krieter, a medical technology expert in the Polycarbonates Business Unit of Bayer MaterialScience . “Our polycarbonate Makrolon 2458, which is approved for medical applications, fulfilled these requirements.”

In all, eight of the single-use instrument’s components are made of Makrolon. The manufacturer of these parts is Gebr. Renggli (Schaffhausen), a firm focused on precision injection molding and mold construction. The parts are manufactured using a laminar flow process, then cleaned and finished in a cleanroom. The surgical instruments themselves are assembled in a cleanroom at Alcon Grieshaber.

The instrument line features a version with luminous forceps. The forceps, which measure only a few mm in length and width, also are injection-molded and are made from Makrolon Rx 2530.

Gebr. Renggli has been using Makrolon Rx 2530 and 2458 in a range of plastic medical components for a number of years. The polycarbonate can be sterilized either with superheated steam at a temperature of 249.8 degrees fahrenheit, with ethylene oxide, or with high-energy radiation such as gamma and electron beams.

Dental imaging licensing accord signed

Electro-Optical Sciences (EOS; Irvington, New York) has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with KaVo Dental (Biberach, Germany), a dental equipment manufacturer, to further develop and commercialize Difoti, an FDA-cleared, non-invasive imaging device developed by EOS for the detection of dental caries.

KaVo will pay EOS an undisclosed up-front sum as well as up to a double-digit annual royalty based on the number of systems sold per calendar year. KaVo has made a multi million-dollar commitment to refine the Difoti product for commercial launch.

EOS is focused on developing a non-invasive, point-of-care instrument to assist in the early diagnosis of melanoma. MelaFind, the company’s flagship product, features a hand-held imaging device that emits multiple wavelengths of light to capture images of suspicious pigmented skin lesions and extract data. The data are then analyzed against EOS’s database of melanomas and benign lesions using sophisticated algorithms in order to provide information to the physician and produce a recommendation of whether the lesion should be biopsied.

KaVo has developed products in the last 30 years in the areas of prophylactic, minimal invasive and aesthetic dentistry, serving dentists and dental labs.