The earthquake and tsunami in Japan took an expected hit to some shares of stock from medical device firms. Companies such as Volcano,  Dentsply which have significant presence in Japan had to delay shipments to the country.The delay caused shares in the sector to slump, reports Reuters.

"Hospitals in that area are going to be flooded with patients, so U.S. sales of medical supplies could increase in that region. On the other side, hospitals that were destroyed will not be buying supplies for the next year," Ames Gross, Pacific Bridge president, told the news service.

The shares of Volcano Corp (VOLC.O) and Dentsply International Inc (...

March 21st, 2011
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Here’s one that’s very close to my heart, speaking figuratively, not literally. A new pacemaker, developed by Medtronic, allows patients with the device to undergo MRIs, thanks to an approval last month by the FDA.

The reason this is close to my heart is because my mom has a pacemaker, and as you would expect, is unable to undergo MRIs, which has cropped up as an issue once or twice for orthopedic issues. Medtronic’s Revo MRI SureScan pacing system makes that a non-issue. One report says that 75% of patients with pacemakers will have a need for an MRI at some point.

Before the new device, the MRI scan could potentially interfere with the operation of the pacemaker, potentially causing serious complications for the patient. Score for Medtronic, and certainly those in need of a pacemaker.
 

Richard Nass

March 20th, 2011
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The future may be getting brighter for sufferers of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In a case of the light really coming on, researchers are reporting that patients with TBI who applied LEDs to their heads on a daily basis saw a marked improvement in cognitive function, according to a study published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery.
 
Two patients with TBI were studied after placing LEDs against their foreheads and scalps every night. One of the patients, a person who "had two Master’s degrees, knew three languages, had written three books, and was a member of Mensa," but whose attention span had been reduced to 20 minutes by TBI, had that attention span extended to three hours after therapy. The other patient was able to return to her job as an executive consultant with an international technology consulting firm (!) after being on medical disability for almost half of a year. Both saw their memories improve, and both are...

March 18th, 2011
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 If you were to ask the average person what they look for in a nurse, "The strong and silent type," is probably not what you would hear. But if it's a robot that's doing the tending and caring, apparently people would much rather they keep their shiny metallic mouths shut, thank you very much, at least according to the counterintuitive results of a study on the subject.
 
As reported in Wired, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology had a robot brush the arms of test subjects. Sometimes the robot would declare its intentions with a "synthetic female voice," and sometimes it would just go for it. From the post:
 
People generally didn’t mind being touched by Cody overall, but were less comfortable with the robot when it spoke to them beforehand. And participants were more-accepting of a potentially necessary medical touch than an attempt at a soothing touch by the robot.
 
The...

March 17th, 2011
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A bill proposed by Kevin Brady (R-TX) is designed to provide a permanent R&D tax credit. H.R. 942, the American Research and Competitiveness Act has drawn immediate support from bipartisan representatives in California, Texas, and Minnesota, as well as industry associations AdvaMed and the Medical Device Manufacturer's Asociation (MDMA).
 
The tax credit would be extended to all types of companies investing in research and development. Large medtech companies spend 8%–13% of their annual revenue on R&D, says a report from the Star Tribune. Small firms often spend even greater amounts, meaning the medical device industry could see terrific benefits if the bill passes. 
 
Such research tax credits are common, but are usually short term. The United States has funded 14 such programs within the last 30 years.
 
The proposed bill strengthens the amount companies can recoup for investing in R&D from the current 14...

March 17th, 2011
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Lisa Suennen, a venture capital expert with Psilos Group takes time away from her day job to consider the consumer:  This chart came across my desk today and it really illustrates the problem that we, as consumers of healthcare products and services, face today. 

 
Average PPO Deductible Reaches $1,200 in 2010
...
 
Average deductible among PPO sponsors requiring a deductible
Percent of PPO sponsors requiring no deductible
March 16th, 2011
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The Thai government is working to strengthen its medical services by increasing quality control standards on equipment and devices. 

"There is great demand in Thailand for medical services, but we lack quality, so we need to [bring manufacturers] into the system,"  Witoon Simachokedee, the permanent secretary of industry told the Bangkok Post.

The secretary, who is chairing a committee to improve standards says testing quality standards is important, but there are challenges. There are about 1700 device manufacturers are scattered around the country and have not been integrated.

In addition, Witoon believes that in some areas Thai manufacturers could not compete with neighboring countries, such as design, research and development, and quality. Witoon says the goal is to make Thailand a medical hub and that...

March 15th, 2011
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We've been covering miniaturization a lot lately, here on Device Talk. Just last week, we covered an microrobot that can deliver drugs inside of the eye and an endoscopic camera the size of a grain of salt. Now,researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have developed a portable PET scanner for rats. The technology could be used to studying the basis for drug addiction and other disorders in animal studies. This was previously a challenge because rodents (and, of course, other animals) had to be anesthetized before scanning because the procedure requires the...

March 14th, 2011
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 Maybe you're looking for something to do with your weekend but going golfing or catching a movie just sounds so... pedestrian. Maybe you (and I'm guessing there's a fair number of you out there, especially in this community) would really prefer to log some quality recreational hours with, say, a CNC milling machine or a laser cutter.

If you fit that description, then you'll want to head to a TechShop for some real fun. As featured in Wired's "Gadget Lab" blog, TechShops are like Chuck E. Cheese for the prototyping and fabricating set, a veritable playground of high-end manufacturing tools:

 

...

March 11th, 2011
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New Scientist reports on new tests now conducted by Michael Kummer and researchers at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems in Zurich, Switzerland. In the video below, a microrobot is implanted into a pig eye. Electromagnets determine the robot's movements and could enable precise drug delivery for treatment of various sys diseases such as macular degeneration.

...

March 11th, 2011
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