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Sandvik Medical Solutions Broadens Spinal Implant and Instrumentation Capabilities

NEED TO KNOW

Sandvik Medical Solutions Broadens Spinal Implant and Instrumentation Capabilities
Daniel Grace
Sandvik has acquired JKB Medical Technologies (shown above), which will continue to manufacture spinal implants and surgical instrumentation.

In an attempt to expand its reach in the growing areas of spinal implant and instrumentation manufacturing, Sandvik Medical Solutions (Memphis; www.smt.sandvik.com/medical) has acquired JKB Medical Technologies (Milford, CT; www.jkbmedical.com) and the Memphis manufacturing facility of Medtronic (Minneapolis; www.medtronic.com). Both acquisitions will become part of Sandvik Medical Solutions’s new headquarters in Memphis.

The acquisitions will enable Sandvik to merge the production competencies and capacities of its new additions with its own developments in materials technology, says Ken Birdsong, president of Sandvik Medical Solutions. “Over the years of working in medical and other industries, Sandvik has accumulated more than 4500 active-materials patents,” he says. “[The acquisitions] will now allow us to employ those materials for rapidly developing spinal device applications.”

No stranger to medical implants and instrumentation, the company offers a range of components made from its patented materials—bar, precision strip and wire, and seamless tubes—suitable for hip joints, bone nails, scalpels, and bone saws. But the acquisitions could allow for greater manufacturing versatility, especially in spinal devices, says Birdsong.
The Memphis facility formerly operated by Medtronic has served as a contract manufacturing plant for specialized surgical instrumentation related to spinal procedures. Through the acquisition, Sandvik will add capabilities in materials development, manufacturing, surface treatment, and coating. The company plans to retain the workers currently employed in the plant, and, as part of the takeover, Sandvik has entered into a long-term agreement to manufacture spinal instruments for Medtronic.

JKB Medical Technologies specializes in the design, prototyping, machining, and laser marking of spinal implants. Spinal bone screws, hooks, rods, and laparoscopic surgical instruments are among the products the company has produced in the past. The firm’s facility features 15 Tornos screw machines, as well as three-axis CNC milling machines, four-axis horizontal milling machines, chucking lathes for large-diameter parts, and a prototyping toolroom with wire EDM capabilities.

In extending its reach in spinal implants and instrumentation, the company will be reaching out to customers worldwide, says Birdsong. “[Sandvik] has established customers in 140 countries, and we will now be able to provide OEMs from around the world with a more comprehensive set of skills.”

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

University Research Unveils New Potential for Shape-Memory Materials

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University Research Unveils New Potential for Shape-Memory Materials
Stephanie Steward
Researcher Ken Gall uses this thermomechanical test frame to determine the maximum possible shape change of his team's shape-memory polymer.

Shape-memory alloys and polymers are the contortionists of the materials world. Able to stretch, be compressed, or change shape and then return to their original form, shape-memory materials have emerged as valuable new tools for medical applications. However, recent university research has revealed that the potential for shape-memory materials may extend far beyond the scope of initial investigations. Resulting in the discovery and further pursuit of the materials’ full range of capabilities, new developments are also bringing researchers closer to more-efficient and less-expensive ways to produce the materials for medical device manufacturers.

Shape-memory alloys—most notably nitinol—are common fixtures in minimally invasive devices. However, a research team at Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta; www.advancedmaterialslab.com) is concentrating on optimizing shape-memory polymers for medical applications. The shape of these polymers can be temporarily manipulated into forms several times larger or smaller than their original shape using heat, light, or the local chemical environment, according to Ken Gall, an engineering professor at Georgia Tech.

Noticing that traditional cardiovascular stents are metal but often feature a polymer sheath, Gall’s research team set out to put its shape-memory polymers to practical use. The team removed metal from the equation, resulting in a polymer-based stent. Polymers more closely resemble soft biological tissue than metal does, and they can also be designed to gradually dissolve into the body, according to Gall. He adds that polymers are also more flexible and don’t put as much stress on arterial walls as metals do.

The polymer stent is compressed and fed through a tiny hole into a blocked artery, like a traditional stent. Unlike a traditional stent, however, it is triggered by body heat to expand into its permanent state, deploying without the use of auxiliary devices. “You can tailor the polymer to moderate its strength, stiffness, stretchiness, and expansion rate,” Gall says.

With simultaneous projects researching the use of these polymers in minimally invasive spinal surgeries and neuronal probes, Gall’s team is also researching ways to produce the polymers for commercial medical applications. Graduate student Walter Voit is helping Gall investigate how to make the cost of shape-memory polymers in line with current medical-grade polymers. “This will have a big impact on Class I medical device applications,” says Gall.

Conducting similar research specifically for the treatment of strokes, the Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA; www.llnl.gov), in partnership with the immunology and radiology departments at the University of California, Davis (Sacramento, CA; www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu), has developed a clot-extraction system and a neurovascular stent using shape-memory polymers. The research team found that these polymers “[have] advantages over shape-memory metals for certain applications, including cost, higher recoverable strain levels, ease of manufacturing, better flexibility in navigating tortuous paths, and great versatility in fabricating extremely small, highly complex actuators.” It also found that preshaping foams that are made of shape-memory polymers to match the geometry of an aneurysm can enhance the ability to fill and seal cranial gaps with fewer complications.

Shape-memory foam structures are also the subject of research jointly conducted by professors Peter Müllner and David Dunand, at Boise State University (Boise, ID; www.boisestate.edu) and Northwestern University (Evanston, IL; www.dunand.northwestern.edu), respectively. Their research teams have developed a shape-memory foam made from a nickel-manganese-gallium alloy that can be lengthened by up to 10% when subjected to a magnetic field, according to the National Science Foundation, which funded the research.

Existing shape-memory alloys like nitinol are actuated through a change in temperature. This new alloy, however, is triggered using a magnetic field, which enables much faster actuation, according to Müllner. “For medical applications, that means that devices may operate at a specific time,” he says. “The actuation may also be reversed, [meaning] a function might be turned on and off. That is not possible with nitinol-based medical devices, [which] are controlled by body temperature and therefore have only an ‘on’ function,” he adds.

The teams use a process to introduce voids into the alloy crystals to make the material porous. “The porous nature of the material amplifies the shape-change effect, making it a good candidate for tiny motion control devices or biomedical pumps without moving parts,” he says.

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Nanotubes Enable Development of Paper-Thin Battery

SPECIAL FEATURE: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Nanotubes Enable Development of Paper-Thin Battery
Development of a paper-thin battery was accomplished by infusing paper with carbon nanotubes, which consist of carbon atoms wrapped in tubes that measure a few billionths of a meter.

Toss a paper airplane, and, for a few entertaining seconds, there is the illusion of flight. But in the not-so-distant future, flying paper could cease to be illusory, thanks to a new electrical component made almost entirely of paper. The component can function as a battery, a supercapacitor, or a hybrid of both. Researchers anticipate a wide variety of applications for the component, including a number of novel possibilities related to medical devices, according to findings published in the August 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Development of the component entailed infusing paper with carbon nanotubes, which consist of carbon atoms wrapped in tubes that measure only a few billionths of a meter. Cellulose—the plant seeds used in most kinds of paper—makes up 90% of the battery. The carbon atoms act as electrodes, allowing the battery to conduct electricity, and the battery is charged through contact with electrolytes. “We're not putting pieces together—it's a single, integrated device,” says Robert Linhardt, professor of biocatalysis and metabolic engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY) and member of the research team. “The components are molecularly attached to each other. The carbon nanotube print is embedded in the paper, and the electrolyte is soaked into the paper. The end result is a device that looks, feels, and weighs the same as paper.”

Lindhardt says the battery could also be powered through naturally occurring electrolytes, including those found in sweat, urine, and blood. The availability of batteries that can be charged by body fluids could stand to benefit the next generation of medical implants. Pacemakers are an example of implantable devices that both run on battery power and require an invasive procedure to change the battery. In the future, says Lindhardt, a pacemaker incorporating the paper-thin battery could charge itself inside of the human body simply by coming in contact with blood. The component’s ability to work within a wide temperature range—up to 150°C—coupled with the nontoxic nature of paper, further establish the component as a viable option for future implantable devices.

Due to its size—approximately that of a postage stamp—the component may retain significant advantages over batteries used in current implantable devices, even in cases in which recharging must occur outside of the body. “A battery this size would only need to go just below the surface of the skin to be installed into an implantable device,” says Lindhardt. “This could reduce the invasiveness of the procedure for replacing batteries.”

In most electrical systems, batteries and supercapacitors are separate components—not so with the paper-thin electrical component.

Defibrillators are an example of a medical application that would involve using the component as a supercapacitor. Today, defibrillators are bulky machines comprised of multiple components (including a supercapacitor), and defibrillation requires assistance by healthcare administrators. In the future, the entire unit could be something people carry in their pockets, and in case of emergency, use themselves.

“The entire defibrillator could be the size of a piece of paper,” Lindhardt explains. “You would take it out, unfold it, lay it on the patient’s chest, and the paper-thin supercapacitor would use its stored electrical energy to release a short, powerful burst in order to resuscitate the heart.”

Commercialization of the component may not be on the immediate horizon, but the research team has already turned its attention to the main impediment to achieving this goal. “We need a way to inexpensively mass-produce it,” Lindhardt says. “Once we get it down, we’ll have the ability to actually print batteries and supercapacitors using a roll-to-roll system similar to how newspapers are printed.”

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
www.rpi.edu

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

A Crash Course in Savings 101

EDITOR'S PAGE

A Crash Course in Savings 101

Universities have long played an integral role in medical device development. They’ve pioneered technologies, licensed discoveries to major industry players, and even spawned spin-out companies of their own. Some colleges are now strengthening their ties to the industry by offering open access to their high-tech facilities—a service that enables higher learning to lower costs for small businesses.

For cash-strapped start-ups, moving from concept to early-stage R&D and prototyping can be a financial burden. Costs associated with the upkeep of a foundry or cleanroom can be astronomical, especially for firms with limited funding. But university-based user facilities offer companies access to state-of-the-art equipment and resources for a reasonable fee. Companies can either rent space in the lab, receive training, and then complete their projects independently, or contract work to the in-house staff.

Dragan Grubisic, general manager for Laser Components (Tempe, AZ), cited the NanoFab at Arizona State University (ASU) as the foundation of a smart business model. “We use this facility for process and device development,” he says. “Being a start-up with limited resources, if we had to put money into building a facility like that, I wouldn’t be here.”

Originally designed to support the semiconductor industry, these fabs offer broad capabilities—catering primarily to micro- and nanoscale characterization and fabrication—that easily translate to medical device development. Many foundries have already hosted users from the medical device sector, facilitating research in such areas as biosensors and MEMS devices for implants. Even industry powerhouses have reaped the benefits. Big companies cannot always justify the expense of equipment for tasks like characterization and failure analysis, and the labs provide an alternative. In fact, Boston Scientific has taken advantage of the resources at the University of Washington’s NanoTech User Facility, according to Qiuming Yu, lab manager.

High-volume production is obviously not the goal of these foundries. Rather, the equipment and technology are suited for early-stage experimenting and prototyping. “Having access to a large facility lets researchers try new technologies or equipment,” says Sandrine Martin, technical manager at the University of Michigan’s fab. Steffan Myhajlenko, associate director of ASU’s fab, concurs. “It’s an ideal environment for prototyping,” he says. “If you have an idea and want to test things out, this is the environment to do it in.”

Firms also profit from the extensive knowledge and assistance at hand. Beyond basic training and troubleshooting, the staff often lends expertise in terms of data analysis and advice, according to Yu. Plus, users at sites supported by the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) have access to other centers in the 13-school network of user-based facilities that may have complementary capabilities, Martin says. The Universities of Washington and Michigan are members of NNIN, while ASU operates independently.

While economical, these facilities are not cheap to use. And, since these centers are teaching facilities, users run the risk of students making a mistake during contracted work or with the equipment. But, while not perfect, these facilities provide a practical, innovative, and cost-effective opportunity to small medical device firms fretting over the bottom line. And saving money is always a fab idea.


Shana Leonard
, Editor
Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Sensor Could Provide Forewarning of Asthma Attacks

SPECIAL FEATURE: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Sensor Could Provide Forewarning of Asthma Attacks
A sensor reacts to minute amounts of nitric oxide, a gas prevalent in the breath of asthmatics.

A recently developed nanotube sensor is reactive to minute amounts of nitric oxide, a gas prevalent in the breath of asthmatics, according to University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) professors who developed the sensor. If fitted in a handheld device, the tiny component could allow users to remove the element of surprise from asthma attacks. In addition to detecting attacks early on, a device incorporating the sensor could provide a portable method for patients and their doctors to regularly monitor their symptoms and tailor treatment accordingly.

The sensor consists of a carbon nanotube, a sheet of graphite 100,000 times smaller than a human hair, and a coating made of a polyethylene imine polymer. Still in the early stages of development, the sensor could eventually offer unprecedented access to critical information when deployed in respiratory and biodetection devices. “The extreme thinness of nanotubes renders them extremely sensitive to small changes in their chemical environment,” says Alexander Star, the project’s lead researcher. “This quality makes nanotubes ideal for detection applications.”

The sensor theoretically would be cased in a handheld device that asthmatics blow into to determine the nitric oxide content of their breath. Gas levels spike as airways grow inflamed, a symptom of an impending asthma attack. High levels of nitric oxide—up to two-thirds more than normal—may precede an attack by up to three weeks, possibly earlier, depending on the asthma’s severity, according to Star.

Other advantages of the sensor include low power consumption and cost. “Although the design of the sensor is very sophisticated, the cost of carbon nanotubes can be quite inexpensive,” Star says. “And the handheld devices would be much less expensive than the bulky machines used today to detect nitric oxide levels.”

Because of their expense, current nitric oxide detecting machines are only available in outpatient clinics, making them suitable for diagnosis and for gauging the severity of asthma, but impractical for monitoring symptoms. A handheld device incorporating the sensor would be ideal for self-monitoring, says Star. “This invention could allow people with asthma to watch their nitric oxide levels as easily as people with diabetes check their blood sugar with handheld glucose monitors.”

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
www.pitt.edu

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Nanostructures Get in Shape for Drug Delivery

SPECIAL FEATURE: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Nanostructures Get in Shape for Drug Delivery
Researchers have discovered how to make synthetic polymer molecules form into long cylinders, a nanostructure potentially suited for drug-delivery applications.

Block copolymers can be found in rubber soles for shoes, and, more recently, in portable memory sticks (flash drives) for computers. Soon, the material might be found in the human body as well. Researchers have discovered how to make synthetic polymer molecules assemble and form into long cylinders, a nanostructure potentially suited for drug-delivery applications. The finding was first reported in the August issue of Science by a research team lead by Darrin Pochan, associate professor at the University of Delaware (Newark, DE), and Karen Wooley, professor at Washington University (St. Louis).

“A block copolymer is a long-chain molecule, a length of which, or block, is chemically different than the other,” says Pochan. “So, you put them in a solution where one of the blocks repels and tries to get away and the other doesn’t, which is how you get different shapes to form.”

The scientists used a tri-block copolymer composed of polyacrylic acid, polymethylacrylate, and polystyrene. They introduced it to a solution of tetrahydrofuran and water, as well as organic diamines. The technique relied on divalent organic counter ions and solvent mixtures to drive the organization of the block copolymers down specific pathways into long, one-dimensional structures.

In the past, self-assembly on the nanoscale has typically produced simple shapes, such as spheres, which present problems for drug delivery. “If you put little balls full of a drug into the bloodstream, the body’s organs and immune system will clear it out in a day,” Pochan says. “But, if you place the molecules into long, floppy cylinders, they may stay in the body for weeks.”

Floppy cylinder nanostructures can also be formed to provide multiple compartments (unlike a sphere, which is capable of providing only one compartment)—another potential advantage for drug delivery. Multicompartmental structures suggest intriguing possibilities, says Pochan, including devices that could store different drugs in separate compartments, thereby enabling a single device to deliver an entire drug regimen.

In addition to new shapes, the research has also yielded a bottom-up approach for building nanostructures. “Bottom-up manufacturing has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but this research has made it relevant for nanomanufacturing,” Pochan says. “Rather than design a large structure or component and use lithography to form it into what you want, our goal is to design a molecule with all the information it needs built-in, and then you throw it in water and it zips up into the desired complex shape and size.”

“It’s all about constructing materials and nanostructures in an easy way,” he adds.

University of Delaware, Newark, DE
www.udel.edu

Washington University, St. Louis, MO
www.wustl.edu

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Emerging Challenges: Nano Surveys Serve Disconnection Notices

SPECIAL FEATURE: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Emerging Challenges: Nano Surveys Serve Disconnection Notices

Firms commercializing nanotechnology lack a clear procedural roadmap for navigating governmental environmental, health, and safety (EHS) standards, according to a new survey conducted by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (www.nanotechproject.org). Many firms also lack the necessary information to meet regulatory expectations.

The report is drawn from an online survey distributed to 180 managers from firms in the Northeast, and its results are consistent with surveys of companies in California, New York, and around the world, say the report’s authors John Lindberg and Margaret Quinn, professors at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell (Lowell, MA; www.uml.edu).

Lindberg and Quinn found that 80% of large firms were taking steps to manage nanotechnology EHS risks, compared with 33% of small and microcompanies, and 12% of firms at the start-up stage. “Many smaller firms recognize the need to address risks, but few have the resources to do so,” Lindberg says.

Quinn adds, “Firms are flying somewhat blind into the future and need a clear set of rules, a sense of the emerging regulatory landscape, and access to relevant research on risks in order to ensure both nanotechnology safety and profits.”

Another recent study describes a nanotechnology-related communication gap of a different kind: between scientists and the public. “Nanotechnology is starting to emerge on the policy agenda, but it’s not on [the public’s] radar,” says Dietram Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin–Madison (Madison, WI; www.wisc.edu), coauthor of the study.

“In the long run, this information disconnect could undermine public support for federal funding in certain areas of nanotechnology research,” says the survey’s coauthor, Elizabeth Corley of Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ; www.asu.edu).

“As citizens are faced with decisions about federal funding guidelines, one would hope that they could make these decisions with as much information about the science behind these proposals as possible,” Scheufele adds.

The survey’s findings were based on a national telephone survey of 363 American nanotechnology scientists and engineers, along with a telephone poll of average citizens. The authors found that scientists were both more optimistic and less concerned than the public about most nanotechnology-related risks.

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Software Provides Peek into the Body—and the Future

SPECIAL FEATURE: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Software Provides Peek into the Body—and the Future

Actual in-body nanorobots for the purposes of diagnosing and treating harmful conditions on the cellular level are years away. For now, scientists can only imagine. Nanorobot prototyping software, however, may allow researchers to use their imaginations in more sophisticated ways.

The nanorobot control design (NCD) software is a system designed to serve as a test bed for nanorobot 3-D prototyping. The findings were first published in the January issue of Nanotechnology by a group of Australian and American researchers.

The NCD platform combines 3-D modeling and virtual reality to enable the design, simulation, and testing of nanorobots. In a real-time simulation demonstration, virtual nanorobots were assigned the task of searching for proteins in a dynamic environment, and bringing those proteins to a specific organ inlet for drug delivery.

Simulation using 3-D modeling can provide interactive tools for analyzing nanorobot design choices, including decisions related to sensors, architectural design, manufacturing, and control methodology. Specifically, NCD lets nanorobots operate inside of a virtual human body in order to compare control techniques.

Eventually, designers will be able to use the NCD platform for actual nanorobot design prototyping for specific applications, says Adriano Cavalcanti, CEO of the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (Melbourne, Australia), a private company that focuses on developing systems and prototypes related to nanotechnology in the medical device sector.

“The numerical and advanced simulations provided a better understanding of how nanorobots should interact and be controlled inside the human body; hence, based on such information, we have proposed innovative hardware architecture with a nanorobot model for use in common medical applications,” Cavalcanti says. “The proposed platform should enable virtual patient pervasive monitoring, as well as precise diagnosis and smart drug delivery for cancer therapy.”

“In the same way microelectronics provided new medical devices in the 1980s, now miniaturization through nanotechnology is enabling the manufacture of nanobiosensors and actuators to improve cell biology interfaces and biomolecular manipulation.” Fully operational nanorobots for biomedical instrumentation should be achieved as a result of nanobioelectronics and proteomics integration, Cavalcanti says.

Cavalcanti says achieving the goal of functional, feasible nanorobots will be a three-step process. First, model manufacturing with carbon nanotube-CMOS biochip integration will have to occur, followed by in vivo tests, and, finally, commercialization.

Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN), Melbourne, Australia
www.canbiotechnems.com

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Market Trends Influence Medical Metal Selection

Market Trends Influence Medical Metal Selection
Daniel Grace
Because of the stringent requirements associated with the industry, several proven metals and alloys have enjoyed a long and healthy relationship with the medical device manufacturing sector. However, market trends are beginning to reshape OEMs’ expectations and forcing them to plan differently. Climbing price points have prompted some OEMs to investigate alternative materials. Moreover, speedy availability of tried-and-true titanium could be waning, thus increasing lead times.

Platinum is a popular material among medical device manufacturers owing to its strength, biocompatibility, and corrosion resistance. But the cost of receiving those benefits has grown steeper in recent years as a result of a worldwide spike in the market value of platinum. In light of customer concern over escalating platinum prices, some materials providers are looking to offer cost-effective substitutes.

“We are noticing an interest by an increasing number of our customers in palladium as an alternative to platinum,” says Dave Vincent, director of business development at Johnson Matthey (West Chester, PA; www.jmmedical.com), a supplier of metals and alloys and a metallurgical developer. “Palladium shares many of the same physical traits [as platinum], but the rise in its cost hasn’t been nearly so dramatic.”

Both platinum and palladium are classified as platinum group metals, but platinum is approximately four times as expensive on today’s market. Platinum is also four times as expensive as it was at the beginning of the decade—the approximate time when the price began a steady climb that has continued to the present.

Palladium is much less dense than platinum, and long-time platinum users are still learning about the best methods for incorporating it into existing applications. Because of its relative unfamiliarity, it has mainly been used, so far, to replace platinum in nonimplantable devices where concerns about in vivo performance don’t apply.

“You will hear manufacturers talk about adopting palladium for its specific characteristics,” Vincent comments. “But at this point, it really boils down to cost.”

Unlike palladium, the status of titanium as an implantable-grade material is well established. Like precious metals, however, its availability is not immune to global market forces. Due to current trends, medical OEMs may need to prepare for longer lead times for titanium parts in the near future, says Craig Schank, director of sales and marketing at Supra Alloys (Camarillo, CA; www.supraalloys.com), a supplier of titanium alloys.

“After 9/11, the aerospace industry was anticipating higher prices, so companies ordered huge stocks of titanium,” Schank explains. “In fact, they overstocked, and for the past few years they’ve been working through existing supply. Indirectly, this benefited the medical industry which enjoyed shorter lead times.”

Although titanium is widely used among medical OEMs, the overall amount consumed pales in comparison to the aerospace industry. In the past few years, medical companies have been able to send jobs to mills unburdened by the large demands of the aerospace industry. But this may change soon, Schank says.

“The aerospace industry is beginning to work through its overstock and we’re seeing a rise in activity in that industry,” he says. “There are no guarantees, but it…could affect the lead-times that the medical industry has grown accustomed to.”

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Business Drivers

BUSINESS DRIVERS

Paul R. Sohmer, MD, has assumed the role of acting CEO at in vitro diagnostics manufacturer Cylex Inc. (Columbia, MD). He has also been appointed to the company's board of directors. Sohmer has served as CEO of both public and privately held medical device, biotechnology, and healthcare services companies. Most recently, he served as chairman, president, and CEO of TriPath Imaging Inc. (Burlington, NC), which was sold to Becton Dickinson (Franklin Lakes, NJ) in December 2006. In a related announcement, Judy Britz, PhD, Cylex's chairman and CEO for the past eight years, has left the company to pursue personal interests. The company plans to initiate a formal search for her permanent successor. Britz joined Cylex in May 1999. During her tenure as CEO, she raised more than $33 million in funding for the company.

 
Stone

Bob Pryor has decided to step down from his position as head of Agfa HealthCare Ameri-cas (Greenville, SC). Barry Stone, COO of Agfa HealthCare Americas, has taken over the position of CEO. Pryor joined Agfa with the company's Sterling Diagnostic Imaging acquisition in 1999. At Sterling Diagnostics, he was responsible for sales and service for the Americas and was a member of the global executive management committee. Before Sterling Diagnostics, Pryor held a number of cross-functional management positions at the DuPont Co. in its healthcare businesses. He retires following a 34-year career in the healthcare field. Stone served as COO for the U.S. organization for nearly two years prior to his appointment as CEO. Over the years, he has held a variety of roles at Agfa, including serving as managing director of Agfa in the United Kingdom.

Denny Sakkas, PhD, has joined Molecular Biometrics LLC (New Haven, CT), a privately held diagnostics company, as chief scientific officer. Sakkas is an associate professor at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the embryology laboratory at Yale Fertility Center. In conjunction with the new appointment, Molecular Biometrics announced that it is opening a new 2200-square-foot research facility adjacent to Yale University. Sakkas will oversee the company's research and development activities from the new facility, which will initially be dedicated to the company's lead product candidate, ViaTest-E. The product is in late-stage development for the assessment of embryo viability in the field of in vitro fertilization and assisted reproductive technology.

EyeGate Pharma (Waltham, MA), a privately held company developing iontophoresis technology to noninvasively deliver therapeutics for ocular indications, has promoted Michael A. Patane, PhD, to chief scientific officer. Patane joined EyeGate in 2007 as vice president of research and development. Prior to joining EyeGate, he was executive director of global discovery chemistry at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, where he was responsible for infectious diseases and ophthalmology drug discovery programs. EyeGate has also appointed Remis Bistras, PhD, as vice president of business development. Prior to joining EyeGate, Bistras was senior consultant at advisory firm S.M. Jagger Consulting (Litchfield, CT). Previously, Bistras was director of business development and licensing at CIBA Vision-Novartis, a $1.5 billion eye care division of Novartis.

Mahar

Alphatec Holdings Inc. (Carlsbad, CA), a medical technology company focused on products for the surgical treatment of spine disorders, announced that Andrew Mahar, a veteran biomechanics and clinical research practitioner, has joined the company as senior director of biomechanics and clinical research. Mahar was formerly director of the Orthopedic Biomechanics Research Center at Rady Children's Hospital (San Diego). From 1998 to 2005, Mahar served as a biomechanical engineer in the department of orthopedics at Rady Children's Hospital.

Hill

St. Jude Medical Inc. (St. Paul, MN) has elected Barbara B. Hill to its board of directors. Hill is CEO and president of ValueOptions Inc. (Norfolk, VA), a privately owned managed behavioral health company, where she also serves as a board member. Hill has 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, including past roles as president of Express Scripts Inc. (St. Louis), a pharmacy benefits management company where she also served on the board of directors.

Copyright ©2008 MX