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Articles from 2009 In March

Vesta Gets Extrumed

Vesta Inc. (Franklin, WI), a support services company for the OEM medical device industry that provides silicone moldings, thermoplastic extruded tubing, assemblies, and secondary operations, has completed its acquisition of Extrumed LLC (Placentia, CA), the largest independent manufacturer of precision thermoplastic tubing for diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices and procedures. The merger will create a market-leading contract manufacturer of precision thermoplastic and silicone tubing, silicone molding, and device assembly operations, according to Apur Lathiya, vice president of sales and marketing at Extrumed, a portfolio company of Inverness Graham Investments and Wedbush Capital Partners. In addition, the merger does not include plans to combine the manufacturing facilities of the two companies but will focus instead on sharing best practices to make each organization stronger. The merged firms, he notes, will produce more than 60 million medical device components annually. "We are attracted to Extrumed's capabilities in high-precision thermoplastic tubing extrusion and its strong reputation for quality and customer service," says Joseph F. Damico, chairman of the board of Vesta and a founding partner of RoundTable Healthcare Partners, which holds a majority interest in Vesta. "Adding Extrumed's capabilities in thermoplastics to Vesta's core competencies in silicone-component manufacturing broadens the outsourcing capabilities we can provide to our customers." Extrumed CEO Bill Ellerkamp adds, "Vesta and RoundTable are ideal partners for Extrumed and its employees.... Vesta will be able to enhance our market position through their operational, sales, and marketing expertise as well as their relationships with medical device OEMs."

Vesta Gets ExtruMed

Vesta Inc., a supplier of silicone medical products to the OEM medical device industry, has completed its acquisition of ExtruMed LLC, the largest independent manufacturer of precision thermoplastic tubing for diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices and procedures. a RoundTable Healthcare Partners portfolio company a portfolio company of Inverness Graham Investments and Wedbush Capital Partners

Don't Miss MPMN's Webcast on Emerging Technologies Today!

There's still time to register for MPMN's Webcast event, Emerging Technologies Showcase, sponsored by Gems Sensors & Controls. The live event will be held today, March 31, at 2 pm EST/ 11 am PST, and will bring to light several cutting-edge technologies that hold promise for drastically reshaping and improving medical device design and development down the road. Speakers include John Rogers of the University of Illinois, who will discuss stretchy, curvilinear electronics; Z.L. Wang, who will speak about harvesting biomechanical energy for powering implantable devices; and Roger Narayan, who will talk about his work with nanoporous materials and micro and nanostructures. Register now, or check in tomorrow to access the archive of the event.

Hard Times Don't Stop Terumo

Terumo Cardiovascular Systems and Terumo Heart Inc. have created nearly 150 new jobs in the area last year and could be moving some of its manufacturing and R&D from California, according to the Detroit Free Press. Terumo Cardiovascular's heart-lung machines are made at its Scio facility. It currently has about 38% of its market and is aiming to reach 50% by 2012, according to Terumo Cardiovascular's president and CEO Mark Sutter. Sales are also anticipated to go up 10% for its fiscal year, which ends this month. Terumo Heart was started to develop and commercialize the DuraHeart left ventricular assist system. A U.S. clinical trial involving the device was started at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor last summer and will be expanding to other sites.

MRIs Blast Off Into the Future

Used to fuel space shuttles, parahydrogen may have found a new application in launching next-generation MRI technology. Researchers from the University of York (UK) have developed a parahydrogen manipulation method that they have dubbed signal amplification by reversible exchange, or SABRE for short. The team's technique entails transferring polarization from parahydrogen to a specially designed molecular scaffold substrate. The resulting molecules are seen easily by MRI and nuclear magnetic resonance technologies. In fact, the researchers demonstrated that they were able to increase MRI sensitivity by 1000 times. An expedited scanning process and reduced costs are also potential benefits of the technology. In addition to enabling improved scanning, the technology could allow for increasing the range of conditions that are analyzed for diagnoses. This expanded capability lends itself to diagnosing such conditions as cancer and trauma. "Our method has the potential to help doctors make faster and more-accurate diagnoses in a wide range of medical conditions," says Gary Green, a professor in the department of psychology and director of the York Neuroimaging Centre. "The technique could ultimately replace current clinical imaging technologies that depend on the use of radioactive substances or heavy metals, which themselves create health concerns." The researchers are currently seeking partners to help them commercialize the technology. Videos of the technology can be found at the group's Web site.

Blood Lust

Only about 7% of humans have O negative blood—the blood type that can be transfused into anyone without causing tissue rejection. The rarity of this blood type poses problems for blood transfusion services, which must rely on a steady-stream of donors to provide a constant supply of fresh blood. But help is on the way. A three-year UK research project will develop the technology for producing unlimited amounts of synthetic human blood from embryonic stem cells. Supported by the National Health Services Blood and Transplant, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, and the Wellcome Trust (the world's largest charity devoted to medical research), researchers will test human embryos left over from in vitro fertilization treatments to single out those embryos that are genetically programmed to develop into O negative blood. Scientists think that O negative blood can be produced in unlimited quantities from embryonic stem cells because the cells can be induced to multiply indefinitely in the laboratory. The aim of the UK project is to stimulate embryonic stem cells to develop into mature, oxygen-carrying red blood cells. In addition to being plentiful, synthetic blood will not be at risk of carrying infectious viruses such HIV and hepatitis. An obvious boon to armies around the world that require large quantities of blood for wounded soldiers, the project will also benefit accident victims and those requiring blood transfusions during surgery. Thus, scientists in several other countries, including Sweden, France, and Australia, are developing similar projects to produce synthetic blood from embryonic stem cells.

Smart Products Opens East Coast Office

Smart Products Inc. (Morgan Hill, CA), a supplier of valves and pumps used in medical devices, has opened a facility in Boone, NC. Having operated in California for 27 years, the expansion marks a new period of growth for the company, which offers more than 3 million mix-and-match valve configurations. The new office will be home to a team of product application specialists who are trained to answer technical and compatibility-related questions regarding the company's components. Situated in eastern North Carolina, the Boone facility enables the company to increase its accessiblity for customers located outside the Pacific time zone. Available in standard and custom designs, the company's valves are used to control the flow of fluid or gas in low-pressure, low-flow OEM systems. In addition to the valves, the supplier offers liquid and air pumps.

Mack Gets Energy-Efficient, Wins Award

Mack Molding has installed 2100 high-intensity fluorescent light fixtures that eliminate hotspots and shadows on the production floor and will save enough energy to power 300 homes.

Mack Molding has installed 2100 high-intensity fluorescent light fixtures that eliminate hotspots and shadows on the production floor and will save enough energy to power 300 homes.

Contract manufacturing and molding services provider Mack Molding Co. (Arlington, VT) recently completed an energy-efficient lighting overhaul at three of its facilities. The company's efforts have not only resulted in better use of electricity, but also won it a Progressive Manufacturing 100 award from Managing Automation Media (New York City).
Affecting a total of more than 600,000 sq ft of manufacturing space at the three plants, the $450,000 lighting project called for installing more than 2100 high-intensity fluorescent light fixtures. The new fixtures are expected to save more than 1.7 million kWh per year of electricity, which is enough electricity to power approximately 300 Vermont homes, or can be equated to taking 167 cars off the road, according to the company. In addition to the energy-efficiency gains, the new fixtures have increased light levels throughout the plants and eliminated hot spots and shadows. The company, which provides custom injection molding and product-development services for various medical device manufacturing applications, will be presented with the award at a ceremony in Sarasota, FL, in June at Managing Automation's Progressive Manufacturing Summit.

Device Makers Look to Device Makers for Funding

On Monday, the medical technology giant raised $47 million for Ardian Inc. (Palo Alto, CA). Other participants included Advanced Technology Ventures, which has an office in Palo Alto, Morgenthaler Ventures and Split Rock Partners, which have offices in Menlo Park, and a new investor, Portola Valley-based Emergent Medical Partners. The clinical-stage medical device company is the eighth company created by The Foundry, a medical device incubator based in Menlo Park. It may be a sign of the times that developing medical device firms should look toward larger device companies to gain funding, particularly if the technology is complementary or tangential to the larger firm's area of expertise.

Scientists Cut Down Biofilm Buildup

Biofilm formation on implants is a persistent problem in the medical community that can result in life-threatening infections. In recent years, this issue has garnered increasing attention from scientists and coating specialists as they work toward discovering a method for inhibiting bacterial growth on the devices. Researchers from Syracuse University (SU) are the latest to shed light on the sticky situation with their development of a novel material surface that has demonstrated the ability to repel bacteria. To create the material, the researchers deposited a 20-nm-thick layer of gold onto a glass surface and then placed lab-generated molecules on top of the gold film. Through experiments with the material, the team discovered that mammalian cells and bacteria differ in their methods of adhesion to surfaces: mammalian cells require an anchor to stick to a surface while bacteria can attach to almost any sticky surface. Furthermore, the scientists gained insight into controlling bacterial growth on surfaces and were able to confine biofilm formation to designated 2-D patterns. In addition to gaining insight about adhesion, the researchers found that this surface material was able to manipulate and confine biofilm four times longer than existing methods of inhibition. The scientists hope that these revelations can contribute to better implant design in the future. "This level of surface control has never before been achieved," says Dacheng Ren, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at SU. "We hope that what we have learned in the laboratory will help answer other fundamental questions in surface materials research and lead to the production of new materials for use in medicine and industry."