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Aesthetic Ultrasound Maker Ulthera to Float $86 Million IPO

aesthetic

The Ulthera System's ultrasound handpiece. (Courtesy Ulthera Inc.)

Mesa, AZ-based Ulthera, Inc., which sells its FDA-approved Ulthera System for the cosmetic non-invasive lifting of eyebrows and skin around the neck, has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering (IPO) of its common stock. The company hopes to realize $86 million from the sale. The therapeutic ultrasound system, which received FDA 510(k) clearance for the eyebrows indication in December 2013, is said by the company to be "the first and only energy-based device to receive US FDA clearance for a non-invasive aesthetic lift indication." It is used in a procedure the company calls Ultherapy, which is a treatment to lift skin above the eyebrow, on the neck and under the chin. FDA had approved the neck and under-chin indications in October 2012. In its SEC Form S-1 applying for the IPO, the company indicated that it has submitted to expand the indications for its Ultherapy device to include the reduction in lines and wrinkles of the skin on the chest (décolletage). It has not yet, however, received any word from FDA regarding the status of that application. In March, Ulthera reported that it had acquired Cabochon Aesthetics, Inc. The FDA-cleared system developed by Cabochon, which is used in a procedure to improve the appearance of cellulite, will, Ulthera says, allow it to expand its technology offerings for physician practices worldwide. The minimally invasive Cabochon procedure targets the tight connective-tissue bands in the underlying structure of cellulite, known as fibrous septae. It uses an innovative precision-guided, vacuum-assisted approach to optimally release the restricting septae, improving the appearance of cellulite and providing a smoother look to the skin, according to the release announcing the deal. Angela Gonzales, writing for the Phoenix Business Journal, says the company has 160 employees and is debt free. It reported $11.8 million in net income on $82.2 million in net revenue for the year ended December 31, according to its S-1. That's up from a loss of $624,000 on $59.4 million in revenue for 2012, and loss of $2.3 million on $41 million revenue in 2011.

Stephen Levy is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

Electronic Patch Monitors Patients, Delivers Drugs

Electronic Patch Monitors Patients, Delivers Drugs

Researchers from flexible electronics startup MC10 in conjunction with researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea have demonstrated that patient monitoring, information storage, and drug delivery can be integrated into a package the size of a Band-Aid.

MC10 envisions an electronic patch that can monitor patient vitals and deliver drug therapy when needed [image via MC10]
In a paper published in March in the journal Nature Nanotechnology researchers led by Dae-Hyeong Kim, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Seoul National University, demonstrated that a patch placed on pig skin could release a dye after detecting muscle tension.
 
The implications according to Roozbeh Ghaffari, co-founder and Director of Advance Technology at MC10, show huge potential for treating patients with neuromuscular and neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease. “It's not only doing monitoring in this epidermal format but storing information and then ultimately actuating the release of drugs that could help keep a certain ailment under control like Parkinson's,” Ghaffari says.
 
The patch which is only a few centimeters wide and about the thickness of two sheets of paper, is built in layers, containing a sensor, a drug layer infused in an adhesive layer, and a memory module. The patch is attached to the skin, where the sensors can detect when they are stretched because of skin movement caused by muscle tension. Based on how frequently this stretching happens the sensors are able to indicate whether the stretching was a normal movement or from a tremor. The patch can then record this data and, if necessary, release drugs to manage any tremors. The drugs would be surrounded by porous silica nanoparticles. When triggered, a heating element in the patch breaks this bond, allowing the drug molecules to diffuse through the skin.
 
This combination of drug delivery and patient monitoring would allow for more accurate treatments that could be catered more specifically to patients. “Patient A may have very good response to a drug in the form of patch release. You don't want to necessarily change up their drug profile. The monitoring data would reveal that,” Ghaffari says. “Whereas if you had Patient B, who isn't responding at all and exhibits signs of tremor and dyskinesia, or things are off with their medical dose, then you can effectively figure out the what the best option is for that patient based on their response, which you can track quantitatively versus a diary or journal that the patient would keep.”
 

The MD&M East Conference will be hosting sessions on "Designing Next-Gen Medical Devices" June 9, 2014.
 
Ghaffari says the current patches utilized an external power source, but future models will employ a rechargeable onboard battery. “Typical systems that we're building to commercialize now on the diagnostic side have a thin film lithium polymer battery half a millimeter or larger built in,” he says. He adds, while the drug sticker portion of the patch would have to be replaced daily, the patch itself, if it's made robust enough, could last for several months.
 
The concept of the patch is an extension of research done by MC10 co-founder John Rogers, currently Director of the Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In 2011 Rogers published a paper in the journal Science where he discussed the creation of flexible electronics that can be comfortably attached to the skin. It was the first demonstration that silicon-based devices in a nanomembrane format can be laminated onto the skin to measure different vital signs.
 
Ghaffari says this latest research was designed to build on Rogers's work. “The real challenge is how do you build a system that is worn on the body, is seamless and invisible to the user, and is able to track activity,” he says. “And not only that what if we went even further and started integrating nanoparticles and drug therapy onboard this same patch?”
 
Since different drugs have different delivery requirements it is not likely to see a patch that will be able to deliver multiple treatment options. The study also cautions that “technical challenges, such as the fabrication of high-performance, energy-efficient sensors and memory modules that are in intimate mechanical contact with soft tissues, in conjunction with controlled delivery of therapeutic agents” could limit widespread adoption of this technology.
 
However Ghaffari says MC10 will be conducting further testing in pre-clinical and clinical settings to determine their effectiveness with patients. “Ultimately we'd like to develop disease-specific patches that have a disease specific drug in them.”   
 
-Chris Wiltz, Associate Editor, MD+DI
Christopher.Wiltz@ubm.com

MedTech Needs An Extreme Makeover of Its Sales Organization

MedTech Needs An Extreme Makeover of Its Sales Organization

No industry likes the kind of attention that medtech has been getting lately.

There are front page stories in national publications that speak disparagingly of new device models and updates as only offering “dubious improvement.” They allege that much of medtech innovation amounts to “planned obsolescence.”

James Varelis, Principal, PwC Health Industries

At its core, the claim is that device manufacturers engage in a form of “incrementalism,” making minor changes in equipment year over year expressly for the purpose of enabling price increases and driving sales. All allegedly without delivering significant improvement in value for the customer.

While the industry might bristle at these charges, the fact is that the industry’s sales force plays into the hands of such critics.That’s because many medtech sales organizations today fail to highlight the real patient-focused and medical-customer-focused value that flows from the industry’s constant march for improvement.

The entire healthcare industry in the US is undergoing an irreversible transformation to a new paradigm in which reimbursement will be linked to patient-centric measures like patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes not only for procedures but also for medical equipment. To prepare for this new health economy, medtech should reinvent the decades-old sales machine that is hardwired in the current medtech business model.

In the emerging healthcare marketplace, it will need sales people who are not just sales “reps” but also true clinical partners. These would be people who aren’t exclusively focused on sales target metrics, but are thinkers and doers who can work out a business strategy and a P&L. That’s a path to a sustainable future in sales.

Where we were and continue to be today 
In the current sales organization model companies are very process driven, punctuated with dashboards, performance metrics and quarterly or annual sales contests. From a management perspective, it is easy to track and standardize interactions with known customers and customer types. It is also easy to forecast sales and growth based on new device price uplifts and new usage indications.Customers are sold on periodic (and iterative) device features or updates and medical device service has been included for free as part of devices’ costs.

But there is collateral fallout from this model. In the face of traditionally high average sales prices (ASPs) and healthy margins, it is now harder to get uplifts on new technology every two to three years.
Further, while overseas markets and customer needs across the globe have been growing in importance, traditionally US-centered R&D routinely failed to take into account such local customer needs.

How did we get into the position we’re in? 
Traditional customers in medtech were isolated and functioned in a siloed manner – physicians, hospital purchasing offices and so on.In an environment where competing products were often similar, sales reps perceived their relationship with purchasers as the selling differentiator.

They ended up downplaying the appreciation of a fuller value chain involving payers and even end user patients. But the selling model worked because the sales rep and customer (typically physician) relationship was a major influence on vendor and medical device selection. It is actually good news that the emerging new economic model for healthcare upends this cozy setup. Too much effort has been put into an unsustainable business model that will no longer serve medtech well in the coming years.

Where do we need to go? 
In the evolving healthcare space, all participants should recognize the growing need to demonstrate value along every dimension of the value chain. That requires the sales function to gather input from all parties, not simply physicians. They need to pay particular attention to the real and perceived value delivered to provider executives, purchasing groups, and, last but not least, patients themselves.

Consider this example:
A major medtech manufacturer observed that in the lower income, heavily Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the use of implantable cardiac devices with remote monitoring to treat and monitor heart issues lagged that of other cultural and ethnic groups. This was true both in initial implant and follow-up adherence.

Language, culture, education, and lack of tech-savvy all posed obstacles for sales teams targeting this demographic. The challenge for sales teams was to develop approaches that could help ensure access for that lower income Latino demographic that by all extrinsic clinical measures would benefit immensely from these therapies and capabilities.

Concurrently, payers were reducing reimbursement for clinic follow-up appointments in both value and frequency.Reimbursement for sources of revenue for cardiology practices such as EKGs and echoes were also falling. With large patient populations to care for, cardiology practices faced increasing revenue pressures.

Rising to that challenge, the medtech vendor adopted a new sales approach that involved understanding the value drivers of each stakeholder group – secured profoundly improved results. The solution involved targeting a single large medical practice with a predominantly Latino population that was underserved in terms of penetration of the new value-add remote monitoring capability. A key for the sales team was to learn the “pain points” of this population.

The largest pain turned out to be that patients had to visit the medical practice to download data from their cardiac devices. In Los Angeles that meant they would have to take public transit, typically spending almost an entire day on the trip, thereby sacrificing a day’s wages because of work absence.

To address this, patients were divided into cohorts of about 20 each that met to discuss and learn about remote monitoring. That leveraged the communal learning norm of the demographic. While patients could understand the medically significant value of remote monitoring through these small groups, the medtech vendor found the approach to be very important in gaining more insight about this population.

The providers also benefitted from this arrangement. Thanks to the technological emphasis in healthcare reform, reimbursement increased compared with the traditional clinic follow-up model. Smaller clinic schedules improved the practice’s ability to accommodate patient visits as well. With the prospect of increased revenue from superior operations, the practice enthusiastically adopted the new technology and workflow.

The improved results this sales team delivered could not be measured solely in terms of sales metrics. The new approach enabled the team to understand and appreciate where patients and providers could see value, and in turn communicate the added value the improved devices could deliver to all parties.

Given this example experienced by a major medtech company, how does the industry refocus its sales organization away from the traditional dashboard approach toward a model that enables it to capture and rely upon input from the customer?

There is no one magic bullet – but getting out and really listening to the different stakeholders can make a real difference.

What’s the path forward? 
In building a new sales machine, these are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Medtech was previously shielded from payer influences compared to pharmaceutical firms that have sold into formularies
  • Today’s convergence of physician practices increases the number of physician influencers and stakeholders in each practice and shrinks the number of decision makers
  • Hospital acquisition of physician practices is disrupting the original value chain and sales reps’ previous relationships. Reps must now be able to build relationships with higher level executives and buyers of larger organizations. They need to know and communicate the economic benefits of the products they are selling instead of talking about feature or clinical benefits.
  • R&D should increase its understanding of the true market and customer needs, and develop solutions that capture true differentiated product value in varied markets

Where will that take us? 
The new sales structure will possess the ability to discern the new decision makers, cater to their needs and to truly identify differentiated value. Eventually, such an organization will be able to create value for customers by allowing them to, as we at PwC say, “Own the Disease” -- connect device and disease along a clear care pathway by increasingly integrating portions of disease care.

That will be the path to a sustainable future in sales.

[Feature Image Credit: iStockphoto.com user wakila]

James S. Varelis is a Principal, PwC Health Industries, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences sector

  

Largest Shareholder Seeks Board Coup at Echo Therapeutics

Symphony
Echo's Symphony noninvasive continuous glucose monitor. (Courtesy Echo Therapeutics Inc.)
It seems that a fight is looming over a seat on Echo Therapeutics Inc.'s board of directors. The company's largest shareholder, an investor group led by Platinum Management (NY), LLC, which owns approximately 19.9% of Echo's common stock, is not happy with current management. Platinum Management has put forth its own candidate, Shepard M. Goldberg, in opposition to current director and interim CEO Robert F. Doman, in advance of Echo's annual shareholder meeting. The Philadelphia Business Journal's John George reports that Platinum Management sent a letter to shareholders in which it said it "can no longer sit idly by while stockholders continue to suffer under the direction of the current board." The letter continued, George said, saying that because of its "continued frustration with the performance of Echo," Platinum Management is urging stockholders to elect Shepard M. Goldberg to the board. Echo, for its part, released a statement supporting Doman as "our highly qualified and very experienced director" and noting Doman's "over 30 years of executive level ... experience with specific concentrations in medical devices and pharmaceuticals." According to Echo's release, Shepard M. Goldberg is "a first cousin and long-time business associate of Michael M. Goldberg, MD, a current member of the Echo Board." The release continues, saying that although Platinum Management is entitled to designate one director according to a stock purchase agreement, Michael M. Goldberg is that director. Echo's release goes on, reminding shareholders that Platinum Management had only designated Michael M. Goldberg after "the Echo Board informed Platinum Partners that, after interviewing Shepard M. Goldberg and reviewing his credentials, it did not believe that Shepard M. Goldberg met the Echo Board's criteria for Board membership." Philadelphia-based Echo makes transdermal skin permeation and diagnostic medical devices. The company is developing its Symphony CGM system, which is a needle-free wireless continuous glucose monitoring system for use in hospital critical care units; and Symphony SkinPrep system, a component of Symphony for enhanced skin permeation that enables extraction of analytes, such as glucose. But the reasons for Platinum Management's frustration may become apparent when one looks at the numbers. The company posted a net loss of $19.1 million in 2013, after a $12.3 million loss in 2012. At market close on April 24, Echo's stock was trading at $3.20 per share, down from a 52-week high of $6.80. Echo has filed revised proxy materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). To allow sufficient time for stockholders to receive and review Echo's revised proxy materials, the company has postponed its annual shareholder meeting to an as-yet unannounced date and will set a new record date for determining stockholders entitled to notice of, and to vote at, the 2014 Annual Meeting. Echo says it will announce both such dates prior to its mailing to stockholders of the revised proxy materials.

Stephen Levy is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

Justice Department Considers Criminal Probe into J&J

Justice Department Considers Criminal Probe into J&J

By Jim Dickinson

The Justice Department says it is considering a March 26 request by the Corporate Action Network (CAN) that it open a criminal probe into Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for destroying thousands of documents relating to women who have been injured by pelvic mesh implants.

Learn how to overcome regulatory pitfalls of medical device development with early clinical involvement at MD&M Texas, May 7–8, 2014, in Fort Worth, TX.

The group says the destruction of evidence may also have violated a deferred prosecution agreement with the department.

A West Virginia federal judge concluded in March that J&J destroyed thousands of documents relating to the development of its pelvic mesh implants and said there was no proof that it was done intentionally. The documents reportedly included reports on patient testing of the mesh implants and could have shown whether participants suffered severe complications.

“Hundreds of thousands of women continue to suffer ongoing, severe harm,” CAN spokesperson Levana Layendecker told the news media. “I hope Johnson & Johnson is held accountable for their failure to warn.”

A spokesperson for J&J's Ethicon, which makes the implants, said it “acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development, and marketing of our pelvic mesh products. Ethicon has engaged in extensive efforts to preserve and produce evidence in the pelvic mesh (federal litigation) which has led to the production of millions of pages of documents to date. In the context of Ethicon’s substantial document production, the inadvertent loss of certain, limited documents has not prejudiced plaintiffs in their ability to pursue their claims.”

Learn how to overcome regulatory pitfalls of medical device development with early clinical involvement at MD&M Texas, May 7–8, 2014, in Fort Worth, TX.

Jim Dickinson is MD+DI's contributing editor. 

[image courtesy of SALVATORE VUONO/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]

Microbots Propelled by Magnetism Carry, Assemble Payload

Researchers in many different labs are tackling the same goal of engineering nanodevices that can fight disease from within the body from many different angles.

We have recently reported on the Israeli scientists who built DNA origami nanoboxes inside a living cockroach, the Harvard researchers who made stealthy DNA nanodevices invisible to a mouse's immune system, and the MIT chemists who have constructed cancer-fighting nanoparticles that deliver three drugs at once.

Now, two scientists at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have constructed tiny microrobots with gripping arms that can be moved around within the body with magnetism. Working within CMU's NanoRobotics Laboratory, Metin Sitti, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering at CMU, and Eric Diller, PhD, built the microrobots, less than one millimeter in size, and have demonstrated basic payload transportation and assembly capabilities.


They describe their work in "Three-Dimensional Programmable Assembly by Untethered Magnetic Robotic Micro-Grippers," which has been published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. According to the paper's abstract, the researchers have created a "flexible patterned magnetic material which allows internal actuation, resulting in a mobile micro-gripper which is driven and actuated by magnetic fields."

The microrobots have carried tiny Y-shaped rods, then assembled them into a simple bridge.

Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at MD&M East, June 9-12, 2014 in New York City.

"By remotely controlling the magnetization direction of each micro-gripper arm," the paper's abstract continues, "a gripping motion which can be combined with locomotion for precise transport, orientation, and programmable three-dimensional assembly of micro-parts in remote environments is demonstrated."

Sitti spoke with Jacob Aron of New Scientist.  Previously, he said, gripping robots were tethered to an outside controller. This made them unsuitable for use inside the human body. Other versions could move, but not grip things at the same time. "We can move them while they are closed or open, it doesn't matter," said Sitti.

Sitti envisions future versions he refers to as builder bots that could be injected into the body along with parts for micro-machines. The builder bot would then assemble the more advanced devices while inside the bloodstream.

"We need to make things smaller to get inside the body easier, but if they are too small, they are not really useful," he told Aron. "You want to assemble the robot inside the body."

Stephen Levy is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

Zimmer’s $13.35 Billion Acquisition

Zimmer Holdings announced Thursday that it will acquire Biomet in a nearly $13.35 billion transaction that will provide it with a leading position in the $45 billion musculoskeletal industry. The merger between the two Warsaw, IN-based orthopedic device makers is expected to close early next year pending customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. The $13.35 billion includes cash, stock, and the assumption of debt.

Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at MD&M East, June 9-12, 2014 in New York City.
Zimmer officials see enhanced innovation and cross-selling opportunities from the acquisition. Cash flows from operations are expected to increase by 1.5 times Zimmer's stand-alone estimates. "We believe that current demographic and macroeconomic trends affecting the healthcare industry will reward companies that successfully partner with other key stakeholders to improve patient care in a cost-effective manner. ... This combination is about achieving growth and cultivating best-in-class solutions," David Dvorak, Zimmer president and CEO, said in a news release. Dvorak also said: "We are equally committed to delivering quality products and outstanding clinical results and to legal and ethical behavior in the markets where we do business. And as companies focused almost exclusively in the musculoskeletal industry, we are passionate about orthopaedics and the related medical technology markets that we serve."

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of MPMN and Qmed. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

Zimmer Buys Rival Biomet for $13.35 Billion Creating “Formidable Player”

 Zimmer Buys Rival Biomet for $13.35 Billion Creating “Formidable Player”

Bowing to market pressures, orthopedics manufacturer Zimmer announced that it is acquiring rival firm Biomet for $13.35 billion.

The transaction, which has been approved by the boards of both public companies, will close in the first quarter of 2015. Zimmer is paying $10.35 billion in cash and the remaining $3 billion through stock, although a portion of the cash comes from a new $3 billion unsecured term loan and newly issued senior notes.

Once the deal closes, Zimmer’s CEO David Dvorak will become the CEO of the combined company.

“The transaction positions the combined company as a leader in the musculoskeletal industry with a broad portfolio of products, technologies and services, enabling us to help shape how solutions are developed and delivered. We believe that current demographic and macroeconomic trends affecting the healthcare industry will reward companies that successfully partner with other key stakeholders to improve patient care in a cost-effective manner,” said Dvorak, in a news release.

The deal also tells the story of current market realities.

“With implant pricing remaining under pressure and hospitals continuing to consolidate, medtech companies are looking to gain scale and reduce costs,” wrote Glenn Novarro, in a research note about the acquisition announcement that he described as a “surprising turn of events.”

One analyst, who also echoed surprise, described the deal as “transformative” thereby creating a “formidable player” in the orthopedics space.

“The transaction now catapults [Zimmer] more firmly into the #1 share position in the [worldwide] hips/knee market (#2 behind JNJ in overall ortho),” wrote Richard Newitter, an analyst with healthcare investment bank Leerink Partners.

Learn about creating a sustainable innovation pipeline in the evolving medtech sector at MD&M East Conference and Exposition, June 9-12, New York City.


Zimmer is paying a hefty premium for Biomet, but Newitter believes that the synergy potential justifies the expenditure, as well as “Biomet's strong R&D pipeline and presence in faster-growing end-markets like sports med and extremities.”

In fact, Zimmer expects to have synergies of about $270 million by the third year following the completion of the deal, with about $135 million expected in the first year.

Biomet’s acquisition was announced as part of Zimmer’s first quarter earnings report which showed that the Warsaw, Indiana firm had fallen short of analyst’s expectations in terms of revenue althoughit did beat their earnings per share estimates.

Sales increased 2% to $1.16 billion in the quarter ended March 31, compared with $1.14 in the same period a year ago. Profits climbed to $221.5 million, or $1.29 per diluted share, compared with $218.6 million, or $1.28 per diluted share.

 [Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com user Cimmerian]

-- By Arundhati Parmar, Senior Editor, MD+DI
arundhati.parmar@ubm.com

Graphene Made in Kitchen Blender–but Don't Try It at Home

The graphene lattice (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The graphene lattice (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Graphene is some amazing stuff, with amazing properties that researchers are continually finding new ways to employ.

It is basically a lattice of carbon atoms one atom thick. Called a "wonder material" by the American Physical Society, graphene is "a million times thinner than paper, stronger than diamond, more conductive than copper." And since it is so thin, it is virtually transparent.

Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester (UK) won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene," according to Wikipedia.

Low-quality graphene occurs naturally; the graphite lead in an ordinary pencil contains layers of flat graphene sheets. But ultrapure, high-quality graphene has been very difficult to make.

Researchers have been able to create small amounts of high-quality graphene or large amounts of low-quality graphene, but not industrial scale quantities of high-quality material. "The commercial development of graphene and related two-dimensional materials is at present restrained by the lack of production techniques ready for industrial scale-up," James M. Tour, PhD, Rice University (Houston), has written on the subject.

Now, researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, have discovered a way to produce graphene using a high-powered kitchen blender, graphite powder, and an ordinary surfactant such as dishwashing liquid.  Their paper has been published in Nature Materials. "Scalable Production of Large Quantities of Defect-Free Few-Layer Graphene by Shear Exfoliation in Liquids" tells how they did it.

Writing for Nature.com's news blog, Richard Van Noorden spoke with the paper's senior author, Jonathan Coleman PhD, professor of physics at Trinity College. Coleman told Van Noorden that the recipe involves an undisclosed delicate balance of surfactant and graphite.

Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at MD&M East, June 9-12, 2014 in New York City.

"And in his laboratory," Coleman said, "centrifuges, electron microscopes and spectrometers were also used to separate out the graphene and test the outcome." Van Noorden writes that "In fact, the kitchen-blender recipe was added late in the study as a bit of a gimmick -- the main work was done first with an industrial blender."

But, "(t)his clearly shows that even very crude mixers can produce well exfoliated graphene," Coleman wrote in the paper. And apparently once you use your blender for graphene experiments, you wouldn't want to use it for food processing due to the "goop" the process leaves behind.

The research, funded by Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd (Consett, County Durham, UK) has already been patented. Swan has scaled up the process into a pilot plant and, says commercial director Andy Goodwin, hopes to be making a kilogram of graphene a day by the end of this year. Swan intends to sell the graphene as a dried powder and as a liquid dispersion from which it may be sprayed onto other materials, Goodwin said.

Stephen Levy is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

10 Clever DIY Medical Devices

From a robohand to a centrifuge for use in the developing world, examples abound when it comes to what do-it-yourself medical device designers are able to accomplish.