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A visual tour of packaging and products from ocean plastics

A visual tour of packaging and products from ocean plastics

Packaging and products made from plastic ocean debris are likely the industry’s ultimate example of lemonade made from lemons. A nearly perfect circular economy model is made real when plastic bottles, for example, made from recovered ocean plastics are turned back into plastic packaging.

Whether it’s seen as a glass half full (good, more debris removed!) or half empty (it’s a drop in an endless sea of debris!) proposition, it seems we’re inundated with a growing amount of plastic-products-from-marine pollution, a sampling of which you'll find on the following pages. These appear in essentially chronological order on the following pages as a kind of chronicle of durable ocean debris recovered and remade into usable plastic products. These are found primarily published by PlasticsToday along with—pardon the expression—current examples from other sources such as sister publications and press releases; sources are PlasticsToday unless otherwise noted. Method ocean plastic bottles 2012

This market was set into motion in 2012 when eco-minded, forward-thinking cleaners company Method (San Francisco) entered what were then virgin waters in pioneering packaging from marine pollution.

Appropriately enough, the eureka moment for the company to consider doing such a ground-breaking thing was sparked by a Method executive’s visit to the unexpectedly not-so-pristine beaches of Hawaii.

The company decided to do something about the litter, and literally deployed employees’ boots on the sandy shores in coordinating efforts with local organizations. Volunteers hand-collected several tons of the type of rigid, opaque plastic needed to make this packaging that are most abundant. After sorting the debris was shipped to California. Method had partnered with recycler Envision Plastics to develop a new recycling process to make the bottles.

The rest is history because it marked the birth of a brand-new-age, environmentally minded cottage industry. For more on Method’s landmark effort, see Ocean Plastic: Method turns pollution into packaging, published November 2012.

Next: The sporty side of marine plastic

Adidas Ocean Wear plasticsThe collaboration between adidas and Parley for the Oceans involved the creation of a partially 3D-printed sports shoe made from upcycled marine plastic waste. The project, which was highly successful in drawing public attention to the problem of marine litter and its effect on marine health, was soon followed by the introduction in June of released 50 pairs of limited-edition shoes called the Adidas x Parley made from Parley Ocean Plastic derived from plastic polluting the marine environment.

For more, see Adidas and Parley for the Oceans present first high-performance sportswear from ocean waste, published November 2016.

Next: The OceanBound Plastic Bottle

EnvisionVita Ocean plastic bottle
What’s better than collecting ocean plastic? Collecting debris before it reaches the ocean.

That’s the idea behind the OceanBound Plastic Bottle. Envision Plastics (Atlanta) organized special collection of plastics within 50 kilometers of a coast line at known at-risk areas for marine debris and then recycles the material. Its first customer, ViTA, is using the 100% of the recycled plastic in bottles for hair care products, disproving the myth that recycled resin is low quality and can only be used in small percentages.

Other sustainable aspects of the project included colorants and inks, energy use through the production cycle, labels and related adhesives, water usage and more.

For more, read Breakthrough process: Envision creates the OceanBound Plastic Bottle for ViTA, published by Packaging Digest, April 2018.

For more about Envision, see Envision Plastics to remove 10 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic, published April 2017.

Next: An ocean debris Fairy tale

Fairy soap bottleIn Fall 2017 another global brand waded into the ocean plastics market: Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G; Cincinnati, OH), which launched the Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle made of 90% post-consumer recycled (PRC) and 10% ocean plastic collected from beaches around the world. It was the anchor of a campaign to raise awareness of the issue of plastics in waterways and what could be done to prevent plastic waste from reaching the ocean.

The bottle was created in partnership with recycling expert TerraCycle with the plan to have the Fairy bottles available to British consumers in 2018 through a launch of 320,000 bottles, noted as “the largest production run of recyclable dish soap bottles in the world made using ocean plastic.”

For more, see Procter & Gamble launches Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle made with 100% recycled plastic, from October 2017.

 

Next: Breakthrough bottle that's 100% marine plastic

plastic waste in oceanMaking new products from plastic waste from the ocean has become a goal for both brand owners and some in the plastics industry seeking a solution for valuable plastic materials carelessly thrown into the environment by thoughtless people. In October 2017, Procter & Gamble announced its new Fairy Ocean plastic bottle, the first to use 100% recycled plastic and ocean plastic. Now, Techmer PM (Clinton, TN), a materials design company that works in partnership with plastics processors, OEMs and designers to tackle business, manufacturing and sustainability challenges, has helped create a new solution for ocean plastic.

The new bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic from waste that was diverted from waterways. Recycler Envision Plastics Industries LLC (Chino, CA) created the new bottle from its OceanBound plastic. It sports a metallic, pearlescent-effect finish thanks to Techmer PM’s compounding expertise. And it signals the promise of applying innovation to address some of the world’s most pressing pollution challenges, said Techmer PM.

In addition to Techmer PM and Envision Plastics, the team included environmental change leader Primal Group and bottle blowmolder Classic Containers Inc. (Ontario, CA).

For more, read Techmer PM creates world’s first bottle made from 100% ocean-bound plastics, published February 2018.

Next: 3D printing filament wades into the ocean plastics mix

Clean Currents 3D-printed bottle on a beach SQClean Currents, the aptly named company founded by entrepreneur Adam Smith, represents the entrepreneur’s vision to use ocean plastics as a feedstock source for filament used to make 3D printed products.

One of the company’s first products as a proof-of-concept example was a water bottle.

“We think our products will be very popular, but we can only create so many,” said Smith. “That's why our long-term goal is to start a 3D print-on-demand service. Customers can upload any model they want and it will be printed with ocean plastic and shipped to their door in a matter of days. In addition, Clean Currents will create specialty 3D printers that are seamlessly compatible with ocean plastic. Through a combination of our own products, print-on-demand service, and specialty 3D printers, we believe we can achieve what others thought impossible.”

At the time of this story one year ago, Smith said he was in talks with companies like Oceanworks (Los Angeles) and The Ocean Cleanup Project (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) to help the company make the transition to shipping tons of the material.

For more, see Clean Currents: 3D-printed water bottles and more from ocean plastic, published July 2018.

Next: Housing from marine plastic

Problems seem to bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in creative people finding solutions and that holds true of ocean plastics. Waste Free Oceans (WFO; Brussels) as mentioned earlier Waste Free Oceans shelter built from plastic wasteengages in marine litter clean-up operations worldwide and, through “closing the loop” projects, works with companies to transform the collected waste into innovative and sustainable products. WFO aims to find a balance between providing concrete solutions at the source and acting on remediation actions involving a range of local and regional stakeholders.

WFO expanded into a new area: processing and converting a mix of plastic waste collected from waterways and land into panels that can be used to build affordable housing in local communities. The idea is to help people who have lost their homes because of natural disasters, thereby contributing to the welfare of populations in less fortunate parts of the world.

For more, see Waste Free Oceans exhibits shelter made from plastic waste, published October 2018.

Next: Windex helps with ocean cleanup

SC Johnson Windex bottle made from ocean plastic graphic

As part of an ongoing commitment to tackling the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans, the SC Johnson (Racine, WI) launched the industry’s first major home cleaning brand to use 100% recycled ocean plastic.

“With more than five trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, conditions are continuing to get worse and worse,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “The Windex bottle is just one of the many ways we are not only providing solutions to combat ocean pollution but taking action to make these solutions a reality.”

The company expected to ship as many as eight million Windex Vinegar Ocean Plastic bottles to North American retailers such as Target and Walmart starting this spring. The packaging, the world’s first glass cleaner bottle made from 100% recycled ocean plastic,  is also non-toxic and cruelty-free. PlasticsToday learned that the bottles are made of PET and are recyclable as SPI #1 PET. Windex bottles have been molded of 100% post-consumer recycled content since 2015.

For more, read Windex cleaner bottles switching from 100% PCR to 100% recycled ocean plastic from February 2019.

Next: Another branded first in ocean plastics

Herbal Essence Ocean PlasticTo celebrate World Water Day on March 22, TerraCycle (Trenton, NJ) teamed up with P&G (Cincinnati) brand Herbal Essences to create the brand's first recyclable bottles made from beach plastic. The recyclable shampoo and conditioner bottles are made of 25% beach plastic collected from organizations around the world.

“Plastic floating in our oceans and rivers has been a recent topic for discussion and unless people work to find solutions, it stays just that—a discussion,” says Tom Szaky, TerraCycle CEO. “By incorporating beach plastic into their bottles, Herbal Essences is showing that they are committed to doing something and leading by example. I look forward to our continued work together to raise awareness and make a bigger difference.”

 “Businesses can play an important role in driving and inspiring change in the world,” says Ilaria Resta, North America General Manager of P&G Hair Care. “My team and I are very passionate about driving responsible consumption. Actions like incorporating ocean plastic into our bottles is just one way we are bringing innovative solutions that have a reduced impact on the environment. This is a step towards our long-term vision of using 100% renewable and recycled materials in our products and packaging.”

The press release posted in March 2019 can be read here.

Next: HP draws a line in the sand in Haiti

HP Ocean Plastics printers

For HP Inc. (Palo Alto, CA), sustainability extends all the way from ocean-bound plastics in the Caribbean to the office printer. The company announced on April 18 that it is making a $2 million investment in a plastic washing line in Haiti that not only will expand its supply chain dedicated to diverting ocean-bound plastics but will create more than 1,000 new income opportunities locally.

The new washing line will allow the local production of cleaner, high-quality recycled plastic for use in HP products. It will help Haiti expand its recycling capabilities and compete more effectively on the international plastics market.

This investment continues HP’s longstanding commitment to diverting ocean-bound plastic and contributing to a lower-carbon, circular economy while providing jobs and education opportunities locally, said HP.

For  more, read HP invests $2 million in plastics washing line in Haiti, published April 2019.

Next: Repurposed debris to reach Olympic heights

In partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Procter & Gamble says that for the first time in Olympic and Paralympic Games histories, all medal podiums will be created entirely from recycled materials – and consumers can directly contribute.

The Tokyo 2020 Podium Project officially kicked off Thursday, June 13th, in host-country Japan, inviting members of the community to collect their plastic items, like shampoo and dish detergent bottles, and bring them to the nearest AEON Group store location, major Japanese retail chain, for recycling. The retailer will then forward the plastics to P&G, who will also leverage recycled plastic waste recovered from the ocean to contribute to the creation of the podiums. This project helps achieve mutual sustainability goals, expanding P&G’s longstanding larger global partnership with the IOC to help benefit the entire Olympic Movement including the lives of athletes, moms and their families around the world.

For more, read Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Paralympic podiums to be molded from recycled plastics, published June 2019.

Medtech Experts See Opportunity Despite Some Funding Issues

Medtech Experts See Opportunity Despite Some Funding Issues
Graphics published with permission from Grant Thornton and MassMEDIC

The medical device industry is a “strong ecosystem,” particularly in Massachusetts, Brian Johnson, president of MassMEDIC, told MD+DI. One in four products exported out of MA is a medical device, Johnson had told attendees of MassMEDIC’s 2019 Town Hall in May, held in conjunction with BIOMEDevice Boston. He cited the latest “State of the Massachusetts MedTech Industry Report” by Grant Thornton LLP. Massachusetts’s medtech sector could also be seen as pacing ahead of those of other states in terms of innovation, as it is a leader in the number of approved medical device patents when adjusted for relative state GDPs, according to the report.

Overall in the U.S. market, however, the numbers of 510(k) clearances and premarket approvals (PMAs) in 2018 were down from 2017, according to the report. “Medtech activity has been leveling off in terms of 510(k)s, PMAs, and patents,” Pat Shafer, managing director of Grant Thornton’s healthcare and life sciences practice, told the audience in May.

The “numbers bear paying attention to,” Johnson later told MD+DI. “Looking at the report, it's clear there is a general decrease in the number of 510K clearances across the board in the U.S. since 2015. There are several factors that may be contributing to the decline including the slowdown in early-stage funding, which has been happening since the recession, as well as the increased financial data requirements for reimbursement.”

“It could also be tied to general market conditions,” he added.

Johnson and Shafer shared some thoughts with MD+DI on the medtech market as well as some advice for innovators in the space. They noted some funding concerns, but also an incredible amount of opportunity including disruption with digital health.

Funding

Medical device innovators have been facing some funding challenges. “Venture capital firms are putting less money in medtech,” Shafer reported. “Funding is not at the level it should be. We think activity is trailing off because investors find biotech more attractive, given the long medtech development process and the medical device tax. The real driver for venture funding is return on investment, and biotech has demonstrated a more significant ROI.”

Legislators could help “improve the ecosystem for medical devices by permanently repealing the medical device tax,” he said. They could also increase NIH funding for device companies, he said. Local tax abatement as well as local and state incentives for incubators could help, too, he added.

“We need an environment where the best ideas get funded,” said Johnson. “Real success helps the entire industry.”

Digital Health

There’s no question about digital health’s impact. “We’re living in an interesting time. Digital health will impact the medtech ecosystem,” said Johnson. “It is a source of innovation and disruptive opportunity.”

It’s important that companies “understand quickly the impact of digital health on our industry,” he added. “If you’re not thinking about a digital component and the data you’re collecting, you’re missing out. You need a data plan.”

Added Shafer: “A digital health component for drugs and devices is almost expected and becoming much more commonplace. Companies are focused on developing a range of software, and FDA is figuring out how to regulate.”

In terms of determining whether a digital health product would be considered software as a medical device (SaMD), Shafer recommends reading the published guidance. “If there is any sort of clinical intervention or a doctor makes a decision based on the product, CDRH will classify it as a medical device and exercise oversight.”

Johnson called FDA’s precertification pilot “worthwhile,” and he is “hopeful it will yield good results.”

There is a high bar for innovators, as data collected through digital health initiatives could impact healthcare significantly. “Data alone have the potential to transform medicine,” Shafer said. “Software developers are needed to create reliable sensors to collect data for decision making. And different skill sets are needed to come into the mix for the next wave of medical devices.”

Have a Solid Business Plan

Medical device companies also need a long-term plan. “You need to build a company that doesn’t just get to the market—you need to succeed in the market,” said Johnson.

It is also important to develop “timelines for venture capital,” to “be very capital efficient,” and to “have a commercialization strategy,” he added. “Push out series A as far as possible. The companies that are succeeding are doing this.”

In terms of technology development, Shafer advises companies to “identify strong tech partners who share enthusiasm and understanding of disease states to bring capabilities to augment products.”

Johnson described the medtech industry as a “high-impact, essential” one, “not just for patients but also for economic wellbeing. Our job as a trade association is to ask these questions and bring people together.”

MassMEDIC launched a working group, which Johnson said at the time would “further evaluate the report’s findings in order to identify gaps as well as areas for growth, so that we can develop partnerships, initiatives and programs that will enable the Mass MedTech ecosystem to continue growing and contributing to the state’s future economic success,” according to a news release.

Bricks made from plastic waste build much-needed classrooms in West Africa

Bricks made from plastic waste build much-needed classrooms in West Africa

Children in Côte d’Ivoire soon will benefit from new educational opportunities, and they have plastic waste to thank. There is a severe shortage of classrooms in the country, with some kindergartens packing in as many as 100 pupils. Conceptos Plasticos, a company based in Mosquera, Colombia, that recycles used plastics into alternative construction materials, has partnered with Unicef to collect plastic waste in the West African country and turn it into modular plastic bricks to build classrooms.

School in Cote d'Ivoire made of plastic bricks
A school built of plastic bricks in Sakassou, a village in the center of Côte d'Ivoire. Image courtesy Unicef/Frank Dejongh.

Conceptos Plasticos has broken ground on a first-of-its-kind factory to produce the plastic bricks in Côte d'Ivoire. Plastic waste is melted and poured into a mold to form the bricks, which are designed to slot together like Lego pieces. The fire-resistant bricks are 40% cheaper, 20% lighter and will last hundreds of years longer than conventional building materials, according to the company. They are also waterproof, well insulated and designed to resist heavy wind.

Once the factory is fully operational, it will recycle 9,600 tonnes of plastic waste a year and provide a source of income to women living in poverty in a formalized recycling market, said Unicef in a press release. Nine classrooms have been built thus far using plastic bricks molded in Colombia, demonstrating the viability of the construction methods and materials, said Unicef.

Côte d’Ivoire needs an additional 15,000 classrooms to meet the educational needs of its youth. Initially, the collaboration with Conceptos Plasticos hopes to build 500 classrooms in and around Abidjan, the country's economic capital and most populous city, in the next two years. There is no lack of raw materials: More than 280 tonnes of plastic waste are produced every day in Abidjan alone, writes Unicef, only 5% of which is recycled.

Plans are underway to scale this project to other countries in the region and beyond. “Sometimes, embedded deep within our most pressing challenges are promising opportunities,” said Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “This project is more than just a waste management and education infrastructure project; it is a functioning metaphor—the growing challenge of plastic waste turned into literal building blocks for a future generation of children.”

New Approval Helps Implanting Propel Mini a Little Bit Easier

Courtesy of Intersect ENT New Approval Helps Implanting Propel Mini a Little Bit Easier
Straight Delivery System

Intersect ENT has received a nod from FDA for a new delivery system to use for its sinus implant. The Menlo Park, CA-based company said the approval was for its Straight Delivery System for use to place the Propel Mini steroid releasing sinus implant in the ethmoid sinus.

PROPEL Mini helps maintain the sinus opening while delivering mometasone furoate directly where it is needed, improving outcomes of frontal (behind the forehead) and ethmoid (behind the bridge of the nose) sinus surgery. The new SDS is designed to help physicians achieve precise and easy delivery of the PROPEL Mini implant to the ethmoid sinus. The company said the original curved delivery system will continue to be packaged with the Propel Mini sinus implant and used for implant delivery to the frontal and ethmoid sinuses.

“We listened to feedback from physicians offering PROPEL Mini to their patients, and we are pleased to deliver this new delivery system, developed specifically with ease of use and overall procedure time in mind,” Tom West, president and CEO of Intersect ENT, said in a release. “The Straight Delivery System provides physicians with another opportunity to customize treatment to achieve the best possible patient results.”

The approval comes on the heels of Intersect ENT’s long-time CEO Lisa Earnhardt stepping down for a position of Head of Devices at Abbott Laboratories.

BPA alternatives also pose health risks, study finds

BPA alternatives also pose health risks, study finds

A new study links bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF) to a potential increase in childhood obesity. Analyzing data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers from the NYU School of Medicine discovered that children ages 6 to 19 with higher levels of BPS and BPF in their urine were more likely to be obese than those with lower levels.

The study, "Urinary bisphenols and obesity prevalence among US children and adolescents," was published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society on July 25.

Scientific research

BPS and BPF typically replace bisphenol A (BPA), which has been called an “endocrine disruptor” and linked with health risks in some studies. BPA is found in polycarbonate and other plastics that are used in water bottles and food and beverage containers as well as other consumer goods. Epoxy resins, which also contain BPA, are used to coat metal containers.

BPA has been banned in baby bottles in the United States and Europe for several years out of concern that it may have health effects on developing minds and bodies. Although BPA has been deemed safe “for currently approved uses in food containers and packaging” by FDA, consumer goods companies bowed to public concern (and sought a marketing advantage) by replacing BPA with other bisphenol chemicals and touting "BPA-free" on packaging. Soon after, however, scientists began warning that the alternative chemicals may create problems of their own.

In an article from February 2016, PlasticsToday reported on a study led by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles, which found that “BPS speeds up embryonic development and disrupts the reproductive system in zebrafish.” Exposure to low levels of BPA had a significant impact on the embryos' development of brain cells that control reproduction and the genes that control reproduction later in life, said reproductive endocrinologist Nancy Wayne, senior author of the study. "We saw many of these same effects with BPS found in BPA-free products. BPS is not harmless,” she said.

Commenting on the most recent research linking childhood obesity to BPS and BPF, study author Melanie Jacobson, PhD, MPH, of NYU School of Medicine, told Healthline that the results did not surprise her. “BPF and BPS have almost the same chemical structure as BPA, so we might expect that they could act similarly in the body.”

Bisphenols are found not just in plastics and aluminum can linings but also in thermal paper receipts from supermarkets and other stores. A separate recent study focusing on this application found that BPS is absorbed less easily through the skin than BPA. Once absorbed, however, BPS is not metabolized as readily as BPA, the researchers added.

Echoing the comments from Jacobson, researchers Jiaying Liu from Peking University in Beijing and Jonathan Martin from Stockholm University in Sweden noted that BPS has a similar molecular size and structure to BPA and "seems to offer no advantages with respect to endocrine-disrupting activities,” reported ChemicalWatch on July 4, 2019.

The research was limited to a small number of human volunteers handling cash register receipts.

Switzerland became the first European country to ban BPA and BPS from use in thermal paper in May 2019, reports ChemicalWatch, and Belgium is currently evaluating BPS for suspected endocrine-disrupting properties.

So, how did we get here?

As recounted in an article in Packaging Digest, medical doctor David Feldman, a professor at Stanford University, made a discovery in the early 1990s that put BPA on the human health radar. He and his team were conducting research on estrogen activity when they found what appeared to be an estrogenic molecule within the yeast they were growing in plastic flasks. Ultimately, they discovered that the molecule came from material leaching from the plastic itself. Because of its hormone-like properties, they concluded that the chemical was potentially "dangerous to people eating out of containers made of this type of plastic.”

A 2008 report by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) found "some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A," with that exposure coming from PC baby bottles and infant cups, notes the article in Packaging Digest.

Once baby bottles that were microwaved were found to release BPA into infants' milk, the European Union and Turkey banned the chemical from baby bottles in 2008. Canada also banned BPA in bottles, with Health Canada concluding that the chemical was "'toxic to human health and the environment." FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012.

And the rest is history of a sort, with the caveat that alternative bisphenols that have been used since then may be creating a new set of health issues.

Image: Goodluz/Adobe Stock

New Penis Implant Raises the Bar for Erectile Dysfunction Solutions

Photos courtesy of Boston Scientific, graphic by Amanda Pedersen/MD+DI The  device is designed to provide a durable, "natural-feeling" erection, and is easier for surgeons to implant.
Boston Scientific's Tactra prosthesis is designed to be lifted up (by hand) for intercourse and pushed down when not in use.

U.S. surgeons treating erectile dysfunction (ED) now have access to a malleable penile prosthesis that is easier to implant and designed to offer the patient and his partner a "more authentic, natural-feeling" erection.

The recently-launched Tactra prosthesis is manually lifted up for intercourse and manually pushed down when not in use. It is the first new innovation in penile implants from Boston Scientific in more than a decade. The Tactra is designed with a natural-feeling dual-layer silicone and includes a nitinol core, which is supposed to help optimize comfort, rigidity, and durability for effective penetration and concealment.

More than half of men over 40 are affected by ED and the company noted that there are about 69,000 new U.S. penile implant candidates a year. FDA cleared the device in April, but the company kept it under wraps until this week.

Boston Scientific plans to launch the Tactra in Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Saudi Arabia later this year.

“The technological improvements in the Tactra penile prosthesis have allowed for a durable, natural-feeling erection with a device that is easier for surgeons to implant and allows for more patient comfort,” said Mohit Khera, MD, a professor of urology at Baylor College of Medicine. “This device will expand the number of patients with ED that we can treat via penile prosthesis.”

While there are medications like Viagra on the market, men with certain medical conditions are not able to take those medications, and they don't always work. Inflatable penile devices are another option but can be awkward to use.

That's why researchers have been working to improve device-based solutions for this common condition. One such researcher, Brian Le, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, designed a heat-activated penis implant that made headlines back in 2017. The device was still in mechanical testing at that time and is still several years from commercialization, however that research was funded, in part, by Boston Scientific.

More specifically, the research was funded by American Medical Systems (AMS), before Boston Scientific acquired the men's and prostate health businesses of AMS in 2015 in a deal valued at $1.65 billion.

A former spokesperson for Boston Scientific told MD+DI in January 2017 that the company supports research that advances medical and scientific knowledge related to products and relevant disease states across all of the company's businesses. She also explained that the company has a global investigator-sponsored research program that is open to submissions from researchers interested in conducting their own work in the field.

Before bringing the Tactra prosthetic to the market, Boston Scientific offered three other penile implants, two that are of the inflatable variety and one that also is a malleable device, meaning it can be bent downward for concealment, or positioned for an on-demand erection.

Exact Sciences and Genomic Health Merge to become Diagnostics Titan

Pixabay Exact Sciences and Genomic Health Merge to become Diagnostics Titan

Exact Sciences and Genomic Health, two of the largest companies in the cancer diagnostics market, are merging. The Madison, WI-based company said it will acquire Genomic Health for $72 per share in a cash stock transaction valued at $2.8 billion. The deal was signed off on by both companies and is expected to close by the end of 2019.

The merger will bring together Exact Sciences’ Cologuard and Genomic Health’s Oncotype DX, which the companies said will provide a robust platform for continued growth. With this enhanced platform, including a commercial presence in more than 90 countries, the combined company expects to continue to increase adoption of current tests, and to bring new innovative cancer diagnostics to patients throughout the world.

"We are very pleased to join forces with Exact Sciences, a company and team with which we have a shared vision to revolutionize the way cancer is diagnosed and treated,” Kim Popovits, chairman of the board, CEO and president of Genomic Health, said in a release. "Genomic Health has achieved incredible success over nearly two decades in pioneering cancer diagnostics, and the recent landmark TAILORx trial results set a new standard of care for the use of the Oncotype DX test for women with early-stage invasive breast cancer. This transaction provides immediate value to Genomic Health stockholders through an upfront cash payment, as well as ownership in a combined company with enhanced financial strength and the commercial and R&D capabilities to continue to drive significant growth into the future."

The combined company expects to generate revenue of approximately $1.6 billion and a gross profit of about $1.2 billion in 2020. Additionally, the combination is expected to generate annualized cost synergies of about $25 million within the third full year following close, primarily through reducing public company costs and purchasing optimization.

"Uniting the best minds and molecular diagnostics capabilities will advance the fight against cancer. Combining industry pioneers Exact Sciences and Genomic Health is a pivotal step toward building the leading cancer diagnostics company in the world," said Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences. "Exact Sciences is continuing to grow sales and expand adoption of Cologuard at a rapid pace, and Genomic Health's Oncotype DX is the global standard of care to inform treatment decisions for women with breast cancer. Together, with our collective resources and broader platform, we will be able to provide our existing tests to more people, while also accelerating the development and launch of future cancer diagnostic tests. We are excited to join together two teams who are united in their dedication to making a positive impact on patients' lives."

In May, MD+DI spoke with Conroy to talk about the dramatic transformation the company had undergone since he took the helm. Conroy even took time to address the company’s future, noting

“Exact Sciences has a bright future,” Conroy told MD+DI in a May interview. “We’re in the best position to lead in earlier cancer detection. We have the right experience. We have the right team. And, importantly, we have the science and technology to find cancer earlier. With these tools, we can develop a variety of noninvasive tests for the earlier and more accurate detection of the deadliest cancers, supporting our goal to improve outcomes and change lives. Whether that’s growing Cologuard or introducing new cancer diagnostics, the smart work our dedicated team does every day to make progress in the earlier detection of cancer has tremendous potential.”

Engineering Salaries and Jobs Keep Expanding – Mostly

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

 

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!

 

Another Possible Solid State Lithium Electrolyte Material

One of the most promising ways to increase lithium ion battery performance and safety is through the use of a solid electrolyte. Present commercial lithium ion batteries use an organic liquid electrolyte that provides good mobility of lithium ions between the anode (negative) and cathode (positive) electrodes. The organic solvent is flammable and thus can be a fire hazard should the battery cell become damaged or if it is over charged.

Examining the crystal structure of LTPS is helping materials researchers understand the mobility of lithium ions in solid electrolytes. (Image source: UCLouvain)

Substituting a ceramic or polymer solid electrolyte for the organic solvent would help make the battery safer and, if lithium metal foil is used to replace the current graphite anode, could increase battery performance and storage capacity by 2-3 times. Lithium metal cannot be used as an anode with liquid electrolytes as spikey dendritic lithium crystals form on the metal surface during charging. These crystals can grow large enough to create a short circuit between the anode and cathode, potentially creating a fire hazard.

Better Mobility

So the search is on for a solid material that should allow safer higher capacity lithium-based batteries. The problem is that lithium ions are less mobile in most solid materials than they are in liquid electrolytes, which limits the battery charging and discharging capabilities. That’s why research at Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium into a recently discovered material is interesting. According to a news release, the researchers observed that in LiTi2(PS4)3 or LTPS, they measured the highest lithium diffusion coefficient (a direct measure of lithium mobility) ever measured in a solid.

According to the news release, “This lithium mobility comes directly from the unique crystal structure (i.e., the arrangement of atoms) of LTPS. The understanding of this mechanism opens new perspectives in the field of lithium ion conductors and, beyond LTPS, opens an avenue towards the search for new materials with similar diffusion mechanisms.”

Of course, measuring high lithium ion diffusion rates in a laboratory is a long way from building commercial batteries for use in portable electronics and electric vehicles (EVs). While it is easy to overestimate the importance of such developments, the real value in this type of basic research is an enhanced understanding of the mechanisms and physics involved. With greater understanding will come improved materials, which will eventually result in dramatically better batteries.

The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo 2019 conference will take place in Novi, Michigan on September 10-12, 2019. Four days, eight tracks, and over 80 sessions, curated by industry experts will bring battery and electric vehicle technologies into clear focus. In addition, there will be a not-to-be-missed Industry Roundtable that will discuss the future of solid-state lithium batteries.

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.

 

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!

 

Will Silicon Valley Eclipse Minnesota as the Biggest Medtech Hub?

Will Silicon Valley Eclipse Minnesota as the Biggest Medtech Hub?
Is Minneapolis still at the top of the list when it comes to medical innovation hubs?

For decades the Minneapolis-St. Paul region has stood out as a hotbed for medical device innovation. But other U.S. regions have also managed to position themselves as a medtech hub, including California's Silicon Valley, Boston, MA, and even Austin, TX. This raises important questions about the future state of innovation in Minnesota.

At MD&M Minneapolis 2019, Oct. 23-24, a panel of experts will discuss whether or not Silicon Valley will eclipse Minneapolis as the largest U.S. medtech hub. But first, we want to know what you think on the subject. Survey responses may be used to help fuel the panel discussion and may be included in a future article on MD+DI.

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