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Latest From Bob Kronemyer
A new hearing aid lets users enjoy the full range of normal hearing frequencies, activated by a contact lens on the eardrum. The hearing aid from Earlens Corp. also provides audio gain without feedback. In October, the company completed an $87m round of financing, which will help launch its next-generation hearing aid, which employs magnetic induction for further hearing refinement.
Although certainly not a given, many researchers and companies are pursing the eventual goal of bioprinting human organs, starting with the three-dimensional printing of a structure that has cellular function. If organ function via bioprinting becomes a reality for the skin, bone, lung, liver, eye and/or kidney, among other potential organs, the market opportunity could be in the billions. But challenges, including cost and ethics, stand in the way of this milestone in regenerative medicine.
In an effort to make cardiac imaging more accessible and to lead to more appropriate diagnosis of cardiac disease, Bay Labs Inc. is developing software algorithms designed to allow echocardiography to be performed by non-specialists in echo, including medical providers such as nurses and physician assistants. The backbone of the technology is artificial intelligence (AI), specifically deep-learning algorithms.
Robotic pill technology, which is already being used for diagnostic purposes, will likely be embraced for the oral delivery of biologic drugs as well. Biologic therapies currently require injections in most cases, but some are exploring specialized robotic pills as a pain-free approach that could increase convenience and compliance, and thus efficacy, of medicines. Several established companies and research centers are working on both diagnostic and biologic therapeutic applications of pill-based technologies.
Swiss-based Vivior AG has developed a wearable Visual Behavior Monitor (VBM) designed to help surgical ophthalmologists determine the best treatment options for patients. The company's initial target is the $2.15bn global refractive and cataract surgery market.
Infused with a fresh round of financing led by Boston Scientific, RenovoRx has begun a multicenter Phase 3 study of its dual-balloon infusion catheter to treat pancreatic cancer. The study will randomize therapy to either the RenovoCath System with the drug gemcitabine or to systemic chemotherapy with gemcitabine and Celgene’s drug nab-paclitaxel delivered intravenously. The goal is to extend the current standard-of-care survival period from about one year to over two years.