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Advancing Micro Technology in the Medical Field

03/30/16     Technology miniaturization has always been challenging for scientists. The concept of miniaturization has been studied and applied to life sciences and biotechnology with amazing results. Molecular behavior at the micro scale has proven to be substantially different than at the bulk scale. Microfludics technology allows researchers to achieve a more profound understanding of these variations aiming to optimally exploit their benefit in a broad spectrum of application fields. Performed with the aim of reducing costs while enhancing performance, these approaches have derived in the acceleration of micro technology from an archetypal synthesis of top-down and bottom-up developments, constituting the key to the success of microchip technology.
Working with micro sized quantities of reagents in microscale dimensions, allows sample separation and detection with greater sensitivity and specificity. The economic burden of carrying laboratory-scale experiments utilizing expensive equipment is significantly reduced, obtaining rapid and reliable results. Moreover, the short footprint of these pieces enables fabrication of portable diagnostic devices, importantly enhancing the access of different end-users to medical diagnosis. This fact possesses remarkable importance in developing nations where expensive medical diagnostic facilities are not available to all. An additional advantage relies on their multiplexing capabilities. Microfluidic devices can be used to process multiple samples in parallel, becoming the process substantially more cost and time effective.

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Microfluidic device

This technology plays a major role in the pharmaceutical industry, optimizing current processes and offering completely new decision supports. New markets, on the other hand, are entering the life sciences research technology cluster, revolutionizing the advance of closely related disciplines. In cancer research, antibody-conjugated targeting can guide nanoparticles to a specific body region, and even cells, aiming to improve cancer therapeutics. Nanoparticles are linked to tumor cells, allowing their destruction by different means, such as infrared sources, biochemical agents, etc.

Micro technology drug delivery methods, along with a number of experimental medicine and clinical/preclinical studies for early clinical trials, have become micro and nanofluidic techniques as the starring technologies for next-decades developments. The underlying key comes from the reality that nanoscale particles, including nanoscale devices, are 100 to 10,000 times smaller than human cells. Because of this, three principal areas of interest have been mostly related to the promising development of nanofluidics and nanobio devices:

• Disease diagnosis and screening
• Drug delivery systems
• Health monitoring
Microfluidic developments not only involve an increasing number of applications emerging but also promote the appearance of a wide variety of innovative fabrication methods and technologies enabling the successful development of these applications.  Strong discipline focus is put on life sciences and bioengineering disciplines, expecting a central role of nanofluidics and bioNEMS in future medicine. Microfluidic developments are one of the most promising areas of research worldwide.

We have always been right in the middle of this research and development, and continue to be an integral part of its success.

Transferring Energy to an Implanted Micro Medical Chip

3/22/16     A wireless system was developed that uses the same power as a cell phone to safely transmit energy to chips the size of a grain of rice. This technology paves the way for new “electroceutical” devices to treat illness or alleviate pain. This could alleviate bulky batteries and recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used. It could also provide a path toward a new type of medicine that allows physicians to treat diseases with electronics rather than drugs. It could also spawn a new generation of programmable microimplants – sensors to monitor vital functions deep inside the body; electrostimulators to change neural signals in the brain; and drug delivery systems to apply medicines directly to affected areas. It also has created the potential to develop “electroceutical” treatments as alternatives to drug therapies. These treatments could be more effective than drugs for some disorders because electroceutical approaches would use implantable devices to directly modulate activity in specific brain circuits. Drugs, by comparison, act globally throughout the brain.

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This discovery involves a new way to control electromagnetic waves inside the body. Electromagnetic waves pervade the universe. We use them every day when we broadcast signals from giant radio towers, cook in microwave ovens or use an electric toothbrush that recharges wirelessly in a special cradle next to the bathroom sink. There was a clear divide between the two main types of electromagnetic waves in everyday use, called far-field and near-field waves. What this discovery did was to blend the safety of near-field waves with the reach of far-field waves. A power source was designed that generated a special type of near-field wave. When this special wave moved from air to skin, it changed its characteristics in a way that enabled it to propagate – just like the sound waves through the train track.
This amazing discovery has opened the doors to many areas of technology and could greatly improve our lives in many ways. Micro medical devices are the wave of the future, you can see more micro devices on our web page: https://www.microengineeringsolutions.com/micro-molding/

Child Birth Deaths can be Prevented

3/15/16     Deaths due to child birth complications in India are decreasing! In less than 25 years, the number of women in India who died from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth has dropped significantly, from 152,000 to 45,000.
That’s great news! But on the down side, that means that tens of thousands of women in India still die each year from complications with pregnancy and childbirth. What are they dying from? The major causes are high blood pressure and hemorrhaging, which can be preventable in most cases.

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What is being done about this? Organizations like Merck are working to decrease these fatalities. Merck has committed to spending $500 million over the next 10 years to improve maternal health around the world through an initiative called Merck for Mothers.
Merck for Mothers networks skilled professionals with nonprofit organizations around the world to teach these nonprofits the best-fit methods for child birth in both the public and private sectors. In return, these skilled professionals are seeing firsthand the issues developing countries are having and they bring these experiences back to Merck for Mothers where they can be discussed and solutions created to mitigate preventable health issues.
As of 2015, 4,751 health care workers were trained and the quality of care was improved at 787 facilities in India, reaching more than 467,000 women. It’s proof that these partnerships have created an atmosphere of sustainable improvement in India.
Working with local partners the initiative is helping set and maintain standards that can be passed down in training for years to come.

DPIs during childbirth

3/8/16     Powder inhalers have been an increasingly popular choice to deliver drugs into the body due to its effectiveness  and ease of use. There is an amazing article about how using  powder inhalers is a solution for people to be able to administer drugs safely without the supervision of a medical professional. This article was in the Monash Medical Science Magazine and we posted it below for you to read. For more information about single dose powder inhalers please contact Donna Bibber with Micro Engineering Solutions at 774-230-3459.

A new approach for controlling hemorrhaging during childbirth could save the lives of thousands of mothers in developing countries.

Death during childbirth as a consequence of unchecked postpartum hemorrhage is still a frighteningly real risk for many women, even though it can be readily prevented by an injection of the hormone oxytocin. The tragedy is that this life-saving measure, which stems excessive blood loss, is largely confined to developed countries because oxytocin must be kept in cold storage and injected by trained medical staff using sterile syringes. Consequently, most of the 120,000 to 150,000 mothers reported to die each year from bleeding after delivery are in poor, remote communities that lack the necessary facilities and expertise. To improve the outlook for women in these poorer communities, Monash University researchers led by Dr Michelle McIntosh are developing an inhalable formulation of oxytocin. Stable at room temperature and resistant to degradation by heat or humidity, it will be administered through a simple inhaler that can be used with minimal training.

Many women in the developing world give birth at home and have no access to medical services. The nearest hospital may be hours or even days away, and there is no guarantee it will be adequately staffed, or have an oxytocin supply that has been stored correctly and clean syringes with which to inject the drug. Making an oxytocin inhaler a standard part of every midwife’s bag, or including one in a safe birthing kit given to all expectant mothers, could be the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of women, who would be able to use the inhaler immediately after birth to prevent haemorrhage.

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Education revolution

As well as engineering the oxytocin powder, the Monash team wants to ensure women will be happy using the inhaler. “Some of our biggest challenges are going to be around the fact that women in developing countries are not necessarily as familiar with inhaled delivery as we are,” says Dr McIntosh, a senior lecturer at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. There is a cultural perception, particularly in the developing world, that an injection is “strong medicine”. Inhalers are a rare sight. “Are they going to think that this medicine is not real, or not trust the medicine because it’s a different way of delivering it?” Dr McIntosh asks.

To answer that question, the team has talked to healthcare workers, midwives and women in rural areas in India and Uganda. The feedback has been encouraging, she says, with responses such as: “If you teach us how to use it, we’ll use it.” “They’re not worried about the device, it just needs to be simple,” Dr McIntosh says.

The team is seeking funding for stage-one clinical trials, to be conducted in Australia. Further clinical trials will examine use of the inhaler by the intended users – women in rural areas of countries such as India, Uganda and Papua New Guinea. The project has already received funding and recognition from the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the international partnership Saving Lives at Birth. “Sometimes it feels like we’ve got to work faster,” Dr McIntosh says. “There’s a lot of pressure but there’s also the opportunity to be involved in something that makes a difference.”

Microelectronics to Nanobiosensing

03/02/16     The technology of shrinking or ‘micro-sizing’ things is very challenging but plays an extremely important role in todays world. Starting with microelectronics, the concept of miniaturization has been studied and applied to life sciences and biotechnology with prospective results. Molecular behavior at micro- and even nanoscale has demonstrated to be substantially different than at the bulk scale. Microfluidics and nanofluidics technology allows researchers to achieve a more profound understanding of these variations aiming to optimally exploit their benefit in a broad spectrum of application fields. Examples of this include nanobiochips that stretch DNA for DNA sequencing and disposable nanofluidic devices that are used in point-of-care diagnostics.

Micro technology is impacting an array of applications including a more specific target delivery system which allows for the use of lower doses, minimizes side effects, avoids cytotoxicity and improves therapy. In the field of cancer research, the use of magnetic targeting guides nanoparticles to a specific body region, controlling the treatment at cell-level instead of treating the entire body which results in negative side effects.

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Micro molded clear needle arrays
Among the most lucrative markets for nanobiotechnologies, medical and life science applications appear first. The advent of nanobiotechniques by hand of LOC devices and nanoenabler drug delivery methods, along with a number of novel experimental medicine and clinical/preclinical studies for early clinical trials, have become micro and nanofluidic techniques as the starring technologies for next-decades developments. These nanoscale medical devices are 100-10,000 times smaller than human cells and is having a major positive impact on drug delivery systems, health monitoring and disease diagnosis/screening.

The innovation landscape in nanofluidic devices and nanobiosensors is unlimited. Nano and micro technology are making significant changes in the medical industry. We are priviledged to be a part of this amazing technology!