Medtech stories you may have missed – December 2020

Medtech stories you may have missed – December 2020

It has been a busy month for continued advancements in medical technology to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. From FDA approval of the first COVID-19 at-home test to Fitbit announcing new data suggesting wearables could detect COVID-19 before symptoms even start, medtech continues to play a critical role.

Earlier this month, the FDA greenlighted a new home COVID-19 test from Lucira Health called the “COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit.” This is the first approved test for COVID-19 that can be administered at home and, for now, will only be available via prescription. The test relies on loop-mediated isothermal amplification reaction, or LAMP. While LAMP is faster and less cumbersome than PCR, it is generally thought to be less accurate.

Public health experts say the ability to take a COVID-19 test at home and receive results within minutes could be critical to reducing transmission of the virus. According to epidemiologist Michael Mina, at-home rapid antigen tests “could stop the pandemic by Christmas.” Behind the aggressive push to scale up development of these tests is our client, BioDot, which manufactures the dispensing equipment used by diagnostics manufacturers worldwide to develop rapid, accurate at-home COVID-19 tests. Scripps TV recently interviewed CEO Tony Lemmo, who said that once at-home antigen tests are approved by the FDA, manufacturers could make millions of the tests in a matter of months.

Supporting scale at this demand requires a resilient supply chain, which President-elect Biden has committed to reinforcing. His COVID-19 plan includes ensuring American manufacturing of medical products and preventing supply chain disruptions by building domestic capacity, “not only in an effort to rectify the damage that has already been done by the pandemic, but to ensure the country is better prepared for future crises as well.”


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Medtech stories you may have missed – December 2020

Medtech stories you may have missed – 10/12/20

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need for decentralized, low-cost, rapid point-of-care testing, leading manufacturers to sharpy increasing production of COVID-19 antigen tests. A new analysis by NPR and the Harvard Global Health Institute shows the U.S. will need to conduct 14 million COVID-19 rapid tests per day to effectively fight the spread of the virus. That’s more than 5 billion tests per year. Similarly, epidemiology professor Michael Mina has called for rapid testing of every American every day.

For perspective, before COVID-19, the lateral flow testing industry only produced a total of 2-3 billion tests per year for ALL use cases combined (malaria, HIV, home pregnancy tests, etc.).

To meet demand, manufacturers of recently approved antigen tests such as Abbott Laboratories, Becton, Dickinson and Quidel are scaling up at an unprecedented rate, each aiming to make 40-80 million tests per month by the end of the year.

This dramatic scale-up has put the spotlight on our client BioDot, which manufactures automated, ultra-low volume dispensing platforms that are currently used by 70+ diagnostics manufacturers to produce COVID-19 tests. Just one of BioDot’s systems can support the production of some 100 million COVID-19 tests per year.

CEO Anthony Lemmo recently spoke with Reuters and shared that he has received orders that would translate into roughly 500 million tests in the coming months. Despite this, current demand outstrips current supply, and this will only increase if at-home testing of asymptomatic patients receives regulatory approval. Yet, no company has been cleared to sell tests directly to consumers and the FDA continues to evaluate how results from antigen tests will be publicly reported to public health officials. As Mr. Lemmo recently shared with USA Today, “To just go to CVS and buy it without this information being collected, from an epidemiological point of view, feels like a big hole.”

Even after a vaccine is developed, testing will be critical to know how effective a vaccine is or will be. “The world now knows that diagnostics matter,” Mr. Lemmo told the Orange County Business Journal. As such, the diagnostics industry must continue to adapt and scale. In this piece in 360Dx, Mr. Lemmo predicts that in the first quarter of 2021 the industry will have ten times the testing capacity of what is available right now.

Medtech stories you may have missed – December 2020

Medtech stories you may have missed – 07/16

Lending a (robotic) helping hand during the COVID-19 crisis

Until there is a vaccine available, robots currently feature one critical characteristic that humans do not: immunity to the coronavirus. Therefore, robots are well-suited to go places where humans cannot and interact in ways that limit exposure to the virus. From disinfecting hospital rooms and bathrooms to early detection of COVID-19 symptoms and preventing loneliness during isolation, robots are offering a critical helping hand during the COVID-19 crisis.

On the frontlines

Robots are best suited for jobs that are too dirty, dull or dangerous for humans. The coronavirus is the perfect example of a job too dangerous. Enter Violet, one of the many robots deployed to be on the hospital frontlines, but unique in that it is equipped with a UV-C light that is a powerful disinfectant in hospital settings and known to be a coronavirus-killer. Its creator, Akara Robotics, is now focused on making Violet compact enough to fit in hard-to-clean areas, such as bathrooms and waiting areas. UV cleaning robots are in high demand. Other robotics firms, such as Xenex, say their sales of UV cleaning robots are up 600% compared to 2019.

Early symptom detection

Vayyar Imaging, an Israeli-based provider of 4D imaging sensor technology, is developing an intelligent care robot that can detect early symptoms of COVID-19 in under 10 seconds. As the economy reopens, the robot will be critical to restoring confidence in venturing out, as it can be equipped in any public space, such as supermarket entrances and airports.

 A cure for loneliness

In the midst of the pandemic, children and the elderly have been isolated at hospitals with limited visitation and interaction. Starting this month, a robot companion named Robin will make the rounds to ease hospitalized children’s distress, isolation and fear. It is the first robot of its kind that uses peer-to-peer interaction to help children overcome stress and anxiety. The technology analyzes facial expressions and the context of conversations, meaning it can react naturally to situations and interactions with children. In a study done by Expper Technologies, the creator of Robin, children reported a 26% increase in joy and 34% reduction in stress due to Robin’s companionship.

Isolation from the pandemic has also had a major impact on the elderly community, which has seen a spike in mental health issues and depression. This is where Stevie, also from Akara Robotics, comes in. The robot’s primary role is to alleviate loneliness and is programmed to tell stories, lead sing-alongs and build morale in group care settings.

Pediatric devices in development

Although COVID-19 has largely spared the pediatric population, it remains a serious threat, particularly as daycares, camps and schools begin to reopen. To address pediatric-specific concerns in monitoring the virus, the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation has launched a special competition focused on COVID-19-related innovation in the pediatric space. Companies such as Adipomics, MediChain and OxiWear will compete for FDA-funded grants to support medical device innovations to diagnose, monitor and treat the virus. 

Medtech stories you may have missed – December 2020

Medtech stories you may have missed – 06/04/20

The demand for #COVID19 antibody testing continues to increase, as does the scrutiny regarding tests’ accuracy. While #CDC guidelines have shown that less than half of those testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies actually have them, increasing the number of tests conducted, particularly in areas of high disease prevalence, boosts positive predictive value. This NPR article shows how prevalence and false positive rates affect antibody test results and why using two different tests, which the CDC now recommends for those who test positive, could improve testing accuracy.

As a result of these CDC guidelines, our client BioDot, which provides dispensing automation and manufacturing solutions to the world’s largest diagnostic companies, continues to scale up its manufacturing operations to keep pace with testing demand. The company recently announced that more than 50 companies worldwide are now using its technology to develop #COVID19 #antibody tests. Each of its automated lateral flow dispensing platforms enable customer production of 1 million point-of-care antibody tests per week. Read more in this SelectScience piece.

In COVID-19-related #telemedicine news, our client Prospero Health, a team-based home health care company, has partnered with GrandPad to improve access to care for seniors during the crisis and address gaps in care coordination. Prospero can now provide 24/7 telemedicine support to its vulnerable patients through GrandPad’s video chat capabilities that enable care teams to regularly check in on patients in real-time, while adhering to social distancing guidelines. This story on South Carolina Public Radio highlights how Prospero and GrandPad are contributing to the promise of virtual medical care, which went from being the future to being the new norm.

Medtech stories you may have missed – December 2020

Recent medtech stories you may have missed

From Rachel RobbinsSenior Vice President at Greenough Brand Storytellers

Artificial intelligence and robotics top trends that will transform healthcare in 2020

From the use of machine learning to process enormous amounts of medical data to robotics that span surgical use, transporting medical supplies and helping patients with rehab, technology will continue to transform healthcare in 2020. According to this Forbes article, wearable tech, 3D printing and extended reality (virtual, augmented and mixed) also show incredible promise for patients and medical professionals. In fact, a team of scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York has developed a way to 3D print living skin, complete with blood vessels.


Competition heats up in robot-assisted surgery market

Robotic-assisted surgery using da Vinci robots – which enable surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through a few small incisions – continue to skyrocket. This is evident through Intuitive Surgical’s latest sales numbers, bringing the total number of da Vinci systems in operation to more than 5,400 worldwide. Despite this domination, only about 2% of surgeries worldwide are performed using robotic surgery equipment. The competition is about to heat up, with medical device giant Medtronic planning to launch its Hugo system in 2020—a system they claim is more flexible and cost-effective than those presently on the market.


More Americans using wearable fitness trackers to monitor health than ever before

Millions of Americans are using technology to monitor their exercise, heart rate, calorie consumption, sleep quality and step count. According to ACSM’s survey of 2020 fitness trends, the use of wearable technology—now a $95 billion industry—topped the list for the third year in a row. Google is tapping into the success of the fitness tracker market, going head-to-head with Apple and Samsung, announcing last week it is buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion. The purchase will help Google tap into an enormous amount of health data, with more than 28 million users on the Fitbit platform.


New technology promises to change the future of cancer diagnosis and treatment

In conjunction with Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Auris Health unveiled a revolutionary robot that can detect lung cancer at an early stage. Data from the company’s first study on live human subjects show its Monarch robotic system can successfully target hard-to-reach lung nodules and obtain a tissue sample for biopsy. The robot is a promising advancement that has the potential to change the future of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Similarly, Thermo Fisher Scientific unveiled its Ion Torrent Genexus System this week—a next-generation sequencing (NGS) platform that can deliver results in a single day, which will enable patients to be matched to targeted therapies or clinical trials faster. The system simplifies genomic testing so it can be performed in any clinical setting – including community hospitals, where most cancer patients are treated today.