MDNews - Central Pennsylvania

Issue 5, 2019

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PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT BY STEVE BARRETT Microrobots Foster Quicker C. Diff Diagnosis A P P R OX I M AT E LY 5 0 0,0 0 0 A M E R I C A N S are infected with Clostridium difficile (C. diff) annually, according to a study by the CDC, and C. diff causes an estimated 15,000 deaths each year. Rapid diagnosis of C. diff typically involves the use of costly lab equipment. Therefore, diagnostic approaches using less expensive equipment can be dangerous for frail patients, as delays postpone critical treatment. Researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong have now developed microrobots that enable cheaper diagnosis within minutes. The devices include fluorescent carbon nanodots whose brightness changes in the presence of C. diff in stool samples, Medgadget reports. Specialized photo equipment can detect those changes. A paper about the microrobots was published recently in Science Advances. n Leveraging the Heart to Power Pacemakers PACEM A K ER S OF TEN REQUIRE battery replacement after five to 10 years, necessitating additional surgical procedures at those intervals. A study in Advanced Materials Technologies suggests the possibility of converting the kinetic energy of a pacemaker's lead wire, which is linked to the heart, into electricity that continuously charges the device's batteries. Researchers at Dartmouth College and UT Health San Antonio say the new pacemaker design uses an energy-conversion material called PVDF that can generate electricity from mechanical motion, according to a news release about the findings. Regulatory and other hurdles suggest a self-charging pacemaker resulting from this research could reach the market in about five years. First-round animal tests have been successfully completed. Each year, about 200,000 U.S. patients with bradycardia receive pacemakers, according to the American College of Cardiology. n A Cost-Effective Path to Cardiovascular Monitoring T O I L E T S E AT- B A S E D C A R D I O VA S C U L A R M O N I T O R I N G may become a reality thanks to the efforts of a postdoctoral fellow at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Engineer Nicholas Conn has developed toilet seats that allow monitoring of the electrical and mechanical activity of the hearts of congestive heart failure patients. The seats measure blood oxygenation levels, blood pressure and other vital signs, according to a news release from RIT. Conn also developed algorithms to evaluate the data. The goal is to use the technology to alert providers if a patient's condition is deteriorating. Cardiologists can then decide whether further action is required — interventions that may be as simple as altering a prescription. Conn, who is also Chief Technology Officer at Heart Health Intelligence, says the device could potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in averted readmissions. n

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