What Matters December: MedTech News You Need to Know

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December 04, 2017

Overheard at GMM HQ

"It's like a choose your own adventure novel, but all the adventures kind of lead to the same place." – Mia Benenate, on the Rise of the Empowered Patient.


WHAT THE INDUSTRY IS BUZZING ABOUT

SMALL PILL, BIG BROTHER

The FDA has recently approved an updated formulation of Abilify, a popular antipsychotic, which includes a tiny sensor capable of transmitting a signal to a wearable patch and then a smartphone. Maybe it'll turn you into Jason Bourne, or maybe it'll allow the government to monitor your every move—who knows. 

TAKE TWO OF THESE AND NO NEED TO CALL ME IN THE MORNING

The sensor would allow a prescribing physician and patient caretakers to monitor drug compliance in a patient population notorious for opting out of their meds, theoretically reducing the likelihood of worsening symptoms which may require more extreme treatment, including hospitalization.

THE 411

A pill that lets doctors effectively monitor compliance represents a huge advancement in what some experts cite as a $100 billion annual non-compliance public health problem. Will it breed mistrust among an already wary patient population, though? And how will its functionality be impacted by a very high fiber diet? C'mon, you were wondering too.

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WHEN THERE'S A TYPO IN YOUR GENES

You edit. A man who suffers from Hunter's Syndrome was recently the first patient to undergo in vivo DNA editing, intravenously receiving billions of copies of a corrective gene and genetic tools to cut his DNA in a precise spot.

BREAK IT DOWN FOR ME AGAIN

"We cut your DNA, open it up, insert a gene, stitch it back up. Invisible mending," said Dr. Sandy Macrae, president of Sangamo Therapeutics. For patients with Hunter’s Syndrome, the new, edited genes direct cells to make the enzyme the patient originally lacked. Boom goes the dynamite (or in this case, boom goes the mucopolysaccharides).

THE 411

Dr. Chester Whitley, one of the doctors working on the trial, told the BBC: "If it works as well as it does in mice, this has huge ramifications. I'm very optimistic we have a both safe and efficacious way of providing gene therapy." His long-term hope is to perform gene-editing shortly after birth.

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MORE THAN JUST EAR CANDY

A nerve stimulator worn just behind the ear has recently been approved to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms including joint pain, anxiety, stomach aches and insomnia. It turns out that not being addicted to heroin is a pretty classy accessory.

THAT BLING IS WOKE

The device, known as NSS-2 Bridge, looks like a transparent hearing aid), and reduced withdrawal symptoms by 30 percent within the first 30 minutes of use.

THE 411

Nerve stimulators have previously been approved to treat epilepsy and depression, and the NSS-2 Bridge builds on that to introduce a novel treatment option for patients at rock bottom.

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GOOD TO KNOW

Americans are cutting back on soda, according to a recent survey. We couldn't help but wonder if some respondents might be trading sugar for booze, as alcoholic drinks were not included in the survey. Pass the eggnog.

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