Friday, August 17, 2007

Bionic zoom vision implants

This tiny device was developed by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies for use in patients suffering from macular degeneration. 206 patients underwent a 24 month clinical trial, with 90% of them reporting improvement on a reading chart, according to Scientific American. How cool is that? More at SciAm

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reinventing African Economies

Interesting report on African technology

Friday, April 13, 2007

Transforming Global Health - Continued

Dr. Gerald Keusch is Associate Provost for Global Health
He gave an insightful broad view of the state of global public health and BU’s mission through it’s Global Health Initiative.

Public Health is part of the 8 millennium development goals and is a major driver of GDP. Unfortunately, we often see how public health is divergent from other development metrics. India is off track in 7/14 MDG indicators. The traditional approaches are not working, so new tools are needed.

There is progress: innovation is being targeted towards global public health, and new technologies and strategies are being developed.

As economies develop, public health is challenged the an increasing gap between rich and poor, access to funding, finding ways for governments to buy into changing policies, and the need for innovation. We need to find ways for public health equity. A lot of progress has been made we now find that we have
  • Epidimological transition differences
  • New and complex patterns in which disease spreads
  • And an unfiinished agenda---old sicknesses that we should have dealt with a lot time ago.
How do you attract young innovators to the field?
The Global Health Initiative at BU tries to address this concern. Modern public health challenges will require leapfrogging old solutions. Dr. Keusch used Polio to illustrate the point.
In the 1955 polio wards were filled with patients on iron lungs. The challenge being posed to health professional was how to find a better iron lung to keep up with polio. Four months later, the first Salk vaccine was approved for polio---leapfrogging the solutions.

Transforming Global Health: Neil Ryder, Exec. Director of Infectious Diseases, Novartis NIBR

Dr. Ryder covered how Novartis is making a difference in Global Health. Among the highlights, he covered where the company is dedicated substantial R&D in centers around the world. They divide their initiatives in two:
  • Finding new pharmacological agents
  • Working towards sustainable developments
In addition to their center in Italy that focuses on vaccines including malaria using genomics, they have a new center in Signapore: The Novartis Instiute for Tropical Diseases has major projects centered around TB and Malaria. In addition to local R&D, the center trains young scientists and has access to the full array of resources at Novartis.

The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development is Novartis's formal corporate social responsibility instrument. The usual suspects here: free drugs, access to malaria drugs, and something that I found interesting: Artemisia cultivation in Africa, the base for Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies for Malaria.

In addition, leprosy remains a major cause. Since 1995, incidence of leprosy has declined 90%. They have introduced simplified multi drug therapy. The foundation dedicates a lot of resouces towards educational marketing campaigns to battle the stigma of leprosy. Despite best intention and available treatment, many people are too ashamed to come forward for treatment.

Tie's Tranforming Global Health Panelist Highlights

This continues our recap of TiE's 'Transforming Global Health" held a couple of weeks ago at Boston University. Follow the links to view a complete post:

Gerald T Keusch, Associate Dean for Global Health, Boston University
  • Talked about the need for leapfrogging technologies, fresh approaches to old problems, and the changing dynamics of public health that accompany modernization of emerging economies. More
Thomas Evans, Head of Infectious Diseases, Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research
  • Two centers of excellence focusing on drug research, one of them in Singapore aimed at tropical diseases. Their R&D intiatitives follow the social responsibility footsteps of the Novarties Foundation for Sustainable Development. More
Omer Imtiazuddin , Health Portfolio Manager, Acumen Fund
  • $20 million assets under management, $9 million in health. Acumen looks for ongoing operations that whose operations can be enhanced, expanded, and replicated. Instead a braod approach to diversification (i.e. 20 business plans in 5 countries), and they prefer replicated business operations in multiple areas (i.e. 5 business plans in 20 countries). More
Alexis Wallace, Executive Director, Medicine in Need
  • Wallace runs MEND, whose spray drying technique for creating inhalable medication was licensed back from Alkermes to the original founders of the spinoff. Backed by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the group is working towards an inhalable TB vaccine.
Vikram Sheel Kumar, MD, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Dimagi
  • Stay tuned
Thomas Burke, MD, Center for Global Health and Disaster Response, MGH
  • Stay tuned

TiE: Entrepreneurs Make Their Pitches (and some were really good)

Boston Microfluidics
Run existing ELIZA tests on a microfluidic chip
One finger prick or urine sample
8 diseases/20 mins turnaround

Domestic social venture firm
Initiatives include ADHD and childhood obesity outreach; buying gym machine for kids

Common Impact
Need a qualified volunteer from corporate America to help your non-profit? Call in the folks from Common Impact. Their expertise includes websites, medical records systems, etc.

Klapperich Lab
We'll cover them in depth later. They made disposable, microfluidic diagnostics running protein and nucleic acid assays. At least that's what my notes say. Not only do they have the technology to prove it, they have the vision to think about design for local manufacturibility for easy tech transfer into emerging economies.

FIFth Base Gene Therapy
Business model is based on producing reagents for biotech industry. Long term goal is to produce their own gene therapy solutions.

IHO focuses medical missions and aid to the Indian subcontinent. The speaker stressed their approach of downplaying funding and making it up with volunteerism. They seemed to have a whole thesis on the fact that money was not as crucial as everyone thinks it is. I didn't understand why he jumped at the chance to name of their funders however.

Mobile Medics
Mobile Medics won $50K from the Global Social Venture Competition last year and wasted no time in buying a van and hiring 2 doctors and a nurse. Their operational model is simple, scalable, and covers 80 patients a day for $1.50 a patient. Part of the secret sauce: They are employing a biometric medical records system that an advance scout uses to organize the patients ahead of the medical team.

Offers holistic support for cancer patients. They include family members in the equation and have devised ways to help friends, family, and the patient cope with the non-health impact of cancer.

They use a web-based an expert system that allows a primary physician to perform neurological assessments that catch Low Back Pain, Carpal Tunnel, and Diabetic Neuropathies faster than having to wait for a referral. I wonder if the "expert system" is going to suffer the same fate as the AI engine that dispenses legal advice until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals shuttered it.

Zebra Med
Do you have 30 minutes to spare? Why not use your medical knowledge to help out with a case over telemedicine? The web based service allows doctors and volunteers to consult with other physicians overseas. They hope to include "MySpace for Doctors" and an aggregate system to store global medical information.

TiE TGH: What Would You Fund?

The panelists were asked to share what they would be willing to pay money for. What is on their radar?

New ideas for new drugs
On-the-ground logistics

Acumend Fund
We like business models that can replicated
Our aim: 5 business plans in 20 countries not vice versa

Thomas Burke, MGH Disaster Response
Maternal/infant health solutions
Car parts isolet
Mom-baby simulator knowledge transfer