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Photonics of the future

European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) members encompass the entire value chain for laser and photonics related technologies, which are increasingly indispensable to the medical device industry. As a catalyst and facilitator for technological and commercial advancement, EPIC is keyed in to all the latest developments in the fi eld. Elena Beletkaia, a project leader at EPIC, discusses how lasers and photonics are driving innovation and improving outcomes.

After the crisis

With all the explosions and collapses in demand precipitated by the pandemic, the medical device market is beginning to look like a war zone. Kevin Stout, executive director of the Medical Device Supply Chain Council; Todd Abraham, vice-president of operations for Ivantis; and Andrew Thompson, director of therapy research and analysis for medical devices at GlobalData, tell Tim Gunn how the supply chain can be rebuilt.

In the face of DNA

To many, DNA origami has the potential to radically alter drug delivery and diagnostics, but it needs to start having a practical impact first. By ‘folding’ strands of DNA into a tube, scientists at Emory University have achieved speeds of 100nm/min – ten times faster than previous attempts to make DNA motors ‘walk’. Khalid Salaita, a professor of chemistry at Emory and a leader on the project, speaks to Will Moffitt about what this could mean for drug delivery, bio-sensing and nanoscale robotics in the future.

Body positive

For all their life-saving potential, the silicon electronics found in medical devices don’t work inside the human body, so they have to be encased in rigid metal shells. What’s more, they interact poorly with the ionic signals cells use to communicate, which further limits their functionality. Columbia University’s Dion Khodagholy and Jennifer Gelinas speak to Natalie Healey about designing and developing biocompatible electronics to better understand the brain.

The future of printable electronics

It’s easy to envisage what the term ‘printable electronics’ might mean but, until recently, the practice it described didn’t look much like the picture in anyone’s head. Now, however, Dr Aaron Franklin, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, and Dr Cinzia Casiraghi, professor of neuroscience at the University of Manchester, have developed the technique and materials necessary for what they call fully print-in-place flexible electronics. Jim Banks finds out how they’re enabling the creation of everything from personalised bandages to skin-mimicking sensors for the next generation of healthcare.

Remote yearning

With the in-person events industry reeling and its future uncertain, Tim Gunn talks to Joe Hage, chairman of the Medical Devices Group, and Todd Grimm, an AM industry adviser on the board of the Additive Manufacturing Users Group, to find out what can be recovered from the wreckage left by Covid-19.

Under the microscope

Academic research into the technology of microfluidics suggests that it offers huge potential for point-of-care diagnosis of disease. So why has the research so far not been translated into successful commercial products? Kim Thomas talks to Hsueh-Chia Chang, Bayer professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Notre Dame, to find out.

Test, test, test

Pressure to accelerate development and meet large-scale demand has led to a string of Covid-19 testing controversies and sparked widespread debate about regulators fast-tracking authorisations. In some cases, governments have been forced to return low-quality diagnostics and rethink their testing strategies. Irenie Forshaw talks to the director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the US National Institutes of Health Bruce Tromberg, and chief scientific officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics Rangarajan Sampath, about complex regulatory challenges and the steps being taken to ensure the latest tests are adequately assessed.

Control the flow

For all the research into microfluidics in healthcare, there’s been comparatively little innovation in actually moving liquids on the smallest scales. Most of the time, that still requires a not-especially micro syringe and a lot of off-chip technology. Stéphanie Descroix, a microfluidics researcher at Institut Curie, and Yuksel Temiz, research staff member at IBM research, talk Tim Gunn through the ways new types of valves can improve the functionality of labs-on-a-chip for point of care diagnostics.

Shaking the supply chain

The successes and challenges faced by original equipment manufacturers amid the Covid-19 pandemic have been attributed almost equally to their reliance on contract manufacturers and their distance from them, so what really makes the difference? And how are different companies meeting the rapidly changing demands of a world trying to recover? Jack Sandahl, global sourcing fellow at Boston Scientific, offers his personal views on what sets the most effective manufacturing strategies apart in times of crisis.