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Thursday, October 28, 2010

VA_PTSD_CplJimAnderson Decedant 21Sept2000

University of Minnesota researchers find way to detect PTSD RCB if your Wife or Whatever Secretary Read Sharon's 2nd Husband's Medical

Posted: 28 Oct 2010 09:56 AM PDT University of Minnesota said Thursday its scientists may have identified an area of the brain that indicates a patient suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Using a relatively new imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), researchers at the medical school and the Minneapolis Veteran Affairs Medical Center detected hyper electrical activity in the right side of the brain of PTSD patients who experienced involuntary flashbacks commonly associated with the disorder.

By confirming PTSD with the MEG scans, doctors can prescribe better treatments for patients, the school said. Scientists also move one step closer to identifying a biomarker, or genetic clue, to PTSD that allows them to measure the progress of the disease or the effects of treatment.

People often equate PTSD with military veterans who fought in wars, but the disease can appear in anyone who suffers severe psychological trauma. Symptoms include flashbacks, anger, anxiety and recurring nightmares.

Some people consider MEG technology superior to CT and MRI scans because MEG can measure the brain’s electrical activity in real time.

Orasi Medical Inc., a university-bred startup that’s developing software to crunch MEG data, says it owns the largest commercial database of MEG scans and is the only provider of MEG biomarkers.

In a previous interview, Orasi CEO Shawn Lyndon expressed interest in using MEG scans to diagnose PTSD.

Today, the company is primarily focused on helping drug firms determine earlier if their therapies are working by comparing the MEG scans of patients with neurological diseases to its image database of people with normal brain activity.

Orasi recently inked licensing deals with Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG and Danish drugmaker H. Lundbeck A/S.

The PTSD research, conducted by Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos and Brian Engdahl, is published today in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

Via680 uses video to educate patients on visits, procedures

Posted: 28 Oct 2010 06:44 AM PDT Youngstown startup that set out to help businesses incorporate video into their communications has narrowed its focus on the patient education space — for now.

Two-year-old Via680 allows hospitals to create customizable online portals that pull together video, text documents and user feedback to help patients and their families prepare for upcoming hospital stays or procedures.

The software, called intelliSling, can take the place of three-ring binders stuffed with hundreds of printed pages of information about topics ranging from parking during a hospital visit to proper hand washing before surgery to what to expect after an operation. (The company was formerly known as BizVeo and owes its new name in part to the interstate that stretches through Youngstown.)

One key feature of intelliSling is a survey that patients are asked to fill out after watching their videos. If their answers indicate they didn’t understand a key piece of information, a notice is sent to a hospital administrator who can call the patient to clear up the confusion.

“It truly has changed the way you’re able to interact, exchange information and get patients on a course towards wellness,” said CEO Tony Deascentis, a veteran of another Youngstown technology firm Turning Technologies. Like Turning Technologies, Via680 is affiliated with the widely praised Youngstown Business Incubator, which has received some positive press recently from Inc. Magazine and Business Week.

So far the eight-employee company has garnered a handful of customers, most notably Youngstown-based hospital Humility of Mary Health Partners (HMHP).

HMHP has been using Via680′s software for about nine months with heart surgery patients, said Barbara Rombach, a practice manager for several groups at the hospital. HMHP uses the software to educate heart-surgery patients and their families about many details involved in the process, such as when to arrive at the hospital, and how family members should help patients get in and out of cars after the surgery.

“It’s a wonderful product and a great tool,” Rombach said. “It takes a lot of the scariness out of the whole process.”

With so much health-related “misinformation” a few clicks away on the Internet, Rombach likes that the software helps HMHP spread the correct clinical information to patients. The hospital likes Via680′s software so much, it’s planning to begin using it with orthopedics patients, Rombach said.

That’s no doubt music to Deascentis’ ears. But aside from signing up more customers, what really would excite him is luring some investment in the company. Via680 would use the cash to ramp up sales and expand to other industries, like banking and retail. “We’re looking for one or two angel investors to fuel our growth,” he said, though he declined to specify a targeted dollar amount.

Cardinal Health Q1 profits beat the Street, but sales slip

Posted: 28 Oct 2010 09:50 AM PDT profits for medical products and pharmaceuticals supplier Cardinal Health Inc. (NYSE:CAH) beat analysts’ expectations, though sales slipped slightly.

The Dublin, Ohio-based company reported first quarter earnings of $295 million, with adjusted earnings per share of 64 cents. Analysts had expected earnings of 53 cents per share. In last year’s first quarter, Cardinal reported a net loss of 11 cents per share, mainly due to charges taken for the spinoff of medical technology firm CareFusion Corp.

In another bit of good news for Cardinal investors, CEO George Barrett said the company expects to finish 2011 at the higher end of its forecast of $2.38 to $2.48 earnings per share. The company’s shares rose about 2 percent to $34 in early trading Thursday.

Revenues fell 1 percent to $24 billion, compared to last year’s first quarter.

It was mixed news for the company’s pharmaceutical segment, which saw sales drop by 1 percent to $22 billion. The company blamed the drop on reduced sales to existing bulk customers and contract terminations from two large customers.

However, sales of generics, which rose 19 percent, were a significant bright spot for the company, and that strength could continue. “Our generic penetration continues to be a focus,” Barrett said in a conference call with analysts.

Profits in the pharmaceutical segment jumped 42 percent.

The numbers weren’t quite as rosy for the company’s medical products segment, which saw revenues drop 3 percent and profits plummet 28 percent. Barrett attributed the declines in part to “sluggishness” in demand for elective procedures, though he said he was “guardedly optimistic that value will recover.”

During the call, one analyst premised a question on the notion that Cardinal’s medical segment was “clearly struggling,” but Barrett shot back, “We’re not struggling at all.” The company also blamed an unusually strong flu season last year and the loss of revenues from CareFusion as contributors to the declining numbers.

Bernstein analyst Helene Wolk wrote that sales in the medical segment were slightly below expectations, Reuters reported.

Journey of a whistleblower… to $96M award (Morning Read)

Posted: 28 Oct 2010 05:29 AM PDT

Highlights of the important and interesting in the world of healthcare:

Journey of a whistleblower. In 2002, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline sent one of its quality-assurance managers to Puerto Rico to help clean up a mess at one of its biggest manufacturing plants. Cheryl Eckard’s journey ended this week with the largest ever U.S. whistleblower award — at least $96 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.

VC sentiment rebounds… a little. VCs are feeling slightly more confident about their industry than they did in the second quarter, according to the latest Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence Index, PEHub reports.

Chicago doctors goo-goo for iPads. Beyond using iPads to research clinical information or access electronic medical records, Chicago doctors increasingly are using the device to interact with patients, according to the medGadget blog.

Doorway to collaborative medicine. The alchemy of adding online social networking to medicine — for both patients and clinicians — disrupts traditional relationships that repeat the same-old care patterns and flat outcomes, opens up data silos and enables collaborative healthcare that improves outcomes and reduces costs, according to the HEALTHPopuli blog.

You say potato, I say… Two companies seeing the same news on Medicare differently killed the merger of ExonHit Therapeutics SA and venture-backed RedPath Integrated Pathology Inc., according to Dow Jones VentureWire Lifescience (paid subscription required).

Reform boosts M&A? Healthcare reform is likely to spur mergers and acquisitions, particularly among medical groups, according to a new report by Deloitte Development LLC, FierceHealthFinance reports.

Buy health insurance, or else. The individual mandate that’s part of healthcare reform law should hold up in court as constitutional, attorney Sara Rosenbaum of the department of health policy at George Washington University in Washington, wrote online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

University of Minnesota startup to attack vein disease in legs

Posted: 27 Oct 2010 08:50 PM PDT

Dr. Erik Cressman, co-founder of XO Thermix Medical Inc.

When Mike Selzer first reviewed the work of University of Minnesota scientist Dr.Erik Cressman — a way to kill cancer cells in the liver using chemical-generated heat — the veteran medical device executive was impressed.

Cool technology, he thought. Terrible idea for a company.

“You can’t build a company around [liver cancer],” said Selzer, an adviser at the time to the school’s Venture Center, the unit of the Office for Technology Commercialization responsible for spinning out companies from university technology. “It’s just not a large market. It was one of those things where there was really good technology. But the commercialization wasn’t as obvious.”

Normally, Selzer says, university researchers invent stuff but have no idea what to do with it. In Dr. Cressman’s case, the aim was too specific.

“The university doesn’t have a lot of entrepreneurs,” Selzer said. ‘There are only a few, select people who really get it.”

Ultimately, Selzer identified a large market for the technology — chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a blood vessel disorder in the legs.

Earlier this month, the school officially spun out XO Thermix Medical Inc., the latest addition to a growing stable of university-bred medical startups, including MiroMatrix Inc. and Hennepin Life Sciences.

CVI, a common condition that primarily affects women, especially pregnant ones and patients who stand frequently, occurs when faulty valves in the legs prevent blood from returning back up to the heart via veins. As a result, blood pools in the lower half of the body, causing swollen legs, skin discoloration and painful ulcers.

So instead of targeting cancerous liver cells, XO Thermix hopes to use Dr. Cressman’s chemical ablation technology to kill diseased vein tissue causing the blockage.

Medical device companies are widely exploring using heat, radio frequencies, lasers, and even cold temperatures to treat a host of cardiovascular diseases.

In August, Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) won approval from Canadian regulators to sell its Ablation Frontiers Cardiac Ablation System, which uses radio frequency energy to kill diseased tissue that causes the heart to quiver or beat abnormally, a condition known as atrial fibrillation (AF).

Medtronic also paid $380 million to purchase CryoCath Technologies Inc. in 2008. The Canadian company makes catheters (tubes) and balloons that can deliver subzero temperatures to the heart. The technology restores normal electrical signals by freezing the tissue or pathways behind the irregular quivering.

Here’s where XO Thermix stands out, Selzer said. Normally, doctors need large, expensive equipment to create the necessary energy to target and destroy diseased tissue without harming the patient.

What Dr. Cressman essentially created is a cheap and quick way of generating heat by mixing together certain chemicals. Doctors deliver the chemical cocktail to the vein walls through a catheter-based balloon system.

The chemicals in the balloon grow hot enough to kill the diseased tissue and then form a harmless substance after they complete the job.

The technology “is a simple, fast and easy way to create ablation,” Selzer said. “You don’t have to mess around with that other stuff (lasers, probes). It’s a shorter procedure, which reduces the cost of treating CVI. We can put this thing anywhere.”

If anyone has experience in evaluating technologies, it’s Selzer.

In 2007, the former CEO of Urologix who once headed Medtronic’s neurostimulation business founded ConcepTx Medical with prominent local medical device entrepreneurs Dale Spencer and Mike Berman. ConcepTx’s goal was to accelerate the development of promising technologies from struggling startups.

The company quickly won a $4 million investment from venture capital firms Versant Ventures and Advanced Technology Ventures. But the country’s economic collapse a year later made things too difficult.

“No one wanted to put down any long term money,” Selzer said. “I didn’t think we were going to make progress fast enough.”

So Selzer sold his share of ConcepTx and eventually found his way to the university’s Venture Center as a CEO-in-Residence.

Selzer has high hopes for XO Thermix as a platform technology. If successful with CVI, the company hopes to apply its ablation technique to kill solid tumors in patients suffering from liver, prostate and breast cancers.

However, several challenges remain. Sticking a potentially dangerous mix of chemicals into the body is no easy matter — the company must make sure the chemicals don’t leak from the balloon once they generate the heat.

Also, the mechanisms of CVI are still largely unknown, experts say.

“The pathophysiology of chronic venous insufficiency is not well understood,” according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. “There have been few randomized comparative trials; available data are limited by the previous lack of both disease classification and measures of clinical severity”

Doctors may not even know what to target, the report says.

“In addition, quantitative methods are lacking to measure reflux or obstruction at individual valve stations and vein segments in order to selectively target the correction of these abnormalities,” the article said.

XO Thermix hopes to start raising angel money in two to three months, Selzer said.