The Rise of Better Manufacturing Methods

Oct 11, 2019 | Blog


Issue #42. Friday, October 11

Hello Everyone,

For this edition of the Zoic newsletter, we’ll be featuring some previously mentioned areas of interest, as well as some new ones. These include early molecular diagnostics, better imaging, and tissue engineering solutions.

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The Rise of Better Manufacturing Methods

The field of tissue engineering is not featured that often but is still a strong interest area for us. New materials, whether synthetic, biological or a combination, can promote better wound and surgical healing. Even better manufacturing methods such as 3D tissue printing are under investigation for not just improved costs and speed but also to incorporate materials with added benefits. For example, weaving and manufacturing synthetic materials in a hernia mesh can produce a material that mimics a biological material in the body and yet is also customizable and much easier to manufacture. This mimicry results in less rejection from the patient’s own system and better incorporation of growing tissue.

Our next series of technologies are all in our constant area of interest, early diagnostics using molecular biology targets such as DNA and proteins. We have discussed previously the growing interest in using our gut bacteria, gathered from stool samples, to determine what conditions a person will develop and how to treat them. These tests typically take a stool sample and sequence the genome of the thousands of bacterial species within. Another potential sample source, though, is RNA from the same source. This genetic material comes from the patient’s own cells and may provide even more information to diagnose conditions, such as colorectal cancer.

We have often featured direct to consumer genetic tests, with applications ranging from prenatal conditions to chronic diseases. These offer the promise of developing promising technologies directly into the hands of consumers, giving them the ability to find out more information about their own health. Even rare diseases are an application that is sought for these tests, either during the prenatal phase or after. In addition to the direct diagnostic use, the large scale deployment of these tests can also gather better population dynamics and statistics, hopefully leading to more knowledge about probable causes and treatments.

The next two technologies are also diagnostics, but this time noninvasive diagnosis involving imaging, another constant area of interest. The first is a new use for ultrasound, now a common tool in the hospital and clinic. This waveform can now be used to image organs more precisely within the body by analyzing how the ultrasound is reflected back. This can be used to determine the functions of organs, such as in the liver. For this particular use, the ultrasound is precise enough so the patient can avoid having a tissue sample taken through biopsy.

Finally, another improvement on an existing modality is improving CT scans. This is also a common tool that is improved upon by implementing better 3D imaging and analysis. This particular use is to improve accuracy and reduce patient discomfort during mammograms.

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