Trilogy TidingsJune 2012
I don't know about you, but I like living in the future. It's fascinating and great fun. The future is also an essential ingredient of my business. I share with you three topics this month dealing with the future - from the creative destruction of medicine to dealing with sepsis in the ICU to a strong critique of academic research.
|A Healthcare Revolutionary
Are revolutionaries often greeted with widespread skepticism? Yes. Are many of their ideas far-fetched, even silly? Yes. Do many of their prognostications eventually turn out to be correct? Yes. Are healthcare revolutionaries especially seen as outrageous by their peers? Yes.
Enter Eric Topol, MD, the cardiologist and author of "The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care". Many of his ideas are far-fetched, yet very attractive as potential solutions to the many dilemmas faced by medicine and healthcare. He seems (to me) to be a rigorous and serious thought-leader. Anyone enjoying the benefit of a long view of devices, diagnostics and drugs should pay some attention to this guy.
I recommend a recent interview of Dr. Topol published by MDDI. It covers a range of topics: personalized medicine, patients as partners, medical momentum, large data sets as caregiver aids, wireless sensors, regulatory roadblocks, and even social media. His future is worth exploring.
Detection and Treatment of Sepsis
Sepsis is a common and frequently fatal condition resulting from an inflammatory response to an infection. It is often seen in ICU patients who are infants, children, elderly, and others with weakened immune systems.
Researchers at MIT and the National University of Singapore report encouraging early results of a device that might successfully treat sepsis by separating circulating bacteria and inflammatory components from healthy red blood cells. These undesirable components are essentially filtered out by a process known as margination. You can find a few details here.
A somewhat similar but apparently more complex, multicomponent approach is being studied under the DARPA Dialysis-Like Therapeutics (DLT) program.
I can see either of these technologies, once commercialized, as a therapeutic partner with early detection of sepsis by means of the existing procalcitonin (PCT) biomarker assay. While cleared for use in most of the world, the PCT assay is currently more commonly employed in Europe than in the US, presumably pending its greater availability on leading lab instrumentation platforms.
And Now for Some Controversy
It is widely assumed that one of the most important sources of innovation is university research. A recent opinion piece published in The Scientist makes some strong claims that academic research could do a whole lot better. The author goes even further to opine that academia actually suppresses creativity in both its research and educational missions. That should generate some heat! I'll be interested to see the give-and-take resulting from that article.