Quicker diagnoses and more efficient therapy can save valuable time in emergencies and increase patients' quality of life. Smart Systems offer advantages in the full spectrum of health to wellness: personal diagnoses and customized therapy, monitoring of vital parameters, selection and dosage of medication fitted to just one person, intelligent implants and finally, more dissemination of telemedicine and more personalized health-care systems in our entire society.
In-vitro (IVD) diagnostics is one of the most promising fields for microsystem technology. By analyzing blood and tissue samples, doctors receive quick and precise information about a patient’s condition. “Labs-on-a-chip” are extremely small, reasonably priced and practical in use. Medical personnel can determine important lab test results at bedside or in the office practice of an emergency room (point-of-care).
Under the coordination of Roche Professional Diagnostics, a cooperative effort with the University of Freiburg and the Hahn Schickard Society developed an “intelligent” in-vitro cartridge for better test efficiency in the field of in-vitro diagnostics. In addition, members of the cluster are working on detectors for viruses and metastasizing cancer cells.
Great hopes are also being placed in the utilization of intelligent microsystems in the human body. People suffering from damaged hearing are already profiting from cochlear implants. Parkinson patients can lead a practically normal life with the help of an implanted “brain pacemaker”.
And the “CorTec Brain Interchange” of CorTec GmbH connects the human brain with an intelligent microsystem: a high-performance closed-loop technology can measure and influence brain activity in long-term service. Cluster member Retina Implant AG developed the retina chip “Alpha IMS”, the first subretinal implant to receive marketing rights in Europe.
“Microsystem technology represents one of the key technologies for diagnostics and medical technology. With the support of microTEC Südwest the conditions are created to quickly transform technological progress into innovative products.”
Dr. Ursula Redeker, Speaker of the Board of Directors, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Mannheim
Better test efficiency in the field of in-vitro diagnosticsmoreclose
Under the direction of Roche Professional Diagnostics, new dispensing technologies are developed in close cooperation with partners from academia. These technologies can be integrated into disposable reagent cartridges due to their lowcost production potential. A demonstrator based on this technique was developed to replace the usual reagent pipetting by dispensing directly from a cartridge. With this demonstrator, volumes from several microliters to 100 nanoliters can be precisely dosed carry-over free.
The reagent container can be closed so that gas exchange with the environment is minimized, which could otherwiseeffect the stability of the reagents. The technology can also be applied in other fields and industries. As a result, several patent applications have been submitted to assure economic success.
Retina chip brings light into the darknessmoreclose
Global leader Retina Implant AG has developed a microelectronic retinal implant that allows blind people to regain useful visual impressions. The optic chip in the “Alpha IMS” implant is only nine square millimeters in size and has 1,500 light sensitive photodiodes and electrodes to stimulate the retina. The chip replaces the deteriorated photoreceptors and can help blind people whose optic nerve is still intact. Patients with the hereditary retina disease retinitis pigmentosa, for example, can profit from this treatment.
Following comprehensive evaluation of study data and the technical documentation carried out by the TÜV Rheinland, the subretinal implant “Alpha IMS” received the CE mark. It can therefore be marketed all over Europe.
All components must be biocompatible, that is well toleratedby the body and they must be stabily encapsulated for a long-term application. This is an enormous technological challenge which, among other things, demands the use of new materials and their combinations.