50 R&DMagazine October 2013 51st Annual R&D 100 Awards
Better Cancer Cell Detection
Most cancers disseminate small amounts of
tumor cells from the
primary tumor into
the blood circulation.
These cells, called
circulating tumor cells
(CTCs), may offer
critical insight into the
nature of a patient’s
disease and offer a far
less invasive alternative
to surgical biopsy. Yet, conventional diagnostic instruments aren’t sensitive
enough to retrieve these cells.
To help meet this challenge, Fluxion Biosciences developed the IsoFlux
System, which isolates CTCs and prepares them for molecular analysis. The
system uses a microfluidic cartridge and immunomagnetic beads to isolate
rare target cells of interest. Magnetic beads are added to the blood sample and
bind to the rare cells using a highly specific antibody chemistry applied to the
beads. As the sample passes through the microfluidic cartridge, which focuses flow to increase sensitivity, it passes through an isolation zone where an
external magnetic field is applied. The rare target cells (with magnetic beads
attached) are attracted to the upper surface of the cartridge, while the remaining cells (without magnetic beads) flow into a waste well.
; Fluxion Biosciences Inc., http://www.fluxionbio.com
Bacteria Express Themselves
Historically, large-scale production of functional membrane
proteins has been an arduous task. The overexpression of
membrane proteins has been fraught with unique challenges;
foremost is that expressed membrane proteins are hydrophobic
and require a lipid environment for stability and function.
Normally these compatible environments are a small
fraction of the cell, and are crowded with endogenous
membrane proteins that are required by the host cell. As a
result, alternative systems presently used habitually produce
non-membrane-localized, insoluble and misfolded products.
To address these requirements, Argonne National
Laboratory has exploited the physiology of the Rhodobacter species of photosynthetic
bacteria, which produce large quantities of internal membranes under certain growth conditions in
response to changes in light intensity and/or oxygen tension. Argonne’s Rhodobacter Membrane Protein
Expression System is a simple-to-use kit that coordinates synthesis of foreign membrane proteins with
synthesis of new Rhodobacter membrane into which they are incorporated. Once produced by this system, the membrane proteins and the intracytoplasmic membrane vesicles sequestering them are readily
isolated for use in drug discovery or process optimization experiments.
; Argonne National Laboratory, http://www.anl.gov
Bioresorbable Arterial Scaffold
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition in
which the arteries that supply blood to the heart
become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of
plaque. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the
coronary arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich
blood to the heart muscle, which could cause angina or a heart attack.
Abbott’s Absorb Bioresorbable Vascular
Scaffold is the first drug-eluting, fully bioresorbable
vascular scaffold technology to reach the market.
The scaffold is delivered via a minimally invasive,
catheter-based procedure involving a small incision
in the groin or wrist to access the clogged artery.
The scaffold is made of polylactide, a naturally
dissolvable material that is commonly used in
medical implants such as dissolving sutures. Similar
to a drug-eluting metallic stent, Absorb works by
opening a clogged vessel and restoring blood flow
to the heart. Unlike metallic stents, Absorb’s unique
structure and material enables it to dissolve into
the blood vessel, leaving behind a treated vessel that
may resume more natural function and movement
because it is free of a permanent metallic implant.
; Abbott, http://www.abbott.com
Raising the Bar for Prosthetics
Orthocare Innovations has introduced a new technology that is intended to enhance limb
control for those who rely on prosthetic ankles and feet. The Magellan MFA (Magellan
Microprocessor Foot Ankle System) is a computer-controlled foot-ankle prosthesis capa-
ble of adapting to a user’s activities through a 38-degree range of motion. It is intelligently
adjusted by manipulation of a mesofluidic hydraulic system, in which the ankle block
is supported anteriorly and posteriorly by a pair of antagonistic pistons riding within
vertically oriented parallel cylinders on either side of the joint axis. The base of each
piston rolls on a hardened steel cam machined into the top of the foot structure.
An electric valve controls motion; a unique impedance control system utilizes
the patient’s own gait dynamics to both inform the control algorithm and
to drive the system. A microprocessor monitors the three-degrees-of-free-
dom Europa ankle torque sensor and a magnetic position encoder, and,
based on propriety algorithms embedded in the firmware, determines a
required change in position to further optimize gait. The user can remotely control and monitor the sys-
tem using a smartphone.
; Orthocare Innovations, http://www.orthocareinnovations.com