Can We All Stop Freaking Out About Super Bugs?

The idea of “super bugs” freaks us out, but a groundbreaking discovery for producing antibiotics is giving us hope. It addresses the issue of antimicrobial resistance and may help propel the development of new antibiotics.

As background, Dr. Kim Lewis and Dr. Slava Epstein of Northeastern University discovered a new antibiotic called teixobactin that cures severe infections and to which bacteria are unlikely to become resistant. It’s only been tested in mice so far. However, it’s expected to be tested for humans for use on strep, TB, and serious staph infections

So, this new antibiotic and its potential is super cool. What’s really interesting about it is HOW it was discovered and what this means for future antibiotic development.

Cycle Technologies Highlights the iChip

Slava Epstein – Northeastern University with iChip

Problem:  Growing new microbes is needed in order to make discoveries but only 1% of microbes can grow in the normal lab setting.  The result – no new discoveries within antibiotics have been made in almost 30 years.

Solution: Grow bacteria in soil – their natural environment! How? Use “iChip” – a small device that can help isolate and cultivate single cells in their natural environment.

The iChip was created by NovoBiotic with input from Lewis and Epstein.

Why is this a big deal? According to the World Health Organization’s first global report on surveillance focusing on antibiotics, superbugs are a major problem. The CDC estimates that two million people in the U.S. alone become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Could this novel yet simple way path the path for future discoveries with regards to antibiotics? Possibly. Although teixobactin is touted as the first new antibiotic discovery in 30 years, it’s still about 5 years away from use on people. In the meantime, check out the following resources that summarize teixobactin and the iChip in greater detail.

Related Sources:

MOM Wins James Dyson Award to Help Premature Babies in Developing Countries

We love to feature design that has a positive global impact and this invention is certainly noteworthy for the developing world. James Roberts, winner of the 2014 James Dyson Award, designed MOM, the inflatable incubator. His invention has all the functionality of first-world incubators found in neonatal facilities but at a fraction of the cost ($400 vs. $40,000.) It includes a digital screen to monitor temperature and humidity, light therapy for babies with jaundice, and an alarm sensor if temperature/humidity change. The machine can be operated by any power source including a car battery and can be shipped flat anywhere in the world.

Roberts is a 23 year old engineering student from UK’s Loughborough University. He created his vision after learning about the high number of newborn deaths in Syrian refugee camps due to premature birth complications.

“I was watching a Panorama programme on BBC about Syrian refugees, and they had a segment about how there are loads of premature kids dying because of the stresses of war and specifically the lack of incubators out there and the infrastructure to support them,” he recalls during an interview with BBC.

Roberts wanted to solve that problem and thus, MOM was born.

According to the World Health Organization, 15 million babies are born prematurely per year and one million of these preterm babies die due to complications. Incubators help during the high risk phase when regulating temperature and oxygen is crucial for the baby’s survival.

Although the design has already passed feasibility tests, it will still need to undergo medical testing before use in the field. According to MOM’s website, this machine complies with British incubation standards including providing a stable heat environment, humidification, and phototherapy unit. Roberts plans to use the $45,000 prize money he won from the James Dyson Award to further develop the invention.

Congratulations, James Robert and to the James Dyson Foundation for discovering this brilliant idea.

Invention: MOM, an inflatable low-cost incubator for premature babies
Inventors: James Robert
Capability: Inflatable incubator designed for developing world.
Recent Successes: Patent-pending and 2014 James Dyson Award for innovation in design solving a problem. Major news coverage and features.


Performing An UltraSound With Your iPad

Ultrasounds can be lifesaving for pregnant women and their babies, but in many areas of the world, they aren’t available. The equipment is costly at $45,000 – $75,000 per machine, and requires trained personnel. But new technology can make ultrasounds available at a fraction of the cost, anywhere in the world.

The Oscadi Company is developing a gadget that turns your iPad into a functional ultrasound “machine”. It’s called OSCULT and allows any doctor, radiologist, clinician or EMT to use the device to get live sonogram photos directly on her iPad.  She can even consult with doctors anywhere in the world using the included software.

iPad Connected UltraSound Machine invented by Oscandi

iPad Connected UltraSound Machine invented by Oscandi

OSCULT is VERY new and will be tested in veterinary situations in the near future. We’ll keep you posted on development and success stories as the Oscadi Company fine tunes their innovation. Thanks to Jordan Cook for first writing about this extraordinary product.

Invention: OSCULT
Inventors: Olivier Sautron and Thierry Payet
Capability: OSCULT is an handheld ultrasound imaging device that interfaces with the Apple iPad. Its smart design, intuitive interface and exclusive new features are helping to solve a complex global health issue.
Recent Successes: Oscult has an affordable price point of $15,000 which is about two thirds less than a typical ultrasound machine. The capabilities are currently going to be used in the veterinary sciences. It is now in the pre-order stage. Not much media attention has been given due to its newness to the market.

Suggested Resources:

PillPack Simplifies Your Medication

If you have ever had to take multiple medicines to treat an illness or manage a condition, you know that taking different pills can be confusing and a pain in the a$$. PillPack, an online pharmacy that launched earlier this year, is taking the stress out of managing your meds. All of the pills you need at any given time are grouped together into a single packet. Check out this video to see the smart design and innovative thinking.

Photo: Courtesy of PillPack

Invention: PillPack
Inventors: Brian Hoffer, Elliot Cohen, TJ Parker
Capability:  Managing patient medication by creating a pharmacy-to-your-door delivery system. Provides unique perforated “packs” of patient’s pharmaceutical pills.
Recent Successes: 4 million raised to redesign the pharmacy experience / Finalists in the Innovation By Design Awards

Suggested Resources:
Company Website
Company Facebook Page
On Twitter: @PillPack
Disrupting The DrugStore
PillPack Raises 4Million
WallStreetJournal Article: Top Mail-Order Pharmacy
PillPack Takes on CVS and Walgreeens By Mail

Stabilizing Spoon by Lift Labs Helps Those With Tremors Enjoy Mealtime.

For the average person, using a spoon or fork to enjoy a meal is often taken for granted. But for a person who has Parkinson Disease or Essential Tremor, the task can be daunting. A shaking hand makes it difficult to eat and many people have to rely on caretakers for help.

Inventor Anupam Pathak wanted to solve the problem using stabilizing technology. He and his team at Lift Labs developed a beautifully designed handle (with spoon and fork attachments) that counteracts hand tremors. In fact in a clinical trial, more than 70% of users’ tremors were eliminated making it easier for the person to move the spoon from the plate to mouth.

How it works: According to their website, sensors in the Liftware handle detect a person’s tremor, and the device responds using motors to move the spoon opposite the tremor. The battery-operated spoon can discern hand tremor motion from other types of motion, allowing it to respond to just the tremor while preserving the user’s intended motion.


Photo courtesy of LiftLab Design

This is changing lives people! Check out their website and video on the product and see for yourself.

Invention: Liftware Stabilizer (with Everyday Attachment | Spoon Attachment | Fork Attachment)
Inventor: Lift Labs
Capability: Cancels more than 70% of hand tremors
Recent Successes: The standard spoon, fork and deep soup spoon have been launched and are currently being sold to the public on the company website. Clinics are also using the invention to help caretakers cut time spent on feeding those who have hand tremors. The company is now in the process of designing additional attachments that appear to be top secret!

Related Resources: 

A Spoon That Shakes To Counteract Hand Tremors

LiftLabs website

LiftLabs on facebook

LiftLabs Clinical Trial