Friday, April 12, 2013

ASLMS 2013 keynote highlights clinical opportunities

At this year's American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) annual conference, held April 3-7 in Boston, MA, keynote speaker Robert S. Langer, Sc.D., David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, joked that he "...probably knows the least about lasers." But his expertise in tissue engineering is bringing about some interesting collaborations.

One collaboration involves R. Rox Anderson, MD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Mass General Hospital, who specializes in non-scarring laser treatments for skin rejuvenation--many of which he conceived and developed. For beauty startup Living Proof--which Langer co-founded (and is co-owned by Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Aniston!)--the two scientists are working on a flowable, skin-contouring, polymer emulsion system that provides a safe, noninvasive topical alternative to existing lower-lid treatment modalities. Called Strateris, the polymer activates instantly on contact to under-eye skin to form a breathable, hydrating, invisible, elastic film that imparts natural skin aesthetics at the lower-lid application site, while reducing the appearance of under-eye bags and wrinkles.1

The Strateris technology has undergone a pilot clinical study at three different test sites, testing 24 women between the ages of 40 to 65. No word is available on when the product will be released commercially.

1. A. Kauvar et al., J. Amer. Acad. Dermatol., 68, 4, 1, AB20 (April 2013).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

1064 nm Raman: Pervasive at Pittcon 2013

An undated page on the site of Real-Time Analyzers, Inc. (Middletown, CT) states that the company's RamanID system is "the only portable Raman analyzer that employs 1064 nm laser excitation to avoid fluorescence interference." But in fact, the 1064 wavelength is being offered in more and more Raman instruments--both portable and non-portable--as was evident at the Pittcon 2013 (March 17-21, Pittsburgh, PA) exposition.
On the portable side, B&W Tek (Newark, DE) demonstrated the practical value of this wavelength: Its new 1064 nm fiber optic Raman spectrometer produces a clear spectrum for grapeseed oil, whereas 785 Raman generated no signal at all.

Rigaku Raman Technologies (San Jose, CA) showed off a range of portable Raman analyzers offering 1064 (in addition to 532 and 785), including its super compact handheld system, FirstGuard, so easy to use that it lets dock workers quickly screen shipments of pharmaceuticals.

BaySpec (San Jose, CA) has streamlined its transportable Agility single/dual-band Raman spectrometer, with a 1064-excitation option, to accept a snap-in vial or pill holder. On the non-portable side, BaySpec offers its Nomadic Raman microscopes--now with 1064 excitation--without requiring switchout of laser and detector.

Speaking of Raman microscopes, Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL) was on hand to talk about its highly flexible inVia. It accommodates up to three multi-line lasers on a standard baseplate and more on a laser table, and it fully supports more than 20 laser wavelengths, from 229 nm all the way up to--you guessed it--1064 nm.
B&W Tek's Robert Chimenti explained the appeal of Raman: High selectivity with no sample prep. By comparison, Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, which also offers great selectivity, does require sample prep. With the addition of 1064, that appeal increases.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Swanson inspires with OCT review at Laser Marketplace Seminar

In his presentation on optical coherence tomography (OCT) during the 2013 Laser Marketplace Seminar (at Photonics West), Eric Swanson, serial entrepreneur and publisher of OCTnews, provided a comprehensive tour of OCT applications and implementations -- the vast majority of them biomedical. Swanson is a fantastic spokesperson for OCT thanks not only to his pioneering role in its development, but also to his tracking and analysis of its progress. For instance, he outlined the ROI of government support for OCT by discussing the technology's impact on the economy in terms of dollars and jobs, and on patient care (one OCT scan happens every second, he said).
But OCT's overall trajectory continues to climb, and Swanson predicts that gastrointestinal imaging will be its next big success. Yes, he is associated with a company (NinePoint Medical) commercializing this application, but he bases his prediction on analysis of metrics including market needs, technology maturity, and publications to date. Other applications, too, will surely benefit from the size reduction enabled by chip-based OCT (pursued by Tornado Spectral Systems, and others), which promises to dramatically reduce cost as well. 
An audience member worried aloud that physicians may be overwhelmed by OCT data they don’t know how to interpret, but Swanson waived off that concern saying that the same concerns existed in ophthalmology and cardiology markets early on. 
Swanson pointed out that of the continually increasing number of companies involved in OCT, more than 40% are associated with government-funded research; and he suggested that companies interested in commercializing technology partner with such researchers. Good news for small business: He also noted that 78% of OCT companies are startups.