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Antimicrobial susceptibility testing at the point of care could slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance, but only creative technology development and regulatory equivalence data will unlock this prize.

The discovery of antibiotics in the 1940s changed medicine for good. Antibiotics are essential in treating serious bacterial infections, such as sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia, while infections typically treated in outpatient settings, such as ear or urinary tract infections (UTIs) can usually be cleared up in days. Antibiotics also play a vital role in preventing infection during surgery and opportunistic life-threatening infections in patients receiving chemotherapy.

However, with increasing antibiotic use worldwide for over 80 years, bacteria are adapting and developing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Common infections are becoming untreatable, and globally more than 700,000 people die of antimicrobially resistant infections every year. This figure could reach 10 million by 2050 alongside a cumulative cost of $100 trillion if no action is taken (1). Worse, the rise and spread of AMR is creating new ‘superbugs’ that cannot be treated with existing drugs. AMR is very much a global issue, and the reduction of antibiotic use and renewal of our antibiotic arsenal is a priority of the WHO. …


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Recent industry deals show what automotive lidar companies need to win an OEM order: a credible path to low-cost, compact products. The sensor optics and unconventional optical designs can offer that much-needed edge over competitors, says Alex Coney.

Several lidar companies have recently taken big steps towards having their technology incorporated in series production cars. Volvo is now collaborating with Luminar to combine the company’s lidar with vehicle control systems and create a highway pilot feature, to be available in 2022, and BMW has chosen Innoviz’ lidar for its iNext product range for launch next year.

These orders from BMW and Volvo are nods to the control companies like Luminar and Innoviz have over the key technologies behind the impressive performance of their products. They are IP-rich and not reliant on suppliers for their most important components — they are able to offer the complete package. …


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Monoclonal antibodies offer promise in the fight against a wide range of diseases, including COVID-19. The length of the discovery process is a barrier to emergency use, however, and poses a commercial risk for pharmaceutical companies. Multidisciplinary innovation could step up the pace, says Verity Jackson.

The current coronavirus pandemic provides an urgent example of the need for faster development of active pharmaceutical products. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in particular have demonstrated considerable value in the last decade: currently six out of the ten best-selling drugs in the world are mAbs — with a combined revenue of over $50 billion p.a. …


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Remote user testing allowed us to substantially accelerate the development of the CoVent™ ventilator. Dan Lock reviews the impact of social distancing on user research and finds that many of our necessary adaptations will continue to have value. Yet, each new study challenges us to come up with new approaches to inform medical device development.

During the CoVent ventilator development, and in many other medical device development projects since, the new imperative for social distancing has forced us to think a bit harder about how to use technology to support remote user studies. …


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To deliver on the promise of greater safety than human drivers, the sensors of autonomous vehicles need to be kept spotlessly clean. Which technology is up to the task, and who will take ownership of what could become a point of competitive advantage in a burgeoning industry, asks Tom Jellicoe.

Much like human drivers, autonomous vehicles rely on optical sensors to understand their environment and identify hazards. To prevent potentially disastrous momentary errors when information from a soiled sensor is misinterpreted by the “AI brain” of the car, these sensors each require their own cleaning system to always remain available.

This is central to delivering on the promise that autonomous vehicles will be safer than human drivers. …


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Autologous cell therapies hold great promise in the treatment of many cancers but are generally produced using processes and equipment for which there are concerns as to whether they are sufficiently reliable to support scale-out to 1000s of systems. Medical device development holds important lessons for achieving the required reliability for cell therapy automation equipment.

Automation is widely viewed as necessary to achieving the affordable scale-out of autologous cell therapies. These therapies, whereby a patient’s cells are extracted, manipulated and expanded outside the body and then reinfused back into the same patient, hold great promise. Approved CAR-T therapies have shown long-term remission in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients for which all other treatments have failed. …


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From Velcro to human flight, biomimicry has inspired the development of products and industries. During the 2020s, microfabrication and other bottom-up approaches will likely lead to many more bio-inspired ideas achieving technical and commercial success, says Fred Hussain.

Millions of years of evolution have created structures and materials with remarkable properties — and long inspired biomimicry. Human flight was inspired by the study of birds, and the tiny hooks on bur fruit prompted the development of Velcro — patented in 1955.

Now, microfabrication techniques alongside more specialised polymer processing, nanofabrication, electronics and materials science can produce smarter structures and solutions to many real-world problems. And going even smaller, approaches from nano and molecular biomimetics to those exploiting self-assembly will further enhance our ability to create structures and surfaces with improved properties. …


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Most companies are already setting themselves specific sustainability targets. The question now is how to meet them. Sam Hair and Michael Sequeira show how business model and technology innovation should work in tandem to achieve improved sustainability success.

Companies now overwhelmingly embrace sustainability as integral to their mission. In one recent survey of major international enterprises, more than 70% reported they were already using or intending to use the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to set specific performance targets, with particular focus on Goal 12 “Responsible Production & Consumption” and Goal 13 “Climate Action” [1].

Yet, even self-imposed environmental sustainability targets can be difficult to meet. Only 45% of the companies reported “a great deal” of success in achieving sustainability goals set for 2020, and 50% were relatively unhappy with the results of their efforts in addressing the most critical sustainability issues in their supply chain. …


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Inspired by the promise of CAR-T cell therapy, new technologies to combat the hostile solid tumour microenvironment are being developed, underpinned by innovations in intracellular delivery, say Megan McCandless and Stuart Lowe.

Why is there so much excitement about cell therapy for solid tumours?

CAR-T cell therapy, involving the delivery of genetic material into T lymphocytes to cause expression of a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), has revolutionised the treatment landscape for patients with haematological cancers. Trials have demonstrated up to 94% complete remission for indications such as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) [1]. …


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Click chemistry has come into its own in a wide range of life science applications and opens up opportunities that lie between chemistry, biology and material science, says Wenshu Xu.

Many chemical reactions have traditionally required much control and persuasion — in the form of a wide range of often extreme temperatures, oxygen-free environment, pure starting materials, and downstream purification — and were therefore ill suited to applications in the realm of biology.

Then, twenty years ago, soon-to-be Nobel laureate Barry Sharpless and co-workers began to promote the idea of designing reactions that would simply ‘click’, that is, proceed efficiently and selectively under mild reaction conditions [1].

Initially, these chemists were mainly thinking of clicking together existing organic molecules to accelerate the discovery of new compounds with useful properties. But since then, our ability to customise and manufacture a wide range of biological entities, from antibodies to cells, has grown immeasurably, and click chemistry has also come into its own in a wide range of life science applications. …

About

TTP — The Technology Partnership

TTP is an independent technology company where scientists and engineers collaborate to invent, design and develop new products and technologies.

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