BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL
In a first of its kind study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Harvard School of Public Health, examine new methods for compensating doctors and hospitals that encourage accountability for not only the cost of care but also for the quality of care they provide to their patients. Overall, researchers conclude that in order to be successful, health reform initiatives will need a multipronged approach and that both care providers and insurance companies are equally focused on delivering high quality care while simultaneously reducing costs. The researchers found that changes to both the payment systems and care delivery models need to happen in tandem in order to be effective. New models of care, such as Shared Savings Arrangements, accomplish this goal by allowing physicians and hospitals to share in any monetary savings that may be achieved from improvements to care processes. This strategy is a cornerstone of health care reform under President Obama’s administration and it is also being rapidly adopted by private insurance companies. Shared savings arrangements are used in a variety of new models of care delivery such as medical homes, alternative quality contracts, and accountable care organizations (ACOs). However, the authors found that important details of such payment models can vary widely. Learn more at http://bit.ly/P0UGYT.
Covidien Announces FDA 510(k) Clearance of LigaSure™ Small Jaw Instrument for Ear, Nose and Throat Surgical Procedures
Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products, announces it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the LigaSure™ curved, small jaw, open sealer/divider surgical instrument to be used in ear, nose and throat (ENT) procedures. When working in confined surgical spaces, the proprietary LigaSure device addresses surgeons’ needs by offering a low-temperature profile and minimal thermal spread to surrounding tissues. The new clearance, for the device’s use in head and neck procedures, will allow for additional uses such as thyroidectomies, parotidectomies and additional open ENT procedures. There are more than 160,000 of these procedures performed each year in the United States. The LigaSure small jaw instrument, sold worldwide, was previously cleared for use in general surgery by the FDA in February 2011. Learn more at http://bit.ly/UHIuNe.
Saadi Ghatan, M.D., Named Vice Chairman of Neurosurgery and Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals and Beth Israel Medical Center
CONTINUUM HEALTH PARTNERS
Saadi Ghatan, M.D., F.A.C.S., has been appointed Vice Chairman of Neurosurgery and Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals and Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Ghatan brings to the departments a wealth of experience in both pediatric and adult neurosurgery with particular expertise in the treatment of brain tumors, surgical treatment of epilepsy and the application of minimally invasive endoscopic neurosurgery. Dr. Ghatan is familiar to many people within the Continuum Health Partners hospitals, as he has held surgical privileges with Continuum since 2005 and has been providing surgical care at all sites. Dr. Ghatan is well published in both pediatric and adult neurosurgery and has conducted research under grants from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the New York Academy of Medicine. Learn more at http://bit.ly/NXZ24C.
Combining PSA Testing with Novel Drug Therapy Helps Doctors Identify Hard-to-Diagnose Prostate Cancer
Researchers have successfully developed and tested a new prostate cancer screening method that uses the combined power of a novel drug therapy and changes in PSA levels over time to identify men with a high PSA who are more likely to have aggressive prostate cancer despite negative biopsies. The new study by researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center shows that PSA can be a much more effective marker for prostate cancer when an additional drug therapy is used than it can as a stand-alone test, which is how it is currently used by physicians. “At a time when the value of PSA is being increasingly debated, we have shown that when used in a specific way, it can be of great value in identifying men with previously undetected prostate cancer,” says the studyâ€™s lead investigator, Dr. Steven A. Kaplan, the E. Darracott Vaughan Jr., Professor of Urology at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of the Iris Cantor Men’s Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. Learn more at http://bit.ly/OiSwC8.
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL
A phase I clinical trial has confirmed that use of a generic vaccine to raise levels of an immune system modulator can cause the death of autoimmune cells targeting the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas and temporarily restore insulin secretion in human patients with type 1 diabetes. Results of the study – led by Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Immunobiology Laboratory – are being published and a larger Phase II trial is currently underway. Faustman’s team first reported in 2001 that inducing expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), previously shown to destroy insulin-autoreactive T cells, cured type 1 diabetes in mice by permitting pancreatic islets to regenerate. Since high doses of TNF are toxic to humans, the clinical trials use the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which safely elevates TNF levels. The Iacocca Family Foundation has been the primary supporter of this work. Learn more at http://bit.ly/OS60Gx.
Helen F. Graham Cancer Center Researchers Seek Breakthrough for Throat Cancer Survivors in NIH Funded Study
CHRISTIANA CARE HEALTH SYSTEM
A research team at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care Health System and the Center for Translational Cancer Research performs a key role in a prestigious National Institutes of Health research project grant of $2.5 million to continue groundbreaking work into the creation of artificial salivary glands. “The purpose of our project is to relieve the debilitating lack of saliva in a patient who has undergone radiation treatments for throat cancer,” says Robert Witt, M.D., chief of the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Oncology Clinic at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and the clinician/scientist principal investigator (PI) in the four-year initiative. “These patients have lost the ability to swallow properly and enjoy food and liquids. They suffer from a lack of taste and are prone to many dental problems.” Already, the team has discovered a laboratory technique to isolate salivary acinar cells in culture. Acinar cells are the basic building blocks of salivary glands and are responsible for water and enzyme production. Learn more at http://bit.ly/QCby4u.
BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital are the first to discover that changes in monocytes (a type of white blood cell) are a biomarker for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. This finding also brings the medical community a step closer toward a new treatment for the debilitating neurological disease that affects approximately 30,000 Americans. In pre-clinical studies involving mice with an ALS gene mutation, the researchers saw that two months prior to ALS onset, monocytes in the spleen began exhibiting proinflammatory qualities. As disease onset loomed, there was an increase in cell-signaling molecules that directed monocytes to flood the spinal cord. Influx of these inflamed white blood cells was associated with nerve cell death in the spinal cord. When the researchers treated the mice with antibodies to modulate the inflammatory monocytes, they found that it led to fewer monocytes entering the spinal cord, diminished nerve cell loss and extended survival. After having observed these activities in mice, the BWH researchers, working with the Massachusetts General Hospital ALS Clinic and research team, found that there were similar monocytes in humans with ALS that also exhibited a disease-specific inflammatory signature. Learn more at http://bit.ly/QGzdH8.
Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products, announces the official opening of its China Technology Center (CTC) Research and Development (R&D) facility in Shanghai. “Establishing this R&D facility in Shanghai reinforces Covidien’s continued commitment to providing innovative new products that will help healthcare providers worldwide improve patient care and extend healthcare delivery to more people and more places,” said José E. Almeida, Chairman, President and CEO of Covidien, who attended the opening event. “China is a key market in our global strategy, and this investment is a reflection of our strategic initiatives.” With a total investment of US$45 million over a three year period, the CTC will eventually employ more than 300 people. The facility spans more than 100,000 square-feet (9,290 square meters), houses 17 laboratories and has state-of-the-art surgical and simulation suites that enable healthcare professionals to be actively involved in the medical device design and development process. Learn more at http://bit.ly/QJ9vyQ.
Codman & Shurtleff, Inc. (Codman), the global neurological device company, has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval through a PMA supplement for its MEDSTREAM™ Programmable Infusion System, an implantable infusion pump and catheter system used in the treatment of spasticity, a movement disorder often caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury. The device will be available through a phased roll out in the United States over the next several months. The MEDSTREAM System delivers a continuous and highly accurate dose of the anti-spasm drug baclofen directly to the spinal canal to relieve the severe spasticity, a condition that affects more than 12 million people worldwide. The new implantable system is equipped with an eight-year battery life even at high flow rates and features the SURESTREAM™ Intraspinal Catheter, a kink-resistant catheter designed to deliver uninterrupted therapy. The MEDSTREAM System marks Codman’s entry into the field of neuromodulation, technology that uses implantable devices to deliver medication or electrical impulses to treat diseases of the central nervous system. Learn more at http://bit.ly/QJ9vyQ.
THE METHODIST HOSPITAL SYSTEM
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced its approval of Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema, or DME, an eye condition in people with diabetes that causes blurred vision, severe vision loss and sometimes blindness. A retinal specialist at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, was one of the lead investigators in the research that led to today’s FDA approval. The drug is the first and only FDA-approved medicine for DME, a condition for which the standard of care has not changed significantly in more than 25 years. To date, the usual resort in the United States has been laser surgery, which slows the rate of vision loss and helps stabilize vision, but has demonstrated only limited ability to restore lost vision. “This approval is an important advancement in the fight against blindness for people with diabetes,” said David M. Brown M.D., retinal surgeon at Methodist. “Now that it will be available, Lucentis therapy can begin to make a difference in the lives of our patients with DME.” Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in American adults and DME is estimated to affect more than 560,000 Americans with the disease. Learn more at http://bit.ly/NFkjul.