In search of medical excellence

At d·HEALTH we feel truly blessed that great educators from all over the map find their way to Barcelona. One such teacher is Mark Bruzzi.

He is an entrepreneur and lecturer at National University of Ireland in Galway, and the Director of the BioInnovate Ireland medical device innovation training program. Modeled also on Stanford Biodesign Fellowship, its’goal is to foster entrepreneurship in healthcare and create value to the Irish economy. And it is in the correct way according to recent news.

Last week Enterprise Ireland, ACT Capital in Dublin, signed a €11.7m collaboration with the prestigious US-based Mayo Clinic for the co-development and licensing of 20 novel medical technologies over the next 5 years with the aim of creating several high value medical technology spin-out companies. The agreement involves further development and validation of the technologies patented at Mayo Clinic by research teams in Irish Higher Education Institutes and introductions to investors to bring the technologies to market.

The first project under this agreement will be lead by d·HEALTH Faculty member Mark Bruzzi. It is a device for the treatment of acute pancreatitis, an increasingly prevalent condition worldwide with substantial hospitalization costs, but with no widely accepted therapies or practices for proactive management of the disease. Associated healthcare costs are estimated at €3 billion in the US alone. Bruzzi’s team at NUI Galway aims to design and develop a prototype device for human clinical use, build on animal studies conducted thus far and advance the therapeutic technology towards a “first in man” clinical investigation.

This is great news for medtech innovation and we feel really happy for Mark! CONGRATULATIONS! Below it is a video-interview we filmed with Dr. Bruzzi when he visited us last year.

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Genes are not patentable

Last Thursday the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that natural human genes, even isolated from the human body, cannot be patented, a decision that scientists, doctors, patients and civil rights campaigners celebrate because it removes a major barrier to medical care and innovation.

The court said that human DNA is a “product of nature”, a basic tool of scientific and technological work, thereby placing it beyond the domain of patent protection. The resolution strikes down patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc, a Utah based company, on two BRCA1 and BRCA1 genes linked to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The ruling represents a major shift in the law and will have a profound effect on the biotechnology and drug industry. It will allow new companies and laboratories to enter the market on genetic testing reducing the costs and making easier to develop new combinations of tests and therapies tailored to each person’s unique genetic makeup.

However, the court limited its’ ruling. It held that synthetic DNA, forms of DNA that have been manipulated in the lab in a way that modifies their natural state, could be patented.

The decision resolves one of the most important and complex disputes in a generation involving the intersection of science, law and commerce. The issue has gained increasing importance as scientists make progress in identifying specific genes, or mutations, linked to a variety of diseases. The full text of the decision is available here [in English] and here an in deep feature about the resolution and the decade-long conflict with human genes patents [in Spanish].