This week we explore promising developments in CRISPR genome editing, also known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, a bacterial defense system. We also look at two of the latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approvals, including another one for a surgical robot that leverages artificial intelligence and a nerve stimulation device that helps stroke patients regain movement in their arms and hands. Capital markets remain hot as we look at a series D funding round for a new orthodontic start-up that provides an alternative option to teeth straightening, and finally, we touch on a $10.5 billion acquisition of smart hospital bed maker Hill-Rom.
Each week we highlight five things you need to know in the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.
In a paper published in Molecular Cell, a team at Stanford confirmed through experiment that an alternative and much smaller CRISPR system known as “CasMINI” could be used to edit genetic code. The system is approximately half the size of current CRISPR applications. Less than 1% of current CRISPR systems can work in human cells because they are too large to fit. This new development has the potential to unlock many more applications and cure additional genetic diseases, cancer and even organ degeneration.
Asensus Surgical received their third FDA approval for its Senhance robotic surgery system. The device leverages artificial intelligence to assist surgeons during laparoscopic procedures. The company was originally granted FDA approval for its device in March 2020. The most recent approval is for upgrades to its system including improvements to its automated camera and vision control, 3-D measurement and labeling.
The FDA recently approved MicroTransponder’s Vivistim system. The device stimulates the vagus nerve to help patients regain control of their arms and hands after a stroke. In conjunction with rehabilitation, the device helps the brain retrain the motor signals needed to move muscles. Initial clinical results appear promising and provide a potential treatment for a condition that currently has limited treatment options.
InBrace announced last week that it closed its oversubscribed series D funding round to support further commercialization of its new teeth-straightening device. The company uses a “smartwire” that is customized to each patient’s mouth and attaches to the back of the teeth to continuously apply pressure and move the teeth to their desired position. The company claims that the treatment is quicker and requires less adjustment or replacement compared to traditional braces or Invisalign.
Baxter, the multinational health care company, acquired the medtech firm Hill-Rom. The deal is scheduled to close early in 2022. The acquisition further expands and complements Baxter’s existing lineup of medical devices and equipment. Combined pro forma revenue for 2020 was $14.6 billion and Baxter expects about $250 million in annual cost synergies over the next three years. Baxter hopes to leverage its existing international distribution channels to further expand the commercialization of Hill-Rom’s smart hospital bed.