Monday, March 21, 2011

Medical innovation grows in Boston

Now that I am free of the day-to-day responsibilities of running a hospital, I have had more chance to meet people working on new medical diagnoses, therapies, and services in the Boston area. There are a slew of them, as this is a hotbed of innovation and invention because of the concentration of hospitals and research universities. From time to time, I will tell you about some of these.* In particular, I will try to focus on innovations that, in my opinion, have the potential to decrease the cost of health care or provide more patient-centric care.

Here's one I learned about recently, a new company called Novocure. (I have no financial interest in this company.) They have developed a potential non-invasive treatment for solid tumors. Mild electrical currents are applied from an external source through the skin into the body, with the idea of interfering with the growth mechanism of cancer cells. The most promising arena is currently brain tumors, glioblastoma multiforme.

Of course, there is an extensive FDA-guided clinical trial regime to go through, as there is with all such inventions. Last week, the FDA's Neurological Devices Panel Advisory Committee met to review the company's application for recurrent GBM and provide guidance to the agency on approval. The panel voted in favor of the treatment, bringing the company one step closer to being able to offer this treatment option to GBM patients. You can read more here and here.

* I will only report publicly available information. I will, of course, disclose if I have a personal financial interest. I will no longer comment on any financial interest of my previous employer or staff there, as I in no way represent them; nor do I keep track of such matters and therefore neither can I speak knowledgeably about them.

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