Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for December, 2007

Closing Note for 2007 – Looking at 2008 for HOPE and HAPPINESS

Posted by evolvingwheel on December 30, 2007

Well, 2007 is finally coming to an end… 48 more hours to reach the end of one phase of a beginning. A beginning of a blog that started in Jan. As I have pursued different avenues to enlighten myself with the innovations that have showed the potential of changing our lives in some significant form over the next years, decades, or ages, I did find the journey an eternal source of learning. The most fascinating part has been coming across the most intuitive ideas I could have never imagined. It just baffles me to think what big dreamers we are. Over the past 100 years of most fascinating scientific discoveries and inventions, we have learnt a lot. But often what we have failed to highlight on is how to engage everyone in making the history look more enriching than what it shows today. Inclusion is the key to the real success of the innovations in our lives!

Here are some snapshots from all the posts over the last year.

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Posted in Innovation | 2 Comments »

Biochips to test toxicity of new drugs outside animal body

Posted by evolvingwheel on December 29, 2007

So a big pharma creates a drug molecule with the potential of becoming a blockbuster. $4 billion dollars have been spent in R&D and the drug-discovery life-cycle . The drug is now up for clinical trials and gets canned because of toxicity reported in animal and human treatments. The company tries to dilute the risk by spreading the failed investment into other drug development and profit margins. Future blockbuster drugs costs astronomically high!

Now consider that a new method of testing has been found that tests the toxicity of a drug-in-process way early in the discovery cycle. Guess how much investment can be saved by deflecting the risk of a flop show towards the end of the process. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., the University of California, Berkeley, and Solidus Biosciences, Inc. have developed a biochip technology that claims to reveal the potential toxicity of chemicals and drug candidates during early experiments. Read the article [here]. toxicity_on_a_chip.jpg

As in earlier cases, I am not going to talk about the technology behind it. You can read that in the article itself. I will rather try to analyze briefly the ecosystem dynamic around this innovation and what could be the potential lines of developments/creations in the industry.

  1. First thing, if this practice catches up, how will the clinical testing industry adjust with the new toxicity test way early in the cycle? How will those business components rehabilitate?
  2. We test drugs on animals earlier for toxicity and use that as a predicate for reactions on humans. Now that is often challenged. However, will the new chips really curtail the testing on animals? EU has already banned several testing on animals considering them inhumane. This policy enactment will definitely drive business development around these chips and their commercialization. How will the market get saturated with this technology and how long will that take. Will thestart-up be able to survive as bigger giants get into the game? If this technology is patented (which it is), what other methods can other companies utilize to enter this market? If there is no other than this then the market barrier is quite high. In that case there could be licensing in the horizon!
  3. Custom drugs?? – “Ultimately, each person would have their own DataChip or MetaChip that contains their own genetic information,” Dordick says, noting that most drugs on the market today are “one size fits all.” —- Now that could be something over the coming years. If we have our genetic makeup embedded in such chips and drug companies start developing molecules customized to our code, will that change the dynamics of drug development significantly. Is custom drug through custom tests the next generation of development ahead? That’s where I will be interested. And guess what – one field that will be greatly leveraged is clinical informatics and bio- informatics.

Similar article of Interest:

Biomedical Engineers’ ‘Body-on-a-Chip’ Could Reduce Cost of Developing New Drugs

Posted in biotech, health, Innovation, Medicine, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

A tribute to Mr. Hans Rosling – Thanks for enabling the war on poverty better

Posted by evolvingwheel on December 16, 2007

I spent sometime learning what Mr. Hans Rosling is up-to, and that’s too for last 30 years. This incredible human being has collected the numbers of different indexes of poverty, education, income, export, import, healthcare, mortality, and what not. And he has come up with a dynamic representation of a perplexing view of changing time-line of economic/wealth growth of different countries in an application called Trend-alyzer, recently bought by Google. Discover Magazine recently covered him. Find the link [here] with an interview with Rosling. hans_rosling.jpg

Rosling created an animation of all the eco-social data points translating decades of development of individual countries into a time series. But it is more than that. As I watched his video, what struck me is the detail of the message embedded in an evolving path. All the data will now be available for free and social enterprises, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and other parties can use them to develop economic policies, social instruments, and technological devices to appropriately address different pressing issues across the world. I believe that this will greatly benefit the understanding of the intricacies of an emerging world. In fact, one other aspect of this development is the possibility of crafting efficient flow of capital and resources through FDI (foreign direct investment) or philanthropy.

I visited Rosling’s blog and I would highly recommend you to visit too. A good collection of different discussions, literature, and Rosling’s innovative ideas to address global poverty and healthcare. The first thing that came across my mind is how we could use his data points and develop efficient and innovative ideas to bring sophisticated services and technologies where they are most needed. How could this data help us to device cost effectiveness of any proposed solution in those parts of the world where help is critically needed. Whatever way we proceed, his numbers will give us a live gauge of the pulse of these regions in a more vivid manner. THANK YOU Mr. Rosling.

Posted in drugs, Environment, health, Infrared, Innovation, poverty, Soccer, social innovation | Leave a Comment »

Saliva with biomarkers – non invasive technique for detecting diseases

Posted by evolvingwheel on December 7, 2007

I have been stumbling upon this concept on and off and finally decided to post it. I have come across two articles. One is a post on Popular Science website and the other a research paper from nearly 3 years back. The Pop Sc. article talks about the potential of detecting diseases from human saliva.

Earlier, saliva was ignored due to a very low number of analytes present in it. But with the new human saliva proteomic project and new biomarkers being discovered, spit is realistically being considered as a non-invasive point-of-care diagnostic platform. I am all for it. Just think how easy it would be – just spit and detect the marker. No need to even show up at the clinic. Mail the specimen if time allows. Stress capability of saliva to withstand temperature and pressure is better than blood. Read the Pop Sci article [here]. doctor_000.jpg

Now the paper from 2005. It is a research article co-athored by scientists from several institutions in CA. The paper talks about MEMS diagnostic chip using saliva. Gives an overview of mico-electro mechanical system / nano-electro mechanical system (MEMS/NEMS) sensors to oral fluids for diagnostic purposes. Please read the article [here]. As a proponent of cheap diagnostics that can be used for social innovation in underserved communities, I am highly interested in learning more about the potential of MEMS chips. I will cover more soon. 

Another good link: http://www.tastechip.com/saliva/saliva_diagnostics_research.html

Posted in biotech, blood, diagnosis, Innovation | Leave a Comment »

Electric cars as power storage for grids – an entrepreneur goes ahead of the curve

Posted by evolvingwheel on December 5, 2007

This came as a very interesting idea to start with – electric and hybrid cars acting as storage facilities for extra power in an electrical grid. I will briefly state the background or the problem that seeks such an effort: Electric companies produce power that are drawn from the grid to different degrees at different times of the day. During the morning rush hour, the power draw is heavy. It slows down a bit during later periods before hitting another high during the evening hours. The draw also depends on demographics, usage, industrial density, and other attributes. However, it’s extremely difficult to store the power during off times. As stated, the storage capacity available is only for 1% of yield in the US.

Dr. Willet Kempton at the University of Delaware College of Marine and Earth Studies, has developed a system called V2G (vehicle-to-grid) that enables electric and hybrid cars to store this extra power and supply it back to the grid when idle. Gasoline driven cars are literally useless when idle. However, if connected to a grid node, electric cars can store the excess electricity and provide it back when not running. Rad the article [here] v2g.jpg

The concept is cool if there is a decent volume of participant cars. Nearly 100 vehicles available for two-thirds of the time could provide a megawatt of storage power. let’s now see the cost-benefit picture – The researchers estimate each car can provide $4,000 (£2,000) worth of storage to an energy company per year. It would cost roughly $600 (£300) to install the high-power connection system required. To encourage drivers to help out, power companies would need to pass on some of their savings, says Kempton.

Now certain areas that the true commercialization of this research hinges on are as follows:

  1. For every 1000 combustion-powered cars, how many electric/hybrid cars are there? In order to see a significant platform for implementation, what density of hybrid cars are required in cities and small towns? What is a possible timeline to reach that density?
  2. For density growth purpose – who will market for awareness? Will it be power companies, car companies, consumer advocacy groups, governments, or other third-party entities?
  3. What kind of infrastructure costs are associated with bringing the grid network to the individual consumer’s garage? How do you do that for cars that are parked on streets, office parking lots, and city paid garages?
  4. If volume is the question, how do you market the concept for its adoption within a favorable timeline? Is this just a very theoretical approach or does it have the possibility of mass acceptance? v2g_car.jpg
  5. How will this affect the car batteries in the long run? If the store-n-supply is hammering the battery, how will that contribute to the wear-and-tear of the power system of the hybrid? Are the researchers planning to work with car companies to make adjustments in the hybrid/electrical system? What is the incentive for the car companies to do that? Will the power companies reimburse them? What will be the cost-share and revenue structure around this?

Well, I have many questions. Thinking from the business implementation line kind off. Any inputs?

Posted in Energy, Environment, fuel, hybrid | 1 Comment »