- Australian researchers are now using 3D printing to produce highly accurate bone replacements for head trauma victims.
- Hearing implant maker Cochlear has posted a 240 per cent jump in first-half net profit on a strong rise in sales.
- The number of measles cases in the United States is rising, with some states considering enforced vaccinations.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 11th February 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Australian researchers are now using 3D printing to produce highly accurate bone replacements for head trauma victims.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have begun printing templates of missing skull pieces and successfully trialling them on patients with injuries from the size of a 20 cent piece up to 40 per cent of a patient’s skull missing.
The bone segment is finished in a few days and costs only $300, compared to current cranioplasty implants which take weeks to manufacture and cost thousands of dollars.
Biomedical engineer Dr Phillip Boughton pioneered the invention to improve methods of skull repair.
The new process provides cranioplasty implants that are much more precise, he says.
“We’re helping to address what can often be an emergency situation as close to the day when the patient comes in as possible,” he said.
“Implants are … starting to be patient-specific. Rather than fitting the patients to the implant, we’re basically taking the patient’s scans and customising the implant to the patient.”
The new method uses a patient’s CT scan to create the replacement part in a 3D printer which is then moulded with a material called bone cement.
The replacements are completely sterile and can even be moulded with an antibiotic to fight infection.
Following this trial’s success, the researchers will now work to regenerate bone and cartilage using 3D printing.
PhD student Jeremy Kwarcinski was part of the research team and sees it as a new pathway for regenerative medicine.
“The potential exists well beyond just the skull and noses and cheek implants – and potentially in the future collar bones and other aspects of the body are quite feasible,” Mr Kwarcinski said.
“You could potentially print replacements for a whole body.”
Hearing implant maker Cochlear has posted a 240 per cent jump in first-half net profit on a strong rise in sales.
The Sydney-based firm has posted a $71.4 million profit after tax, up from $21 million over the same period last year.
However, last year’s result was dragged down by one-off provisions related to a legal dispute over patents, meaning the latest result is more realistically up a still very strong 94 per cent.
The rise in profits was boosted by an 18 per cent growth in revenue.
Cochlear said it almost doubled its sales of sound processor upgrades, but its sales of new implants remained fairly steady at 11,689, with solid growth in the US and Western Europe offset by weaker sales in developing countries.
The company also said it booked a $7.3 million benefit from the translation of sales in foreign currencies back to a falling Australian dollar, although this was partially offset by a $2.2 million loss from foreign exchange contracts.
Cochlear said its profits were also improved by a reduction in cost of goods sold relative to their sale price.
Expenses increased 6 per cent at the company, but it cut back on research and development expenditure by 6 per cent to $61.4 million.
Cochlear’s interim dividend will be 90 cents per share (35 per cent franked), which is down 29 per cent from the same period last year, as the company returned to paying out around 70 per cent of profits back to shareholders.
Cochlear shares were up 0.1 per cent to $87.70 by 10:32am (AEDT).
The number of measles cases in the United States is rising, with some states considering enforced vaccinations.
The US Centres for Disease and Control (CDC), which began tracking the outbreak on January 1, said the measles outbreak had now spread to 17 states and Washington DC.
It said the vast majority of the 121 confirmed cases were part of the large outbreak that began at California’s Disneyland amusement park in December.
The latest figures put the US on track to surpass the 644 cases it experienced last year.
The outbreak has spurred politicians in California, Oregon and Washington state to consider laws to make it harder for parents legally to opt out of vaccinating school-aged children.
Bills in several other states, including New York, Mississippi and West Virginia, would loosen restrictions.
US congressional leaders and several possible 2016 presidential hopefuls addressed the issue last week, joining a renewed debate over parents’ right to forgo inoculation of their children amid fears about potential side-effects.
The University of California has told students at its 10 campuses they will be required to be immunised for measles, mumps, rubella and other diseases under policy set to take effect in 2017.
Measles, a highly contagious disease that can lead to pneumonia or brain swelling, was declared eliminated in the US in 2000.
This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.