Innovation through Multidisciplinary thinking

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Innovation through Multidisciplinary thinking

The following is a subset of Israeli companies that have leveraged technological mashups to solve drug delivery problems. It is a product of the multidisciplinary backgrounds that is obtained by combining military and civilian experiences. But it is also a way of thinking that produces particularly creative solutions and potentially opens new industries and “disruptive” advances in technology.

Beta-O2 Technologies

Problem: Start-up working on an implantable “bioreactor” to replace the defective pancreas in diabetes patients. Diabetics suffer from a disorder that causes their beta cells to cease producing insulin. Transplanted beta cells can do the trick, but even if the body didn’t reject them, they cannot survive without a supply of oxygen.

Solution: Create a self-contained micro-environment that includes oxygen-producing algae from the geysers of Yellowstone Park. Since the algae need light to survive, a fiber-optic light source is included in the pacemaker-sized device. The beta cells consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide; the algae does just the opposite, creating a self-contained miniature ecosystem. The whole bioreactor is designed to be implanted under the skin in a fifteen minute outpatient procedure and replaced once a year.

TransPharma Medical

Problem: Solves one of the most intractable problems of drug delivery: how to get large molecules, such as proteins, through the outer layer of the skin without the injection. The first products will deliver the human growth hormone and a drug for osteoporosis; patches to deliver insulin and other drugs, hormones and molecules.

Solution: Combine two different innovations – radio frequency (RF) pulses to create temporary micro channels through the skin, and the first powder patch ever developed. It’s a small device like a cell phone that you apply to the skin for one second. It creates RF cell ablation, hundreds of micro channels in the skin. Then a powder patch is applied and not a regular patch. Drug is printed on the patch, and it’s dry and then patch is applied to the skin. The interstitial fluid comes out slowly from the micro channels and pulls the lyophilized [freeze-dried] powder from the patch under the skin.


Problem: All inhalers are tricky and expensive to manufacture. A way must be found to release the drug effectively through a wire mesh. In addition, this process must be timed perfectly with the breath of the patient to maximize and regulate the drug’s absorption in the lungs.

Solution: Developed an inhaler the size and shape of a credit card that includes a breath-powered wind turbine. Inside the “credit card” is a fanlike propeller that is powered by the flow of air when the patient inhales from the edge of the card. As the propeller turns, it brushes against a mesh and into the air flow in a measured manner. Since the propeller works only when the user inhales, it automatically propels the drug into the patient’s lungs.


Problem: Reduce the number of compounds to test in drug development

Solution: Combining mathematics, biology, computer science, and organic chemistry, Compugen has been pioneering what it calls “predictive” drug development. Rather than testing thousands of compounds, hoping to hit upon something that “works”, the strategy is to begin at the genetic level and develop drugs based on how genes express themselves through the production of proteins.

Major aspect of the approach is its unusual combination of “dry” (theoretical) and “wet” (biological) labs.

Given Imaging

Problem: Develop a camera within a pill that can transmit pictures from inside the human body.

Solution: Technology mashup of integrating an array of technologies – optics, electronics, batteries, wireless data transmission, and software to help doctors analyze what they are seeing. Cram a camera, a transmitter, light and energy into a pill that anyone can swallow. Pillcams transmit eighteen photographs per second, for hours, from deep within the intestines of a patient. The video produced can be viewed by a doctor in real time, in the same room or across the globe.

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