HEALTH

Alcon to extend eye drop product lines

BY Michael Johnsen

HUENENBERG, Switzerland Alcon recently announced that it is releasing two new line extensions this summer across its Systane Lubricant Eye Drops product line.

The product expansions include a dry eye drop for contact lens wearers and a preservative-free, single unit dose product.

Systane Contacts Lubricating Eye Drops, the new moisturizing drop for contact lens wearers, will be shipped in May and is designed to keep eyes comfortable while wearing contacts. 

Systane Ultra Preservative Free Vials will launch in August, the company reported. The dry-eye therapy provides extended protection to the ocular surface and increased comfort from the symptoms of dry eye.

“There are over 60 million Americans who suffer from dry eye, and we know they all have different needs,” stated Elyse Dickerson, product manager for Systane. “Expanding our product offering gives consumers more choices for effectively relieving their symptoms with a product designed for their specific needs.”

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Vitamin D intake can help asthma, COPD patients

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO Vitamin D may slow the progressive decline in the ability to breathe that can occur in people with asthma, as a result of human airway smooth muscle proliferation, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in a study released Wednesday.

The group found that calcitriol, a form of vitamin D synthesized within the body, reduced growth-factor-induced HASM proliferation in cells isolated from both persons with asthma and from persons without the disease. The proliferation is a part of process called airway remodeling, which occurs in many people with asthma, and leads to reduced lung function over time.

The researchers believe that by slowing airway remodeling, they can prevent or forestall the irreversible decline in breathing that leaves many asthmatics even more vulnerable when they suffer an asthma attack.

“Calcitriol has recently earned prominence for its anti-inflammatory effects,” stated Gautam Damera, who presented the research at the American Thoracic Society’s 105th International Conference on Wednesday. “But our study is the first to reveal the potent role of calcitriol in inhibiting ASM proliferation.”

The investigators have also conducted experiments to determine whether calcitriol, which is currently used to treat psoriasis, could be an effective therapy for COPD.

Although preliminary, their data shows that calcitriol appears to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine secretions in COPD. As with asthma, the researchers believe, calcitriol may also have the added benefit of slowing, if not stopping, the progression of airway remodeling. Others in the field believe calcitriol may also have the potential to inhibit the development and growth of several types of cancer.

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Northwestern U. students win Diabetes Mine Design Challenge

BY Michael Johnsen

EVANSTON, Ill. Two Northwestern University teams took home the top two prizes awarded earlier this week in the Diabetes Mine Design Challenge, which asked teams to create new tools for improving life with diabetes.

The top winners were Eric Schickli, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Engineering Design and Innovation program in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Samantha Katz, a graduate student in the MMM program, a joint MBA and Master of Engineering Management program between the Kellogg School of Management and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

For their efforts, they received a $10,000 prize.

The competition — run by the diabetes information Web site www.diabetesmine.com — was open to anyone, and judges received more than 150 entries, many from top universities across the country.

Schickli and Katz’s winning design was called the LifeCase and LifeApp system, a combined hardware and software system for iPhones that combines a lancer, test strips, a glucose meter, wireless insulin pump management and disease management software all in one package.

“I was looking for an independent study project, and my mother is a Type 1 diabetic, so I knew this would be a way I could help diabetics like her,” Schickli said. “She also had a network of people that we could tap for user interviews.”

By interviewing diabetics and researching diabetic products, the two quickly learned the main complaint about diabetic devices.

“Diabetics have to carry around cases filled with multiple devices to test their blood glucose, and it’s so cumbersome,” Katz said. “They were all looking for devices that could improve their lives and make diabetes take up less of their day,” Schickli added. They decided that an interface that combined aspects of diabetes management into one convenient device would be ideal.

Their final design is a modified iPhone case, complete with a glucose meter, lancer and strip storage. The software interface combines diabetes management software, insulin pump management software, and logs of meals and glucose readings.

The Most Creative award ($5,000) was won by an undergraduate team of Design for America students: Kushal Amin, Can Arican, Hannah Chung, Rita Huen, Mert Iseri, Kevin Li, Justin Liu, Yuri F. Malina, Katy Mess, and Sourya Roy. Involvement in the project crossed the borders of McCormick — students from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education and Social Policy also participated.

Their design, “Jerry the Bear with Diabetes,” is an interactive stuffed toy and web-based play space for children with diabetes. Design for America is a new student-led initiative that creates social impact through human centered participatory design.

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