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MedTech

Medical technology explained very simply: Medical technology is an engineering discipline. Medical technology develops and manufactures products, devices, and procedures for the prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of diseases. It is a highly regulated, but also steadily growing industry.  Medical technology provides the link between medicine and the engineering sciences. Advances in diagnostics and therapy are largely based on technical innovations. For non-invasive diagnostics and monitoring systems, for example, control technology, sensor technology, and data processing play a major role. The implementation of innovative ideas in powerful, practical, and cost-effective applications therefore increasingly requires interdisciplinary knowledge that combines engineering and scientific know-how.

Special features in medical technology

Demographic change is increasing the demand for healthcare services. On the other hand, technology is developing at a rapid pace – diseases can be detected more quickly and treated with ever better methods than was possible just a few years ago. Since innovations in the field of medical care are generated by the development and market launch of new medical technology products, medical technology represents a steadily growing market that requires skilled personnel with a technical background as well as solid medical knowledge. However, according to the German Medical Technology Association, companies lack technologically skilled professionals. The demographic change increased health awareness and medical-technical progress point to strong long-term growth rates and great employment potential in medical technology. Many new ideas are generated each year by the small companies or start-ups that emerge from university spin-offs or research projects. Compared to other industries, medical technology has been ranked number one in patent applications for years.

How are innovative medical products created?

The industry generates more than half of its sales with products that are no more than three years old. It is new, innovative medical products that promise the most sales – in contrast to imitations of existing products. To generate innovations, medical technology companies often work closely with research institutions such as the industry-oriented Fraunhofer societies. Ideally, research projects are even funded. EU-funded projects are one possibility here.

What counts as medical devices?

Medical devices include, for example, medical software, laboratory diagnostics, implants, products for injection, infusion, transfusion, and dialysis, human medical instruments, medical software, catheters, pacemakers, dental products, dressing materials, visual aids, X-ray equipment, and medical instruments. Medical devices are also products that contain or are coated with a substance or preparations of substances that, when used separately, are considered to be medicinal products or components of a medicinal product (including plasma derivatives) and can exert an effect on the human body in addition to the functions of the product. The legal definition of medical devices is contained in the Medical Devices Act.

Careers in medical technology

The broad spectrum of medical technology relies on numerous key technologies. These include microsystems technology, nanotechnology, optical technologies, and information and communication technology applications. The range of careers that engineers in medical technology can enter is correspondingly wide. Graduates in medical technology work primarily in the medical technology industry, but also hospitals and research institutes. They develop medical devices, work as computer scientists in hospitals, advise medical technology companies, or are active in science and research. The prospects for the future are good. After all, medical technology is an innovative field that will continue to develop rapidly in the coming decades due to demographic change alone.

Future and challenges of medical technology

A German medical technology company invests an average of about 10% of its sales in the research and development of new technologies. That is more than twice as much as an average industrial company invests. And it shows: The industry has a future. This is confirmed by the German Medical Technology Association. However, it also points out the problems. Regulatory requirements, in particular, pose major challenges for companies. The association calls for a faster approach to benefit assessment. The U.S. regulatory authority has already accelerated the processes – Germany should therefore not allow itself to be left behind, according to one of the association’s demands. One of the greatest challenges facing medical technology in the coming decades will be to enable people to live independently into old age. Especially against the background of the shortage of skilled nursing staff. New medical technology devices can ensure that people will be able to cope and be cared for better in old age and with chronic illnesses in the future than is still the case today.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (9)

Start-Up Network

The start-up cosmos is large and yet many founders feel alone at first. Especially at the beginning, you are faced with countless new tasks, unpredictable questions, or even a new industry. Once the initial sensory overload has been overcome, it is worth pausing and looking around the scene. After all, all founders have to take their first uncertain steps and it is all the more logical to learn from those who have already done so. But where can you meet like-minded people, idea sharers, fellow sufferers, and potential business partners?

Network & Contacts

Networking is a key component for your start-up success. Good business contacts open doors for the future of your business idea. You might also leave a good impression on potential financiers. But how do I do “real networking”?  It is important not to rush to every event, but to select only those events and functions that deliver added value and to take the time to prepare for the right events accordingly. After all, not every event has the right audience. Also, it is important not only at events but also in personal conversations to get the most essential info across in a short time. It is important to make yourself and the idea interesting, exciting, entertaining! You should give your counterpart a reason why she or he should learn more about you.

70-20-10 Rule 

Most people don’t like to be bombarded with information. Networking should not be a monologue, but a conversation in which a lot of listening is involved. For a good conversation structure, you can follow the 70-20-10 rule:

70% of the time: offer help

Most of the time one should demonstrate that potential partners and customers can count on them and offer your support. Provide useful contacts, make a helpful phone call, or offer tips – you make sure that the contacts in your network benefit from you. The goal is to build trust. By asking for help early on, you can be mistaken for being greedy or inconsiderate, and in the worst case, scare off your partner. Therefore, you should be the source of trust yourself first. It is also possible to involve others at events, listening to people and engaging them in conversation as opportunities arise.

20% of the time: communicate your idea

After you have proven yourself to be a useful contact for others, it is time to put yourself out there as a person. Be careful, this does not mean representing yourself as a show-off, but

rather the project you are working on or how you would like to improve the working atmosphere in the company or similar things.

10% of the time: asking for help

After you have built trust, gained sympathy, and communicated your ideas, you can ask your network for advice or help with problems.

Consulting & Coaching

Online, at events, and in networks, founders can make their first contacts easily and without complications. Another decisive advantage is that these spheres are often home to financially and substantively strong partners who are happy to invest in innovative ideas. Of course, they are primarily looking for the one business idea that will ultimately bring in a lot of money. But many strategic investors are also looking for new fields and founders who are simply convincing. Unlike classic venture capital or business angels, they do not just want to help the founders achieve quick success with a lot of money. They advise and support professionally as well as financially over a long time and thus ensure a more sustainable scaling of the start-up. So if you prefer to grow steadily, but with a lot of know-how at your side, you should rather turn to a strategic consultant. Therefore, one should make sure to have entrepreneurs in one’s network who have already made it to where one wants to go. Because these entrepreneurs were also once founders and know the situation from their own experience. However, they are already one step ahead and it is precisely from them that you can learn a thing or two.

Founder competitions

Since most start-ups crave funding and exchange with experts at the beginning, participation in founder competitions is recommended. The own development starts already with the application. This is because extensive idea sketches, initial building blocks for a business plan, or other details are often required, forcing someone to formulate the project as concretely and convincingly as possible. Especially at the beginning of a start-up, this can help to get structure and clarity for the idea. Also, participating in a start-up competition allows direct contact with professionals, mentors, and the jury, all of whom are experts in their respective fields. Through the exchange, one can take away a lot of valuable know-how, especially since the participants more often receive direct feedback on their idea. Depending on the stage of the company, the competitions themselves are also designed to further develop the participants’ idea or business plan and take it to the next level. This means that in addition to the prospect of winning great prizes, you can also pick up some free coaching. Some contests also provide teams with personal mentors to work on the concept together. Participants also get access to contacts that wouldn’t be as easy to come by under normal circumstances, such as potential partners. Many start-up competitions also offer exclusive events for (former) participants or alumni networks. Another advantage of start-up competitions is the press coverage. Visibility is the factor that founders have to fight hard for. However, during and after participating in a founder competition, all eyes are on the teams. This guarantees the attention of media, potential first customers, cooperation partners as well as investors. The competition’s seal of approval can also be of great importance: Depending on how well-known and prestigious the competition is, a competition title increases the start-up’s reputation and can also act as a door opener.

It is important to take the time to select a competition and check to what extent you can benefit from the supporting program of the corresponding start-up competition. Not every one of the many competitions will advance someone in the same way. However, with such a wide range, there is certainly something for everyone. But above all, it is important to be true to yourself, to dare to take the step toward self-employment, and to never lose patience.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (8)

Flow Cyotmetric Immunophenotyping

Immunophenotyping enables the classification of cells beyond purely morphological assessment using the identification of cell membrane and intracellular antigens and is thus a central component of hematological diagnostics. In this examination, leukocytes are stained and sorted using immunological markers. The fluorescent dyes used allow differentiated and precise differentiation of individual leukocytes according to function and maturation stag.

What is immunophenotyping?

 

Cells of the hematopoietic system can be characterized by the detection of surface proteins. These surface proteins are usually specified according to the CD (cluster of differentiation) nomenclature. The detection of surface proteins is performed by specific antibodies coupled to a fluorescent dye. The detection of surface proteins is performed by specific antibodies. This method, which allows the measurement of antigens on a large number of blood cells in a very short time, is called flow cytometry. If, for example, lymphocytic populations are difficult to distinguish from one another under the microscope, flow cytometry can be used to quantify the ratio and number of immune cells or other cell populations of the blood or bone marrow. Immunophysiologically, different tasks can be assigned to the lymphocyte populations. Last but not least, importantimmunohistologicall findings in humans have been obtained by correlating the clinical phenotype (tendency to infection, pathogen spectrum) with the absence of certain cell populations in patients.

What is meant by Cluster of Differentiation (CD)?

 

CD molecules are membrane-bound glycoproteins, some of which are expressed in a cell-specific manner and can have a wide variety of functions: Some CDs have receptor or signaling functions, while others have been shown to have enzymatic activity. Also, some cluster molecules are thought to play a central role in intercellular communication. To date, several hundred molecules have been characterized, and it can be assumed that many more CDs exist.

What is the flow cytometry procedure for immunophenotyping?

 

The test material is usually peripheral blood and/or bone marrow, but other fluids e.g. cerebrospinal fluid or pleural effusion can also be used for testing. Based on the antigen profile of the analyzed cells, the lineage affiliation (myeloid vs. lymphoid) and the degree of differentiation can be determined. Modern multiparametric flow cytometry is based largely on advances in three areas: Laser optics, computerized data processing, and the development of new fluorescent dyes for coupling to the corresponding monoclonal antibodies. Membrane glycoproteins are detected by flow cytometry with fluorescently labeled monoclonal antibodies, usually using a combination of three or four different fluorochrome-labeled antibodies to characterize the cells. When several fluorescent dye-labeled antibodies are combined and the different scattering light properties of cells are exploited, it is possible to classify malignant hematologic neoplasms and, if necessary, to assess the success of therapy in the context of follow-up and minimal residual disease (MRD) control.

Membrane glycoproteins are detected by flow cytometry with fluorescently labeled monoclonal antibodies, usually using a combination of three or four different fluorochrome-labeled antibodies to characterize the cells. When several fluorescent dye-labeled antibodies are combined and the different scattering light properties of cells are exploited, it is possible to classify malignant hematologic neoplasms and, if necessary, to assess the success of therapy in the context of follow-up and minimal residual disease (MRD) control.

What innovation does Cytolytics offer?

 

Cytolytics offers sequential gating for detailed analysis, a graphical user interface for different computers, and a plausibly explained and understandable software language, as well as full automation of the analysis in flow cytometry. With the help of the innovation of full automation, not only large data sets are compared, but also abnormalities, anomalies, and outliers are detected based on the standardized setting. The automated analysis provides a standardized evaluation option so that familiarization with the Cytolytics software is effortless. The automated result documentation can be exported to various applications such as PPT, Word, and Excel, and a result presentation is possible directly and quickly without reprocessing. Using full automation, not only fast evaluations but also comparable, valid, repeatable, and meaningful results are delivered. With today’s technology, FACTS can identify which tumor and which cells are affected in the case of a cancer diagnosis. However, due to the time-consuming nature of gating, therapy planning and corresponding therapy control examinations often take place under great time pressure. Time is a life-saving factor and can, in sufficient quantities, enable precise, targeted therapy planning, for example in the case of leukemia. Cytolytics provides an innovative and intelligent solution for this. With time-saving analysis without gating, more time is available for planning therapies for life-threatening diseases and for preparing as well as publishing research.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (7)

Blood Cancer

In Germany, one person receives the devastating diagnosis of blood cancer every 15 minutes. Many patients are children and adolescents, but older people are also frequently affected. This form of cancer is rather rare compared to other cancers. But what exactly is blood cancer? How well can blood cancer be diagnosed and what treatment options are available?

What is blood cancer (leukemia)?

Many people colloquially refer to leukemias as blood cancers. Strictly speaking, however, leukemias are diseases of the blood-forming system. This means that not only the blood is affected, but mainly the bone marrow or the lymphatic organs. The consequence of leukemia is disturbed blood formation due to the uncontrolled multiplication of malignant blood cells. As a result of these cancer cells, the blood can no longer perform its vital tasks, such as fighting infections, transporting oxygen, or stopping bleeding. Also, these altered leukemia cells can spread throughout the body via the blood and, for example, also affect and damage the nervous system and internal organs.

What are the different forms of leukemia?

Doctors and researchers divide leukemia diseases into leukemic cells based on their gene alteration and into lymphocytic and myeloid leukemias based on the type of cells affected. These special designations are used only to distinguish the affected cell line of origin. Besides, there is a further classification according to the course of the disease. There is an additional distinction between acute and chronic leukemias:

Myeloid leukemias: originate from the precursor cells of granulocytes (are responsible for our “innate” immune defenses), and by extension, erythrocytes (our red blood cells) and platelets (essential for intact blood clotting).

Lymphocytic leukemias: affect lymphocytes (are responsible for our “acquired” immune defenses) and their precursor cells.

Acute leukemia: occurs suddenly with severe disease symptoms and are life-threatening diseases that lead to death in a few weeks to months if left untreated.

Chronic leukemia: it can take months or years for the affected person to suffer from the first symptoms.

All of these four forms can present in combinations with different symptoms and courses:

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML): most common acute leukemia, starts quite suddenly and progresses rapidly and about half of the patients are older than 70 years.

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): has a slow, insidious course (with exceptions), the median age of onset is 50 to 60 years, and occurs very rarely in children.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): most common of all forms of leukemia, starts quite suddenly and progresses rapidly and occurs mainly in children (ALL is the most common type of cancer in children) and otherwise in adult patients usually older than 80 years.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): most common leukemia in adults with slow and insidious progression, the median age of onset is 70 to 75 years old

and does not belong to the “true” leukemias, but lymphatic cancers (malignant lymphomas).

What are the causes of the different leukemia diseases?

The causes of the various forms of blood cancer have not yet been identified. However, experts have identified several risk factors that favor the development of leukemia. These include genetic predisposition, age, smoking, radioactive or X-ray radiation, chemical substances such as benzene or insecticides, or even very rare viruses.

How can leukemia be diagnosed?

Symptoms such as reduced performance, pallor, palpitations, frequent nosebleeds, or persistent fever are often unspecific and often occur in many other and sometimes harmless diseases. Therefore, they are not always taken seriously right away. However, with such complaints, there is always a suspicion of leukemia. In many cases, it is possible to make a detailed diagnosis with the help of immunophenotyping alone, while in other cases an additional examination of the bone marrow or molecular pathological examinations are necessary. Immunophenotyping is performed by flow cytometry, which allows rapid diagnosis. In this examination, leukocytes are stained and sorted using immunological markers. Differentiated and accurate differentiation of individual leukocytes by function and stage of maturation is achieved. Due to its high sensitivity, flow cytometry is becoming increasingly important in staging (assessment of tumor extent) examinations of the blood and bone marrow and can thus help to design therapy options that are appropriate for the patient.

What are the treatment options for leukemia?

Leukemia treatment is individually adapted to each patient. Various factors play a role in this. In addition to the patient’s age and general state of health, the course of the disease (acute or chronic) is particularly important. The therapy then ranges accordingly from chemotherapy to immunotherapy to stem cell transplantation. Depending on the cells affected, the therapy is tailored to the patient, which is why immunophenotyping is highly relevant. Also, possible side effects such as increased susceptibility to infections, nausea, and pain are treated appropriately with special drugs. Patients are also examined regularly during and after therapy. If there is a relapse, the cancer cells can be detected early in this way using flow cytometry. Besides, follow-up care is concerned with treating any long-term consequences of the previous therapy.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (6)

AI Applications in Medicine

Humans see and hear, we make plans, and we adapt to change. Artificial intelligence (AI) is when we replicate such cognitive performances on machines or computers. However, we still don’t know in detail how our brains do these things. But we can think of mathematical procedures that perform similar tasks in certain areas. With algorithms, machines can use sample data and derive models from them to improve their behavior step by step. From chess or other brainteasers on the Internet, the duel of man against machine has been one of the classics for years. On the one hand, it fascinates us to see how computers and machines learn on their own and adapt their behavior without human intervention. They are getting better and better and are already superior to us in some cases – just a few days ago, a computer beat five poker pros at once for the first time. This potential must be exploited, also in the field of medicine, where many treatment methods are becoming better and better through the use of intelligent software. Whether it’s apps for the early detection of diseases or personalized cancer therapies: Intelligent systems are expanding the possibilities of the medical profession quite considerably. On the other hand, there are still some challenges to be overcome, which AI brings with it. Is it ethical to listen to a machine in sensitive matters of life and death? What framework do we provide so that technology always serves people – and not the other way around?

What is AI capable of?

Self-learning algorithmic systems do nothing other than independently search for patterns in a huge pile of data that humans would not recognize or would recognize only with the greatest effort. Therefore, such learning systems are particularly suitable for repetitive tasks such as searching for anomalies, deviations, or commonalities and can also generate meaningful results from new data, i.e. they do not have to be reprogrammed every time. For example, in computed tomography scans, which doctors have hundreds of in hospitals every day, or blood cancer diagnostics by evaluating blood samples using flow cytometry after hours of gating. Through appropriate software development, AI technologies provide valuable services in medical diagnosis and therapy.

Where are the opportunities for AI in medicine?

AI brings enormous advantages. First, they can recognize relevant patterns that humans might never have looked for in the first place. Moreover, unlike humans, they never get tired or frustrated. They work without rest and can theoretically be fed with more data indefinitely because they learn at will. AI algorithms thus relieve humans of the very activities that dehumanize them. Numerous studies impressively prove that AI systems are very good at this and – for example – can reliably evaluate images. A study from Stanford, for example, showed that self-learning algorithms can classify skin cancer as competently or even better than dermatologists. Another field of application is personalized medicine. Here, for example, gene expression data is evaluated on an AI basis to arrive at tailored therapy recommendations. AI is also making inroads in the field of robotics. Medical robots or nursing robots can benefit from AI and become more autonomous. To improve healthcare, increasing patients’ chances of recovery, and supporting doctors in their diagnoses and therapy decisions, AI will increasingly become a part of healthcare in the future. The basic prerequisite for AI applications is data – including patient data, for example from the planned electronic patient record.

What are the prerequisites and framework conditions for AI?

The technical and organizational conditions required for the quality-assured use of AI assistance systems in medicine include the certification of AI systems and access control mechanisms to protect against attacks, as well as the integrity of data records and secure transmission paths. There are still several potential hurdles to overcome on the road to the widespread use of AI medical devices. First and foremost is a secure and powerful IT infrastructure for the storage and transmission of healthcare data and the digitization of care processes. To make this data accessible, it is necessary to establish suitable care registers for research and development purposes. There is a considerable need to catch up in this area in Germany. It is to be hoped that the laws currently on the way, above all the Hospital Future Act, the Digital Care Act, and the Patient Data Protection Act, will have the intended effect.

What are the prospects for AI?

Despite the above-mentioned challenges, it is already becoming apparent that artificial intelligence has become a key technology. It will help to overcome the current challenges facing the healthcare sector. Above all, AI ensures that diseases are detected more precisely and earlier. The quality and affordability of medical care should benefit from this.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (5)

Female Founder

Startup companies are a central factor of economic renewal in times of digitalization: With their innovative products, female and male founders change existing industries and create completely new markets. The German startup industry is still strongly male-dominated. This year’s Female Founders Monitor shows that women are still heavily underrepresented in the startup world – the proportion of female founders in Germany is currently just under 15.7%. In the previous year, the rate was 15.1 percent. A clear majority of startups are built by male teams, and especially in the tech sector, such as software applications, there are hardly any women-led companies. Also, male founding teams are more focused on growth and scalability, more clearly oriented toward external investors, and much more successful in obtaining high amounts of financing. For women, on the other hand, there are high barriers to entry in the startup sector, which can be countered and enormous potential exploited in particular by strengthening diverse teams. Women’s teams are by far the most common in the healthcare sector. Given their high level of expertise in the natural sciences, female founders are a fundamental driver of medical innovations. In contrast to this study, women are generally more confident about taking the step of “starting their own business”. After all, the female sex is strongly represented in general business start-ups, but the figures in the start-up world are simply disappointing. But what is the reason that women so rarely gain a foothold in the German start-up world? What challenges do female founders face in this country?

What is the Female Founders Monitor (FFM)?

The Female Founders Monitor (FFM) by the Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e. V. in cooperation with Google for Startups provides a detailed overview of the situation of female startups in Germany. For three years, the FFM has been examining the German startup landscape in its breadth about gender-specific characteristics. The study draws on the proven research design and at the same time always sets new focal points: Last year, among other things, the special importance of balancing family and career for female startup founders was elaborated. The current study focuses on the areas of financing and networking – topics that play a central role concerning the challenges faced by female founders. 

What are the goals of FFM?

The goal of the Female Founders Monitor is to support female startup founders in Germany and in this way promote the openness, diversity, and competitiveness of the startup ecosystem. Based on facts and figures, the FFM raises awareness of the conditions of female startup founders, identifies current challenges, and thus makes an important contribution to the process of social change. Based on facts and figures, the study aims to raise awareness of the topic, clearly names current challenges, and thus makes a contribution to the process of social change.

Why does only one gender dominate the start-up industry?

What distinguishes both female founders and male founders in the start-up scene is their high level of education. Both genders have usually completed a degree before founding a company. They have a business, technical and digital know-how – all important success factors for innovation and growth. What they often differ in, however, is their choice of subjects. Women often choose to study humanities or social sciences. They are also strongly represented in the natural sciences. However, the situation is quite different in computer science, mathematics, or engineering. Here, female graduates are rather rare. In economics, the balance is once again even. There is not only an imbalance in the subjects studied but also in the forms of financing. Those who want to grow quickly with their company like to fall back on investments from business angels or venture capital funds. However, it has been shown that these forms of financing have so far mainly benefited men: 1.6 percent of women’s teams and 17.6 percent of men’s teams state that they have received VC financing to date. The imbalance is also evident in the amount of funding female founders have received to date: Only 5.2 percent of women’s teams have already raised one million euros or more – compared to 27.8 percent of men’s teams.

What is the gender distribution within a startup?

The management level of 20.1% of startups has a mixed composition. The enormously high proportion of male teams points to clear barriers to entry for women in the startup industry and also generally prevents the tech scene from gaining diversity. This is because, as studies show, the gender structure in the founding team also continues at the employee level: statistically, even one woman in the founding team of a startup ensures that more than twice as many women are hired. Despite the underrepresentation of women in mixed teams, diversity is a key factor in empowering women in the startup sector, because it is here that they leap into the tech scene.

Where are the potentials and difficulties?

Differences can also be seen in the motives for founding a company and the approach is taken. Female founders often pursue social problems and are particularly represented in the green economy, social entrepreneurship, and the healthcare sector. Male founders, on the other hand, are more focused on growth and scalability. They dominate the start-up scene in the tech sector. These differences also have an impact on funding. A “gender bias” is evident here. Women receive significantly lower sums and funding from business angels and venture capital funds. One reason for this is often the lack of contact with financially strong investors. Yet women certainly have potential. Their presence in the healthcare sector is particularly noteworthy. Almost 17 percent of women-led startups fall into this sector. Medicine is thus a best-practice example for strengthening female founders in the mathematics, information technology, natural sciences, engineering, and technology sector. One of the biggest obstacles is still the compatibility of family and professional life. The majority of female founders are between 30 and 40 years old when they start their business. The time of founding a company thus falls during the family planning phase. The FFM shows that the majority of childcare responsibilities in the start-up sector also fall to women. This double burden prevents many women from founding and advancing their own companies. Women founders would like to see more support from policymakers on this issue.

What are the opportunities and outlook for women in startups? 

The FFM shows a clear imbalance in the distribution of female and male founders. For example, several initiatives are working to close the gap in the tech sector. However, the biggest obstacles for women are balancing job and family, lack of networks in the established economy, and disadvantage when it comes to capital. Female teams usually fail to attract financially strong investors for their company. A professional business plan could help here.

In many cases, startup consulting or startup coaching can help identify difficulties and potential barriers early on and address them strategically. Promoting diversity in start-up teams is thus one of the central tasks of the coming years. This is particularly true because mixed teams achieve better results and diversity also pays off in terms of economic success.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (4)

Presentation Possibilities of FACS-Data

Flow cytometry (Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting, FACS) is a method for the analysis and preparation of particles in mixtures of substances based on scattered light and fluorescence properties. The high analysis speed and sensitivity as well as the objective quantification and multiparametric correlations (relationship of at least two variables) open up an almost unlimited field of applications for flow cytometry in research and diagnostics. The focus of interest is always the individual cell. In contrast to traditional biochemical and cytochemical methods, no average values of a cell preparation are obtained, but the correlation of the result with the individual cell is maintained. Analysis techniques rely on representations using one-dimensional (e.g. histograms), two-dimensional (e.g. dot-plot) figures, and even higher-order graphs (plots) (3D-plots, SPADE trees, etc.).

Histogram

The most common and well-known evaluation representation of flow cytometry is the histogram. It represents a frequency distribution of the measured signals of a parameter. Typically, figures with data from different conditions are shown in one diagram. The horizontal axis represents the intensity of the individual measurements and the vertical axis represents the number of cells. In this way, the Gaussian distribution of a parameter is obtained, which is called the population. When cells are stained with fluorescently labeled antibodies, the fluorescence intensity is directly proportional to the number of binding sites (antigens) present, i.e., the more binding sites there are, the brighter the cell glows. Flow cytometry thus shows the distribution of different fluorescence intensities using a relative scale. The user must specify which areas should be considered “positive” or “negative” to properly evaluate a given population. These ranges are defined with control. Histograms are useful for cell cycle and proliferation analyses but are less useful for plotting data for several reasons. First, relationships between different markers will not be detected, i.e., double-positive cells cannot be identified. Second, small populations are lost in larger distributions, thus rare events are not noticed.

Dot-plot

If two different parameters are recorded during one measurement, a histogram is not sufficient and a two-dimensional representation is used. It allows to show the correlation distribution, i.e. the relationship between two different characteristics, and thus to identify more complex phenotypes. Thus, the populations in demand can be isolated using gating. The original two-dimensional plot is also known as a “dot plot,” a graph that showed the relationship between two traits but lacked detail in terms of the intensity of the number of events in a given region. Therefore, two-dimensional plots have some utility in showing how populations of interest are identified.

Scatter graphs

Another form of representation is a scatter graph, which can show information about dependency structures of two defined characteristics. The data are shown as scatter graphs, in which distributed characteristics can overlap if the same values are present several times. From scatter graphs, various focal points can be shown, such as the number of experiments performed to generate the data, or the mean, dispersion, and significance of the data.

Population

In flow cytometry, frequency distributions (populations) of cells are defined by their scattered light parameters – forward scattered light (FSC) and side scattered light (SSC) – and by their fluorescence. Since this is a relative measurement, controls must be used to define what is considered “positive” or “negative”. In the subsequent analysis, first, a pre-selection of the raw data is made (FSC versus SSC gate) and then the boundary between a negative and a positive population is defined, often based on a negative control (“threshold method”). A gate (a defined region) can of course also be set on the fluorescence parameters, for example, to select a specific lymphocyte population. All gates can be linked together. Thus, the gates act like filters connected in series. 

Compensation

Compensation is the proportional subtraction of a noticeable neighboring fluorescence in overlapping fluorescence spectra. In compensation, a relative amount is subtracted from a fluorescence signal by calculation and the difference in light quantity is referred to as the compensated signal. A disadvantage of compensation is that the positive population, due to the logarithmic amplification, is pulled apart in the direction of compensation, i.e. it is scattered more widely.

Gating

Gating is the process of defining a group of cells and gating them into another plot. However, since more than one cell population or property is studied in the research, gating can be very time-consuming. It is also a common criticism of flow cytometry data in general, as it represents a subjective evaluation.

With the proliferation of new automated analysis techniques, this problem is also being addressed while assuring that the data extracted for downstream statistical analysis comes from a robust, peer-reviewed process.

 

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (3)

Cancer

With approximately 230,000 deaths per year, cancer is the second most common cause of death in Germany (first place: cardiovascular disease). Due to the aging process, the number of new cancers occurring each year is increasing. Currently, the most common cancer for men is prostate cancer, followed by lung and colon cancer. For women, on the other hand, breast cancer is the most common cancer, followed by colorectal and lung cancer. This leaves most (affected) people wondering what cancer is and how it occurs. How cancer develops has not yet been clarified in detail. However, it is known that all types of cancer have in common a degenerate development of originally healthy body cells. They grow uncontrolled, into the surrounding tissue, and thus have a fatal functional restriction of the affected organs. These cancer cells can originate in almost any organ and migrate to other organs and lymph nodes via blood vessels or lymphatics. From there, they can develop into metastases, which also grow into healthy tissue just like the main tumor. In the case of cancer, therefore, survival depends on the timing of the cancer diagnosis, since cancer in its early stages has a good chance of cure and is usually not metastasized. Diagnostics play a key role in this: nowadays, cancer is diagnosed with the help of laboratory tests. To develop fast and targeted control examinations and therapy concepts, good laboratory equipment is, therefore, a mandatory requirement of every clinic. The faster and more accurately cancer is detected, the greater the chance of a successful cure. 

What actually is cancer?

 The body of every creature is made up of countless different cells, all of which have different tasks. An association of cells is called a tissue, which is a component of an organ. Each cell has a certain lifetime, therefore it can form new (and identical) cells by its division to maintain the organ function. If the body cells are healthy, their growth, development, and division as well as their death proceed without any problems. Cancer is a pathological change in the cells of the body. In this case, uncontrolled multiplication occurs due to rapid and defective division. So that they eventually form a lump (tumor). A tumor is defined as a hardening or swelling. They can be benign or malignant. The malignant tumor cells are often dangerous, as these cells can invade deeper and deeper into adjacent tissues and form metastases. The difference between benign and malignant tumors is no benign cells reach healthy tissue. Benign tumors include lipomas (fatty growths), moles, hemangiomas (vascular growths), and myomas (muscle cell growths).

How does cancer develop?

Taking a closer look at the development of cancer, there are various misregulations in the cell’s division. This disturbing process is called carcinogenesis, which originates in a cell whose genetic material is altered (by inheritance or independently acquired). This change (defect) is not reversed by misregulated repair mechanisms and is passed on accordingly during cell division. The older the human being gets, the more unreliable the repair system of the genetic material works. With further proliferation, these defective malignant cells can displace and damage the healthy cells. Among the best-known and most frequent causes, besides old age, are cigarette smoke, alcohol, sunlight, or radioactive radiation. Besides, there is a whole range of other causes of genetic changes, which would be too much to list here. However, it should be known that lifestyle such as diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and smoking, in addition to external factors such as sunlight and pollutants, play a major role in the development of cancer. Accordingly, some of these risk factors can be influenced, while others cannot. It is estimated that about one-third of cancers could be prevented by avoiding risk factors such as smoking or alcohol. The remaining diseases are due to factors that cannot be influenced or are unknown.

What are the cancer classifications?

Cancer can be classified according to organ, cell of origin, characteristics of the tumor tissue (dignity), appearance type of the tumor (phenotype), diversity of cells within the tumor (grading), state of spread (staging), and metastasis of the main tumor. The classifications and tumor type are important for subsequent therapy and control examinations, as they allow more targeted planning and treatment. The internationally standardized classification is the TNM-classification (tumor, “nodus” or lymph nodes and metastases). These classifications are highly relevant for every type of cancer in every possible organ (from the brain to the urinary bladder) and vascular system. The classification has the advantage of standardizing cancer studies worldwide for research and prognostic purposes, thus enabling better treatment planning.

How can cancer be diagnosed?

Early diagnosis of cancer is extremely important because it significantly improves the prospects for treatment. Thus, the chances of recovery increase the earlier the cancer is detected. The first step in diagnosis is a detailed interview and physical examination of the patient. There are various examination methods for localizing the exact location of cancer. For example, blood tests, imaging procedures (ultrasound examination, X-ray, computer tomography, or MRI), and taking tissue samples (biopsy) provide important information about the organ, metastases, and corresponding functional impairment of the body. There are also so-called tumor markers in the blood, which are the body’s substances that proliferate in some cancers. These substances are either formed by the cancer cells themselves or are stimulated to form. These tumor markers are usually determined during control examinations after successful treatment to rule out a recurrence of cancer.

How can cancer be treated?

Since every cancer is different from person to person, it is essential to tailor treatment to the individual. Each patient has different requirements for certain therapies. Therefore, the general condition and concomitant diseases of the patient must be strictly considered beforehand. Thus, the optimal cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer as well as its spread. Treatment usually consists of three basic pillars: surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy. In surgery, depending on the condition, cancer can be completely removed, chemotherapy stops the uncontrolled altered cell division by special cell toxins (cytostatics), and if necessary, radiation therapy can also be used to target cancer cells with electron radiation or X-rays. This procedure causes targeted damage to the cancer cells, which in turn causes cancer to decrease in size or stop growing. In addition to the three therapy options mentioned, other treatment options are used depending on the particular type of cancer, such as hormone therapy for hormone-dependent prostate or breast cancer, or antibody therapy (immune treatment), in the course of which special antibodies attack the cancer cells. When considering the therapy concept, a clear objective should also be defined, i.e. is the treatment completely curative, or does it only alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of life for a certain period. Therefore, as a person affected or a close caregiver, one should not immediately think of a death sentence when cancer is diagnosed. If the serious disease is detected at an early stage, a cure is often possible. For this reason, it is advisable to attend cancer screening examinations regularly.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics (2)

Digital Health

Digital transformation has fully taken hold of the healthcare sector and has come at just the right moment. Because of the large number of important medical decisions and the associated impact on patients’ quality of life, the healthcare sector is in urgent need of the possibilities offered by digitalization. After all, patient care often happens under high workloads, time constraints, complex paperwork, and an ever-changing job profile for medical staff. Also, the increasing aging of the population, the rise in chronic diseases, and the explosion of costs in the healthcare sector pose an enormous challenge for the healthcare system. Digital innovation seems to be the only and viable solution to all these difficulties. Digitalization is shifting the focus away from individual healthcare to a networked, global mindset. In the future, communication and information technologies will help to improve the electronic processing of communication, information, and data acquisition for medical care, documentation, and treatments in the healthcare sector, to provide ideal and individualized patient care.

What does digital health mean?

 

Digital health describes the combination of medicine and technology. It serves as a collective term for various technological innovations and applications in the healthcare sector. This ranges from hospital management and electronic health records to health apps and fitness trackers. For doctors, digitalization in the healthcare system is great support, as it can facilitate the diagnosis of complex diseases, analysis and interpretation of patient-related data, and treatment of diseases using artificial intelligence (AI). Digital health can also support patients in their everyday lives through monitoring sensors, rehabilitation robotics for people with disabilities, or long-term care.

What are the digital areas in healthcare?

 

health IT: it deals with the design, development, creation, use, and maintenance of healthcare information systems. It deals with the application of information processing, storage, retrieval, and use of data for communication and decision-making in healthcare. 

 

e-Health: stands for electronic health, which merges the three industries of medicine, IT, and healthcare management. It serves as an umbrella term for electronic health records, electronically supported disease, and knowledge management, and personally delivered healthcare for the diagnosis, monitoring, consultation, appointments, and prescriptions.

 

m-Health: stands for mobile health and refers to the use of smartphone or tablet apps to support medical processes. This includes, for example, the determination of vital signs such as blood glucose or body temperature, but also communication or motivational applications designed to remind people to take medication, among other things

Telemedicine: describes the provision of healthcare services and medical education over a distance, using information and communication technology. All healthcare providers can be involved in the delivery of telemedicine. 

Health Smart Home (HSH): describes the equipping of the living space of people with special needs for healthcare purposes. The aim is to increase patient/resident safety by monitoring and controlling the immediate physical environment with a focus on health status.

How will digital health develop?

 

The first steps in the digitalization of the German healthcare system have been set 2019 in motion by various legal measures. In addition to electronic prescriptions and electronic patient files with smartphone or tablet access, the new laws also enable the establishment of a telematics infrastructure to which service provider groups (midwives, physiotherapists, and care facilities) can voluntarily connect. With the help of these measures, the German Federal Ministry of Health would like to enable medical prescriptions for prescription drugs to be issued only electronically via the telematics infrastructure from 2022. But for this to happen, good digital services must be available promptly and services such as video consultations, electronic prescriptions, and the electronic patient file must become a natural part of everyday care. Another step in digitalization is the expansion of artificial intelligence. 

What are the obstacles to digitalization?

 

Before healthcare providers can realize the enormous potential of digitalization, several obstacles must be overcome – from efficient processing of the growing flood of data to better integration and education of the population. Physicians need new tools to process the flood of medical data quickly and accurately. Artificial intelligence capabilities provide the critical foundation for efficient decision support in routine clinical practice. Acceptance and trust are elementary prerequisites for advancing digital healthcare. That is why it is important to educate and create understanding for digital solutions in healthcare. This does not only apply to doctors, psychotherapists, and other service providers. It is equally important to build and strengthen the (digital) health literacy of patients. More and more people are informing themselves about health issues on the Internet. But one in two faces problems in finding their way around the healthcare system, evaluating information, and making the right decisions in the face of an increasing wealth of information. The goal of digitalization should be to sustainably increase health knowledge and thus help make it more user-friendly and modern.

What prospects does digitalization promise?

 

Digitalization promises to improve patient care while increasing efficiency in the healthcare system and also reducing costs. It can close information gaps, avoid misdiagnoses, improve prevention, and individualize diagnostics and therapy. Digitalization thus represents a huge growth market from both a medical and an economic perspective. In an international comparison, the U.S. and China are currently leading in the state of healthcare digitalization and innovation, as they are already dominant in other high-tech industries. In this context, Artificial intelligence represents a technological megatrend. It could be shown that in more than 2/3 of the companies in Germany AI is classified as important or even essential. Intending to make Germany a leading location for artificial intelligence, the German government’s National AI-Strategy has launched funding programs, initiatives and cooperations to use AI to improve and facilitate not only advanced patient care but also everyday life and work.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.
flowcytometry &cytolytics

Flow Cytometry& Cytolytics


Flow cytometry is a recent laboratory technique of great importance in contemporary medicine and cancer research. It is used to examine blood components, bone marrow and other substances. This method provides important information about immune status, diagnosis and progression of blood cancer and other immunodeficiency diseases. It is also used in the examination of plants, small organisms (viruses, bacteria, spores) and food samples. Flow cytometry is a powerful method because it quickly, accurately and easily collects data on many parameters from a heterogeneous mixture of fluids. Depending on the software, the duration and quality of the evaluation of the sought parameters differ. Very few adequate software are capable of performing more complex analyses without gating in the shortest time with high reliability.

What is flow cytometry (FC)?

Flow cytometry (FC) is widely used in the research field because it enables accurate phenotyping of cells as well as rapid detection of large cell populations in a liquid medium (e.g. blood sample). At the same time, immune cell subtypes are easy to identify, separate and label due to size and morphology.

Where does the name flow cytometry (FACS) come from?

In flow cytometry, particulate structures (events), e.g. immune defense cells, are transported one after the other through a narrow measuring chamber like a string of pearls. Lasers detect these events laterally as they flow through, hence the name flow cytometry. Depending on the device and software, these lasers detect different properties of the events via their scattered light. The device with which flow cytometry is performed is also called a FACS device. FACS stands for fluorescence activated cell sorting.

What does scattered light mean?

When an event interacts with laser light, scattered light is produced. Depending on the intensity and strength of the scattered light, properties such as cell size, cell membrane structure and intracellular components are detected by detectors. A distinction is made between forward scatter (FSC) and side scatter (SSC), which provide information about size and granularity.

What is the purpose of fluorescence?

In FACS analysis events can be loaded with fluochrome to more accurately characterize the properties and differences between them. The fluochrome absorbs the energy of the laser and light emissions typical of the dye are released. The resulting signals are detected by appropriate fluorescence detectors and later analyzed. The more fluochromes are bound to the events, the more intense the signals are.

How does FACS analysis work?

At the end of the FACS analysis, by labeling the events with the fluorochrome, passing the lasers and measuring the emitted light by detectors, the data is finally analyzed. The signals, which are detected by the detectors, are sorted graphically according to properties and presented for the research question.

How does the signal processing work?

The signals and values are processed and evaluated by using software. The data can be mapped linearly or logarithmically. Depending on the configuration and device, up to 60 parameters can be measured simultaneously at individual events. The representation of the parameters are listed depending on the problem in different variants such as the one, two parameter representation, (overlapping) populations and compensation.

What is gating?

Gating is the so-called selecting of events that really interest you. Simply said, someone defines a group of cells and gates them into another diagram. However, since more than one cell population or trait is studied in research, gating can be very time consuming. It typically takes up to several hours. New software, like Cytolytics allows reliable, flexible and above all, fast evaluation without gating.

What does Cytolytics offer?

Cytolytics is a medical technology company specializing in the analysis of medical data using Artificial Intelligence methods. Through cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, it offers fully automated, fast and reliable flow cytometry analysis. Hours of gating are eliminated by Cytolytics’ fully automated software, which analyzes FACS data up to 60 times faster and provides comprehensible reliable analysis for the research. Cytolytics enables concrete and understandable settings and steps with a high degree of individualization.

What does Artificial Intelligence (AI) mean?

Cytolytics works with the innovation of unsupervised machine learning, which sorts and classifies complex relationships, patterns and similarities using certain criteria and features. Artificial intelligence is built like an artificial neural network that discovers data sets with similar content from a large amount of data in a fully automated way according to predefined rules. Classifies and evolves at the same time. AI can be found in the areas of research, business and game development, as it is ideal for scientific questions, pattern recognition and image processing.

What innovation does Cytolytics offer?

In addition to sequential gating for detailed analyses, the graphical user interface for different computers and a plausibly explained and understandable software language, Cytolytics offers above all a complete automation of the evaluation. With the help of the new innovation of full automation, not only large data sets are compared, but also abnormalities, anomalies and outliers are detected on the basis of the standardized setting. The automated analysis provides a standardized evaluation option, so that introduction with the Cytolytics software is effortless. The automated result documentation can be exported to various applications such as PPT, Word and Excel, and a result presentation is possible directly and quickly without reprocessing. By means of full automation, not only fast evaluations but also comparable, valid, repeatable and meaningful results are delivered. With today’s technology, FACS can identify which tumor and which cells are affected in the case of a cancer diagnosis. However due to the time-consuming nature of gating, therapy planning and corresponding therapy control examinations often take place under great time pressure. Time is a life-saving factor and can in sufficient quantities, enable precise, targeted therapy planning, for example in the case of leukemia. Cytolytics provides an innovative and intelligent solution for this. With time-saving analysis without gating, more time is available for planning therapies for life-threatening diseases and for preparing as well as publishing research.

About the author
Elif Karakurt
medical content creator
Elif is a medical student and works for Cytolytics in the branches of content creation and marketing alongside her studies. She is the head of the Cytolytics blog and could already gather experience in writing medical articles for various magazines. Her interests are recent health issues and news about medicine, health technologies, and digital health.