The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, the nonprofit parent entity of the Mayo Clinic, is a worldwide research powerhouse that is assigned scores of U.S. patents each year. Mayo scientists and doctors are at the scientific forefront of many medical specialties, and the breadth of their activities is widely varied.

As part of its healthcare industry coverage, TCB will take occasional looks at recent patents awarded to the Mayo Foundation and its inventors in a feature called Mayo Patent Watch. This is the first installment of series, looking at patents assigned to Mayo during the week of April 25-29, 2016.
 
Patent No.: 9,320,608
Title: Method for optimization of joint arthroplasty component design
Inventor: John Sperling, M.D.

Dr. John Sperling is a prominent orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic with a special interest in treating shoulder disorders. His clinical practice is focused on the prevention, management and treatment of a wide range of shoulder problems, from rotator cuff tears to shoulder replacement.

Sperling is a researcher and inventor, extensively involved in clinical and basic science research in orthopedics. He was an early practitioner of a procedure known as reverse shoulder arthroplasty. The procedure changes the shoulder joint mechanics so the arm can be moved comfortably without a functioning rotator cuff. This is typically done when the rotator cuff is worn out or torn beyond repair. The shoulder ball can be replaced by a socket, and the shoulder socket by a ball --- reversing the natural alignment.
The Mayo orthopedist also has business acumen, obtaining an MBA in medical group management and demonstrating a strong interest in medical economics. He's authored 140 peer-reviewed publications and three textbooks.

His patent, awarded last week, is for a new kind of system that uses computed tomography (CT) scans to custom-design the plastic components (or prostheses) used in shoulder replacements for those with rheumatoid arthritis. It represents a step forward in improving the effectiveness of reverse shoulder arthroplasty, which Sperling and other Mayo clinicians have popularized.

The advent of reverse shoulder arthroplasty, however, has created a need for prostheses that don’t come in standard, off-the-shelf sizes: they must be patient-specific in order to be truly effective. The newly patented invention, Mayo claims, “addresses the foregoing needs by providing methods for the optimization of joint arthroplasty component design” in which a series of CT scans are used to manufacture the prostheses.
 
Patent No.: 9,320,452
Title: Magnetic resonance imaging of amyloid plaque in the brain 
Inventors: Michael Garwood (University of Minnesota), Clifford Jack M.D., Joseph Poduslo and Thomas Wengenack (all of Mayo Clinic)

This new patent, co-assigned to the Mayo Foundation and the University of Minnesota, is part of an ongoing effort to detect the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease via powerful magnetic resonance imaging technologies.

One of the more promising avenues in the push to stop or reverse of progress of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain consists of targeting the microscopic clumping of the protein beta-amyloid into plaques. These plaques are a characteristic sign of Alzheimer's disease.

A key to stopping the spread of Alzheimer’s in the brain may be to find these plaques as soon as possible and then target them with drugs known as monoclonal antibodies, which prevent the beta-amyloid from clumping. This in theory could help the body clear the beta-amyloid from the brain.

This avenue becomes much more promising if doctors could see the clumping of beta-amyloid as it’s happening. Doing this in a non-invasive way through magnetic resonance imaging has been regarded as feasible because of the presence of iron and other metals in the plaques – these magnetic substances can be seen on MRI images. But the use of MRI has been complicated by the fact that with traditional methods, it would take up to 15 hours to obtain a sufficient amount of ultra-high-resolution images to do the job, clearly undoable with a living subject.

But a new system patented last week promises to change that equation. Listed as inventors are U of M radiology professor Michael Garwood of the school’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, and the Mayo Clinic team of Clifford Jack M.D., Joseph Poduslo and Thomas Wengenack.

The patent claims the new system shortens the scan times while also providing sufficiently high-quality images to be useful in detecting beta-amyloid in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Other possible uses could include imaging the micro-architecture of tumors in cancer research or for research into vascular diseases such as stroke.

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