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Subtle Perfection

By Daniel Foster25 May 2022

 

“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.” – Salvadore Dali

The word ‘perfect’ is not used by engineers, researchers, or clinicians. At Transonic, we work in the biomedical world, where black-and-white claims become the granite standards by which we and our products are judged.

Strange then, that this unspoken word motivates us. Behind every innovation lies the desire to improve, to enhance, to refine, even within our own bodies. Otherwise, why would we relentlessly seek new cures and new therapies? If the immediate purpose of medicine is to enrich life and eradicate illness, then by extension, what must be its final purpose? To rid us of disease and degradation. So perfection, even though we do not speak it, is the silent driver of biomedical progress.

Transonic’s progress took a leap forward with EndoGear’s recent release. EndoGear’s status as the first implantable rodent telemetry system with flow measurement has dominated most discussions about the product, but as with all things that are truly innovative, novel successes often overshadow subtle ones—even if those nuances are just as valuable in our biomedical world.

EndoGear had a long development cycle, and Dr. Danielle Senador was there to bring it to life in the rodent lab. When the finished product debuted at the 2022 Experimental Biology conference, she was there as well, along with an unassuming poster that showcased some simple, but critically valuable information. In most industries, a measurement product is as good as its data, but in research, a measurement device is only as good as the evidence that its data is significant.

Consequently, drug therapy is often used for device validation. Simply put, researchers like Dr. Senador will administer drugs with known actions on a common research breed to see if their new device will record the expected results. But Dr. Senador decided to use a different approach.

“Circadian rhythm” is an umbrella term encompassing a host of physiologic changes which are governed by the cycles of day and night. Some effects are readily observable, like the tendency to sleep. Others, like cardiac output, are less conspicuous and easily blurred. These more obscure changes were the reason Dr. Senador chose circadian rhythm as her standard: not only to show that EndoGear could detect and record these minute changes, but that they would (hopefully) conform to baseline parameters after device implantation. The decision was laudable, as was her mindset: “The data are what the data are. Even if the data didn’t look great, it would still be published,” she said.

Due to the experiment’s sensitivity, Dr. Senador set the study up at Wayne State University, in partnership with the Minic-Reynolds lab, where she and the lab manager, Toni Azar, would care for the animals together. Senador and Azar familiarized the animals with their scents so their presence would not alarm. They fed the animals at the same time each day, maintained consistent cycles of light and dark for them, etc. In this fashion, they were able to establish and maintain physiology benchmarks for the study parameters: temperature, activity, cardiac output (via a flowprobe around the ascending aorta), and systemic arterial pressure (via a solid state pressure catheter in the abdominal aorta.)

After implantation surgery, the subjects’ weight dropped roughly 10%, as expected. However, their recovery was swift. The animals were eating, drinking, and excreting normally within 24 hours. They began to regain their weight by day 8, and in days 16-20, all subjects had returned to preoperative mass.

Research animals often show signs of distress—squinting eyes, raised hackles, reclusive behavior—but Dr. Senador’s population behaved normally. In fact, the animals were so oblivious to the implants that their pulse rates and temperatures settled back to restful levels. Though these are subtle indicators, their value cannot be overstated. In research, minimizing variables can determine whether an experiment produces mathematically significant results. That is why genetically-parallel animal populations are used. A small gene pool minimizes variations between subjects, which reduces aberrant data. EndoGear’s physiologic transparency will allow all significant variation to be attributed to the experiment itself.

Furthermore, one of EndoGear’s greatest achievements is the smallest number of all: zero. From one heartbeat to the next, the diastolic flow returned to zero—low offset at no flow—and it remained there throughout the entire study. Again, minimizing experimental variability is key, and EndoGear’s telemetry consistently returned to a stable, predictable zero, relieving future experiments of another variable.

So perhaps innovation isn’t about our silent drive for perfection. Maybe it’s just about being accurate. Given EndoGear’s cutting-edge status and outstanding precision, it’s safe to say that we’ve hit the mark.

At Transonic, we’re good at being accurate. We’ve been doing it for forty years. Speaking of lengthy times, summer is peeking around the corner in Ithaca. People are walking outside again, occasionally turning their faces up to the sun, or pausing to look around at opening blossoms. Nothing is clean-cut and perfect though, just as winter’s ice so often clings to spring’s heels.

It doesn’t matter if perfection isn’t achievable. We’ll never grasp the blue summer sky between our fingers, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stretch our arms over our heads, breathe deep, and reach for it anyway.

So here’s to EndoGear, and to the next forty years.

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