Category: general

Doping tests, Dopingtests Olympische Sommerspiele

Summer Olympic Games: The long way of doping samples

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Again, the sports world was shaken by a doping scandal. The McLaren report reveals a systematic, stately approved doping in Russia. The participation of Russian athletes at the Summer Olympic Games, which begin on 5th August in Rio, are questionable at least. Against this background, the work of the anti-doping laboratories in Rio is even more vital. If it were not for the following problem.

No doping laboratory in Rio de Janeiro

In May 2016 WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) withdrew the accreditation for the doping laboratory in Rio de Janeiro after the latter had struggled with serious technical problems. WADA sets strict regulation for the doping laboratories concerning the analysis of blood and urine samples and for the samples´storing. Currently 28 laboratories are accredited by the WADA worldwide and have permission to process doping samples.

Odds are, that the expected 5,000 doping samples which will be obtained during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be transported via cold-chain to other countries`accredited laboratories for analysis. In addition there are further 1,000 doping samples for the Paralympics in September 2016. Under discussion are accredited laboratories in the USA, Columbia and Mexico.

Transport problems of doping samples

A similar situation occurred during the FIFA World Cup in summer 2014. Back then the doping laboratory in Rio lost its WADA accreditation shortly before the opening of the game, too. More than 1000 samples of footballers had to be transported from the 12 venues over 9,460 kilometers to the doping laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This entails long transport routes that raise the question of the transports´security. The blood and urine samples must be transported in compliance with the cold chain at a constant temperature of 2-8 ° C, so that the samples do not get unusable. In addition, it must be ensured that transported samples cannot be manipulated. In the light of the McLaren report on the almost cinematic approach of the Secret Service to get the positive doping tests of Russian athletes in Sochi, this risk is not even farfetched.

The long transport routes also increase the contestability of samples. It is on the organizer to prove that the samples were being safely and as quickly as possible transported to analysis in case an athlete tested positive is going to court. Last but not least this complex transportation logistics is causing immense additional costs.

WADA suspends further doping laboratories

The Brazilian Doping Laboratory is one of five laboratories worldwide, whose accreditation WADA has withdrawn in 2016. In April the laboratories in Moscow and Beijing were suspended, in May the laboratory in Bloemfontaine, South Africa, and in June the laboratory in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The problem that doping samples must be transported to other countries for analyzing therefore will remain in the long term.

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Bild Lotusblume

How Nelumbox got its name

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In the beginning was the box. Without name your product does not stand the slightest chance and moreover you want to give your own child a name, right? Cooler, climate box, cool, safe, ice, ice -cube ice-box , polar bear, penguin or itrinugaa [ 1 ]? Hm does not knock my socks off. So more endless Google searches. All animals of the Arctic and Antarctic are already scoured besides all others that only remotely put their paw or claw on frosty ground.

Good thing that a job as onboard courier to China was waiting for me. Maybe that would free the deadlocked thought and fire the imagination. After many hours of flight and the work being done I still had some time to explore the city in search of something edible before heading back to Germany. I was still waiting for an enlightenment.

The best ideas come while eating

Since my stomach was already audibly complaining, I chose the road snacks strung like pearls on a necklace at the roadside. On a stand with strange perforated discs of some kind of vegetable in the window I stopped. What I made out of the more or less English word chunks of the seller, this strange form was the sliced root of a lotus flower.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and so for me there was a plate of spiced and grilled lotus roots. What a delicious taste! Gorgeous what you can do with it. Let’s see what more there is to that magic flower. And so I scoured the web for further secrets of the lotus flower. One article struck me:

The Lotus flower or with its Latin name Nelumbo is as few other plants capable of regulating its. As researchers at the University of Adelaide found out in a study Nelumbo can maintain the temperature of its bloom at constant 30 ° C, although the outside temperature is only 10 ° C].

I could not help but grin. Here it was! The name for my project: The NELUMBOX .

The 120,000 kilometers to China were really worth it.

[ 1 ] Inuit word for : freezing

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Startup Safari Tour Deutsche Bahn

Startup safari tour with Deutsche Bahn

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For 4 days we were on safari. Not in the heat of Tanzania, but in the midst of our office. 4 days we were able to experience a strange being up close and were viewed with great curiosity by the latter. No, we are not paranoid, we took part in the 2016 Startup Safari Tour. The Startup Safari Tour was organized by the Startup Center of the Technical University Darmstadt, Highest, together with the Deutsche Bahn and so we had a visitor.

The Startup Safari Tour brings together startups with executives and employees of the Deutsche Bahn. For one week employees of the Deutsche Bahn learn what it means to work in a startup. They experience the struggle with problems, they experience the joy to solve them and feel the creativity of the young startup teams. The other way round startups have the unique opportunity to benefit from the professional experience and the knowledge of the DB employees.

To us, Nelumbox, came Reinhard Scharfschwerdt, Project Manager of a Customer Relationship Management project for business customers at the Deutsche Bahn in Frankfurt. In his daily work he is an interpreter between customers and IT and transfers customer needs in IT infrastructure. He appreciates the importance of customer conversations for customer specific innovation. That is why he is very active on behalf of design thinking within the Deutsche Bahn.

“Design Thinking is an innovation method that provides customized results for the solution of complex problems based on an iterative process. The term design refers to … the conceptual and technical design of objects and systems.” (Design Thinking – The manual, 2015, p.16)

What made you take part in the Startup Safari Tour of the Deutsche Bahn

I wanted to learn from the experience of a startup, to know how they approach problems such as customer orientation since of course that is a different approach than that of a large company. I wanted to see how one works with limited resources. The only resources that a startup has are time and élan to move forward. In a big company this energy is quickly lost when you feel like banging your head against walls. These obstacles are not as high in a startup. I wanted to experience this other thinking. That was the point, which is why I have asked to join the Startup Safari Tour.

Which buzzwords would you use to summarize your days with Nelumbox?

  • Efficiency: What I really noticed was the easy way to take decisions in your team. This leads to efficient decision making; thus things get done quickly.
  • Elan: I like the vigor with which you work jointly here – on your product as well as on your company.
  • Team spirit: I like the constructive and pleasant working atmosphere that prevails here. You are so thrown together and nontheless you are working very openly and goal-oriented together.

What are the impressions that you take with you of the days at Nelumbox?

I cannot quite grasp it, but I am even more motivated to promote the idea of design thinking within the Deutsche Bahn. The brainstorming on your potential customers were fun and motivated me. I feel the desire to take my “normal” work more in this direction, learn even more about the true customer needs and work hard to meet them. This desire has been consolidated here with you.

In one sentence: What is your message for us?

Quite simple: Your product idea has real potential. Go out meet the customers!

Thank you for this interview and for your input during the Startup Safari 2016.

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temperature sensitive medication

Future market: Temperature sensitive medication

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Cold chain requiring medications and samples are pretty sensitive. They feel comfortable between 2-8°C and do not like it at all when the temperature deviates upward or downward. If this happens the delicate protein structure they consist of is being destroyed and the medicine gets ineffective or even dangerous: As proteins decompose toxins and antigens may develop that lead to a counter-reaction of the immune system. In the worst case, the immune system turns against the body’s own substances.

There are many such sensitives. In Germany alone there are 2.000 cold chain requiring medications . These include, for instance, vaccines against rubella, measles, tetanus, mumps, special eye drops, asthma medicine and so called biologicals. Biologicals are produced by genetically engineering protein molecules . They come to use in rheumatism and cancer therapy and help to regulate the patient´s immune system.

The proportion of temperature-sensitive medicines is increasing steadily: Every tenth medication that is introduced to the German market is requiring a cold-chain. In the USA already every third newly approved drug is subject to cold chain transportation and storage. One reason for this trend is the increase in biologicals , which are seen by many in the industry as a new wonder weapon. They are complex and expensive in the manufacturing process and therefore generate high prices. The rheumatic drug of the pharmaceutical company AbbVie – Humira – costs, for example, 5.200 € per syringe .

It is no surprise that cold-chain medications generate astronomical revenue: Humira (11.25 billion USD ), Solvadi against hepatitis C ( 9,25 billion USD ), Remicade for rheumatoid diseases ( 8.31 billion USD ), MapThera against lymphomas (7.79 billion USD ) and Enbrel for rheumatism ( 7.68 billion USD ) . According to a prognosis of BT9 – Tech 8 of the 10 best selling drugs worldwide in 2018 will require a cold chain.

Such valuable goods need to be securely packed, since the economic damage would be enormous otherwise. For this reason, spending on worldwide transportation of cold chain requiring drugs increases correspondingly with the rise of the latter. By 2018, the costs will increase to 10.3 billion US $ from currently 9.3 billion US $ . For 2020 an expenditure of 16.7 billion US $ is being predicted.

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Kühlkette in Nepal, cold chain Nepal

Obi-Wan Kenobi on earthly mission in Nepal

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Transporting temperature-sensitive medication in Western Europe is not an easy task: The medicine – for instance a vaccine against tetanus – must first be stored at the pharmaceutical wholesaler, it must then be packed into a van, it must be delivered to the pharmacy and from there safely to the patient. All this without the temperature range exceeding or falling below 2-8°C, otherwise the vaccine loses its effectiveness. Without any doubt this is a big logistical effort, but compared to the transport to other corners of the world a real breeze.

You know Luma? No? Never mind, since this place is somewhere between Nepal and China and probably is not to be found on many maps. Far away from the bustle of Everest tourists and far away from all that we Western Europeans would call civilization. No water supply, no paved roads. Only a narrow trail leads up to the small collection of houses that closely hugs the mountains; over 100.000 km from Kathmandu. So this is a place which cannot easily be reached by the “vaccine-truck”.

It is places like this that UNICEF supplies with the most important vaccines to provide basic health care to children. Around 900 persons are working for UNICEF worldwide in the cold chain supply field. They take on difficult and dangerous ways to deliver the temperature-sensitive medications on time.

The BBC has devoted two impressive documentaries on this topic and accompanied the actor Ewan McGregor, known as Obi-Wan Kenobi of the Star Wars movies, on his Cold Chain Mission as UNICEF ambassador to the remotest corners of the world. His travels with the temperature-sensitive vaccines in the backpack lead him via India in the Tibetan mountains and in the Congolese jungle.

The trip with Ewan McGregor in the Congo can be found on the video platform vimeo. Otherwise, the movies can be purchased directly from the BBC for £ 2:49/for £ 1.89.


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Team Nelumbox

How a ball got the box rollin

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Within the context of an international football tournament in 2014, Martin Voigt was busy on the other side of the equator to safely escort blood samples in accordance with the cold chain (2-8°C) from different venues to the doping laboratory in Lausanne. This proved unexpectedly difficult. One problem was to maintain the cold chain in order to avoid damage to the delicate cargo. Not an easy task, considering the distance of about 9460 km and 36 h travel time between Sao Paulo and Lausanne. Critical, too, was the transport safety since it had to be ensured that nobody could replace one or the other test tube secretly during the trip. Therefore, the samples should go in the custody of a courier. But: There were no cooler that a) was able to ensure the necessary cooling time and b) could be carried in hand luggage. So what to do? The samples had to be managed as a checked bag in a self-cooling disposable styrofoam to Lausanne. Costs: several thousand Euros. Produced waste: 12 m3.

There has to be another way, thought Martin Voigt, and began to develop an energy-efficient cooler for transportation and storage of cold chain requiring medication and samples. His box should cool grid-independently, it should meet high safety-standards and it should be fit for hand luggage transport. Soon after the first tinkering in his parents’ garage showed a functioning demo box, which was tested and fine-tuned continuously. With the technical development of the box the business itself got more and more concrete.

Over the following months the team members for this great endeavor got together: Nico Höler, Industrial Engineer, joined and Julian Poths, Electrical and Computer Engineer, me, Ina Brecheis, Communications Expert and Benjamin Vogt, Product Designer. We all share the enthusiasm to create something new together, to realize our full potentials and we share the courage to take unconventional paths. Together we have already achieved important milestones:

  • Funding: Unibator [/ simple_tooltip]
  • Funding: Climate KIC [/ simple_tooltip]
  • Awards: Science4Life [/ simple_tooltip]
  • Price: Uncup Award [/ simple_tooltip]
  • 4th place of 70 entries: Technical University: idea contest [/ simple_tooltip]

Lots of work is waiting for us, but we have enough enthusiasm and creativity to make our dream of our own company come true.

Join us on this journey here in “News from the box”.

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