Archive for September 27th, 2012

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Microfluidic Device Rapidly Studies Biochemical Interactions

Microfluidic Device Rapidly Studies Biochemical Interactions

Microfluidic Device Rapidly Studies Biochemical Interactions

Quantitative biology requires quantitative data. No high-throughput technologies exist capable of obtaining several hundred independent kinetic binding measurements in a single experiment. We present an integrated microfluidic device (k-MITOMI) for the simultaneous kinetic characterization of 768 biomolecular interactions. We applied k-MITOMI to the kinetic analysis of transcription factor (TF)—DNA interactions, measuring the detailed kinetic landscapes of the mouse TF Zif268, and the yeast TFs Tye7p, Yox1p, and Tbf1p. We demonstrated the integrated nature of k-MITOMI by expressing, purifying, and characterizing 27 additional yeast transcription factors in parallel on a single device. Overall, we obtained 2,388 association and dissociation curves of 223 unique molecular interactions with equilibrium dissociation constants ranging from 2 × 10-6 M to 2 × 10-9 M, and dissociation rate constants of approximately 6 s-1 to 8.5 × 10-3 s-1. Association rate constants were uniform across 3 TF families, ranging from 3.7 × 106 M-1 s-1 to 9.6 × 107 M-1 s-1, and are well below the diffusion limit. We expect that k-MITOMI will contribute to our quantitative understanding of biological systems and accelerate the development and characterization of engineered systems.

Inside our cells, molecules are constantly binding and separating from one another. It’s this game of constant flux that drives gene expression asides essentially every other biological process.

Understanding the specific details of how these interactions take place is thus crucial to our overall understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of living organisms. There are millions of possible combinations of molecules, however; determining all of them would be a Herculean task. Various tools have been developed to measure the degree of affinity between a strand of DNA and its transcription factor. They provide an indication of the strength of the affinity between them.

“Commercial” devices, however, have one main drawback: many preliminary manipulations are necessary before an experiment can be carried out, and even then, the experiment can only focus on a dozen interactions at a time.

Microns-wide channels

As part of his doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Sebastian Maerkl designed a device that he named “MITOMI” – a small device containing hundreds of microfluidic channels equipped with pneumatic valves. This week Maerkl, who is now an assistant professor in EPFL’s Bioengineering Institute, is publishing an article describing the next step in the evolution of the device in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The new version, “k-MITOMI,” was developed in the context of the SystemsX.ch RTD DynamiX in cooperation with the University of Geneva.

This microfluidic device has 768 chambers, each one with a valve that allows DNA and transcription factors to interact in a very carefully controlled manner. “In traditional methods, we generally manage to determine if an interaction takes place or not, and then we restart the experiment with another gene or another transcription factor,” Maerkl explains. “Our device goes much further, because it allows us to measure the affinity and kinetics of the interaction.”

The strength of the device lies in a sort of “push-button” in its microreactors. A protein substrate is immobilized on the device; above it circulates a solution containing DNA moelcules. The push-button is activated at regular intervals of a few milliseconds, trapping protein-DNA complexes that form on the surface of the device. “Then we close the lid, and fluorescence reveals the exact number of bound molecules,” explains Maerkl. “We can also observe how long these molecules remain bound.”

In addition to providing quantitative kinetic information, the k-MITOMI device can work in a “massively parallel” manner. Each of the 768 independent chambers can simultaneously analyze different molecule pairs. It can also be used to synthesize proteins in vitro, with a massive reduction in time and number of manipulations compared to the traditional method, which involves producing proteins inside a living organism such as a bacterium, purifying, and putting them in contact with the genes to be studied.

“The number of protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions that remain to be characterized is phenomenal. Our device not only allows us to accelerate the acquisition of this information, which is crucial to our understanding of living organisms, but it also meets a need for the production of specific proteins,” adds Maerkl.

This research has been conducted with support of a SystemsX.ch research, technology and development grant (DynamiX). SystemsX.ch is a Swiss initiative with the goal of stimulating research and education in key sectors of Systems Biology.

A new device developed at California Institute of Technology and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland may help research conduct large scale studies of biomolecular interactions at a rapid rate.

Known as k-MITOMI, the current version of the microfluidic device features 768 chambers within which DNA strings and transcription factors that can stick onto them are carefully brought together. While this is happening, the k-MITOMI is able to measure the attraction between the compounds and the kinetics involved.

Some details from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne:

This microfluidic device has 768 chambers, each one with a valve that allows DNA and transcription factors to interact in a very carefully controlled manner. “In traditional methods, we generally manage to determine if an interaction takes place or not, and then we restart the experiment with another gene or another transcription factor,” Maerkl explains. “Our device goes much further, because it allows us to measure the affinity and kinetics of the interaction.”

The strength of the device lies in a sort of “push-button” in its microreactors. A protein substrate is immobilized on the device; above it circulates a solution containing DNA moelcules. The push-button is activated at regular intervals of a few milliseconds, trapping protein-DNA complexes that form on the surface of the device. “Then we close the lid, and fluorescence reveals the exact number of bound molecules,” explains Maerkl. “We can also observe how long these molecules remain bound.”

In addition to providing quantitative kinetic information, the k-MITOMI device can work in a “massively parallel” manner. Each of the 768 independent chambers can simultaneously analyze different molecule pairs. It can also be used to synthesize proteins in vitro, with a massive reduction in time and number of manipulations compared to the traditional method, which involves producing proteins inside a living organism such as a bacterium, purifying, and putting them in contact with the genes to be studied.

“The number of protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions that remain to be characterized is phenomenal. Our device not only allows us to accelerate the acquisition of this information, which is crucial to our understanding of living organisms, but it also meets a need for the production of specific proteins,” adds Maerkl.

Source : http://actu.epfl.ch/news/hundreds-of-biochemical-analyses-on-a-single-devic/

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Smiths Medical’s CorrectInject Safety System to Prevent Drug

Smiths Medical’s CorrectInject Safety System to Prevent Drug

Smiths Medical’s CorrectInject Safety System to Prevent Drug Misconnections Cleared in U.S.

ST. PAUL, Minn., Sep 21, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Smiths Medical, a leading global medical device manufacturer, today announced that its Portex(R) CorrectInject(TM) Safety System for administering neuraxial (spinal and epidural) medication received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The CorrectInject(TM) Safety System is intended to enhance patient safety by helping to reduce the risk of tubing misconnections, while minimizing changes to clinical technique. Tubing misconnections often occur, as epidural, intravenous, enteral and other infusion lines look alike. The connectors of the CorrectInject(TM) Safety System are uniquely tapered and threaded to be intentionally incompatible with standard Luer connectors. The CorrectInject(TM) Safety System’s yellow components visually signify a neuraxial delivery route and are intended to prompt clinicians to check that the medication to be delivered is appropriate for the treatment location.

Professional associations and government agencies, including the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) in the UK, the World Health Organization and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in the U.S. support the use of strategies and best practices to reduce this risk of medication administration errors, calling on product developers and manufacturers to produce connector systems dedicated for neuraxial (spinal and epidural) applications. The National Health Service (NHS) of the UK was the first government agency to adopt practices requiring the clinical use of dedicated neuraxial medication delivery systems. By April 1, 2013 all epidural, spinal (intrathecal) and regional anaesthesia infusions and boluses are to be performed with devices that use safer connectors that will not connect with intravenous Luer connectors or intravenous infusion spikes.

Smiths Medical President Srini Seshadri commented: “We are pleased to be able to offer a solution that help to reduce medication delivery errors during spinal and epidural anaesthesia administration. As a global leader of safety medical devices, it is our obligation to develop innovative medical products that not only help protect patients when they are most vulnerable but help to raise clinical standards of care.”

Care providers and providers of medical technologies recognize the potential of the CorrectInject(TM) Safety System. Earlier this year, the CorrectInject(TM) Safety System was showcased at the Premier Innovation Celebration, an annual conference highlighting breakthroughs in patient care where it received a Premier Innovation Award. Premier, a visionary group purchasing organization serving 2,500 U.S. hospitals and 80,000 healthcare sites, is dedicated to helping healthcare providers improve clinical and operational performance. One way that Premier does this is by collecting and analyzing clinical and financial data of its members to identify best practices and products that advance patient care by reducing costs, improving quality, and elevating safety to better manage risk. Premier provides a channel for suppliers of medical technology, products, and services to have their latest innovations reviewed and evaluated by committees of clinical and operational experts.

The Portex(R) CorrectInject(TM) Safety System for Epidural Anaesthesia Injection is the first of the line to be cleared for market release in the U.S. The CorrectInject(TM) Safety System for Spinal Anaesthesia Administration has been available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and countries in Asia since September 2011. Regionalized introductions of the CorrectInject(TM) Safety System, including a system for epidural infusion, will expand as country registrations and approvals are granted.

Product(s) described may not be licensed or available for sale in all countries.

About Smiths Medical

Smiths Medical www.smiths-medical.com is a leading supplier of specialist medical devices and equipment for global markets, focusing on the medication delivery, vital care and safety devices market segments. It is part of Smiths Group www.smiths.com , a global leader in applying advanced technologies for markets in threat and contraband detection, energy, medical devices, communications and engineered components. Smiths Group employs around 22,000 people in more than 50 countries.

The CorrectInject™ Safety System’s unique interlocking connectors allow only medication delivered with a CorrectInject™ syringe to reach the patient through the spinal needle.

Connections of the CorrectInject™ Safety System are distinctly different from standard Luer connections commonly used on medical products. The difference helps to prevent the attachment of a CorrectInject™ syringe to a connector that is not a component of the CorrectInject™ Safety System.

Smiths Medical has received FDA clearance for the Portex CorrectInject Safety System, an injection set for spinal and epidural drugs that uses unique connectors to help prevent the wrong medication getting to the needle.

Misconnections, such as between intrathecal and intravenous lines due to the same Luer locks, are common enough that according to Smiths, the UK’s National Health Service has mandated that as of “April 1, 2013 all epidural, spinal (intrathecal) and regional anaesthesia infusions and boluses are to be performed with devices that use safer connectors that will not connect with intravenous Luer connectors or intravenous infusion spikes.”

From the press release:

The Portex(R) CorrectInject(TM) Safety System for Epidural Anaesthesia Injection is the first of the line to be cleared for market release in the U.S. The CorrectInject(TM) Safety System for Spinal Anaesthesia Administration has been available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and countries in Asia since September 2011.

Regionalized introductions of the CorrectInject(TM) Safety System, including a system for epidural infusion, will expand as country registrations and approvals are granted.

Source : http://www.marketwatch.com/story/smiths-medical-receives-fda-clearance-for-epidural-administration-safety-system-2012-09-21

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Microsoft’s Kinect Sensor Assists in Rehabilitation Thanks to Reflexion Rehabilitative Measurement Tool

Microsoft’s Kinect Sensor Assists in Rehabilitation Thanks to Reflexion Rehabilitative Measurement Tool

Microsoft’s Kinect Sensor Assists in Rehabilitation Thanks to Reflexion Rehabilitative Measurement Tool

SAN DIEGO, CA – September 26, 2012 – The West Health Institute announced it has developed technology that could revolutionize physical therapy using Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows cutting-edge, motion-tracking platform, and is starting clinical research studies with the Naval Medical Center of San Diego. The Reflexion Rehabilitation Measurement Tool (RMT) developed at the Institute allows medical professionals to customize plans and schedules and potentially remotely monitor patients to ensure their exercises are on track.

The RMT is a prescribed software application that addresses musculoskeletal disease, which costs Americans $127 billion a year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Used with Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows motion camera and a Windows 7 personal computer, this program provides interactive feedback and educational materials which are expected to help physical therapists and physicians improve patient adherence to the prescribed therapy and ensure the exercises are performed correctly (watch video).

“Rehabilitation needs to happen continuously, not just when the therapist or doctor is watching, so we developed a tool to extend the expert guidance of physical therapists and make it more engaging and more effective for patients,” said Dr. Ravi Komatireddy, co-inventor of the technology and a visiting fellow with West Health Institute and clinical scholar with Scripps Translational Science Institute. “We’re very excited that our first collaboration is with San Diego’s Naval Medical Center to see how we can further develop this technology to help veterans and the military patient community in rehab. We are trying to bring the best platforms from consumer technology and use them for therapeutic, validated clinical tools that can lower the cost of health care.”

The initial clinical research pilot studies will measure usability, adherence to therapy, and eventually, clinical outcomes of using Reflexion’s interactive RMT.

“Naval Medical Center San Diego has many wounded, ill and injured service members in need of musculoskeletal surgery and rehabilitation,” said Capt. Eric Hofmeister, Chair of Orthopedic Surgery Department at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. “In an ongoing effort to continue to meet the health care needs of our patients and their families, we pursue innovative technology that advances the medical field in order to deliver the best care available while becoming more efficient.”

The current standard of care for rehabilitation involves patients receiving individual sessions from physical therapists, which are followed up with paper reminders that illustrate how the patient is supposed to perform the prescribed exercise. Outside of the limited time with their therapist, patients’ exercises often go un-tracked and un-measured. Compliance is a major issue, with patients often not doing their exercises correctly, or not doing them at all, which can negatively impact recovery time, health outcomes and overall costs.

“The biggest problem with physical therapy is patients not doing enough of it or not doing it properly,” said Spencer Hutchins, co-inventor and Reflexion Project Lead. “We are building a tool to help physical therapists measure progress in a fun way that could potentially help patients heal faster.”

ABOUT THE WEST HEALTH INSTITUTE

The West Health Institute is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) medical research organization whose mission is to lower health care costs by developing innovative patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time. This is accomplished by conducting innovative medical research, educating key stakeholders and advocating on behalf of patients. Solely funded by pioneering philanthropists Gary and Mary West, it is part of West Health, an initiative combining four separate organizations – the West Health Institute, the West Health Policy Center, the West Health Investment Fund, and the West Health Incubator. The Institute is located in San Diego, California, the global center for health care innovation. For more information, find us at www.westhealth.org and follow us @westhealth.

ABOUT NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER SAN DIEGO

Located on Florida Drive, adjacent to Balboa Park, Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), is the Pride of Navy Medicine. The hospital has played a vital role in the history of San Diego for more than 80 years. From the original tent dispensary established in 1917, to the high-tech, ultra modern facility of the 1990s, the mission has remained constant to provide the finest medical care in a family-centered care environment to the operational forces, their families, and to those who served their country in the past. NMCSD does not directly or indirectly endorse any product or service provided, or to be provided, by West Health Institute “Reflexion”, its successors, assignees, or licensees.

Over in sunny San Diego, California, our favorite video game controller turned medical device, the Kinect, is being used again as the basis for a rehabilitative therapy program designed to allow physical therapists to customize plans and monitor patients. Developed by the West Health Institute, the Reflexion Rehabilitative Measurement Tool uses the Kinect technology to not only monitor adherence to a rehab program, but to also track the motions of rehabilitative exercises to ensure that they are done correctly and to measure progress.

Patients undergoing rehab typically receive individual sessions from physical therapists, who usually teach them exercises and anticipate that they will be done consistently and correctly in between sessions. Of course, there is little accountability, which can slow the healing process or even make it worse if a patient does not adhere to the rehab plan. West Health Institute researchers hope that the Reflexion will be a fun, relatively low-cost solution that will improve compliance, which in turn will result in better outcomes for patients undergoing physical therapy.

Source : http://www.westhealth.org/news/press-release-west-health-institute-unveils-new-kinect-based-physical-therapy-technology

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JettPak Helps Parents Deliver Nebulizer Treatment

JettPak Helps Parents Deliver Nebulizer Treatment

JettPak Helps Parents Deliver Nebulizer Treatment

Any parent of an asthmatic child knows that nebulizer treatments can be a nightmare. For the toddler, they can be scary, uncomfortable or tedious, and he or she may struggle or simply refuse to cooperate. The parent can force treatment, traumatizing everyone in the process and lessening the effectiveness of the dose: the medicine cup may spill, or the child’s increased respiration may result in shallow breathing, reducing penetration of the medicine. Or the parent can simply skip the treatment and avoid the trauma, but this may put the child at risk for an asthma attack.

Because it’s so difficult to use a nebulizer with young children, some doctors recommend that children — especially infants — receive their treatment via the mouthpiece “blow by” method while they are asleep. The child won’t struggle, and the medicine is better absorbed into the lungs because the breathing is slow and deep.

But nebulizers are simply not made for patients who are lying down. The medicine cup must remain upright while the mouthpiece is somehow positioned so that the mist can enter the sleeping child’s airway. And using a mask is impractical on a sleeping child. Even if the “blow by” method is used successfully, it’s difficult to hold the cup upright and keep the mouthpiece steady for the ten to fifteen minutes required for a dose. So what’s a parent to do?

JettPak makes nighttime nebulizer treatments a whole lot easier

jettpak-lets-you-use-asthma-nebulizer-while-child-is-asleepIntroducing JettPak, the first and only product that is designed to help administer nebulizer treatments to children while they are sleeping. JettPak is a hands-free and mask-free nebulizer accessory that helps to make nebulizer treatments easier for you and your child. JettPak, itself, is not a nebulizer, but it works with every nebulizer on the market, and it can be attached to a variety of bedside surfaces found in a home or a hospital. JettPak’s adjustable arm can be moved to accommodate a child who is sleeping in any position. Inside the arm is a disposable, medical-grade plastic tube that carries the medicated mist to the child’s airway. JettPak quick to set up, easy to use and it works.

Key features of JettPak:

JettPak is child-friendly. The mechanical delivery arm can be moved to any position to accommodate a sleeping child. A mask-less delivery means there is less likelihood that a child will fight the treatment when awake, or wake up when asleep. Because there is less resistance, treatment times are generally shorter.

JettPak is parent-friendly. It can be positioned to accommodate a child sleeping in any position. Once positioned, JettPak is hands-free, which means less room for positioning error during the ten- to fifteen-minute delivery and more time to engage in other close-at-hand tasks. You could browse the web, read a book, or catch up on laundry.

JettPak is medicine-friendly. With less chance of positioning error and a medicine cup that remains upright 100% of the time, the child gets more of the medicine. Independent lab testing has shown that JettPak is just as effective – and in some cases more effective – than other nebulizer treatment methods such as “blow by” or a face mask.

JettPak’s usefulness isn’t limited to asthma patients. It can also help to treat patients with cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and other respiratory diseases. Any time a nebulizer treatment is required, but the patient cannot remain awake and upright, JettPak can allow a clinician, caregiver, or family member to effectively treat the patient without disturbances.

When will JettPak be available for purchase?

JettPak-PrototypeJettPak is still in the prototype phase, and we will be spending the rest of 2012 fine-tuning it. We hope to release the finished product in 2013. Our patents are pending, and we have already conducted tests at Bend Research, in which JettPak passed efficacy standards with flying colors. All that’s left now is to finish conducting real-world application trials. Currently, JettStream is conducting private in-home trials, and we’re preparing to begin clinical trials at Bend Memorial Clinic in Bend, Oregon. When we finish, we hope to have a polished and parent-tested product that will be ready to sell to the public, directly from the JettStream website.

Stay tuned…

If you are interested in purchasing a JettPak, or if you would like to stay up-to-date on JettStream’s progress, please sign up for our upcoming newsletter using the form below. In the meantime, check out our JettEducation section for more information on childhood asthma. In the JettCommunity Blog, you can read co-founder Sarah Cota’s own stories and perspective as she struggles with her own son’s childhood asthma. Or sign up for our JettCommunity discussion boards, and add your own voice to the community.

Frustrated by the challenges of giving her young son his daily asthma treatments, Sarah Cota came up with an idea. Why not ease the burden of using a nebulizer by taking away the mask and using it while the child is sleeping?

That’s the idea behind the JettPak, the flagship product being developed by Bend, Oregon startup JettStream Inc. It’s a hands-free, mask-free add-on for nebulizers currently on the market. Intended to deliver medication to the child while he’s sleeping, the base of the device can slide under a pillow or mattress. The JettPak has an adjustable arm that delivers the medication next to the child’s face. According to a July blog post from Jim Harrer, an entrepreneur and chief operations officer of the company, it will retail for about $200.

Cota didn’t return a call last week, but she told the Cascade Business News earlier this month that the estimated launch date for the device was spring 2013. Right now, the startup is raising money for the launch; it’s already secured $115,000 in debt and equity, and could raise up to $750,000, according to a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. As the company’s website notes, it has already done lab testing that shows the device delivers the same doses of medicine as a nebulizer alone, and it’s planning to do a clinical trial with 50 devices at Bend Memorial Clinic.

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Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease and affects nearly 5 million U.S. children. In addition to quick-relief medications, long-term control medications taken daily are often prescribed. Many of these medications can be used with a nebulizer for asthma sufferers who are too sick or young to use an inhaler effectively. But some children show resistance to these administration methods, as detailed in Cota’s blog.

She’s working with a former product development executive, Matt Smith, and Harrer to bring the device to market.

Companion to the device is JettEducation, an online database being developed for parents, and JettCommunity, a digital support community.

Asthmatic children often need to receive nebulizer treatments to help prevent future attacks; but this involves putting on a mask and spending some time wearing it while absorbing the medication. As anyone can imagine, this frightens little kids, and is less than fun for the parents. Doctors suggest trying to administer treatment to kids while they’re sleeping, if they don’t accept it during the day – but the mask is designed for upright use. So what’s a parent to do?

Well, if you’re Sarah Cota you design a technological solution, the JettPak. The device looks like an adjustable desk lamp with a nozzle at the end that is positioned near the child’s mouth for continuous medication delivery. Once set, the parent can standby playing a few rounds of Angry Birds while the child is getting the needed medication. The device is still in development, but JettStream, the company setup to commercialize it, hopes to have it out on the market sometime next year.

source : http://jettstreaminc.com/index.php/our-products

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Portable Device to Diagnose Malaria – Down to Specific Mutations

Portable Device to Diagnose Malaria – Down to Specific Mutations

Portable Device to Diagnose Malaria – Down to Specific Mutations

 

Nanomal is developing a low cost device to address a real market need for full malaria diagnosis from sample to result in under 15 minutes at the patient’s side. We’re taking complex DNA analysis and simplifying it for use by health workers from all types of backgrounds and healthcare environments. By integrating diagnostics with cell phone technology we’re also able to support health workers in not only diagnosing and prescribing the right anti-malarial but also to support educating their patients at the time of consultation and remotely in their homes and at work.

QuantuMDx has created a simple solution for on-chip DNA extraction and PCR that is capable of performing the lysis and extraction of malaria DNA from a pinprick of blood and then amplifying up the malaria DNA regions of interest, via an on-chip thermal cycler, ready for detection. This process, which normally takes a number of hours in a regular laboratory, takes minutes with Nanomal technology.

QuantuMDx’s novel nanowire based biosensor detects the binding of the regions of malaria DNA of interest to probes immobilized on the surface of the array of nanowires. This detection is based upon the DNA’s innate electrical charge which means there’s no fluorescence, no optics and no light. This allows Nanomal to miniaturise the processes of a complex laboratory into a handheld which will be the first time this has been achieved. The biosensor then converts the electrical signal straight into binary code, the universal language of computers. As we use standard CMOS produced computer chips, the Consortium is able to bring down the cost of complex malaria diagnostics into the low price point of routine pathology testing and, moreover, deliver this testing at the patient’s side.

Nanomal will also be using QuantuMDx’s proprietary genomic sequencing biosensor to sequence areas of the malaria genome conferring drug resistance. The nanowires within the genomic sequencer have been arrayed and functionalized for long reads lengths as well as undertaking shotgun sequencing, vital for clinical utility and identifying emerging drug resistance in real time.

St George’s will be developing a far-reaching malaria assay to port onto the diagnostic platform which not only detects the malaria species but a wide range of genetic mutations which confer drug resistance within the malaria parasite. This definitive assay coupled with on-chip sequencing of parts of the malaria genome will provide the most comprehensive test ever for malaria diagnosis

A pioneering mobile device using cutting-edge nanotechnology to rapidly detect malaria infection and drug resistance could revolutionise how the disease is diagnosed and treated.

Around 800,000 people die from malaria each year after being bitten by mosquitoes infected with malaria parasites. Signs that the parasite is developing resistance to the most powerful anti-malarial drugs in south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa mean scientists are working to prevent the drugs becoming ineffective.

The €5.2million (£4million) Nanomal project – launched today – is planning to provide an affordable hand-held diagnostic device to swiftly detect malaria infection and parasites’ drug resistance. It will allow healthcare workers in remote rural areas to deliver effective drug treatments to counter resistance more quickly, potentially saving lives.

The device – the size and shape of a mobile phone – will use a range of latest proven nanotechnologies to rapidly analyse the parasite DNA from a blood sample. It will then provide a malaria diagnosis and comprehensive screening for drug susceptibility in less than 20 minutes, while the patient waits. With immediately available information about the species of parasite and its potential for drug resistance, a course of treatment personally tailored to counter resistance can be given.

Currently for malaria diagnosis, blood samples are sent to a central referral laboratory for drug resistance analysis, requiring time as well as specialised and expensive tests by skilled scientists. Additionally, confirmation of malaria is often not available where patients present with fever. Very often, drug treatments are prescribed before the diagnosis and drug resistance are confirmed, and may not be effective. Being able to treat effectively and immediately will prevent severe illness and save lives.

The Nanomal consortium is being led by St George’s, University of London, which is working with UK handheld diagnostics and DNA sequencing specialist QuantuMDx Group and teams at the University of Tuebingen in Germany and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. It was set up in response to increasing signs that the malaria parasite is mutating to resist the most powerful class of anti-malaria drugs, artemisinins. The European Commission has awarded €4million (£3.1million) to the project.

Nanomal lead Professor Sanjeev Krishna, from St George’s, said: “Recent research suggests there’s a real danger that artemisinins could eventually become obsolete, in the same way as other anti-malarials. New drug treatments take many years to develop, so the quickest and cheapest alternative is to optimise the use of current drugs. The huge advances in technology are now giving us a tremendous opportunity to do that and to avoid people falling seriously ill or dying unnecessarily.”

QuantuMDx’s CEO Elaine Warburton said: “Placing a full malaria screen with drug resistance status in the palm of a health professional’s hand will allow instant prescribing of the most effective anti-malaria medication for that patient. Nanomal’s rapid, low-cost test will further support the global health challenge to eradicate malaria.”

The handheld device will take a finger prick of blood, extract the malarial DNA and then detect and sequence the specific mutations linked to drug resistance, using a nanowire biosensor. The chip electrically detects the DNA sequences and converts them directly into binary code, the universal language of computers. The binary code can then be readily analysed and even shared, via wireless or mobile networks, with scientists for real-time monitoring of disease patterns.

The device should provide the same quality of result as a referral laboratory, at a fraction of the time and cost. Each device could cost about the price of a smart phone initially, but may be issued for free in developing countries. A single-test cartridge will be around €13 (£10) initially, but the aim is to reduce this cost to ensure affordability in resource-limited settings.

In addition to improving immediate patient outcomes, the project will allow the researchers to build a better picture of levels of drug resistance in stricken areas. It will also give them information on population impacts of anti-malarial interventions.

Clinical trials of the device are expected to begin within three years, after which it will be brought to market. The technology could be adapted afterwards for use with other infectious diseases.

QuantuMDx’s Q-POC™ point of care device is in development and will shortly deliver affordable, rapid and accurate medical diagnosis in less than 20 minutes, with the same accuracy (sensitivity and specificity) as any state of the art full laboratory, at the patient’s side, but at a fraction of the cost. Disposable diagnostic cartridges for companion diagnostics, TB, sexually transmitted diseases, genetic testing and cardiovascular disease are in development with our partners.

Q-POC™ is being developed for both developed and developing nations such as India, Africa and Brazil where there is a need for cheap POC testing that can be undertaken by health professionals or technicians in rural areas.

Researchers at St George’s, University of London today announced they’re leading a new project, called Nanomal, to develop a portable device that can detect the malarial parasite and identify its species within 15 minutes. malaria detector 2 Portable Device to Diagnose Malaria Down to Specific MutationsThe work is being conducted along with QuantuMDx Group, a diagnostics and DNA sequencing firm, and researchers from the University of Tuebingen in Germany and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The press release says that the device is “the size and shape of a mobile phone,” and does bear a striking resemblance to the new iPhone 5. It features QuantuMDx’s extraction and PCR technology, a biosensor that etects the binding of the regions of malaria DNA of interest to probes immobilized on the surface of the array of nanowires,” and the company’s own genomic sequencing biosensor. St. George’s is developing a malaria assay that will run on the device and will be able to help identify genetic mutations that relate to a strain’s drug resistance.

From St. George’s:

Nanomal lead Professor Sanjeev Krishna, from St George’s, said: “Recent research suggests there’s a real danger that artemisinins could eventually become obsolete, in the same way as other anti-malarials. New drug treatments take many years to develop, so the quickest and cheapest alternative is to optimise the use of current drugs. The huge advances in technology are now giving us a tremendous opportunity to do that and to avoid people falling seriously ill or dying unnecessarily.”

The handheld device will take a finger prick of blood, extract the malarial DNA and then detect and sequence the specific mutations linked to drug resistance, using a nanowire biosensor. The chip electrically detects the DNA sequences and converts them directly into binary code, the universal language of computers. The binary code can then be readily analysed and even shared, via wireless or mobile networks, with scientists for real-time monitoring of disease patterns.

The device should provide the same quality of result as a referral laboratory, at a fraction of the time and cost. Each device could cost about the price of a smart phone initially, but may be issued for free in developing countries. A single-test cartridge will be around €13 (£10) initially, but the aim is to reduce this cost to ensure affordability in resource-limited settings.

In addition to improving immediate patient outcomes, the project will allow the researchers to build a better picture of levels of drug resistance in stricken areas. It will also give them information on population impacts of anti-malarial interventions.

Source : http://www.sgul.ac.uk/media/latest-news/nanotechnology-device-aims-to-prevent-malaria-deaths-through-rapid-diagnosis

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Spinal Cord Made Transparent to Study Nerve Cell Regeneration

Spinal Cord Made Transparent to Study Nerve Cell Regeneration

Spinal Cord Made Transparent to Study Nerve Cell Regeneration

In the event of the spinal cord injury, the long nerve cell filaments, the axons, may become severed. For quite some time now, scientists have been investigating whether these axons can be stimulated to regenerate. Such growth takes place on a scale of only a few millimetres. To date, changes like this could be determined only by cutting the tissue in question into wafer-thin slices and examining these under a microscope. However, the two-dimensional sections provide only an inaccurate picture of the spatial distribution and progression of the cells. Together with an international team, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Martinsried have now developed a new method by virtue of which single nerve cells can be both examined in intact tissue and portrayed in all three dimensions.

The spinal cord is the most important pathway for relaying information from the skin, muscles and joints to the brain and back again. Damage to nerve cells in this region usually results in irreversible paralysis and loss of sensation. For many years, scientists have been doing their best to ascertain why nerve cells refuse to regenerate. They search for ways to stimulate these cells to resume their growth.

To establish whether a single cell is growing, the cell must be visible in the first place. Up to now, the procedure has been to cut the area of the spinal cord required for examination into ultra-thin slices. These are then examined under a microscope and the position and pathway of each cell is reconstructed. In exceptional cases, scientists could go to the trouble of first digitizing each slice and then reassembling the images, one by one, to produce a virtual 3D model. However, this is a very time-consuming endeavour, requiring days and sometimes even weeks to process the results of just one examination. Even worse, mistakes can easily creep in and falsify the results: The appendages of individual nerve cells might get squashed during the process of slicing, and the layers might be ever so slightly misaligned when set on top of each other. As Frank Bradke explains: “Although this might not seem dramatic to begin with it prevents us from establishing the length and extent of growth of single cells.” Bradke and his team at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology have investigated the regeneration of nerve cells following injuries to the spinal cord. Since July he has been working at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn. “However, since changes on this crucial scale are precisely what we need to see, we worked meticulously until we came up with a better technique”, he continues.

The new technique is based on a method known as ultramicroscopy, which was developed by Hans Ulrich Dodt from the Technical University of Vienna. The Max Planck neurobiologists and an international team of colleagues have now taken this technique a step further. The principle is relatively straightforward. Spinal cord tissue is opaque due to the fact that the water and the proteins contained in it refract light differently. Thus, the scientists removed the water from a piece of tissue and replaced it by an emulsion that refracts light in exactly the same way as the proteins. This left them with a completely transparent piece of tissue. “It’s the same effect as if you were to spread honey onto textured glass”, Ali Ertürk, the study’s first author adds. The opaque pane becomes crystal clear as soon as the honey has compensated for the surface irregularities.

The new method is a leap forward in regeneration research. By using fluorescent dyes to stain individual nerve cells, scientists can now trace their path from all angels in an otherwise transparent spinal cord section. This enables them to ascertain once and for all whether or not these nerve cells recommenced their growth following injury to the spine – an essential prerequisite for future research. “The really great thing is the fact that this method can also be easily applied to other kinds of tissue”, Frank Bradke relates. For example, the blood capillary system or the way a tumour is embedded in tissue could be portrayed and analysed in 3D.

Studying the growth of nerve cells is a difficult proposition because one has to isolate them from surrounding tissue and then analyze the very fine slices under the microscope. This process can be time consuming and prone to mistakes and errors.

An international team of researchers headed by neurobiologists at Max-Planck-Institut für Neurobiologie have developed a method of making the spinal cord transparent so that slicing and their 3D reconstruction is not necessary.

Details from the announcement:

Spinal cord tissue is opaque due to the fact that the water and the proteins contained in it refract light differently. Thus, the scientists removed the water from a piece of tissue and replaced it by an emulsion that refracts light in exactly the same way as the proteins. This left them with a completely transparent piece of tissue. “It’s the same effect as if you were to spread honey onto textured glass”, Ali Ertürk, the study’s first author adds. The opaque pane becomes crystal clear as soon as the honey has compensated for the surface irregularities. The new method is a leap forward in regeneration research. By using fluorescent dyes to stain individual nerve cells, scientists can now trace their path from all angels in an otherwise transparent spinal cord section. This enables them to ascertain once and for all whether or not these nerve cells recommenced their growth following injury to the spine – an essential prerequisite for future research.

Source : http://www.mpg.de/4737858/spinal_cord_transparent

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Proxima Generation 2 Arterial Blood Analyser Gets EU Clearance

Proxima Generation 2 Arterial Blood Analyser Gets EU Clearance

Proxima Generation 2 Arterial Blood Analyser Gets EU Clearance

Cambridge, UK, 19 December 2011: Sphere Medical Holding plc (AIM:SPHR.L) (“Sphere

Medical” or the “Company”), a leading developer of innovative monitoring and diagnostic

products for the critical care setting, is pleased to announce that Proxima Generation 2 has

achieved European CE Marking as an in-vitro diagnostic device. Proxima Generation 2 is

Sphere Medical’s disposable patient-attached arterial blood analyser.

The CE Marking of Proxima Generation 2 follows the announcement on 21 November that the

clinical trial on Proxima Generation 2 had met its primary endpoint to demonstrate equivalent

performance to laboratory and Point of Care blood gas analysers measuring arterial blood in

a clinical setting.

The Company now intends to initiate a number of marketing studies in leading UK hospitals

which will utilise the CE Marked Proxima device to build up substantial feedback on clinical

use.

Commenting on the Proxima Generation 2 CE Marking, Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stuart

Hendry, said: “The achieving of CE Marking for Proxima Generation 2 is a major milestone

achievement for Sphere Medical and sets the foundations for the commercialisation of our

lead product.”

Sphere Medical based in Cambridge, UK received the European CE Mark of approval for its Proxima Generation 2 disposable arterial blood analyser. The device is intended for continuous monitoring of glucose, blood gas & electrolytes in patients in the OR and ICU and a recent clinical study has shown that the Proxima Generation 2 provides an equivalent performance when compared to lab and point-of-care blood gas analysers of arterial blood.

Because measurements are made on a continuous basis and all the blood is immediately returned to the patient, the device lets clinicians keep a steady eye on patients without having to take regular readings and run samples to the lab.

Source : http://www.spheremedical.com/documents/news/Proxima%20Generation%202%20Achieves%20European%20CE%20Marking.pdf

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Smart Bandage Promotes and Guides Vessel Formation

Smart Bandage Promotes and Guides Vessel Formation

Smart Bandage Promotes and Guides Vessel Formation

Researchers at Illinois have developed a “microvascular stamp” that lays out a blueprint for new blood vessels and spurs their growth in a predetermined pattern. The research team included (from left, standing) Rashid Bashir, a professor of electrical and computer engineering; graduate student Vincent Chan; K. Jimmy Hsia, a professor of mechanical science and engineering; graduate student Casey Dyck; and Hyunjoon Kong, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and (from left, seated) postdoctoral researcher Jae Hyun Jeong and graduate student Chaenyung Cha.

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — Researchers have developed a bandage that stimulates and directs blood vessel growth on the surface of a wound. The bandage, called a “microvascular stamp,” contains living cells that deliver growth factors to damaged tissues in a defined pattern. After a week, the pattern of the stamp “is written in blood vessels,” the researchers report.

blood vessels

After the stamp is removed its pattern is revealed in the pattern of blood vessels below. | Photo courtesy Micro and Nanotechnology Lab

A paper describing the new approach will appear as the January 2012 cover article of the journal Advanced Materials.

“Any kind of tissue you want to rebuild, including bone, muscle or skin, is highly vascularized,” said University of Illinois chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Hyunjoon Kong, a co-principal investigator on the study with electrical and computer engineering professor Rashid Bashir. “But one of the big challenges in recreating vascular networks is how we can control the growth and spacing of new blood vessels.”

“The ability to pattern functional blood vessels at this scale in living tissue has not been demonstrated before,” Bashir said. “We can now write features in blood vessels.”

Other laboratories have embedded growth factors in materials applied to wounds in an effort to direct blood vessel growth. The new approach is the first to incorporate live cells in a stamp. These cells release growth factors in a more sustained, targeted manner than other methods, Kong said.

The stamp is nearly 1 centimeter across and is built of layers of a hydrogel made of polyethylene glycol (an FDA-approved polymer used in laxatives and pharmaceuticals) and methacrylic alginate (an edible, Jell-O-like material).

The stamp is porous, allowing small molecules to leak through, and contains channels of various sizes to direct the flow of larger molecules, such as growth factors.

The researchers tested the stamp on the surface of a chicken embryo. After a week the stamp was removed, revealing a network of new blood vessels that mirrored the pattern of the channels in the stamp.

“This is a first demonstration that the blood vessels are controlled by the biomaterials,” Kong said.

The researchers see many potential applications for the new stamp, from directing the growth of blood vessels around a blocked artery, to increasing the vascularization of tissues with poor blood flow, to “normalizing” blood vessels that feed a tumor to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs. Enhancing the growth of new blood vessels in a coordinated pattern after surgery may also reduce recovery time and lessen the amount of scar tissue, the researchers said.

In another study published earlier this year, the team developed a biodegradable material that supports living cells. Future research will test whether the new material also can be used as a stamp.

Researchers on the study team also included K. Jimmy Hsia, a professor of mechanical science and engineering and of bioengineering at Illinois; postdoctoral researchers Jae Hyun Jeong and Pinar Zorlutuna; and graduate students Vincent Chan, Chaenyung Cha and Casey Dyck.

This study was supported in part by the National Science Foundation Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems Center at Illinois, Georgia Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center; an NSF Career grant; the American Heart Association; and the Amore Pacific Corp.

Bashir, the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering, also is a professor of bioengineering. He and Kong are affiliates of the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab and the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.

A team of engineers has created a bandage that in just one week not only encourages new blood vessel growth but helps guide that growth as well.

“The ability to pattern functional blood vessels at this scale in living tissue has not been demonstrated before,” co-principal investigator and electrical and computing engineering professor Rashid Bashir says in a school news release.

The team, whose findings will grace the cover of a January 2012 issue of the journal Advanced Materials, calls the bandage a “microvascular stamp.” Unlike similar bandages developed to help spur blood vessel growth, the stamp contains living cells that encourage damaged tissue to grow according to the stamp’s pattern.

At nearly a centimeter across, the stamp is made of porous material that enables small molecules to sneak through in addition to the larger growth factors. The team tested it on a chicken embryo; when they removed it from the surface a week later, a network of new blood vessels appeared in the pattern of the stamp’s channels.

Future applications could include not only healing wounds, but also redirecting blood vessels to grow around blocked arteries, and even improving the delivery of cancer drugs by repairing blood vessels that feed cancerous cells.

Researchers at University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign developed an amazing little bandage, which they call a “microvascular stamp”, that promotes angiogenesis while guiding exactly where the vessels should go.

It is imbued with living cells, positioned in a defined pattern, that release growth factors around a wound and cause vessels to grow where intended. The study will be appearing in next month’s issue of Advanced Materials.

From the announcement:

The stamp is nearly 1 centimeter across and is built of layers of a hydrogel made of polyethylene glycol (an FDA-approved polymer used in laxatives and pharmaceuticals) and methacrylic alginate (an edible, Jell-O-like material).

The stamp is porous, allowing small molecules to leak through, and contains channels of various sizes to direct the flow of larger molecules, such as growth factors.

The researchers tested the stamp on the surface of a chicken embryo. After a week the stamp was removed, revealing a network of new blood vessels that mirrored the pattern of the channels in the stamp.

The researchers see many potential applications for the new stamp, from directing the growth of blood vessels around a blocked artery, to increasing the vascularization of tissues with poor blood flow, to “normalizing” blood vessels that feed a tumor to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs. Enhancing the growth of new blood vessels in a coordinated pattern after surgery may also reduce recovery time and lessen the amount of scar tissue, the researchers said.

Source : http://news.illinois.edu/news/11/1215blood_HyunjoonKong_RashidBashir.html

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The Anatomy of an App: Medgadget Meets the Team Behind Pocket Anatomy

The Anatomy of an App: Medgadget Meets the Team Behind Pocket Anatomy

The Anatomy of an App: Medgadget Meets the Team Behind Pocket Anatomy

We visited eMedia’s headquarters earlier this month to catch up with CEO Mark Campbell and members of their interaction design team (who supplied a unique team photo just for Medgadget) to find out a little bit more about what’s involved in producing their intuitive and content rich anatomy apps. As a holiday season/New Year token of goodwill, and to coincide with our MedGadget feature, Mark and his team are offering a 50% discount for the Pocket Body for the iPad (normally $29.99) and iPhone (normally $19.99) until early January on the iTunes store.

Medgadget: Where did the idea for Pocket Body come from?

Mark Campbell: The idea for Pocket Body came about while getting to know, understand and observe how medical students, healthcare professionals, and the general public learn, communicate and visualize the complexities of the human body.

Our team’s background stems from multimedia design and development for university schools of medicine, private medical companies and hospitals. With the emergence of the iOS, it was a nice next step for us to migrate from creating detailed 3D animations and web-based medical eLearning courseware for our healthcare clients, to publishing our own unique suite of mobile medical education apps.

Medgadget: What is the major primary and secondary markets Pocket Body is targeting and how is it benefiting these end-users?

Mark Campbell: Our primary market is the medical student seeking an intuitive anatomy study aid. Our app is hugely popular with this cohort. We’ve also found it interesting to learn that this group use the app a lot in informal learning settings – i.e. using our multiple choice quizzes for self-testing and revision when on a coffee break, waiting for a bus or taking the subway.

Outside of this core group we are noticing increased inte

rest and use from residents looking to refresh their gross anatomy while working in a clinical setting.

Lastly, we regularly receive feedback from healthcare professionals who are using Pocket Body to engage with their patients when communicating a diagnosis. Instead of pointing to a wall chart or plastic model, they are using our app. Furthermore, not only do patients better understand their diagnosis, but they also find it easier to relay their condition to their families.

What is common to each of these groups is that they all share an interest in visualizing the human body.

Medgadget: You have mentioned user-centered design as a core value for eMedia. How do you carry out your end user validation of your products?

Mark Campbell: We see ourselves as being different in that we co-develop with medical students and professionals for medical students and professionals. In the creation of Pocket Body, we deliberately set out to engage with our primary audience – the medical student. We worked with groups of medical students to show us how they currently learn anatomy and what resources they use (i.e. flash cards, study notes, highlighter pens, video, cadaver lab notes, online quizzes, as well as existing web and mobile apps.) We discussed the positive and negative aspects across ea

ch resource and wondered, “…how can we bring about something meaningful and beautiful, that will complement these learning behaviors, and create a powerfully engaging learning experience using this new iOS technology?”

The validation process began in 2009 with our continued close relationships with local and US-based medical students and professionals, and has continued through the daily feedback we receive, enabling us to push out meaningful updates to our community of users worldwide. In 16 months, this community has benefited from nine major updates to our Pocket Body app, with 90% of these changes emanating from medical practitioners’ and students’ feedback and suggestions. With each update freely available, it’s a “win-win” for all concerned. Many of our new users hear about us through word-of-mouth from existing users who are pleased to see us responding to the community’s collective needs.

Medgadget: How do you develop the models and content for you products?

Mark Campbell: Content and models within our apps are developed both in-house as well as licensed externally.

Medgadget: What is the challenge for the relatively small team at eMedia in producing such significant products to a wide audience?

Mark Campbell: Our unique mix of pedagogy, medical expertise, software development and user-centered design works really well for us, as it allows us to build in the individual feedback we receive into our user-centered design and agile software development processes.

We are in a growth stage right now, and our major challenge is to continue to make advancements, while maintaining our creative dynamic and user-centered spirit. We also want to continue to work with our community of users in developing first-class medical education software…but these are nice challenges to have.

Medgadget: Where would you see eMedia Interactive and Pocket Body 2-3 years from now?

Mark Campbell: I think the introduction of game-based learning, gamification techniques, and social learning technologies into the medical education sphere is where things are going. We want to be there too, as that’s where we see medical education moving towards in the coming years.

We love what we do and if we can still get the same satisfaction out of what we do in 3 years’ time, as a creative company, punching above our weight, building beautiful and meaningful medical education apps, then great!

Source : http://www.pocketanatomy.com/

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Lockheed and Hopkins Team Up, Hope to Transform the ICU

Lockheed and Hopkins Team Up, Hope to Transform the ICU

Lockheed and Hopkins Team Up, Hope to Transform the ICU

The Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality of Johns Hopkins Medicine is collaborating with the Lockheed Martin Corporation, a global security and technology company, to create a safer and more efficient hospital intensive care unit (ICU) model. The two organizations will work to streamline complex and fragmented clinical systems and processes to reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care for critically ill patients.

“A hospital ICU contains 50 to 100 pieces of electronic equipment that may not communicate to one another nor work together effectively,” says Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., Armstrong Institute director and senior vice president for patient safety and quality for Johns Hopkins Medicine. Pronovost, who often contrasts the health care and aerospace industries, says, “When an airline needs a new plane, they don’t individually select the controls systems, seats and other components, and then try to build it themselves.” The piecemeal approach by which hospitals currently assemble ICUs is inefficient and prone to error, adding risk to an already intricate environment. “Lockheed Martin has the expertise to integrate complex systems to help us build a safer and more efficient ICU model not just for Johns Hopkins but for patients around the world,” Pronovost says.

A single system that could prioritize patient alarms based on individual risk of cardiac or respiratory arrest, for example, could prevent alarm fatigue, when clinicians sometimes are inundated with a chorus of competing alarms. This could help us understand risks on a personal level based on each patient’s age, diagnosis and family history.

“Flight simulators and systems integration revolutionized the aerospace industry, and similar concepts can be applied to increase effectiveness and efficiency of the health care industry,” says Dr. Ray O Johnson, Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Lockheed Martin’s advanced computer-generated modeling and simulation will allow scientists to input ICU data to mimic possible outcomes of life-like scenarios. The software can also be used to train health care providers on newly engineered devices or processes, similar to the way pilots learn to respond to high-pressure scenarios.”

Hopkins researchers will test alternative approaches to ICU care in a learning laboratory with a virtual simulation theatre, an engineering workshop and testing area with mannequins that imitate patient conditions and responses.

Further strengthening the relationship between these world-class organizations, Johns Hopkins has invited Robert J. Szczerba, Ph.D., Lockheed Martin’s corporate director of healthcare innovation, to serve on the advisory board of the Armstrong Institute. Szczerba will provide guidance on how advanced technologies from the aerospace and defense industries can be used to improve patient safety and overall quality of care.

The Armstrong Institute oversees all patient safety and quality efforts throughout Johns Hopkins Medicine. It is designed to rigorously apply scientific principles to the study of safety for the benefit of all patients, not just those at Johns Hopkins. The Institute is committed to eliminating preventable harm for patients, reducing health disparities, ensuring clinical excellence and creating a culture that values patient-centered care, collaboration, accountability and organizational learning.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.7 billion.

The airline industry has long been a paradigm example of safety, but it was not always that way. The transition occurred over the second half of the 20th century and was marked by rigorous equipment testing and procedures, such as the strict incorporation of checklists. Healthcare is an industry that recently has become quite interested in the possibility of implementing airline industry standards to improve patient safety and care delivery (read the books The Checklist Manifesto and Why Hospitals Should Fly if you’d like a solid overview of this phenomenon)

This month Lockheed Martin and Johns Hopkins, two institutional leaders in the fields of aviation and healthcare, respectively, announced a partnership to bring cutting-edge systems integration to the intensive care unit (ICU). According to the press release:

076prdq7 Lockheed and Hopkins Team Up, Hope to Transform the ICUThe two organizations will work to streamline complex and fragmented clinical systems and processes to reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care for critically ill patients.

“A hospital ICU contains 50 to 100 pieces of electronic equipment that may not communicate to one another nor work together effectively,” says Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., Armstrong Institute director and senior vice president for patient safety and quality for Johns Hopkins Medicine. Pronovost, who often contrasts the health care and aerospace industries, says, “When an airline needs a new plane, they don’t individually select the controls systems, seats and other components, and then try to build it themselves.” The piecemeal approach by which hospitals currently assemble ICUs is inefficient and prone to error, adding risk to an already intricate environment. “Lockheed Martin has the expertise to integrate complex systems to help us build a safer and more efficient ICU model not just for Johns Hopkins but for patients around the world,” Pronovost says.

A single system that could prioritize patient alarms based on individual risk of cardiac or respiratory arrest, for example, could prevent alarm fatigue, when clinicians sometimes are inundated with a chorus of competing alarms. This could help us understand risks on a personal level based on each patient’s age, diagnosis and family history.

Source : http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/johns_hopkins_collaborates_with_lockheed_martin_to_build_next_generation_intensive_care_unit

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