Humans are to return to the Moon and travel to Mars in the near future. The unusual stresses of long duration space travel on the human body are only partly known. Radiation exposure, bone loss, kidney stone formation, and cardiac stresses are only a few of the possibilities. In collaboration with NASA, we are developing a Reusable Handheld Electrolytes And Lab Technology for Humans, also called the rHEALTH sensor. We are also developing powerful nanostrip technology to perform whole panels of assays on the rHEALTH sensor. The goal of the rHEALTH sensor is to provide a universal blood sensor to these NASA missions. The rHEALTH sensor is designed to not only perform comprehensive analysis of astronaut health, but also designed to meet the unusual requirements of minimal mass, small spaces, and years of uninterrupted operating time.
National Instruments (NI), the developer of LabVIEW, a popular graphical programming language, has developed a powerful and easy-to-use approach to embedded design technology. As recipients of the National Instruments Medical Device Grant, we access to their novel technology that allows deployment of embedded software in record time, thus dramatically shortening medical device prototyping and development times. This technology allows for making small, compact medical devices possible. It comprises of a suite of software and hardware with integrated microprocessor, data acquisition capabilities, and field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology. We expect that this technology will speed time-to-market in ways never before possible.
With National Heart Lung and Blood Institute funding, we are developing an emergency point-of-care blood counter. Under acute medical conditions, blood counts may drop or change precipitously and critical care need to be administered. During these situations, close and frequent monitoring of a patient's complete blood count is typically done to deliver the best care. Unfortunately, not all emergencies occur with a STAT hospital laboratory within the vicinity. Our device allows immediate, point-of-care analysis under any emergency scenario.
As part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations grant program, we are developing a battery-powered non-invasive finger scanner to detect and measure hemozoin, a byproduct formed by malaria parasites, through the finger's capillaries. Malaria is a deadly disease that afflicts up to 500 million people each year. Millions die from it, including many young children in developing countries. If successful, mass manufacturing of the scanner should be possible due to basic components.