COLLABORATION

Connecting

Healthcare and Engineering

HEALS provides a platform to connect healthcare professionals, engineers, researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs and companies to collaborate on projects that can benefit patient outcomes as well as healthcare in general. All the projects below address unmet needs in patient care, originated mostly from clinicians and companies seeking collaboration to research and develop healthcare products. The projects may represent different stages in the process of commercialization, such as conceptualization, research, design, prototyping, testing, clinical trial, regulation compliance,FDA approval/clearance, manufacture, funding, and beyond. Please send us a description of your relevant expertise if you are interested in participating in any one of these projects. On the other hand, feel free to communicate with us about your project ideas or research needs if you are interested in seeking collaboration related to healthcare engineering. We will make connections between project initiators and collaborators as a free service.

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Research Projects

Biodegradable memory arterial stent for atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a disease characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on the inner walls at susceptible sites in major conduit arteries. A startup company is seeking collaboration to develop a biodegradable memory arterial stent capable of sustained release of stem cells for the reconstruction of the obstructed area in the artery, aiming to avoid open heart surgery which involves elevated costs and a high risk of a secondary infections during rehabilitation.

Transcatheter heart valve replacement: In cardiac surgery, transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR) and transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement (TTVR) are highly challenging because these atrio-ventricular valves are positioned between two hollow spaces in the heart, where a simple stent cannot anchor to. Most of the current TMVR devices have severe drawbacks mainly because they are positioned too deep in the ventricles causing so-called left ventricular outflow tract obstruction (LVOTO). Because of this drawback, only 15-35% of the patients in need of a TMVR device can receive such procedure. A start-up company is seeking collaboration to develop innovative TMVR and TTVR devices based on granted US and EU patents.

Cardiac biofluid mechanics device for acute decompensated heart failure: Acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is characterized by a symptom of fatigue, dyspnea, or edema due to deteriorating heart function and usually leads to hospital admission or unscheduled medical intervention. Existing device therapies include implantable cardioverter defibrillators, cardiac resynchronization therapy, and ventricular assist devices (VADs). A company is interested in collaborating on the development of an innovative cardiac biofluid mechanics device aimed at relief of tissue congestion.

Wearable device to detect stroke: A company is seeking collaboration to develop an innovative wearable device that can detect the sign of ischemic stroke and immediately alert the patient and healthcare personnel. 

Non-invasive heart attack diagnosis device: Expertise is sought to develop a unique heart attack diagnosis device. The human heart releases certain proteins due to heart attack. The current technology requires drawing blood sample and sending it to the lab for analysis using a machine for the purpose of diagnosis/confirmation of the disease. The innovative device uses a noninvasive optical sensor to monitor the protein level real-time without the need of blood drawing or the time required for lab analysis.  

Home oxygen therapy: A company is interested in collaborating to help outpatients on supplemental oxygen improve their oxygen delivery options in order to better achieve therapeutic goals and optimal use of home oxygen. The focus is on improving the device portability, flow rate, and duration of home oxygen supplies.

AI-based acoustic-resonance respiratory sensor system: Experts are sought to help develop an Artificial Intelligence-based, non-invasive, wireless sensor system that enables early and remote detection of changes in lung acoustics and respiratory patterns related to respiratory exacerbations, through acoustic resonance involving sound emission into the chest cavity and analysis of the echoed vibrations.  

Chest strapping therapy apparatus: In bronchospastic and air trapping diseases such as COPD/Emphysema, Asthma and Reactive Airway Disease (RAD), there is a problem of air being inadequately expelled from the lungs. Traditionally, therapies have been focused on opening up airways, but it has been shown that decreasing lung compliance can also be beneficial. Chest Strapping Therapy (CST) to decrease chest compliance has been demonstrated to be effective. A physician is seeking collaboration on developing an apparatus that can decrease chest compliance by applying extra thoracic pressure on the chest cavity, thereby allowing air to be expelled out efficiently that patients can utilize at home or in a clinical setting. 

Innovative cancer diagnostic biopsy system: Early-stage tumors can be hard to pinpoint, and it is always difficult to perform needle biopsies at exactly the right location. If the biopsy needle is placed incorrectly and misses the tumor, it could lead to an incorrect false-negative diagnosis. A company is seeking collaborators to develop innovative devices that can reduce the difficulty and improve the accuracy of cancer diagnostic biopsy.

Implanted chemotherapy ion pump for brain tumor: Collaborators are sought to develop an electrophoresis ion pump for precise delivery of chemotherapy agents passing through the blood-brain barrier under the extremely pressure-sensitive environment inside the brain to treat malignant brain tumors without damaging healthy brain cells.
 

Cerebral edema management - Cerebral edema, swelling of the brain, is a common phenomenon associated with a variety of causes including head trauma, vascular ischemia, intracranial lesions, or obstructive hydrocephalus resulting in interstitial edema. Cerebral edema causes an increase in the intracranial pressure which reduces blood into the brain and also blocks other fluids from leaving the brain, possibly resulting in damage or death of brain cells. Collaboration is sought to develop innovative procedures/devices to effectively mitigate cerebral edema.

 

Glucose fuel cell: Expertise is sought to help develop innovative glucose fuel cell that converts glucose into electricity used to energize medical implant and sensors in human body.

Molecular imaging for cancer diagnostics: A company is seeking collaboration on breakthrough technology in molecular imaging that enables visualization, characterization, and quantification of abnormal tissues such as cancer at the cellular and subcellular levels in living patients during surgery, typically involving injection of a radioactive tracer near the tumor site and identifying the sentinel lymph nodes using a gamma detection probe. 

Infusion pump for home chemotherapy: Ambulatory chemotherapy allows the delivery of chemotherapy from the comfort of a patient's home and at a lower cost of care. The performance of ambulatory infusion pumps varies depending on the temperature and/or viscosity of the diluent. A physician is seeking collaboration to develop, prototype, and commercialize an innovative ambulatory infusion pump designed for chemotherapy at home.

Smart infusion pumps: Infusion pumps are in widespread use to deliver fluids such as nutrients or medications such as insulin or other hormones, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, pain relievers or other high-risk medications, at precisely programmed rates or automated intervals. Significant safety incidents related to infusion pumps have occurred leading to over- or under-infusion, missed treatments, or delayed therapy, mostly due to software defects, user interface issues, and mechanical or electrical failures. Innovative designs are sought to address these adverse issues in developing a new combined intravenous and subcutaneous infusion pump.

 

Surgical staplers: Surgical staplers and staples used to deliver staples to tissues inside the body (internal use) have been associated with an increasing number of adverse events including deaths, serious injuries, and device malfunctions. Stapler and/or staple malfunctions or misuse may result in bleeding, sepsis, fistula formation, tearing of internal tissues and organs, increased risk of cancer recurrence, and death. Partners are sought to develop a new device with a low risk of adverse events.. 

AI-powered prostate cancer therapy: About one in every eight men would develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. Surgery and radiation therapy are currently the most common treatment options for prostate cancer, but they pose significant risks for sexual, urinary and/or bowel dysfunctions. A company is interested in collaborating to develop a prostate cancer therapy featuring artificial-intelligence-assisted imaging, optical laser and thermal sensor for patient-specific treatment targeting only the tumor while preserving healthy tissues and nerves around the prostate and the urethra.

Microfilter for cancer detection: A company needs collaboration to develop an innovative and inexpensive microfilter device that can separate and capture trace amounts of cancer cells detached from the primary cancer site for early detection of cancer, postoperative management, and recurrence monitoring.

Innovative neurodiagnostic devices: A company welcomes collaboration on developing innovative neurodiagnostic devices that record, monitor, and analyze electrical activity from the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, somatosensory or motor nerve systems for the detection/diagnosis of a variety of neurological disorders and conditions. 

Digital health technology for Parkinson's disease: The use of digital health technology (DHT), such as mobile phones, activity sensors, smartwatches and several innovative devices in development forms an exciting opportunity to capture clinically relevant and meaningful features of Parkinson's disease (PD) in real life, and can greatly benefit the advancement of innovative therapies for the treatment of PD. However, major challenges exist in terms of how DHT can complement traditional modalities and transform and accelerate therapeutic development with the engagement of PD patients as a key component of this process. A company is interested in collaborating on the development of innovative tools that can estimate relevant outcome measures in the search for new therapeutics that are directed towards disease modification and/or improved quality of life of PD patients.

Intelligent assistive technologies for cognitive deficits: A company is seeking research collaboration to develop integrated intelligent assistive technologies (IAT), including devices, robotics and sensors in different forms, to improve the quality of life among older adults with cognitive deficits, while reducing caregivers’ burden and enhancing healthcare services.  

Detection of cognitive impairment: As Alzheimer's disease continues to rank high among the leading causes of death, early detection of cognitive impairment, including dementia, is a recognized healthcare priority. Despite the existence of cognitive assessment tools that are accessible, cognitive impairment continues to be under-recognized and under-diagnosed in primary care and other everyday clinical settings. A company is seeking collaboration to develop and assess tools used to detect cognitive impairment among older adults for implementation in everyday clinical settings.

  

Delivery of therapeutic gas: Collaboration is desired to develop innovative methods for delivery of therapeutic gases (such as carbon monoxide) for the treatment of gastrointestinal inflammation, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, etc.

Gastrointestinal bleeding: With more and more prevalent use of blood-thinning medications, including aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs, e.g., ibuprofen) to address cardiac issues, the number of gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) cases increase drastically in recent years. It is estimated the medical expenses related to GIB in US is greater than $100 billion per year. The goals of this project are:

  1. To develop a tool that can predict the risk of GIB based on parameters such as size and shape of the lesion acquired through endoscope examination, for variceal and/or nonvariceal bleeding, through approaches such as computational modeling and artificial intelligence.

  2. To develop effective strategies to lower the risk of or stop variceal and/or nonvariceal bleeding through engineering approaches.

  3. To develop effective strategies to lower the risk of recurrence of variceal and/or nonvariceal bleeding through engineering approaches.

Organ preservation and transportation device: A company is interested in collaborating on the development of a novel method enabling prolonged period of preservation and safe transportation of organs to be transplanted in a sterile environment where the temperature and pressure are precisely controlled, thus increasing the distance donor organs can travel and increasing the potential donor pool and the number of clinically transplantable organs.  
 

Low-cost Urology surgery instruments for rural underserved areas: Making invasive Urology practice inexpensive and accessible to rural underserved areas has been made possible through combining several innovative technological approaches such as a low-cost Cystoscope. The International Federation of Rural Surgeons (IFRS) is seeking collaboration to empower rural doctors to perform urological procedures through real-time online training and low-cost urological instruments. A special-purpose low cost Cystoscope needs to be further developed that connects to a laptop for diagnosis and treatment and enables the mentor to guide the mentee remotely in real-time. 

Innovative surgical suture: A company is seeking collaboration to develop innovative surgical sutures that are tough in closing wounds and capable of speeding up the natural healing process by delivering drugs, preventing infections, and monitoring wounds, but do not cause damage to soft tissues with their stiff fibers like traditional sutures. 

Optimal bone implant installation tool and method: An orthopedic surgeon is seeking collaboration to tackle a common problem involving bone implant with a precise interfacial pressure between the implant and the bone. A pressure too low would leave a crevice between the implant and the bone, and increasing the risk of anaerobic infection and the need of remedial surgery. A pressure too high may fracture the bone particularly if the patients are elderly with osteoporosis/osteopenia. For decades, the standard procedure followed by ortho surgeons is inserting the implant using a hammer, based on experience, sound, and haptic feedback. There is a need to study the optimal bone implant installation tool and method.

 

Facet joint replacement surgery system: A group of spine surgeons are interested in collaborating to develop an innovative surgical system that can replace diseased facet joints without losing spinal stability and avoid loss of mobility and other issues associated with surgical fusion. The facet joints (also known as zygapophyseal joints) are in the posterior part of the spine, which gradually degenerate with age. 

Weight training protocol for osteoporosis patients: More than 53 million Americans are at increased risk for bone fracture due to osteoporosis (OP), a disease of decreased bone mineral density and bone mass leading to a compromised bone strength. According to the theory of osteogenic loading based on Wolff's law, the axial force or loading on bone can stimulate the bone's natural function of increasing density. Weight training has been established as an effective regimen to prevent OP. However, for patients already diagnosed with OP, there is a risk of bone fracture during the weight training exercise since their bone is already weak. Drugs are available to treat OP, but they all have undesirable side effects. A company is seeking collaboration to establish a safe and optimal weight training protocol that can maximize the benefit of osteogenic loading without the risk of bone fracture for OP patients.

AI-based portable non-contact tonometry: Collaboration is sought to develop an artificial intelligence-based portable non-contact tonometry ("air puff test") device used to measure the intraocular pressure (IOP) for tele-diagnosis and remote monitoring of glaucoma at home or eye-care facilities.


Advanced medical image management and processing systems: A company welcomes collaboration on developing advanced medical image management and processing systems capable of image manipulation, enhancement, and quantification, including image segmentation, multimodality image registration, 3D visualization, and time-series measurements.

Artificial intelligence for new drug development: Expertise is sought to develop powerful new drug development tools using AI and data of both conventional and novel biomarkers to significantly advance and accelerate the understanding of the utility of biomarkers, and provide reference ranges, medically relevant thresholds, and other outputs to support new drug development efforts.

New technologies for sterilization of medical devices: About 50% of all sterile medical devices in the U.S., ranging from devices used in general healthcare practices (e.g., wound dressings) to more specialized devices (e.g., stents), are sterilized with ethylene oxide, a highly reactive chemical classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as a human carcinogen. Partners are sought to develop new medical device sterilization technologies that do not rely on ethylene oxide, as well as new strategies or technologies to reduce emissions to near zero from the ethylene oxide sterilization process. 

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