Credit to Columbus Business First,  Paula Christian: published January 30, 2015
 

With so much health care research taking place here, Columbus Business First took a look at five innovations that, while in infancy now, could change patient care someday. Plenty of ideas germinated locally already have made it to market. Take the EpiGlare patented by Columbus eye surgeon Dr. Alice Epitropoulos that helps measure the vision deficits caused by headlights and other glare. Thanks to the advice of OhioHealth Corp., she won a TechColumbus grant and just licensed the rights to Tucson, Arizona-based supplier Eye Care and Cure. It soon will be on sale to eye surgery practices nationwide. Soon doctors will have a quick test to diagnose whether a sinus infection is viral or bacterial, thanks to research done at The Ohio State University (Dr. Subinoy Das) and Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Lauren Bakaletz). In August the two partnered with ENTvantage Diagnostics in Austin, to market the kit, which allows doctors to swab a patient’s nose and have the results in five minutes. Here is a look at more of the region’s best health care innovations.

Vish Subramaniam

Cancer Scanner

Vish Subramaniam’s scanner uses electric currents to detect cancer in tissue during surgery.

Cancer Scanner

What it is: 

Scanner that detects hidden tumors. This device uses mini electrical currents to distinguish between normal human tissue and tissue that contains unseen cancer. The currents respond differently in the two types of tissue, giving surgeons real-time knowledge of how much tissue to remove from patients.

Who is behind it: 

Vish Subramaniam, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Ohio State University, and a team of students, engineers and surgeons.

Why it will help:  

Cancer surgeons do not have operating room technology to help them distinguish between normal tissue and cancerous tissue.  They rely exclusively on eyesight to judge where the margins of a tumor exist and how much tissue to remove. “Visibly what may look to be normal tissue many actually contain cancer,” Subramaniam said. Subramaniam lost his wife to cancer in 2008. During her two-year struggle with the disease, he spoke to oncologists about the need for a device to locate tumors during surgery. He took a sabbatical from teaching in 2009 and worked in Ohio State’s College of Medicine to learn about the problem. He created a table-top scanner with a tiny probe that sends electric currents into tissue and reacts differently if cancer is present.

Future Prospects:

He is seeking funds to continue research as well as a commercial partner. Eventually this technology could be used in the veterinary market; to develop a non-contact wound healing device; and to detect antibodies and disease. The size of the device can be modified for use in a microscope or as a hand-held probe.

Dr. Susan Mallery

Oral Cancer Patch

Dr. Susan Mallery at Ohio State helped develop a patch that delivers medication to precancerous lesions in the mouth.

Patch for Oral Cancer

What is it: 

A medicated oral patch that allows a chemoprevention drug to release directly into precancerous lesions in the mouth.

Who is behind it: 

Dr. Susan Mallery, a professor at Ohio State’s College of Dentistry and a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis/ Chemoprevention Center at Ohio State’s James Cancer Hospital, with pharmaceutical chemist Dr. Stephen Schwendeman and his team from the University of Michigan.

Why it will help:  

Precancerous lesions are a global health problem and the current treatment is to surgically remove the affected tissue. But the surgery can be disfiguring to the face and mouth, and lesions often re-occur. The use of a drug-infused patch could provide long-term help, potentially replacing surgery. Doctors have struggled with how to get medicine to the site because gels applied to a wet surface do not stay put for long.

Future prospects: 

Ohio State and the University of Michigan signed an agreement with Ohio-based Venture Therapeutics to form a new company, Sirona Therapeutics, to develop and commercialize the patch. The final prototypes for the two sizes of the patch (which will be larger than this photo and oval-shaped) will be finished in three to four months, and pending federal approval, clinical trials on humans could begin in December 2016.

Carmen DiGiovine

Pressure Ulcer Prevention Pad

Sit Smart monitors pressure points on people in wheelchairs and is aimed at preventing ulcers.

Pressure Ulcer Prevention Pad

What is it: 

Sit Smart is a portable pad for wheelchairs and scooters that monitors pressure points while a patient is at home.

Who is behind it: 

Carmen DiGiovine, a rehabilitation engineer and occupational therapy professor at Ohio State. He is also the program director for the Assistive Technology Center at Dodd Rehabilitation Hospital, The Ohio State University Medical Center.

Why it will help: 

Pressure ulcers are treated in 500,000 patients annually nationwide and cost $11 billion. It is estimated that 50 to 85 percent of patients with a spinal cord injury will get a pressure ulcer in their lifetime. Medical clinics have large machines to monitor pressure points when patients come in for occupational or physical therapy. But there is no affordable device for patients to take home so they can monitor when they are placing too much pressure on a body point and need to shift positions. “With pressure ulcers, you don’t feel them when you have a spinal cord injury, so people don’t know,” he said. DiGiovine created a pressure mat composed of fabric sensors that is wireless and costs $450. It records pressure distribution and provides feedback through a software application on a phone or computer. Eventually the pad may be embedded in wheelchair cushions or worn by patients.

Future prospects: 

The second-generation prototype is undergoing additional testing, with a provisional patent coming soon. DiGiovine is looking for commercial funding. The innovation could be expanded for people who work in sedentary jobs.

Lara McKenzie

Child-Resistant Spray Nozzle

Lara McKenzie: We observed how many kids were being injured from cleaning products in spray bottles.

Child-resistant Spray Nozzle

What it is:  

A child-resistant spray nozzle that prevents children from getting access to household cleaning products.

Who is behind it: 

Lara McKenzie, principal investigator with Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy and an associate professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University. A team from Children’s and Ohio State worked on the innovation.

Why it will help: 

“We observed the problem of how many kids were being injured in the emergency room, either by being poisoned or injured in the eye or on the skin from cleaning products in spray bottles. We wondered, ‘Why hasn’t someone come up with a solution?’ ” McKenzie said. In 2012, McKenzie and her team patented a spray bottle with a two-lever system similar to the mechanism used on auto-lock barbecue lighters that fits adult hands but is too hard for kids to wrap their fingers around.

Future prospects: 

When McKenzie approached bottle manufacturers with her design, they weren’t enthusiastic because it would have forced them to retool. So McKenzie and her team reworked the prototype into a spray trigger mechanism without an attached bottle. Parents would be able to replace product spray nozzles with the child-resistant one. McKenzie plans to market to manufacturers of safety products, such as child-resistant locks and latches

Carlos Castro

DNA Origami

DNA Origami: Tiny Machines That Morph

What is it:  

Molecular machines built with natural and synthetic DNA that can perform repeated tasks, such as carrying medicine inside a container-like DNA structure and opening the container to release it when patients need it.

Who is behind it: 

Project leader Carlos Castro is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at The Ohio State University. He worked with fellow engineering professor Haijun Su.

Why it will help: 

Ultimately the technology could create complex nano-robots to deliver medicine inside the body, perform measurements and other tasks. Like the fictional Transformer, a DNA origami machine could change shape for different. This technology would make it possible for doctors to deliver medicine to certain types of cells, such as cancer cells. Castro is developing the technology with a specific aim to help cancer and leukemia patients. “In some cases you do want a big dose of medicine, and sometimes you want a little bit of medicine at a time,” he said.

Future prospects:  

Wide range of future medical applications. Clinical treatment is 10 to 15 years away, he said. Researchers are trying to expand the size and designs of their molecular machines. “It’s a pretty exciting notion,” he said. “I look at all of the kinds of machines out there … and I think, maybe I can make that.”

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