Ben Gurion University (BGU) in Israel and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) in the US have launched a joint project to develop medical devices for children. Three devices will be researched and developed by the two institutions, combining the technical and engineering capabilities of BGU, with the medical expertise of CCHMC physicians.
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During the initial planning stage, the institutions reviewed 80 medical needs which they say are “unmet.” Of those 80, 10 were selected to go through rigorous application cycles, thorough market analyses and review by internal and external stakeholders.
Eventually, BHU and CCHMC selected three projects which they decided have the highest potential to improve patient care and reduce costs to healthcare system.
Niki Robinson, Assistant Vice President of the Cincinnati Children’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), explains that due to high development costs, the pediatric medical device market suffers from neglect. According to Robinson, this collaboration, which grants funding to early-stage project, presents an unprecedented opportunity.
The three projects include a smart sensing catheter, a surfactant delivery device and an image-guided needle insertion device. Each project was developed and is being led by a BGU engineer and a CCHMC clinician or surgeon. Prof. Joseph Kost, Dean of BGU’s Faculty of Engineering Sciences, adds that what makes this project likely to succeed is the fact that clinicians and engineers will be working side-by-side on developing the devices.
Treating premature babies, infants and small children
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The smart sensing catheter, developed by Prof. Ibrahim Abdulhalim, head of the ElectroOptics Engineering Unit at BGU, and Richard Azizkhan, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Cincinnati Children’s and the Lester W. Martin Chair of Pediatric Surgery, provides immediate and continuous assessment of the metabolic and physiological profile of critically ill infants and small children.
“Once developed to the product level the sensor can be used in other applications such as for water quality and environment pollutants monitoring,” Abdulhalim says.
The surfactant delivery device, developed by Prof. Joseph Kost, Dean of BGU’s Faculty of Engineering Sciences and Jeffrey Whitsett, MD, co-director at the Perinatal Institute of Cincinnati Children’s, consists of a delivery system for prolonged administration of surfactants to the lungs of premature babies, using nanoparticles. Surfactants are substances composed of lipoprotein that are secreted by the alveolar cells of the lung and serve to maintain the stability of pulmonary tissue by reducing the surface tension of fluids that coat the lung.
Current procedures do not allow for the sustained release of proteins or other complex particles in the alveoli of infants or adults. This technology would do just that, with the potential to deliver numerous therapies to the lower airway through a non-inflammatory delivery system.
Prof. Hugo Guterman of BGU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Daniel von Allmen, MD, director of the Division of General and Thoracic Surgery at Cincinnati Children’s, are collaborating on the image guided needle insertion device, which combines sophisticated new imaging techniques with the precision of robotics to improve the accuracy of many procedures currently done in pediatric medicine.
Photo: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital