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Collaboration to Build Three New Pediatric Medical Devices

Newborn grip (Jason Pratt/Flickr)A partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel will develop three new medical devices designed to meet children’s medical needs. The collaboration that combines Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s clinical staff with engineers from Ben-Gurion was first announced last May to help address unmet needs for pediatric medical devices, particularly where technology made for adults is not feasible.

The three projects were chosen from some 80 candidates with the help of CincyTech, a seed-stage investment organization that supports new ventures in the Cincinnati region, and Ridgeback Business Development Ltd., a business and economic development firm in Israel. From the initial candidates, the evaluators selected 10 finalists, which the institutions say were submitted to thorough market analyses and technical reviews.

The three devices to be developed are a smart sensing catheter, a surfactant-delivery device to babies’ lungs, and an image-guided needle insertion device. Each project will receive a seed grant of $100,000, with further funding dependent on achievement of specific developmental milestones.

The smart sensing catheter will provide immediate and continuous assessment of metabolic and physiological functions of critically ill infants and small children. The concept for the catheter was developed by Cincinnati’s chief surgeon Richard Azizkhan, along with Ben-Gurion engineering professor Ibrahim Abdulhalim. The device, says Azizkhan, “will reduce the need for repeated tests, thus reducing costs for the health system and society,” and could be adapted for broader application in the adult market.

The surfactant delivery device provides for extended administration of proteins or other complex particles with surfactants that reduce the surface tension of water when used in very low concentrations. The device — an idea of Jeffrey Whitsett, co-director of the Cincinnati’s Perinatal Institute, and biomedical engineer Joseph Kost, also Ben-Gurion’s engineering faculty dean — is a non-inflammatory delivery system using nanoparticles for prolonged delivery of surfactants to the lungs and lower airways of premature babies.

The image guided needle insertion device is a concept of Daniel von Allmen, Cincinnati’s director of general and thoracic surgery, and Ben-Gurion electrical and computer engineering professor Hugo Guterman. This device combines imaging with robotics to improve the accuracy of many invasive medical procedures. “Currently, a clinician has limited control over the path of a needle once inserted into the tissue,” says Guterman, “and limited ability to know the precise trajectory required to achieve the desired needle position, often using trial and error even when guided by imaging modalities.” Like the smart sensing catheter, this device is expected to have potential for the adult device market.

The collaboration is expected to provide Cincinnati Children’s clinicians with a way to turn ideas for new medical devices into reality. “One of the enormous struggles for physicians, many of whom are very experienced in their fields and knowledgeable about challenges to care,” says von Allmen, “is the ability to get an idea from the back of a napkin in the cafeteria to a coordinated development effort.”

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Photo: Jason Pratt/Flickr

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