Seeing under the skin to reveal early signs of heart disease and stroke
A revolutionary diagnostic technique that sees under the skin sounds rooted in the realms of science fiction. But an invention akin to the Star Trek small handheld body scanner that shines light into the skin to detect early signs of heart disease and stroke could be on the market in less than two years.
The painless test takes no more than five minutes to detect Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), a condition that affects over 90 million people worldwide. What starts off as blood flow problems in the feet can develop fatal consequences if left unchecked. Once diagnosed, one in three people die within five years. But many deaths are preventable through early diagnosis, which is the aim of Dr Vincent Crabtree’s invention, PADD. Crabtree, an optical engineer from Loughborough University, was inspired by the plight of his grandfather who died at 55 after having his leg amputated due to PVD.
PADD represents a futuristic way to check out circulatory health that uses an infrared light beam no more powerful than a TV remote control. Quick and simple to use, this state of the art technology could replace the ankle brachial pressure index, a traditional pressure cuff measurement system.
“Current screening is time-consuming and requires skilled operators. It is also particularly unreliable on diabetics, who are extremely susceptible to PVD,” Crabtree explains. He continues: “PADD does not require any specialist training; it’s easy and safe to use and will be ideal for busy vascular clinics and GP surgeries.”
An infra red probe is held to the foot for a couple of minutes to assess how well the blood supply adapts to forces of gravity caused by postural changes such as getting out of bed and standing up. The prototype technology is now undergoing a large clinical study at the Royal Free Hospital, London. PADD is expected to have regulatory approval in Europe and America within two years.
“If PVD is picked up early enough, many deaths could be prevented by better diet, exercise, drugs or surgery,” adds Jody Brown, CEO of Dialog Devices, the company launched to commercialise PADD. She continues, “The technology is attracting a lot of interest. We have raised £0.25M in venture capital and awards and started discussions with major medical device distributors. With a large scale trial already underway, the next step is to scale the prototype into a hand held, portable device.”
PADD has just been announced as a finalist at the Medical Futures Innovation Awards that attracted a record 1,200 entries from throughout the health care industry. The annual awards are widely regarded as the pre-eminent platform to unite high-level policy makers, strategic thinkers and grassroots practitioners and serve to promote excellence in medical innovation.
Anna Seddon | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
New technique promises tunable laser devices
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...