Thursday, August 28, 2008

Centers Explore POC Tech

NIH held a joint meeting with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), NHLBI, and NSF to establish the Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network (POCTRN). Four centers are now doing cooperative research at the University of California at Davis, John Hopkins University, University of Cincinnati, and at PATH in Seattle at the University of Washington.

As part of the program, funding for $8.5 million was awarded to the doctors, scientists and engineers who are part of a team from the University of California Davis Health System and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The researchers will focus on Point-of-Care (POC) testing to develop two prototype instruments that can simultaneously detect five bacterial and fungal pathogens, plus develop other exploratory diagnostic technologies.

“The specific goal for the Center is to improve the accessibility, portability and field robustness of POC instruments for critical emergency disaster care in community hospitals, rural areas, and disaster response sites,” said Gerald Kost, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of the POCT-CTR at UC Davis. Dr. Kost stressed that when the Katrina disaster happened, if POC diagnostic devices had been used in the field, then triage and other mobilization efforts would have been greatly helped.

In April 2008, the UC Davis-LLNL Point-of-Care Technologies Center released the program announcement (UCD-POCTC-08) looking for exploratory projects in new POC technologies. The technologies need to specifically address clinical needs in critical emergency disaster care with the focus on multiplex pathogen detection in human whole blood for use in situations of disaster triaging, decision making, management, and treatment. The applications were due July 11, 2009 with the awards to be announced on or before October 1, 2008.

The award amount will be approximately $600,000 with two subcontracts to be awarded. After the announcement of the awards, UC Davis will begin to process the first subcontract in October 2008, and the subcontract for the second project will begin in 2009.

Dr. Charlotte Gaydos, Principal Investigator of the Center for POC Technologies for Sexually Transmitted Diseases at Johns Hopkins University and her colleagues are collecting data from patients seen in the John Hopkins Hospital and at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center emergency rooms if the patients are willing to give permission to use the POC STD testing.

The POC Center for Emerging Neurotechnologies led by Dr. Fred Beyette of the University of Cincinnati is focusing on bringing POC testing to the ER doctor with rapid and reliable information related to a neurologic emergency. According to Dr. Joseph Clark, co-principal investigator of the Center, “one million brain cells die every minute during a stroke so an initial correct diagnosis results in a 91% likelihood of a good outcome.”

Dr. Bernhard Weigi Principal Investigator of the Center to Advance POC Diagnostics for Global Health at the University of Washington noted that many settings may need to provide immediate healthcare but may be considered low resource areas. Therefore new POC devices must be stable to be useful.