Sunday, July 19, 2009

Research Ongoing in Rural Area

CW Optics a small medical device research and development company is located in rural Virginia’s York County. In FY 2007, the company received nearly $1.8 million from NIH making the company one of the largest grant recipients among all for-profit businesses in the state. Other research funding has come from NASA and DOD as well as industry.

The company specializes in both hardware and software development of optical and laser devices as well as systems for human physiological monitoring, remote and in-situ sensing and inspection, environmental monitoring, and biological/chemical warfare agent detection and identification.

One of the NIH grants funded research to develop a noninvasive optical sensor for hemoglobin measurements. Hemoglobin measurements are extremely important in blood transfusions, blood sugar monitoring, and provides the doctors with valuable information about the patient’s blood. Hematocrit testing is a common pediatric procedure to check for leukemia and anemia. Blood tests needed to do this are common but yet there is room for improvement.

The researchers came up with the idea of using a new absorption technique and multiple scattering analyses to measure hemoglobin and hematocrit continuously and noninvasively. The company is currently designing a real-time device to monitor both hemoglobin and hematocrit. So far, the researchers are able to apply differential absorption techniques and scattering analyses to continuously monitor the four major types of hemoglobin.

Another NIH research project, involves developing monitoring technology to provide real-time methemoglobin fraction readings to clinicians that are based on the state of the patient’s hemodynamic condition. Methemoglobinemia is a disorder often found in individuals exposed to not only environmentally but from work-related chemical exposures and also from exposure to pharmaceutical agents such as local anesthetics, acetaminophen, and drugs containing nitrates and/or nitrites.

Children especially under four months are particularly susceptible to methemoglobinemia and it is estimated that about 8 percent of newborns in neonatal intensive care units suffer from the problem.

The researchers are working on a reliable, noninvasive, and cost effective sensor to provide real-time methemoglobin fraction readings to clinicians based on the state of the patient hemodynamic conditions. The current technology used is invasive and does not provide real-time results. The new optically analyzed technology will be especially useful in neonatal care units since it is sometimes difficult to assess neonates intravenously.

The company is involved in other ongoing research. One project has researchers working on a device to detect intravenous infiltration when the leaking of fluid from an IV line goes into surrounding body tissues. This means that the patient experiences pain as the liquid meant to enter the blood stream instead leaks into body tissue. Such leakage can lead to necrosis requiring amputation, and even death in the most severe cases.

In addition, researchers are developing tissue perfusion and blood flow monitoring technology plus they are working on an advanced Laser Speckle Imager to monitor the progression of wound healing in diabetic patients when undergoing hyperbaric oxygen treatment therapy.

For more information, go to or call (757) 872-4000.