According to the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s spring 2011 issue of “The Point”, new biosensors can be used with automated delivery pumps as part of a “Target-Controlled Infusion Anesthesia” (TCIA) system.
This system can deliver blood concentrations of drugs for general anesthesia or conscious sedation with studies of TCIA systems show improved anesthesia outcomes and reduced hospital costs. These systems are in use in operating theaters in Europe and other countries, but the FDA has not yet approved the system for U.S. military or civilian use.
Other sensors can measure the depth of sedation by blood pressure and other indirect measures. A research team in Tennessee has created and successfully tested electrochemical sensors that can continuously measure propofol levels in the blood at extremely low concentrations within the dose range of the drug.
The Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) supports new studies to validate the new biosensors since the military has identified a need for new technologies for the real-time monitoring of casualties. According to TATRC Deputy Director Col. Ron Poropatich, “This project relates particularly to the need for a highly portable autonomous anesthesia system that can be used to maintain sedation during aerial transport.”
TATRC Trauma Portfolio Manager, Dr. Thomas Knuth reports that the team at TATRC was already developing electrochemical sensors for other uses, so the plan is to apply these biosensors to meet the military need for a closed-loop system to measure and regulate propofol. So far, this research looks very promising and the hope is that research in this field will also show how this knowledge can be applied to other anesthesia drugs.
TATRC will be involved in another new research project with $15 million in funding authorized by Congress to create an Alzheimer’s Research Grant Program within DOD. The research plan is to explore the causes, complications, and potential treatments associated with Alzheimer’s disease, particularly among those in the military. The funding will be used to create a peer-reviewed research grant program portfolio that will include TBI, PTSD, and other brain research areas.