Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Ideas at University of Utah

The University of Utah’s Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imaging, and Research (CACIR) and a related startup company called Proactive Memory Services are developing an app for mobile devices to help people with Alzheimer’s.

The application is still in its infancy, but Norman Foster Director of CACIR and Troy Andersen the researchers behind the development of the  tablet computer and smartphone application have received a $125,000 Small Business Technology Transfer grant from NIH. They are eligible for an additional $1 million from the federal government if they meet their goals under the initial funding.

The team is getting assistance from the university’s Technology Commercialization Office and Software Development Center. The researchers want to develop several application modules, which will be downloadable onto any mobile device. The price and date of availability for each module has not been determined.

In another project, Professor Stacy Bamberg in the University of Utah’s Department of Mechanical Engineering is developing a shoe insole that will be able to gather comparable data to Nike’s popular line of high tech sneakers but will do more than track laps and airtime. The new insole called the “Rapid Rehab” system will help correct walking problems for people with artificial legs, hip replacements, and broken legs.

Bamberg is developing the new smart insole through her startup company called Veristride. She has received a $150,000 SBIR grant and a $40,000 Technology Commercialization and Innovation grant from the Utah’s Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The real-time “Rapid Rehab” system uses a custom gel insole with force sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes to detect a person’s gait or walking pattern. Bamberg and her colleagues developed a smartphone application that wirelessly tracks data from the insole and provides a variety of instantaneous feedback. The immediate use is for amputees who would like to reduce how much they limp when using prosthetic legs.

Also, at the university, a new biodegradable drug-delivery nerve conduit has been developed using a novel local drug-delivery system to continuously administer proteins or small molecules at controlled rates to an injured nerve.

The technology is a cost effective method to accelerate nerve regeneration leading to improved patient care. The University of Utah’s inventor is Dr. Agarwal, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, at the School of Medicine and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Today, the current standard of care for repairing nerve gaps includes autologous nerve grafts and artificial nerve conduits. Autologous nerve grafts are harvested from donor sensory nerves which can cause a loss of sensation at the donor site and require additional surgery.

As an alternative, commercially available artificial poly-glycolic acid nerve conduits can be used to repair nerve gaps. These hollow tubes act as axon guides for the regenerating nerves and can allow for tension free bridging without the need to harvest donor nerve tissue.

However, it has been shown that locally delivering growth factors or other small molecules may enhance axon sprouting and peripheral nerve recovery. Therefore, a novel nerve conduit has been developed that can simultaneously delivers small molecules or proteins in a controlled manner which should lead to significantly improved peripheral nerve regeneration compared to existing methods.

This approach has the potential to impact a broad spectrum of patients including those with nerve tumors, trauma patients, localized nerve inflammation, and to perform nerve repairs associated with many other medical procedures that should open up market opportunities.

The medical device technology (U-5205) is available on an exclusive or nonexclusive basis. PCT patent application has been filed with the USPTO. For more information, contact Leena Bhoite at the University of Utah at (801) 581-7792.