California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 2010 - $8,800
The high-impact nature of running can lead to shin splints, hamstring pulls, twisted ankles, IT Band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, stress fractures, and the infamous "runner's knee." Studies indicate that maintaining a good posture while running can virtually eliminate most of these injuries. Elite athletes go to biomechanics specialists for gait analysis in order to improve posture, but this is far too expensive and impractical for most people.
This team is developing the Runner Pro, a portable, easy to use, and affordable device that continuously measures the impact forces experienced by runners during their course of activity. The device will measure the impact forces at numerous locations under the foot (below the toes, balls of the feet, mid-foot and heel) in real-time, collecting hundreds of samples of data every second and providing useful feedback to the user on improving posture and gait.
The team envisions Runner Pro being of benefit to runners, walkers, athletes, people suffering from arthritis, and laborers.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce enough or cannot properly use insulin, the protein required for the body to absorb glucose from the blood. Transplantation of live islet cells (the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin) has been studied as a method for curing diabetes, but donor islet cells that are transplanted into patients are attacked by the immune system, causing transplant rejection. There is a relatively low islet transplant success rate, even when using immunosuppressant drugs.
This team is developing a new solution: encapsulating the islet cells in a biocompatible hydrogel membrane. The cell encapsulation system will allow glucose and insulin to diffuse through freely, but Immunoglobulin G and white blood cells will not be able to pass through, effectively “hiding” the islet cells from the immune system. With this implantable device, diabetics will no longer have to deal with the hassle and pain of testing their blood glucose up to four times a day, calculating the correct amount of insulin, and injecting themselves.
Patient non-compliance in routinely taking the medications prescribed for them costs the US $170 billion dollars yearly. The 75 million Americans considered “health illiterate” are at particular risk for prescription drug misuse: they are 3.4 times as likely to misinterpret drug warning labels, leading to greater risk of medication-related adverse events and a doubling of all-cause mortality risk. Up to 85% of prescriptions are not refilled after the initial dispensing, which translates to an annual loss of $77 billion for retail pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies. Visual cues have not improved adherence, but auditory notifications have shown promise. However, current auditory devices are too expensive to be scalable, too hard for patients to operate, and can’t be adapted to pill bottles of varying sizes.
This team is developing the RxCap, a $1 device that installs seamlessly within existing pill bottles, provides verbal explanations of proper medication use/dosage when the bottle is opened, and reminds patients to refill their medication when the time comes.
Stanford University School of Medicine, 2009 - $17,982
Hemorrhoids are blood-engorged enlargements around the anus that cause discomfort, pain, and bleeding. While more than thirteen million Americans suffer from hemorrhoids, most do not undergo treatment, because current treatments are either ineffective or extremely painful.
This E-Team is developing a device that is effective yet almost painless, and can be used outside the operating room, without anesthesia. The device, which is the size of an index finger, is inserted into the anus, whereupon a Doppler sensor in its tip locates the hemorrhoidal artery, which feeds the blood-filled hemorrhoid. The device then fires a staple-like clip that compresses the hemorhoidal artery, preventing blood flow to the hemorrhoid and causing the hemorrhoid to rapidly recede completely.
Medical facilities in developing countries often lack adequate financial resources to purchase modern medical equipment. This is particularly the case with surgical tables, which can cost up to $80,000, far beyond the reach of local clinics. Instead, the clinics must rely on either wooden planks or outdated equipment.
This E-Team has designed a $500 surgical table for use in developing countries. Along with cost considerations, the design emphasizes portability through a collapsible design to minimize transportation requirements.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US, with as many as 1.5 million Americans affected. The most common symptoms experienced by individuals affected with an ASD involve difficulties with social situations, verbal and non-verbal communication problems and understanding or displaying empathy. Children affected with an ASD often have unique and extreme preferences and aversions, making highly individualized care a necessity, yet comprehensive treatment is often prohibitively expensive.
To address the problem, this E-Team is developing a series of therapeutic computer games for autistic children between the age of 5 and 18. While other therapeutic video games are on the market, none are directed specifically toward autism and none allow for monitoring of in-game behavior and metrics, leading to customization of certain aspects of the game to suit the needs of the patient. The E-Team’s games will supplement existing treatment plans by providing individualized care outside of the treatment facility. The ultimate goal is improvement in social and communication skills.
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, 2009 - $18,500
Cities account for 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of carbon dioxide emissions while occupying only 2% of the world’s surface area. The average annual air temperature of cities with one million or more people can be 1.8-5.4°F warmer than its surroundings; this “heat island” effect increases summertime peak energy demand, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, air conditioning costs, and water quality.
Green roofing is a way for urban dwellers to reduce carbon dioxide levels, extend the lifespan of their rooftops, decrease water runoff into sewer systems, decrease the heat island effect and, lastly, to grow plants for food and beauty. But green roofing is expensive: between installation, plants, soil, filter, drainage and fabric, a green roof in the US can cost $50 per square foot before government subsidies. Most green roofing practices are also time- and labor-intensive, requiring months to install layers and even longer to cultivate the vegetation.
This E-Team is developing a different, modular approach to green roofing. By using modules, the team is looking to reduce the overall time and cost of installation. The modules also employ sub-irrigation wicking technologies allowing broader ranges of plants, even vegetables and herbs, to be grown on rooftops, balconies, or backyards.
Diverticulitis is a disease characterized by the acute inflammation of a diverticulum (mucosal outpouching) of the colon. It’s accompanied by intense lower abdominal pain and requires emergency treatment, often involving hospitalization, with about 25% of these patients going on to have recurring attacks. The only treatment available to prevent recurrent attacks is colon resection, but many patients at risk for recurrence of diverticulitis are not surgical candidates due to advanced age or co-morbidities.
This E-Team is developing a device to address the clinical need of preventing recurrence of diverticulitis in a less invasive manner than elective colon resection. The device, an endoscopic RF ablation balloon catheter, will apply RF energy locally to the diverticular tissue, inducing a fibrotic response similar to that utilized by BARRX Medical in treating Barrett’s esophagus. The goal is to target diverticula for treatment while preserving healthy colon tissue.
The target market is relatively open (they’ve talked with several experts), with no prior minimally invasive methods or competitors that have successfully prevented recurrence of diverticulitis.
Stanford University School of Medicine, 2009 - $17,495
Over the last ten years, the number of patients seen in emergency departments (EDs) has grown rapidly, topping 120 million patients in 2008. Thus, efficient and accurate evaluation and diagnosis are essential to preventing overcrowding and ensuring high levels of patient care. Among the controllable causes of ED inefficiency, laboratory delays due in part to hemolysis are cited as one of the most prevalent and significant.
Hemolysis is the rupture of red blood cells and the release of their intracellular contents into a blood sample. It is by far the leading cause of unsuitable lab specimens, responsible for up to 70% of failed samples, and can delay the ED process by up to one hour: from drawing the blood to laboratory hemolysis analysis itself is approximately half an hour, and communicating the presence of hemolysis and redrawing the sample takes another half hour.
This E-Team is developing a user-friendly and cost-effective device that eliminates this delay. The device detects hemolysis of a blood draw immediately at the bedside, eliminating the delay associated with hemolyzed blood samples, thus increasing patient turnover in the emergency room, decreasing crowding, and increasing hospital revenue.
Urinary incontinence (UI) affects twice as many women as men, primarily between the ages of 30-60, due to complications of childbirth, pregnancy and the configuration of the female urinary system. Despite the large number of women who suffer from UI, the current treatments are far from optimal, and no solution provides the control and convenience that patients need. Pharmacological therapies, pelvic muscle rehabilitation and surgery are most frequently used to treat UI. However, the non-invasive treatments (e.g., diapers) are stigmatized and uncomfortable. Surgical procedures are often ineffective, with failure rates as high at 50% for some treatments.
This E-Team, calling itself Medici Medical Technology, is developing two devices to treat stress UI in women. (The project started at an NCIIA funded program at Stanford). Stress UI is characterized by leakage that occurs during a quick (approximately one second) increase in pressure on the bladder during coughing, sneezing, hiking, sports or climbing stairs. The team’s time-delayed valve system addresses this issue by ensuring that such a short pulse of high pressure will not be sufficient to open the valves. However, when the patient does want to void, she can essentially do so normally by controlling the pressure in the abdomen for approximately three seconds, allowing each of the valves to open in series, one after another. Once all valves are open and urine is flowing, the patient will no longer need to bear down, as the pressure of the flow will keep the valves open. This device allows patients to regain their freedom and lifestyle by giving them back control of their own bodily functions while also providing convenience, requiring device changes only at each semi-annual checkup.