Mehdi Razavi, Mathews John, Allison Post, and Aydin Babakhani Texas Heart Institute (Houston, TX)

Winner of an HP Workstation; Category Sponsor: ZEUS 

Chaotic electrical activity of the heart (arrhythmia) has a tremendous impact on society’s well-being: not only is it the number one cause of both sudden death and stroke but it is also a leading contributor to congestive heart failure (CHF). The most definitive treatment for arrhythmia is shocking the heart (either by transcutaneous paddles or implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs). Shocks are both unpredictable and extremely painful, leading to PTSD in a high proportion of patients.

A cornerstone for treatment of CHF is cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) in which a specialized pacemaker is used to strengthen the weakened heart muscle. ICDs and pacemakers send electrical pulses to the heart through wires called leads. These leads are placed within the veins and advanced into the heart on one end and connected to a battery (or “can”) placed in the chest under the skin on the other end. Leads, however, cannot always be placed where needed and they are prone to infection and fracture.

The invention is a miniaturized, implantable, wireless, battery-less pacing system (nodes) that consists of tiny silicon-based integrated microchips that brings into sharp focus the remarkable possibility of eliminating shocks, leads, and wires. Each node weighs only about 0.09 gram because it requires no internal batteries. (Common pacemakers in use today weigh 2-28 grams.) The existing prototypes are custom manufactured but their designs will be easily translatable to standard manufacturing practices.

Because it can deliver pacing not only to any location but to an unlimited number of locations on the heart, this technology has the potential to deliver imperceptible (painless) defibrillation through sophisticated, coordinated, and targeted multi-site pacing bursts. The feasibility of defibrillation without the need for shocks has been demonstrated using a wired system. The technology also paced from up to six different sites using these wirelessly powered pacing chips (more than any wired system approved for medical use to date).

All patients with ICDs, more than 5 million Americans living with atrial fibrillation, and a substantial segment of patients with CRT devices stand to benefit from this technology. Patients with defibrillators may live longer but because of the painful shocks they receive, not necessarily better. Imperceptible defibrillation has remained the holy grail of the field. This technology will be: 1) safer since there is no need for lead wires that can fracture, dislodge, or cause infections; 2) more effective in treating the underlying cause of arrhythmias because they can be placed exactly where needed; and 3) able to deliver imperceptible defibrillation.

For more information, visit here .



Customizable Tissue Engineering Patches for Accelerated Wound Healing

Samarender Nagam Hanumantharao, Carolynn Que, and Smitha Rao (Michigan Tech, Houghton, MI)

This wound healing patch is used with adhesives or bandages at the wound site. The patches resemble the natural tissue structure found in the body. The structures act as supports for the cells, guide cell growth and alignment, and help in accelerating wound healing, reducing scarring, and preventing secondary infections. They can also incorporate drug release or anti-bacterial protection.

For more information, visit here .

Earlier Lung Cancer Screening Using the eXoutcancer System

Sumita T. Jonak, Brian D'Souza, and Abhinav Chandra (UCLA Anderson, Los Angeles, CA)

This revolutionary technology enables earlier lung cancer screening to diagnose the disease when it is more treatable. The eXoutcancer system is a combination of a nanochip and a proprietary spectroscopic database derived from a machine learning (ML) algorithm. The complex spectroscopic data is parsed out via the algorithm to develop a diagnostic fingerprint.

For more information, visit here .

Glucowaves for Convenient, Pain-Free Blood Glucose Level Monitoring

Ala Eldin Omer, George Shaker, and Safieddin Safavi-Naeini (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)

This compact, low-cost, wearable sensing system utilizes microwave sensors and artificial intelligence to enable diabetics to non-invasively monitor their blood glucose levels without sampling any fluid outside of the body. The device sends electromagnetic signals of small wavelengths through the finger skin. The device can be realized as a wearable around the wrist or finger for daily use.

For more information, visit here .

Wearable Continuous Blood Pressure Monitors

Xina Quan, PyrAmes (Cupertino, CA)

These wearable blood pressure monitoring devices are non-invasive, continuous, comfortable, wireless, and easy to use. They use paper-thin capacitive sensors lightly contacting the skin that pick up a pulse waveform signal that correlates to arterial BP changes. The devices have been used successfully on patients ranging from newborns to adults over 89 years old.

For more information, visit here .

See the rest of this year's winners: