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Ohio State researchers testing breathalyzer to detect COVID-19

Posted: June 5, 2020

Originally posted by Ohio State News

One of the most common COVID-19 tests involves a long swab pressed deep into the nasal cavities – and while the test can be administered quickly, it has been described as unpleasant and uncomfortable.

Now researchers at The Ohio State University are working on a testing system that would require a simple exhaled breath. Perena Gouma is the primary investigator of a team developing a breathalyzer device that will sample breath for key biomarkers of the infection. She says it would serve as an alternative to current tests that are expensive, can take a long time to get results and require specialized personnel to do the sampling and to analyze the results.

Pelagia-Irene (Perena) Gouma

 

Gouma, director of the Advanced Ceramics Research Laboratory and professor in the College of Engineering, is working with co-investigator Andrew Bowman, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine. The project was awarded a nearly $200,000 National Science Foundation EAGER grant this month under a program supporting exploratory, early-stage research on untested, but potentially transformative, ideas or approaches.

“Breath analysis is not really a technique that is used widely in the medical field yet, so it is considered early-stage work,” Gouma said. “[We] have a sensor device that detects nitric oxide and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in breath and can be used to tell you about the onset of an infectious disease.”

In addition to nitric oxide, the device examines two other metabolites that could specifically indicate the presence of a COVID-19 infection even in asymptomatic patients. Exhaling once in the breathalyzer may help with earlier detection of the onset of the disease, as well as with monitoring of the severity of the infection, which could help reduce the risk for worsening of the symptoms and allow timely therapeutic intervention, she said.

The new project builds upon Gouma’s invention of a hand-held breath monitor that may provide early detection of flu before symptoms appear prior to her arrival at Ohio State. The COVID-19 breathalyzer involves advances on nanomaterials for detecting specific breath gases at the concentrations of interest for making a diagnosis.

The breathalyzer gives results rapidly (15 seconds response time), it is extremely inexpensive, and it is easy to use so that there is no need for trained personnel to perform the test, Gouma said. The results can be viewed directly on the display or they can be transferred to the physician wirelessly.

“We are working on making these hand-held monitors that will be widely distributed and they’re very inexpensive,” she said. “The technology evolved from the sensors used for monitoring gases in an automotive exhaust – that’s how we started on breath analysis 20 years ago.”

Gouma said the NSF-funded project would not have been possible without the collaboration with the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Medicine and the Wexner Medical Center. She said these connections make Ohio State very appealing for interdisciplinary research between engineering and medicine (nanomedicine).

“That’s one of the advantages of Ohio State. You don’t find many institutions that have the No. 1 vet med school in the world and also a world-class medical school,” she said. “It’s also serendipity because COVID-19 is a zoonosis, a disease that comes from animals, and the vet med school had years of experience studying coronaviruses and the flu in animals.”

Furthermore, the Wexner Medical Center has been treating COVID-19 patients from the beginning of the pandemic, so it offers unique insights to this project.

Gouma said the collaboration is critical for engineers developing medical diagnostics for humans and animals who need to consult with colleagues who have expertise in medicine to ensure that the ideas have merit and to validate their claims through clinical trials.

If the device proves to be accurate, portable and effective, it could be used to screen travelers before they step on a flight or to test students and teachers before they head back into the classroom. It would also be used in the Medical Intensive Care Units and in every hospital and doctor’s office as a bedside test. Gouma said the breathalyzer technology may become the platform to help detect metabolic problems like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes, by choosing the appropriate biomarker.

Chris Booker
Ohio State News
614.292.7276
Category : General

Tubbs Cooley awarded R01 from NIH/NICHD for study on NICU nursing care enhancement

Posted: May 28, 2020

New five-year, $2.8 million grant to study nurses’ workload in relation to NICU patient safety

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Heather Tubbs Cooley, PhD, RN, FAAN at The Ohio State University College of Nursing’s Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth is the Principal Investigator (PI) for a $2.8 million R01 grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

This R01 will fund the study, “Enhancing Nursing Care Reliability in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.” Co-investigators include the College of Nursing’s Rita Pickler, PhD, RN, FAAN; Thomas Bartman, MD, PhD, from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other co-investigators from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tubbs Cooley and her team discovered that NICU nurses regularly miss essential care linked to neonatal safety outcomes due to their everyday workloads. With this grant, the team will now replicate this work in a larger and more heterogeneous sample of units, nurses and patients to assess strategies for workload monitoring in this patient population.

“Beyond staffing ratios and infant acuity measures, subjective workload showed the strongest correlation to care reliability,” said Tubbs Cooley. “The goal of our study is to monitor nurse workload and broaden our current understanding of its effects on care reliability.”

The team will enroll up to 210 nurses in five NICUs to report on workload and care reliability for nearly 820 infants over 1,120 shifts.

They will evaluate differential effects of objective and subjective nurse workload on care reliability in NICUs and examine relationships between shift-level factors and nurses’ subjective workload ratings. The validity of aggregating nurses’ subjective workload ratings within a shift to inform real-time measurement strategies will also be evaluated.

Tubbs Cooley and her team hope their research will lead to a better understanding of NICU nurse workloads. If they are successful, they will leverage the knowledge to improve the safety and care of NICU patients by advancing workload measurement, monitoring and intervention.

Originally posted on The Ohio State University’s College of Nursing website on May 14, 2020.

Category : General

REACH Alumna Katrina Cornish Elected to AIMBE College of Fellows

Posted: May 27, 2020

Katrina Cornish, Ph.D., FNAI, FAAAS, REACH for Commercialization™ alumna and Professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences was elected to The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in medical and biological engineering.

The AIMBE announced the 2020 class of fellows in March. More information on AIMBE Fellows and the complete list of 2020 inductees can be found in the official press release.

Category : General

REACH Alumna Renee Zhao Receives 2 NSF Awards in Spring 2020

Posted: May 11, 2020

Originally posted on Ohio State’s Institute for Materials Research website on April 29, 2020.

Renee Zhao, an assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has received  two awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Spring 2020.

Earlier this year, Zhao received a five-year, $562,511 NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for her research in the mechanics of soft intelligent materials.

More recently, NSF announced she will be awarded $398,773 over three years for the project “Micromechanics of Interactions Between Hard Magnetic Particles and Soft Matrix on Magneto-Mechanical Actuation.”

“The two grants will facilitate the investigation of the mechanical behavior of the magnetic soft materials,” Zhao said. “These materials are composites with hard-magnetic particles embedded in soft matrixes. Upon the application of an external magnetic field, the composite could provide untethered, fast and reversible deformation with large shape changes. The magnetic soft materials have already demonstrated potentials in designing morphing structures and actuators for various engineering applications.

“These two grants will bridge fundamental mechanics with multifunctional material design, which will further advance the magnetic soft materials’ applications in the next-generation soft robotics and biomedical devices.”

Zhao joined The Ohio State University in 2018 through the Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability Discovery Theme, operated by the Institute for Materials Research. She is the director of the Soft Intelligent Materials Laboratory.

The NSF CAREER award is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of both, according to the agency’s website.

Zhao’s project, “Multiphysics Mechanics of Magnetic Shape Memory Polymers,” seeks to create a wide understanding of the materials, a model to demonstrate the magneto-thermo-viscoelastic behavior, as well as a simulation platform to increase interest in possible uses. The NSF Career Award will support the fundamental mechanics study of this novel soft intelligent material, the magnetic shape memory polymers, which was recently developed and published as a cover article in Advanced Materials.

In June, Zhao will begin her three-year project, studying the micromechanics of the magneto-mechanical actuation of hard-magnetic soft active materials.

Hard-magnetic soft active materials are composites with hard-magnetic particles embedded in soft matrices that can be rapidly and remotely activated. Zhao’s work will study how behavior at the microscopic level drives the operation of the macroscopic material.

Additionally, this project will promote STEM education, with a focus on  K-12 education and students from underrepresented groups, through demonstrations of hard-magnetic soft active materials utilized in soft robots.

Both awards are funded by the NSF Mechanics of Materials and Structures program.

Zhao earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2012. She then studied at Brown University, earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2014, and then a doctoral degree from the Brown School of Engineering in 2016. She was a postdoc at the MIT School of Engineering from 2016 to 2018.

Story by Mike Huson, IMR Public Relations

Contact: huson.4@osu.edu

Follow: @OhioStateIMR | @IITB_OSU_FC

Category : General

REACH for Commercialization™ Highlighted in Webinar

Posted: April 30, 2020

The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) hosted a webinar on April 28th that highlighted Ohio State ADVANCE’s REACH for Commercialization™ in their Gender Diversity in Innovation Toolkit Virtual Roadshow.

According to the IPO, diversity in innovation is crucial to a corporation or university’s long-term success. The causes for and ways to achieve diversity in innovation are many and vary by region, organization, and other factors. A panel of experts discussed the USPTO’s Progress and Potential Report and gender diversity statistics, the USPTO’s new diversity in innovation toolkit, IPO’s Gender Diversity in Innovation Toolkit, and the AUTM University and Tech Transfer Toolkit. Speakers examined these various perspectives and discussed how these tools can be used to positively impact the diversity in innovation culture within organizations.

Karen Maples, Founder & Chief Catalyst for FutureForward, cited REACH for Commercialization™ during her presentation, noting that in the past ten years, REACH participants are associated with 307 patents filed, 96 patents issued, 53 license agreements, 44 patents published and 9 startups created.

 

Category : General

Office of Research backs new scientific study into COVID-19 pandemic

Posted: April 16, 2020

Originally posted by Ohio State News on April 15, 2020.

The Ohio State University has launched a funding program for a series of research projects to rapidly address critical health and community problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six projects have been awarded a total of $263,718 of COVID-19 Seed Funding from the Office of Research. The projects involve research teams from colleges and departments across the university and are expected to be the first round of ongoing research into the pandemic.

Richard Gumina, associate professor of internal medicine, is the lead principal investigator for one of the projects. The study will obtain blood samples from SARS-C0V-2 positive patients with and without cardiovascular manifestations of COVID-19. About 100 patients will have their blood analyzed for markers to understand why some people have cardiac involvement while others do not.

“We hope we can detect changes in either cell profiling or epigenetics that might play a role in identifying those who are at risk for cardiac involvement, and develop testing to identify those patients early,” Gumina said. “And then also to be able to understand the pathology that occurs during infection so that we might develop novel therapeutic approaches to treat patients before they get too sick.”

The seed funding is not only targeting research into the virus itself, but also social science investigations that examine everything from crisis communications during the pandemic to the impact on workers at all levels of the U.S. economy.

“Ohio State, with its multidisciplinary approach, is uniquely positioned to provide innovative solutions to combat the impacts of this global pandemic, and we want to do everything possible to support our outstanding researchers in these efforts,” said Morley O. Stone, senior vice president for research. “With these seed grants, we will quickly advance our understanding of COVID-19 and its impacts to help us better address the pandemic we’re facing around the world.”

Gumina said the research funding and a fast-tracked application and approval process is critical as the novel coronavirus continues to spread. He credits the Office of Research for acting swiftly and laying the groundwork for future scientific discovery.

“It’s such a time-sensitive issue. The usual mechanisms that we would normally go through for funding for these types of ideas are just too slow to be able to meet the needs here,” he said. “I think the foresight to provide this seed funding will enable us to secure these needed samples for discovery research. Once the samples are obtained, there will be many more studies that will benefit down the road.”

In addition to the project Gumina is helping to develop, the Office of Research supported the following projects:

  • Michael Neblo, director of the university’s Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA), will examine ways to improve health behaviors by developing guidelines to support communication between elected officials and the public during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Dmitri Kudryashov, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and his team will study the role of defensins, potent antibiotics made within the body that play an important role against invading microbes, and whether they can block virus entry into human cells.
  • Bridget Freisthler, associate dean of research in the College of Social Work, and Elisabeth Root, associate professor in the Department of Geography, will explore the COVID-19 crisis in the context of stress, social support concerns and any geographic factors associated with punitive parenting practices, including physical punishment.
  • Irina Artsimovitch, professor in the Department of Microbiology, and her study team will analyze the molecular mechanism of RNA synthesis of the novel coronavirus, increasing understanding of the building blocks of COVID-19 disease to help scientists design drug targets and vaccines.
  • Bruce Weinberg, professor in the Department of Economics, and a team of researchers will estimate the economic effects of COVID‐19 and the policy responses to it. The research will examine how those policy responses affect different types of workers.
Chris Booker
Ohio State News
614.292.7276
Category : General

CCTS Startup Inventor Showcase Features REACH for Commercialization™ Alumna and Program

Posted: March 5, 2020

The Optimizing Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship of Biomedical Research program of the CCTS in partnership with the Corporate Engagement Office and Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Office of Technology Commercialization launched a new speaker series on January 13th 2020. The series features one inventor and one key resource from the innovation ecosystem each month. Inventors share stories of their successes, failures, struggles and rewards from building a startup.

The ongoing Monthly Speaker Series promotes an entrepreneurial mindset among clinicians, faculty, senior leaders, students and staff of The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Since academic entrepreneurship is a team sport, the series will also provide a forum for networking with biomedical researchers and clinicians, various players in the life science startup ecosystem, startup executives, investors and other members from the entrepreneurial community at large.

A light breakfast will be provided and networking will begin at 7 a.m. and programming will begin at 7:30 a.m. There will be time for Q&A and networking following the speakers.

The event is free but registration is required. At the leader hosted sites, a light breakfast and coffee will be provided to registered attendees which is why the deadline for RSVPs and registration is Friday, March 13th. However, registration will be open until Sunday, March 15th.

If this is your very first time, please note that we will be collecting data for tracking and reporting program metrics to the NIH, our sponsor, ONLY in your first registration form.

March Inventor: Melissa Bailey, OD, PhD
Theme: Vision for the Future
Featured resource of the month: REACH for Commercialization™

March 16, 2020
7:30 AM – 9:00 AM
James L035 Auditorium
Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital
460 W 10th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210
Registration is free but required. Register here!

Category : General