New Trauma Diagnostic Device Will Aid Troops, Accident Victims

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2008) – Wounded soldiers will soon get speedier care of their injuries thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment being developed by University of South Florida researchers and their colleagues at other institutions. Under development is a new, deployable hand-held device that incorporates a microneedle-based fluid collection system and an advanced self-cleaning sensor that will be able to identify circulating substances (“biomarkers”) released into the blood stream soon after trauma. These biomarkers can provide valuable information concerning the severity of injury, and will enhance the ability of medics to diagnosis and triage wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

“Our goal is to reduce the death rate of our soldiers by improving diagnosis and triage,” said Joel A. Strom, MD, professor of internal medicine and chemical and biomedical engineering at USF. “Traumatic injuries, such as those seen on the battlefield, and particularly those produced by improvised explosive devices, can be difficult to assess and triage. However, such injuries induce the production and release of biomarkers. Some of these biomarkers result from an inflammatory response to injury and can have local and systemic effects. Once identified and assessed, these biomarkers can help define the level of trauma severity.”

The research group also is working on novel technologies to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of injuries. These include targeted techniques to deliver encapsulated drugs directly to the sites of injury. In addition, they are developing an anti-hemorrhage technology that uses a “genetic switch” to turn on blood clotting responses automatically in regions where bleeding is heavy.

All three technologies under development have numerous potential civilian applications, said Dr. Strom. Paramedics can use the diagnostic device at accident scenes. Delivery of encapsulated drugs can also be used in emergency situations, as well as in treating coronary artery and valvular heart disease. The gene switch technology may be useful in treating heart attacks.

The group at USF includes researchers from both the Colleges of Medicine and Engineering. Their efforts, and those of their colleagues at collaborating institutions, have yielded several patents and numerous peer-reviewed publications, and the technologies have been tested in laboratory trials. Generous funding that enabled this effort has come from the Department of Defense, while funding for research into areas resulting from this effort has come from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the American Heart Association.

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

– USF –

News release by Randolph Fillmore