Texas MRC Research Projects

 

A novel and powerful method for blood O2 and CO2 exchange in miniaturized membrane oxygenators has been developed. The miniature oxygenator holds the promise of providing extracorporeal life support to patients with cardiovascular disorders that require cardio-pulmonary bypass by providing gas exchange directly to the cardiovascular system, bypassing damaged or blocked alveoli in the natural lung. Rather than a few hours of extracorporeal life support possible with current large oxygenators, the miniature blood oxygentor will provide indefinite support to the natural lungs for patients that suffer from chronic pulmonary obstructive diseases or that are recovering from open heart surgery. The eventual device can revolutionize the management of obstructive pulmonary diseases and provide continuously monitored solution that allows patient mobility and enhanced quality of life.

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Falls are listed as the third most common cause of unintentional injury and death in all age groups and the leading cause of death in adults over the age of 65 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Injury Center, 2007). Hospital settings can be dangerous, due to factors such as the unfamiliar environment, change in medical conditions and medication side effects. Currently, inpatient falls occur at a rate of 2.3-7 falls per 1,000 patient days, with an estimated cost per fall equaling at least $6,437.

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The proposed embedded system collects information from pressure sensors and body sensors, analyzes the data to create a pressure distribution map, and actuates periodically to redistribute pressure due to body weight. The concept of distributed control and multi-agent coordination will be used to regulate and distribute pressure regardless of the size, weight, and position of patients.

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The definitive procedure for breast cancer diagnosis is needle biopsy, either using stereotactic x-ray or ultrasound guidance. Each method of guidance has its advantages and disadvantages, and for experienced clinicians both methods can provide an excellent specificity for diagnosis. We recognize however a growing preference for ultrasound-guided biopsy, despite the obvious limitation that ultrasound imaging is operator dependent. Our goal is to minimize the operator-dependence of ultrasound-guided needle breast biopsy by developing a haptic-interface for the procedure that will provide the clinician with additional guidance in completing the procedure. In addition, we reason that the system will also serve as a trainer and simulator for improving the needle biopsy skills in residents and fellows. (more…)

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Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of malignancy-related mortality in males. Prostate cancer cells spread to liver, lungs, and especially bone via the blood stream and form secondary tumors in these organs. Bone metastases are incurable and a major complication of prostate cancer patients. Cancer cell motility towards increasing concentrations of certain chemicals plays an important role in metastases. Several chemicals such as chemokines and growth factors are believed to influence the migration of prostate cancer cells. Despite improvement in clinical response rates with newly developed targeted multi-kinase inhibitors, death due to metastases remain major impediments to its cure. With a focus on the development of new inhibitors, particularly, RLIP76 blockade has been shown highly effective. The findings are potentially of major clinical significance because they promise a unique, highly effective and functionally cancer-specific targeted therapy.  (more…)

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This project aims to develop a low-cost home-based wireless automatic sleep apnea detection and sleep quality monitoring system. As internet access becomes part of every home’s de facto facility, the system proposed here will be based on internet. This facilitates reaching out to the public and allows flexibility, scalability, adaptability, ease of access, efficient data storage and statistical profiling. The primary signal we will use for apnea detection and sleep quality assessment is onelead electrocardiogram (EKG) signal. EKG contains not only cardio-related information (e.g., heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), abnormalities of the heart) but also respiratory-related information useful in detecting sleep apnea. We will also explore how the audio (snoring, teeth grinding) and passive infra-red (PIR) or video (movement, pose) signals recorded during the sleep can complement and enhance the reliability of the results.

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We propose to advance the state of the art in functional near infrared (fNIR) brain imaging and make a routine clinical tool grade system to help guide treatment decisions in children with cerebral palsy (CP). CP is the most common motor deficit in children. It profoundly affects a child’s ability to develop age-typical motor skills and to engage fully in play, exploration and self-help activities. Currently, physicians have no easy way of monitoring functional activity in children with CP and as a result there is little intuition into how each individual child could be helped. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) requires the patients’ complete body confinement and steadiness for a long period of time. Due to this stringent requirement, fMRI has ~50% success rate in normal children and is likely to have substantially lower success rates in children with CP due to the patients’ involuntary movements.

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