Qualcomm funds research for sensors, genotyping, mHealth

The Qualcomm Foundation has awarded a $3.75 million grant to Scripps Health for clinical trials of wireless biosensor systems, the creation of rapid pharmacogenomic diagnostic tests that can be administered in retail stores, and the development of applications and embedded sensors for tracking and predicting heart attacks, Type 1 diabetes and cancer.

The grant, unveiled in an announcement last week, will be used for a three-year program of the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI), a National Institutes of Health-supported consortium led by Scripps Health which supports the development of breakthrough digital technologies designed to revolutionize the practice of medicine.

A clinical research study of a mobile healthcare software platform created by AirStrip Technologies, Inc. will be one of the first projects to benefit from the Qualcomm Foundation grant. The study will examine, among other things, how mobile monitoring of patients by physicians may improve clinical workflow and patient recovery rates. AirStrip has an FDA-cleared platform which allows patient information--including waveforms and other critical data from EMRs, bedside monitors, and devices--to be securely and natively accessed by physicians on their smartphones or tablets.

Other STSI high-priority programs funded by the Qualcomm Foundation grant include:

  • Clinical trial validation of biosensor systems: Tiny sensors floating in the blood stream that can serve as round-the-clock scouts for signs of health problems, such as heart disease, Type 1 diabetes and cancer. Clear evidence of the benefit and value of these technologies is critical for regulatory clearance, reimbursement approval and adoption by healthcare providers.
  • Development of mobile apps for embedded sensors: These devices look for particular gene expressions, gene mutations, proteins or antibodies that provide the molecular signatures of medical conditions. Once trouble is detected, the sensor can send the data wirelessly to an app on a patient's smartphone, triggering a message to seek treatment.
  • Handheld genotyping for precisely prescribing medications: STSI is testing a point-of-care chip genotyping platform that can determine within 20 minutes a patient's DNA compatibility with certain drugs such as Plavix, Metformin and Interferon. The project could help lead to a radical change in the way prescriptions are filled at pharmacies and help to eliminate the costly use of ineffective drugs.

"The combination of wireless technologies, sensors, diagnostics and DNA sequencing tools offers unparalleled opportunities to dramatically impact health care," Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm CEO, said in a written statement.

An Xconomy article hypothesizes that the grant is a possible sign that STSI could be taking over a technology commercialization role initially meant for the West Wireless Health Institute.The organization, now known as the West Health Institute, is trying to become more independent and has recently backed away from its close association with Qualcomm, according to the article.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- check out the Xconomy article

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