NIH renews support for UMass Chan and UMass Lowell’s point-of-care technology initiative

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UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Lowell have received an $8.9 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for renewed support of their initiative to advance the development of home-based and point-of-care health technologies. The program aims to jumpstart new tools to address heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders, especially in underserved populations.

The Center for Advancing Point of Care Technologies (CAPCaT) in Heart, Lung, Blood and Sleep Disorders, created as an offshoot of a successful medical product incubator, the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) at UMass Lowell and UMass Chan, is one of seven centers nationwide receiving new five-year awards as part of NIH's Point of Care Technology Research Network (POCTRN).

Co-principal investigator David McManus, MD'02, MSc'12, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine, chair and professor of medicine, said CAPCaT built a stellar track record in its first four years after receiving funding in 2018. "We brought 23 novel innovations from concept to funding through the CAPCaT program, and those companies have delivered about a seven-times return on investment," he said.

Some examples of projects supported by CAPCaT:

  • Sanguina, an early point-of-care test for anemia, was approved by regulators for over-the-counter sale;
  • VPG, a video-based technology that can detect irregular heart rhythms in patients with atrial fibrillation, based on facial monitoring through a smartphone camera, received investment from a large technology company; and
  • Wellinks, a digital health care company offering the first-ever integrated virtual chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management platform, is being used in a growing number of health care institutions and pilot programs to manage COPD at home.

"There's what's considered a 'valley of death' in the development of technologies between the time when someone comes up with a really good idea and starting a company, but they need resources to evaluate the technology and develop it. Few companies actually make it," said Dr. McManus, who also oversees UMass Chan's Program in Digital Medicine. "CAPCaT's goal is to identify that earlier-stage company, which is high risk but potentially high reward, bring in regulatory expertise and commercialization experts, and brainstorm with the team about other applications of the technology."

Major initiatives based on models like CAPCaT can change health care, according to the researchers. They pointed to NIH's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program, in which UMass Chan played a significant role coordinating clinical studies to bring fast, reliable at-home antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 to market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, point-of-care technology such as telehealth, home diagnostic tests and monitoring devices have become mainstream, reducing barriers to care.

Nathaniel Hafer, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine and lead investigator of RADx Tech Study Logistics Core, has joined CAPCaT as a co-principal investigator in the new funding cycle.

I think there's increased attention about health care for all and accessibility for all. We want to push the envelope with thinking about new ways of delivering health care and new ways of making sure everybody can benefit from these technologies."

Nathaniel Hafer, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine and lead investigator of RADx Tech Study Logistics Core

The researchers said CAPCaT's success can also be attributed to the marriage of complementary strengths between UMass Chan's biomedical and clinical expertise and UMass Lowell's strength in business and engineering.

"We have a great team of collaborators at UMass Chan and UMass Lowell who enjoy working together. I'm very excited to be continuing the work of CAPCaT in this second five-year cycle," said Bryan Buchholz, PhD, professor emeritus of biomedical engineering at UMass Lowell, who is continuing as a co-principal investigator.

CAPCaT is funded by a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grant.


University of Massachusetts Lowell

Posted in: Device / Technology News | Healthcare News

Tags: Anemia, Antigen, Atrial Fibrillation, Blood, Chronic, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, covid-19, Diagnostic, Diagnostics, Health Care, Heart, Marriage, Medical School, Medicine, Pandemic, Research, SARS, SARS-CoV-2, Sleep, Technology

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