Ultra-wideband radar holds great promise for a variety of medical applications. We have demonstrated the feasibility of using
ultra-wideband sensors for detection of internal injuries, monitoring of respiratory and cardiac functions, and continuous non-contact imaging of the human body. Sensors are low-power, portable, and do not require physical contact with the patient. They are ideal for use by emergency responders to make rapid diagnosis and triage decisions. In the hospital, vital signs monitoring and imaging application could improve patient outcomes. In this paper we present an overview of ultra-wideband radar technology, discuss key design tradeoffs, and give examples of ongoing research in applying
ultra-wideband technology to the medical field.
In response to a broad-based need for point-of-care multiplex diagnostic capability, we have developed a novel hybrid platform to analyze optically encoded microspheres arranged on a 2-dimensional planar array. The microspheres which we have initially selected are developed by Luminex Inc. as substrates for sandwich-type fluorescent immunoassays and are typically used in conjunction with a customized flow analyzer. CCD-based optics are the essential feature which enables the development of a rugged diagnostic instrument which can be scaled for point-of-care applications. We have characterized the Multiplex Immunoassay Diagnostic System (MIDS) using a benchtop prototype built around a conventional 12-bit CCD. This system is capable of resolving up to 6 discrete classes of fluorescent microbeads, and measuring their corresponding reporter signal. The MIDS sensitivity to the phycoerythrin (PE) reporter compared favorably to that of the reference Luminex flow system, and is capable of identifying viral, bacterial, and protein simulants in laboratory samples, at concentrations less than 1μg/ml. The ability to
resolve small differences in the average PE fluorescence is a direct function of CCD performance, and may be a necessary trade-off for developing a portable and economical detection system. However, we are
confident that the MIDS platform can easily be scaled to meet the nominal requirements of any given point-of-care or screening application, and furthermore provide much-needed diagnostic functionality in this particular environment.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are developing means to collect and identify fluid-based biological pathogens in the forms of proteins, viruses, and bacteria. To support detection instruments, we are developing a flexible fluidic sample preparation unit. The overall goal of this Microfluidic Module is to input a fluid sample, containing background particulates and potentially target compounds, and deliver a processed sample for detection. We are developing techniques for sample purification, mixing, and filtration that would be useful to many applications including immunologic and nucleic acid assays. Many of these fluidic functions are accomplished with acoustic radiation pressure or dielectrophoresis. We are integrating these technologies into packaged systems with pumps and valves to control fluid flow through the fluidic circuit.