HOUSTON, March 12, 2013 (PRNewswire) – The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) announced today that Cerebrotech Medical Systems, Incorporated of Pleasanton, California is the recipient of the 2013 Space Medicine and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP) award. Cerebrotech will receive a $250,000 grant to advance the development of its non-invasive portable monitor to detect changes in brain fluid levels.
SMARTCAP is an openly solicited competitive program intended for small U.S. companies developing biomedical products that have the potential to safeguard the health of astronauts in space, as well as meet a medical need of patients on Earth. The program is managed and overseen by NSBRI’s Industry Forum.
“By developing disruptive solutions for medical care in space, we are also impacting health care on Earth,” said Dr. Dorit Donoviel, NSBRI Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead. “NSBRI’s mission is to ensure astronaut health and use the knowledge and technologies developed for humans in space to improve life on Earth. The NSBRI Industry Forum engages the private sector to provide solutions for human spaceflight. Because a high bar is set for medical care in space, solutions developed for space generally possess unique features that translate to a competitive commercial advantage in terrestrial markets.”
The SMARTCAP award is contingent on companies raising matched funding from a non-federal source, and is intended to position selected technologies for follow-on support from investors, potential industry partners or other funding entities.
Cerebrotech’s magnetic induction phase-shift spectroscopy (MIPS) was developed at, and licensed from, the University of California at Berkeley, and is capable of detecting small volume changes in brain fluids. The SMARTCAP award will enable Cerebrotech to accelerate prototype development and ongoing clinical trials.
The technology may help NASA understand whether brain fluid levels and increased pressure play a role in vision changes experienced by about half the astronauts following extended stays on the International Space Station, (ISS). Cerebrotech envisions that a small device could be worn by astronauts in space to continuously monitor changes in cerebral fluids.
On Earth, two million patients are admitted to the hospital every year after strokes or brain trauma. CT, MRI and other standard imaging techniques provide non-invasive snapshots of cerebral conditions, and other brain probes, like intracranial pressure monitors, are invasive so are only used in the most serious cases. Most patients are left largely unmonitored, except for periodic subjective clinical neurological exams. These exams are helpful but can only detect bleeding or edema when it has progressed to the point where it has caused a significant brain insult, resulting in a detectable neurological deficit. Cerebrotech’s MIPS technology can monitor cerebral fluids continuously and thereby help prevent secondary brain injury through early detection and intervention. Eventually the technology could be used at home, in ambulances and emergency rooms, and on the playing field for sports-related injuries.
“We are looking forward to collaborating with NSBRI to advance our ground-breaking technology,” said Mitch Levinson, Cerebrotech’s CEO. “The SMARTCAP grant will help Cerebrotech realize our mission to transform the clinical management of patients with stroke, brain trauma and other brain injuries, improving outcomes and reducing the cost of care. We are also motivated by the prospect of using our technology in space, where unique environmental factors present challenges to brain physiology. A non-invasive, continuous monitor to detect cerebral fluid changes is an important contribution to the long-term health of our national space program.”
NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the medical technologies needed for long missions. The Institute’s science, technology and education projects take place at more than 45 institutions across the United States. NSBRI partners with its Industry Forum to encourage commercialization of NSBRI-supported products and research.