Indian American scientist develops device to ‘read blood through skin’

From left, Alexandra Hansard, Sanjay Gokhale and George Alexandrakis

Wearable device could reduce racial disparities in blood measurements

Scientists at the University of Texas at Arlington including Indian American Sanjay Gokhale have developed a new noninvasive technology that can monitor blood in patients with Covid-19, diabetes or certain blood disorders.

Developed in collaboration with Austin’s Shani Biotechnologies, LLC, the new technology that may help real-time monitoring of key blood parameters, such as hemoglobin, especially in Black patients, according to a university press release.

The UTA team is led by George Alexandrakis, an internationally recognized expert in the field of biomedical optics, and Gokhale, a medical scientist in Alexandrakis’ lab whose research focuses on spectroscopic properties of adult and fetal hemoglobin.

“The technology has massive potential in health care settings, remote monitoring and embodiment into wearables,” Vinoop Daggubati, Indian American MD, CEO of Shani Biotechnologies, said.

Read: Indian American professor working to improve cancer treatment (November 2, 2021)

“We are committed to closing the racial disparity in these diagnostic modalities to provide better care for African Americans, Hispanics and people of color. Our technology is a steppingstone toward achieving that goal.”

“We are planning larger studies in a variety of patient populations to advance the clinical development of the device,” Duggubati said.

Alexandrakis, bioengineering associate professor, said the idea is to develop a wearable device, such as a watch or a monitor, “that would read the blood through the skin.”

Most currently available methods for monitoring hemoglobin require blood samples and expensive equipment. The available noninvasive spectroscopic methods have a high degree of variability and often are inaccurate in people of color due to differences in skin melanin.

There is a significant unmet need for a reliable, noninvasive device to estimate hemoglobin, irrespective of skin color, Alexandrakis said.

The device relies on the spectroscopic properties of hemoglobin in the blue-green light spectra, as opposed to the red-infrared spectra currently used in similar devices, he said. It is easy to use, utilizing a probe that is placed on the skin and measures reflected light from the skin.

In collaboration with Michael Nelson, associate professor of kinesiology at UTA, the team evaluated the novel device in more than 30 participants, the release said.

They compared the hemoglobin values measured by the device to those measured by currently available point-of-care devices, as well as through standard blood tests.

Read: UTA Team Develops Device That Can ‘Read the Blood Through the Skin’ (November 2, 2021)

Preliminary results suggest the device can estimate hemoglobin with better accuracy and consistency than currently available comparable methods.

A follow-up study will involve patients in Arlington hospitals.

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