An intelligent disinfecting doorway
Image by Nhemz for Shutterstock
COVID-19, for all its nastiness, continues to inspire innovation. A startup in Kansas City has created an “intelligent disinfecting doorway” that neutralizes the virus on your clothing as you pass through. Reminiscent of the X-ray scanners at airport security, the device is the brainchild of Shekhar Gupta, director of software product and technology at Interacshn, an AI-focused startup. The company has sold 15 test models and plans to sell the doorway nationally after further testing.
As you approach the doorway, it takes your temperature with a thermal imaging thermometer and then gives you a green light to proceed or a red light if you have a fever. Once you step into the doorway, you get bathed in ultraviolet light, which kills viruses and bacteria. Meanwhile, ozone comes down on you from the top of the doorway, providing an extra level of disinfection. Finally, a gentle spritz of sanitizer washes over you before you walk away, fresh as a daisy. Apparently, there is no wax option.
In addition to the disinfecting doorway, Interacshn is working on other COVID-fighting tech. The company also sells a portable room fog disinfectant and is managing a sort of swap-meet website for people in need of products and services during the pandemic. In addition, Gupta is developing analytics surrounding COVID-19 clusters in hot spot areas.
Collaborate with experts to improve healthcare
Hive Networks is not only a new business but it’s a business that is working in uncharted territory. Its goal is to build an integrated platform to support key elements of Learning Health Networks.
The Hive team includes software engineers, researchers and technical product managers, as well as clinical strategists, all with top-notch skills.
According to Scott Roth, Hive’s CTO, the culture at Hive is a big part of how they operate. “Our team is adaptable and agile. We are a family. Everyone collaborates and pitches in wherever they’re needed. We hold each other accountable.”
Roth said each team member does, “a little bit of everything. We’re all so focused on the mission that the roles can blur.” Chris Sauer, Systems Architecture Director says he stays in three modes—past, present, and future—and is always trying to anticipate how to create the “sum of the parts” and make them larger than the “whole.”
Bringing medical expertise to support the research behind Hive Networks, is an impressive board of directors.
The board includes Founder and CEO John Bostick (a serial entrepreneur who has been working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital since 2016 on ways to spread and scale Learning Health Networks); Mike Venerable, CincyTech CEO, who has driven nearly $1 billion of investment into 85 Ohio-based healthcare technologies; Susannah Fox, the former CTO for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources; Jeffrey Robbins, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics who is the retired founder of the Heart Institute and Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; Kedar Mate, MD, CEO Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and Justin McGoldrick, MD, CMO of Research and Innovation for Bon Secours Mercy Health.
If joining a close-knit collaborative group working for an altruistic mission appeals to you, you can take a look at Hive’s current job openings here.
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Mosquitoes can’t transmit COVID-19
Scientists at Kansas State University have determined that mosquitoes cannot transmit SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The research confirms previous theories by the World Health Organization and the Italian National Institute of Health.
The K-State scientists infected three common species of mosquitoes and determined that they were unable to infect humans in turn. To infect the mosquitoes, the scientists got infected people to kiss the mosquitoes and cough on them. No, just kidding. The mosquitoes “were cold-anaesthetized on ice, transferred to a secure glove box, and then inoculated with approximately 0.5 µl of viral stock.” The results showed a lack of detectable infectious virus in any of the samples collected.
“We have demonstrated that even under extreme conditions, SARS-CoV-2 cannot reproduce itself in these mosquitoes and, therefore, cannot be transmitted to humans even in the unlikely event that the mosquito [first] bites the carrier of the virus,” said Kansas State Professor of Biosecurity Stephen Higgs.
COVID-19 vaccine testing in Cincy
All across the country, clinical trials are being launched to advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Cincinnati area is no exception.
UC Health will soon begin testing Moderna’s vaccine candidate, which has shown success in other trials. And Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is one of four US sites that are testing vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Clinical trial and consulting firm CTI, headquartered in Covington, maintains a database of 40,000 potential trial participants, and it recently created a new database specifically for COVID-19 testing. So far, hundreds of people have signed up.
Chief executive officer of CTI Tim Schroeder said drugmakers are keen on the Cincy area, with three or four companies a week contacting him about various studies. “If this were happening in Boston or Palo Alto, it would be all over the news, this kind of collaboration. But we’re doing things in our own humble, Midwestern way.”
Phase 3 efficacy trial in St. Louis
The St. Louis University (SLU) Center for Vaccine Development and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are looking for about 3,000 local volunteers who haven’t tested positive for COVID-19. They will participate in a Phase 3 efficacy trial to determine whether at least two of five promising vaccine candidates can prevent the disease. It’s the final phase before receiving FDA approval.
Participants must be 18 or older, and those 65 and older are encouraged to volunteer. Dr. Rachel Presti, director of Washington University’s Infectious Disease Clinical Research Unit, said the participants won’t be exposed to COVID-19. “The studies are not going to expose anyone to the virus. We’re just going to see if getting the vaccine protects you from getting infected more than getting a placebo or saline injection.”
The trials, which will enlist “tens of thousands of volunteers,” will begin next month across the US.
Possible treatment for COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress
The University of Louisville School of Medicine is participating in a Phase 2b/3 clinical trial of a drug researchers hope will be an effective treatment for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. The drug, called Aviptadil (RLF-100), is produced by PA-based NeuroRx and Swiss biotech company Relief Therapeutics Holding. It is being used to combat lung inflammation caused by cytokine storms—where excessive amounts of cytokines (immune response proteins) attack the patients’ lungs.
UofL and other US sites will treat at least 144 people who are receiving intubation and mechanical ventilation as a result of COVID-19 respiratory failure.
NeuroRx CEO and chairman Jonathan Javitt, MD, MPH, said, “Our No. 1 goal is to provide a potentially life-saving therapy to critically ill patients with COVID-19. The FDA has granted fast-track designation for RLF-100 underscoring the urgent need for new treatment options.”
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