In September 2010, the DNA Medicine Institute (DMI) successfully completed reduced-gravity experiments on its rHEALTH sensor for the NASA Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology (FAST) program. NASA recently followed that experiment with a $190,000 contract to DMI to analyze data from the parabolic flights.
According to DMI's Chief Scientific Officer Eugene Y. Chan, the reduced gravity experiments "yielded [fantastic] data, which will aid DMI in developing our rHEALTH sensor for use as a universal biomedical laboratory in future space environments."
Based on DMI's successful work under a pair of Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Program contracts designed to develop nanoscale diagnostic technologies that facilitate whole health analysis in a single drop of blood, DMI's rHEALTH sensor has been identified by NASA as a viable approach for performing blood and urine analysis on the International Space Station. Rather than relying on ground-based analysis, NASA is promoting the development of the rHEALTH sensor to provide on-orbit analysis capabilities. The device will directly impact all biomedical research on ISS, and it may also play a critical role in medical and environmental monitoring.
A second contract, Universal In-Flight Health Diagnostic Technology -- this one in the amount of $420,000 -- was also recently awarded to DMI, to perform clinical validation on white blood cells. The goal of the contract will be to develop the capabilities to validate the sensor's white blood cell counts, from fingerstick human blood samples, against a recognized medical standard. This award will be funded by HHC (NASA Human Health and Countermeasures) and administered by the NASA Glenn Research Center.
The rHEALTH sensor also has significant dual-use terrestrial applications, such as real-time health monitoring at a patient's bedside or in a doctor's office, allowing for critical clinical interventions in acute situations.