Diagnosing Pneumonia Made Easy with New Device

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A major initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is solving the problem of diagnosing pneumonia. Now a new device developed by researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology can help make that happen.

Pneumonia diagnosis device is on the market

Pneumonia is the single largest cause of death in children around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). An estimated 1.6 million children younger than 5 years old die each year from pneumonia, which equals 18 percent of all deaths of children in this age group. Although pneumonia can be treated successfully with antibiotics, less than 20 percent of children receive the treatment they need.

The new sampling device, called PneumoniaCheck, was created by students and faculty at Georgia Tech and will be launched on the commercial market in February to healthcare professionals. It is significantly more accurate than current sampling methods for pneumonia, which are often contaminated and only 40 percent effective.

Contaminated samples often result in a misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatments. PneumoniaCheck, according to David Ku, Georgia Tech Regents’ Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Surgery at Emory University, is a simple device that allows clinicians to detect the pathogens that cause pneumonia. “It has the potential to save more lives than any other medical device,” he noted in the school's news release.

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While traditional methods of sampling for pneumonia are often contaminated by bacteria in the mouth, the PneumoniaCheck is designed so patients cough into the device to fill up an upper airway reservoir. The device then separates the upper airway particles from the mouth from those released by the lower airway from the lungs.

Development of an easy-to-use test device like PneumoniaCheck could improve diagnosis of pneumonia and other bacterial respiratory infections in children, reduce the inaccurate use of antibiotics, and improve survival.

PneumoniaCheck was developed by Tamera Scholz, who graduated from Georgia Tech in 2010 and is now an engineer for Newell Rubbermaid, and her colleagues. Taylor Bronikowski and several MBA students from Georgia Tech’s College of Management then developed a business plan and, along with Ku and Sarah Ku, formed a startup company, MD Innovate Inc., in 2010.

PneumoniaCheck was given clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale and distribution in the United States, and it is licensed although its patent is pending. Ku noted that the new diagnosing device could be available in other countries in two years.

SOURCES:
Georgia Institute of Technology
World Health Organization

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