Innovation 2012- Lifesaving Technology Ready for Market

CEAS Professor Develops Lifesaving Technology

By: Lauren Koch
Photos By: Dottie Stover

College of Engineering and Applied Science professor, Fred R. Beyette Jr., PhD, is helping to revolutionize the process of medical diagnosis through his innovative research and partnerships.

Univeristy of Cincinnati professor, Fred R. Beyette Jr., PhD, is developing lifesaving technology with his company; Xanthostat Diagnostics Inc. Xanthostat Diagnostics develops point-of-care devices for the diagnosis of patients who experience sentinel subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).  A sentinel SAH is an early warning for patients who are likely to experience a major hemorrhagic stroke. His company and their innovative product have won him a nomination in the Cincinnati USA Innovation Awards.

Fred R. Jr Beyette, PhD, Professor and Graduate Program Director for the School of Electronics and Computing Systems

Fred R. Jr Beyette, PhD, Professor and Graduate Program Director for the School of Electronics and Computing Systems

Beyette, professor and graduate program director for the School of Electronics and Computing Systems, is developing improved and rapid diagnostic information for patients in emergency situations. Beyette also acts as Director of the Point-of-Care Center for Emerging Neurotechnologies (POC-CENT) and Director of the Point-of-Care Systems Design Laboratory (POCSDL). 

Approximately 1 million patients annually enter US emergency rooms with symptoms that include severe headache, nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound etc. Many of these patients have tried unsuccessfully to treat their headache with over the counter pain medications seeking medical assistance only when it is clear that the problem is more severe than a bad headache. For these patients emergency room physicians are faced with the task of differentiating between the 3 most probable medical concerns: 1) a migraine, 2) meningitis or 3) a sentinel subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).

Unfortunately, many patients who have tried to self-medicate, arrive in the emergency room beyond the effectiveness window for CAT scan imagining to detect the SAH.

For patients with a negative CAT scan, a spinal tap is used to collect a sample of cerebral spinal fluid that can be analyzed visually for blood and blood constituents that would indicate a sentinel subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).

Beyette and Xanthostat co-founder Joe Clark pictured with an early prototype for the Xanthostat medical device meant to diagnose SAH

Beyette and Xanthostat co-founder Joe Clark pictured with an early prototype for the Xanthostat medical device meant to diagnose SAH

Xanthostat Diagnostics has developed a point-of-care device that can be used in the emergency room to analyze the cerebral spinal fluid. Their device is not limited to the restrictions of current analysis methods used by medical professionals. “While there are only about 30,000 cases of SAH in the US annually, the significant change for and the catastrophic or even fatal outcome that can result from misdiagnosis of these million patients annually make this one of the most important diagnostic decisions faced by emergency room physicians,” describes Beyette.

Beyette explains, “The existing tests and tools are not able to provide accurate diagnostic information in a time frame that is necessary to reliably save the lives of patients suffering from sentinel subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).”

For patients with a negative CT scan, chemical assay of the CSF is the recommended method of diagnosing SAH patients.  Unfortunately, the assay process requires a minimum of several hours to produce a result and the accuracy decreases dramatically when blood is introduced into the spinal fluid. Unfortunately, up to 25% of spinal taps are characterized as “traumatic taps” where bleeding from the spinal tap procedure is introduced into the spinal fluid sample. 

The alternative method for analysis of CSF is visual inspection, which is a medical professional holding the spinal fluid vile up against a white background and visually assessing for discoloration. Visual inspection is fast, however it is highly subjective to the quality of the sample and the eye of the medical professional.  The accuracy of this method is also compromised when blood is introduced into the spinal fluid.

“Our technology is innovative because it provides the level of quantification accuracy that is expected from chemical assay on a time scale that is only slightly slower than visual inspection. Further, our technology is able to provide this fast and accurate response even when the presence of fresh blood would prohibit the accuracy of either competing method,” states Beyette.

Beyette working with an early prototype for the Xanthostat medical device

Beyette working with an early prototype for the Xanthostat medical device

Xanthostat Diagnostics Inc. was founded in 2005 based on proof of concept results generated by the founders, professor Joe Clark, professor Fred Beyette, and Chad Morgan, in their University of Cincinnati research labs. The A patent on the core technology was issued to the University of Cincinnati in the Fall of 2011. Since founding the company, the management team which includes expertise in biomedical engineering, biomedical research science, and clinical practice, has brought on investors and board members with experience in business management and medical product commercialization.

Xanthostat and their development team, led by Beyette, have successfully transitioned the technology from a research proof-of-concept, to a functional prototype. This prototype is well positioned to bring this innovative technology into the biomedical device market place. The device is intended to be used by doctors to help save the lives of patients suffering from SAH.

Beyette and Xanthostat Diagnostics Inc. are finalists in the Outstanding Bioscience Innovation Award category. The winning nominee is a company with fewer than 50 employees that has achieved a significant milestone in the life sciences, including but not limited to drug therapeutics, medical devices, medical imaging and pharmacogenetics.

This is the 2nd annual Cincinnati USA Innovation Awards. The Innovation Awards celebrate innovative companies and people that show how new ideas can be developed into fuel for the Tri-State’s economic engine. The program is being presented by the Business Courier and Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and Community Partner, CincyTech. The winners will be announced at an event on April 17, 2012 and will be featured in the April 20th Business Courier print edition.