Purdue researchers at work on anemia app to make detection easier

Program will introduce the technology to 144 cancer patients already undergoing treatment at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis.
By Bernie Monegain
12:48 PM

Purdue University researchers are developing an anemia-detection application for mobile devices.

Anemia, a condition in which patients do not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body's tissues, is prevalent among cancer patients and likely related to the cancer itself, chemotherapy, radiation or blood loss.

Funding to evaluate the technology’s use in patients undergoing treatment for cancer comes from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

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Young Kim, associate professor with the Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and Md Munirul Haque, research scientist with the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue, created sHE – an acronym for smartphone-based bloodless spectrometerless HEemoglobin Analyzer.

They aim to make detecting anemia easier.

“More than half the patients undergoing cancer treatment are likely to become anemic at some point in time,” Kim noted. “The device we are developing has the potential to allow for earlier anemia detection, and it’s noninvasive, which is especially important for cancer patients who have greater sensitivities to needles as well as co-morbidities that cause problems with vein access.” 

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The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue and the University of Notre Dame working together on the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into new patient treatments in Indiana and beyond.

The $75,000 award from the Indiana CTSI’s Collaboration in Translational Research pilot grant program will make it possible for Purdue researchers to team up with Attaya Suvannasankha, MD, assistant professor of hematology and oncology at the IU School of Medicine, to introduce the technology to 144 cancer patients already undergoing treatment at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis. 

Researchers plan to spend the first four months of 2018 testing the technology with a large patient pool at the Kenya, East Africa-based AMPATH laboratory under an earlier NIH grant.

Both Kenya and U.S. settings will provide information to create a reliable hemoglobin-detection algorithm needed to translate color data from the smartphone into virtual hyperspectral images. These images will include the detailed color information necessary for a smartphone “selfie” of a patient’s inner eyelid to accurately measure levels of hemoglobin in the blood. 

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com