New device measures nerve activity that may help treat sepsis and PTSD

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The network could also aid the safety of military aircraft pilots by detecting bursts of nerve activity that cause dizziness or nausea.

In a hospital setting, the authors suggest, the device could help flag patients at risk of life-threatening conditions like sepsis by identifying people who react strongly to physical stress.

Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection, damaging its own tissues. Mortality risk increases rapidly over time, so technology that helps detect and flag at-risk hospital patients would provide doctors with early warning to administer antibiotics, improving a patient’s chances of avoiding or to survive sepsis.

As a next step, the researchers plan to integrate the network with additional hardware for a portable wireless sensor that can be deployed outside the lab. Researchers are currently developing plans for a clinical trial to detect sepsis in the hospital.

The study was an interdisciplinary effort involving researchers from UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute, UC San Diego School of Medicine, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering (electrical and computer engineering, materials science and engineering , nanoengineering and bioengineering), from the Department of Physics and the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, as well as professors from Stanford University and the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Co-authors include: Yifeng Bu, Jonas F. Kurniawan, Jacob Prince, Andrew KL Nguyen, Brandon Ho, Nathan LJ Sit, Timothy Pham, Vincent M. Wu, Boris Tjhia, Tsung-Chin Wu, Xin M. Tu, and Ramesh Rao, all at UC San Diego; and Andrew J. Shin, Stanford University.

Funding for this research came, in part, from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (grant 75A50119C00038) and the David and Janice Katz Neural Sensor Research Fund in Memory of Allen E. Wolf.

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