The APT Center Battles COVID-19

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Innovation Incentive Award: Corona Challenge

The APT Center convened a special Innovation Incentive Award called the Corona Challenge to solicit and support the initial development of new and creative ways to make living through isolation safer and easier for disabled Veterans. Projects spanned high and low-tech ways for preventing, detecting, treating, or mitigating contraction of a virus to simple means of staying healthy and connected during a pandemic. The first-place winner was Horst von Recum, PhD and research assistant Alan Dogan who will receive $25K for their project Reuseable Antiviral Nanofiber Facemasks. Personal honoraria will be awarded to:

graphic representation of the reusable face mask projects

• Horst von Recum – 1st place, $250
• Gary Wnek – 2nd place, $100
• Joris Lambrecht – 3rd place, $50

Abbreviated abstract:
In the global battle against COVID-19, surgical masks have shifted from being a convenient product to an essential commodity. There is a current patient and consumer need for a reusable face mask that prevents respiratory and contact disease transmission by contact killing of viruses and bacteria. Traditional surgical masks are made up of common polymeric materials that allow for live bacterial and viral adhesion. Also, the utility of a single-use face mask when preventing a wide-spread epidemic is minimal and supply shortages are imminent.

In order to combat the shortages in PPE and efficiently provide an array of consumers with a face mask product that can 1) contact kill bacteria and viruses to reduce transmission, 2) be reusable, and 3) be available to consumers at minimized costs. We propose in vitro preclinical, and proof-of-principle in vivo testing with electrospun nanofiber materials that would maintain a virus and bacteria free surface for long period of time and multiple uses that is competitively priced compared to face masks currently on the market.

Challenge America: COVID-19 Makers Challenge

face mask prototype

As part of Team Mist Busters, APT Center staff Kevin Foglyano, Will Rasper, and Diana Suciu designed and prototyped a face mask and pump system to filter out potential virus carrying aerosolized mist from exhaled air of patients using nebulizer treatments. The immediate goal is to reduce exposure of First Responders and other medical personnel to shed SARS-CoV2 and pharmaceuticals during transport and nebulizer treatment. The working prototype consists of a 3D printed mask and off the shelf components to 1) contain the mist in the mask using a one-way valve, 2) extract the contaminated air using a pump system, and 3) decontaminate the exhaust through a HEPA filter. The pump system can be reused and the mask and filter part can be disposed of and replaced or sterilized for the next person. The team won the Business Value Award for utility, scalability, low cost, and reusability of their device.

Team Mist Busters' face mask and pump prototype

Developing Protection for Frontline Healthcare Workers

prototype of the intubation box

Our Technical Innovation Specialist, Frank Zitko, is working with Dr. Matthew Kellems and Robert Bearss at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center (LSCVAMC) on a new iteration of an “intubation box.” During an intubation procedure, clinicians can be exposed to infectious respiratory droplets and aerosols that are given off from the intubated patient. The goal of the device is to shield and protect clinicians from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases during this procedure. The box contains arm holes and access ports for medical equipment that is typically used during an intubation. Frank organized the initial discussions between Case Western Reserve University's Think[box] and LSCVAMC leadership on collaborative efforts related to the novel coronavirus. Engineers at Think[box] and clinicians at our neighboring hospitals designed the initial prototype, like the box pictured here, and LSCVAMC is developing an alternate design to meet their needs. The team has already created some rough prototypes out of cardboard and scrap wood, and expects to have a functional prototype made out of plastic by a local manufacturer, House of Plastics, located in downtown Cleveland, OH.

Neilsen Foundation Emergency Support Grant

man paralyzed from waist down riding a recumbent bike outside

Ronald Triolo, PhD and his team in the Motion Study Lab (MSL) received a Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Emergency Support Grant in the amount of $10K "to be used for emergency supplies and/or services in your constituent communities, which directly support those living with spinal cord injury in the U.S. and/or Canada, and their caretakers, to help relieve the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic."

These funds will provide Wi-Fi enabled power meters and activity monitors to all recipients of the stimulation-powered bikes from the Broadening Access to Overground Cycling Exercise project. These will be used to create a “virtual cycling community” that puts cyclists in touch with each other for regular virtual group rides and races from the safety of their homes, or while riding alone overground in the community. The virtual community will increase motivation to exercise and socialize through peer-to-peer interactions. This will also allow the MSL team to remotely monitor their health and training progress, and serve as virtual coaches for their exercise routines. Pulse-oximeters and heart rate monitors, no-touch infrared thermometers, masks, and disinfectants will also be provided so users can monitor their own health and be protected when they return from outdoor activities.

New COVID-19 Clinical Trial is Underway

Dr. Frank Jacono

Frank Jacono, MD, Head of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, is serving as Principal Investigator in a clinical study based at University Hospitals (UH). UH and Athersys, a Cleveland based biotech company, have started the Macovia study, a clinical trial that will test the effectiveness of cell therapy for COVID-19 patients suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which is the leading cause of death for COVID-19 patients. ARDS is a severe inflammatory response of the lungs, due to COVID-19 infection. 

Read the full story on Cleveland19.