Nanotechnology may lead to new products for brain injury detection

At Icarus Consultants we spend a lot of time working with pharma, biotech and life sciences companies on new product development strategy & marketing.

We monitor the competitive landscape and keep abreast of emerging new technologies. One area that we expect to have a major impact on new product development is nanotechnology. Research in this field will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions.  It’s an exciting area to watch.

Pieter Droppert on Biotech Strategy Blog highlights research at the University of Pennsylvania on the development of a nanomaterial containing photonic crystals that change color with exposure to changes in air pressure.

The aim of this nanotechnology research is to develop a blast-injury dosimeter for use by soldiers in the field who are often exposed to multiple improvised explosive devices (IED).  The refractive properties of the crystals are changed by exposure to air pressure, leading to a color change as a result of the material defect that occurs.

Like a radiation badge, this sensor in the form of a sticker or patch, would allow exposure to repeated blasts to be monitored and identify those at risk of traumatic brain injury. Low levels of traumatic brain injury are particularly difficult to diagnose and detect in soldiers, and cumulative exposure may lead to long-term cognitive impairment.

While the nanotechnology research at Penn is focused on blast-induced traumatic brain injury, there is now more awareness of sports related brain injuries in the United States.  Pieter in his post on Biotech Strategy Blog predicts that in the future we may see color based sensors on the helmets of NFL, college and high school football players to monitor exposure to hits and risk of impact based brain injury.

If you are interested in reading more about nanotechnology, there are several posts on Biotech Strategy Blog.

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