IDC Designs Multiple Sclerosis Monitor
UK-based product design company Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC) has completed the design of an electronic multiple sclerosis (MS) monitor, its second medical design project for the University of London's Queen Mary college.
The project with Queen Mary college was to produce a bio-sensor holder and base unit enclosure for monitoring the condition of those living with MS. The product analyses tiny blood samples and measures a specific protein marker, matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), to indicate worsening MS. The product aims to benefit patients who are known sufferers of MS by detecting inflammation around nerve fibres before the onset of a clinical attack or a relapse. Patients such as these, on anti-inflammatory therapies, need continual monitoring as treatment is only partially effective. Usually, the only way to monitor inflammation in MS patients is by expensive routine MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] scans or the occurrence of visible symptoms. However, Queen Mary's bio-sensor aims to provide an important home detection system which is low-cost and which will provide an early indication if therapies are not being effective. This product builds on the success of Queen Mary's previous project with IDC, which developed a bio-sensor for detecting periodontal disease (also known as gum disease).
Working alongside Queen Mary and other partners, IDC was tasked with producing an ergonomic, aesthetic and practical design for both the base unit and the sensor holder. The base unit enclosure was enhanced with a splash proof membrane keypad and a hinged lid which allows the user to insert a disposable foam pad. This pad prevents the blood sample from evaporating during the analysis process. The removable waterproof sensor holder incorporates a ceramic heater, which maintains the temperature of the bio-sensor chip during the test procedure. The product uses a two-part design with a disposable capillary-fill sampling chip that plugs into the main unit via the heated holder during testing. A small blood sample is placed on the sampling chip, which once inserted must maintain optimum contact with the bio-sensor at a temperature of 37°C for testing.
One of the aims of the product was to develop a device that allowed data to be easily recorded and transferred. The final design included an SD card slot [SD stands for secure digital, the slot is used to transfer data from high density memory cards found in cameras and other electronic devices] and a USB connector on the side of the device, which allows test results to be exported for monitoring by a remote medical team and generation of long-term patient records.
IDC's project manager Ryan Fenton commented, "We're delighted that Queen Mary has come back to IDC to help deliver another new product. The team is at its best when bringing ground-breaking research to life with innovative new products."