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Altru’s Research Department and University of North Dakota Partnership is Ready for Take Off

Altru’s Research Department and University of North Dakota Partnership is Ready for Take Off

Joseph Allen, Jr

Joseph Allen, Jr., (left) a Biomedical Engineering student talks with Kathryn Hall (middle), and Nicole Larson, (right) both Chemical Engineering students about his research on Remote Sensing: Glucose Levels at Graduate Research Achievement Day 2018. Hall won the Peer Choice Award.
(Photo courtesy of the University of North Dakota)

Joseph Allen Jr. is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Dakota and recently collaborated with Altru Health System’s research department and key physicians, Dr. Eric Johnson and Dr. Jon Allen, to develop the Non-Invasive Complete Metabolic Panel (NICMP). A metabolic panel is a test that measures substances in your blood to determine chemical balances and metabolism levels such as blood sugar, liver, and kidney health, protein, fluid, and electrolyte balances. This test currently requires a finger prick or needle stick, sometimes multiple times each day for someone with diabetes. But, what if it didn’t?

The NICMP is a light-based system that rapidly delivers, at the point of care, the same 15 metabolic analyte levels as a typical comprehensive metabolic panel blood test. Because it utilizes light sensor technology and artificial intelligence, it saves patients from multiple daily blood draws. The NICMP pilot study conducted through Altru’s Research Department represents the bridge between a flagship research institution and a medical center to innovate healthcare and improve patient quality of care.

Partnership with Altru’s Research Department

Wearing Astronaut Uniform

Joseph credits Altru’s research department as being instrumental in the early development stages of the cutting-edge project. The NICMP pilot study, done with the assistance of Altru’s Research Department staff, included 90 subjects where the NICMP test was completed to evaluate safety and effectiveness. Each subject had results of the NICMP light sensor test compared with the typical blood draw metabolic panel test. The NICMP performed at an overall 95% accuracy rate! Altru’s Research Department assisted with patient participant recruitment, clinical trial execution, and swift completion of the study to progress the device toward commercialization.

The NICMP device required physicians, engineers, and regulatory experts to come together to transform the innovation from the lab to the clinical environment. The project paves the way for a community research partnership on future projects conducted at UND and Altru’s Research Department with the goal to expand clinical research and for our region to become a leader in healthcare innovation.

Ready for Take-Off

The Non-Invasive Complete Metabolic Panel device was sponsored by NASA for presentation at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress. Future applications for the NICMP include space exploration missions and use in the International Space Station. The device project is currently in the manufacturing phase in preparation for the NICMP pivotal study prior to regulatory submission and clearance. The NICMP is anticipated to be widely available commercially in 2021. While the device takes off to transform patients’ way of life around the globe, we can be proud knowing this innovation had its start right here in our community.