A Diagnostics & Imaging Week
Quest Product Development (QPD; Wheat Ridge, Colorado), with partner University of Colorado (Boulder), has been awarded a $1 million Small Business Technology Transfer grant by the National Institutes of Health to continue the development of a next-generation endoscope.
MicroFlex technology, derived from aerospace engineering, uses shape metal alloys and micro-actuators that allow active control over the shape of the scope for minimally invasive surgery. Surgeons will guide this ultra-slim 3 mm (1/8 inch) diameter scope via a joystick-like control to reach previously inaccessible spaces to visualize and diagnose problems. Special tools fit through the scope for therapeutic and surgical procedures.
Dale Lawrence, MD, University of Colorado professor and inventor of the technology, said, "We're excited about the potential of this technology to access small areas of the anatomy."
MicroFlex endoscopes may provide easier out-patient surgery for patients suffering from chronic sinusitis. The sinus application, the first of many potential uses of this technology, was selected due to the prevalence of chronic sinusitis, which affects 33 million Americans, and the challenge of surgery and treatment in these difficult anatomical structures.
Development is being done by Lawrence's research group at UC Boulder, physicians at the Health Sciences Center and an engineering team from QPD.
A second NIH grant funded research demonstrating that MicroFlex devices can be fabricated as small as 1mm (0.04 inch) diameter, enabling access into areas of the lungs not currently possible, for diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. The groups said that, ultimately, MicroFlex technology may provide a tool for diagnostic and surgical care for a variety of uses, including ear-nose-throat, lung, neurosurgery, neonatal and cardiac applications.
"MicroFlex scopes could improve healthcare by improving surgeon access, reducing treatment costs, reducing patient trauma and improving recovery times," said Alan Kopelove, Quest's director for Technology.
QPD, focusing on medical products and Colorado bioscience, is an engineering firm that teams with universities and companies.