NJ innovative center of clinical trials could spark future cardio medical breakthroughs
NEW BRUNSWICK — Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have teamed up to launch a new model for medical research and innovation called The Center for Innovation located on the hospital’s main campus in New Brunswick.
The center was made possible via donor funding from the RWJ University Hospital Foundation.
What is the goal of the Center for Innovation?
The ultimate goal of the center is to develop innovative clinical trials that yield medical breakthroughs to improve preventive care and health outcomes for patients, said Dr. Partho Sengupta, Chief of Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension at RWJUH and RWJMS.
“The center is a bridge toward creating an environment where people and that’s the COVID pandemic and all the burnouts related to it, can find hope and inspiration as we create an environment of inquiry by working together,” he said.
What are some of the innovative technologies under development?
One example of technology under development includes a simple tool similar to electrocardiograms or EKG which is routinely used in emergency rooms.
Artificial intelligence technology is used to extract information hidden in waveforms to try and build up a solution towards finding out what their problems could be discovered, using imaging.
For example, if a patient is sent for further testing like an EKG, ultrasound, or MRI, doctors can use a cost-effective approach for creating appropriations for patient referral and triaging patients, Sengupta said.
They are also using what is known as pocket ultrasounds where a transducer is carried in the pocket and connects to the back of a smartphone. Using artificial techniques, nurses or people who don’t have proficiency or are not trained to capture images now can actually capture heart images, he said.
Researchers are also looking into potentially having patients take their images themselves. Sengupta said to imagine the possibilities of transmitting images to positions where diagnoses can be made.
“We are using art intelligence and robotic techniques to take imagery from patients. So, if a patient is in an ICU setting in a COVID ward, the sonographer won’t be exposed.
They can just be remotely situated and perform their examinations,” Sengupta said.
Tools are also being used to allow them to develop different types of visualizations. One importance of imagery is to guide precision in surgical and interventional cardiology where procedures are done on the heart.
“Therefore what we do is called three-dimensional imaging, where the data is three dimensional but our screens are flat. So, we have developed new techniques in which the data can be displayed in holographic formats so they are through depth perception,” Sengupta said.
Some of these techniques are being incubated so there can be higher precision in diagnosis, he added.
Another modern-day problem they are trying to solve is the problem involving the length of hospital stays.
The goal is to have the patient recover at home in their own surroundings while they are continuously monitored remotely using variables and other types of biosignals. There is always a team that is always there, taking care of them from a distance, Sengupta said.
“The whole idea is that health begins at home and the journey always brings you home. Hospitals only are stops on the way,” he said.
Another example of technology in the early stage of development includes the use of earbuds to provide real-time heart rhythm metrics such as heart rate and heart rate variability.
Sengupta said to imagine a pregnant woman in labor and the mother-to-be is suffering from high blood pressure. He said doctors could give her nice, relaxing music, while at the same time, doctors are continuously recording, through the devices in the ear, the entire central blood circulation waveforms from the central arteries.
There is also a medical vest with sensors that can be placed on a patient to record, without blood draw or analysis, “markers” or vital information that may indicate a heart attack.
How will these techniques benefit communities in New Jersey?
There is a high burden of cardiovascular disease in New Jersey, Sengupta said.
“We should not be waiting for heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease to happen because there’s a long window before symptoms develop,” he said.
So, the big questions are: “How can we pick up these symptoms at an early stage?” and “How can we bring people in at an early stage, where they still have the disease but are asymptomatic?” There needs to be a method where doctors can correct these patients or reduce the rate of the progression of the disease, so that heart failure and deadly forms of end-stage problems don’t develop, Sengupta said.
“It’s important to create a space and environment that is optimized for creativity, innovative thinking, and collaboration,” Sengupta said.
More information about Center for Innovation clinical trials can be found here.