Called PneumoniaCheck, the device created at Georgia Tech is a solution to the problem of diagnosing pneumonia, which is a major initiative of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs, kills about 2.4 million people each year. The problem is particularly devastating in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean, where a child dies of pneumonia every 15 seconds.
Developed by mechanical engineering students, graduate business students and faculty at Georgia Tech, PneumoniaCheck will be commercially launched this month to healthcare professionals through the startup company, MD Innovate Inc.
"Georgia Tech created a simple and new device to detect the lung pathogens causing pneumonia, " said David Ku, Georgia Tech Regents' Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Lawrence P. Huang Chair Professor for Engineering Entrepreneurship in the College of Management, and Professor of Surgery at Emory University. "It has the potential to save more lives than any other medical device."
TREATING PNEUMONIA NATURALLY
Diet and Nutrition
Remove excessive amounts of animal protein from your diet. During a bout with pneumonia, it is important to get as much protein from vegetable sources as possible. Excessive amounts of animal protein can be hard on your digestive system, especially if you are sick. When you are ill, it is important to keep yourself regular and allow whole foods to work quickly so your body can absorb their nutrients and fight the infection. A healthy amount of protein can be found in vegetables such as beets, artichokes, spinach, cauliflower, peas, eggplant and potatoes.
Mince 4 to 6 garlic gloves and 1/2 onion. Add 8 to 10 oz. of water and 2 tsp. of honey. Blend well and drink 30 minutes before you eat your first meal. This mixture will help open your bronchial passages so you can stay comfortable during the day. Drink this mixture throughout the day if you feel unusually congested.
Drink a 12 to 14 oz. glass of cranberry/apple (preferably organic) juice with breakfast. This will add antioxidants to your system. Do not eat any solid foods for breakfast.
Drink a potassium broth with lunch. Making a potassium broth is simple. It can be done by juicing 2 large carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 radishes and a few pinches of parsley. If you don't have a juicer, drink 10 to 12 oz. of low-sodium vegetable juice. It is important to get as much potassium as possible during a bout with pneumonia. Potassium helps repair damaged tissue in the lungs. Do not drink a potassium broth if you have heart disease; potassium helps to regulate your heart function and too much can be dangerous.
Drink a 12-ounce glass of carrot juice with dinner. Add 1 tbsp. of cayenne pepper. Carrot juice will help heal the lungs, and add antioxidants to your damaged tissue. Carrot juice, aside from being a wonderful source of vitamin A, is also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B complex. Cayenne will increase the effectiveness of the carrot juice. It also helps in repairing tissues in the lungs.
Drink 1 or 2 cups of olive leaf extract tea before bed. Olive leaf extract acts as a natural antibiotic and will help your body fight your infection by attacking the pneumonia, while keeping the rest of your immune system healthy. Olive leaf extract is sold in tea form at health food stores. It is also available in capsules, powder and as a liquid elixir, if you wish to take it in a form other than tea.
Relax in an oxygen bath at least once a day. An oxygen bath consists of adding 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of sea salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda to a hot bath. Sit for at least 15 to 30 minutes. An oxygen bath will help you breathe while it oxidizes the toxins and mucous built up in your lungs so they can be released through your pores, nose and urine.
Apply a mustard plaster to your chest twice a week. A mustard plaster is made by mixing 2 tbsp. of mustard powder, 2 eggs, 6 tbsp. of wheat flower and a cup of water into paste. Apply liberally to your chest and let it sit for 20 minutes, or until you skin flushes to a light pink color. This mixture will held bring the toxins in your lungs to the surface so they can escape through your pores. Do not use the mustard plaster if you have any allegies to mustard, egg or wheat.
Sit in a hot sauna or steam bath for 20 minutes at least once a week. If a sauna or steam room is not available, simply add 10 to 20 drops of eucalyptus oil to a hot bath. Breathe in the steam slowly and allow the oils to open your pores so toxins may be release through your skin.
Perform a nasal/mucous treatment at least once a day or as needed: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 5 to 10 drops of eucalyptus oil. Place a bath towel over your head and breath in the steam from the water. Do this until the water is room temperature or the steam subsides.
Last year, Ku was asked by the head of virology at the CDC to develop a quick and economical way to diagnose pneumonia, particularly in developing nations where it is a leading cause of death among children.
Ku challenged a group of mechanical engineering and bioengineering graduate students to develop an accurate device for diagnosing pneumonia. Current sampling methods using the mouth and nose are only 40 percent effective. The samples are typically contaminated by bacteria in the mouth, which leads to misdiagnosis and an incorrect prescription of antibiotics.
In developing nations, many children with respiratory infections fail to receive adequate care, and the overuse of antibiotics has led to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria. An accurate, easy-to-use and widely available new diagnostic test could improve identification of bacterial respiratory infection in children, reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and the long-term negative impacts of drug resistance, according to a recent article in Nature titled "Reducing the global burden of acute lower respiratory infections in children: The contributions of new diagnostics."
As a Tech graduate student, Tamera Scholz and her peers developed the solution -- PneumoniaCheck.
The device contains a plastic tube with a mouthpiece. A patient coughs into the device to fill up a balloon-like upper airway reservoir before the lung aerosols go into a filter. Using fluid mechanics, PneumoniaCheck separates the upper airway particles of the mouth from the lower airway particles coming from the lungs.
"It's interesting because it's so simple," said Scholz (M.S. '10 Mechanical Engineering), who is now an engineer for Newell Rubbermaid. "It's not a fancy contraption. It's a device that patients cough into and through fluid mechanics it separates upper and lower airway aerosols. Through each iteration, it got simpler. … I like that I will be able to see it make a difference in my lifetime."
Once the device was developed, Taylor Bronikowski and a group of Georgia Tech M.B.A. students from the College of Management started developing a business plan for PneumoniaCheck that starts locally and grows globally. They used the device as a test case to develop a Triple Bottom Line company in India that could result in financial profits, environmental sustainability and social benefits, such as jobs and healthcare.
"Our goal is to provide better medicine at a cost savings to patients and hospitals," Bronikowski said. "We wanted a worldwide solution, so patients in developing nations can afford it."
Bronikowksi, Ku and Sarah Ku formed the startup company, MD Innovate Inc., in 2010 to manufacture the device in large quantities and organize distribution and commercialization. The device is now being used in pneumonia studies at Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta and the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center, Ku said.
The FDA has cleared PneumoniaCheck for sale in the U.S. The device is licensed but its patent is pending. The company will start selling PneumoniaCheck in the U.S. in January and it could hit other countries in two years, Ku said.
"It's a great feeling, working on something that has the potential to save thousands of lives," Bronikowski said.
On the horizon, Ku and future Georgia Tech graduate students will be developing a simple and effective method for diagnosing pneumonia in regions without healthcare facilities or basic infrastructure.