IU cancer patients to test Purdue smartphone app for anemia detection

A Purdue University-led team of researchers developing an anemia-detection application for mobile devices received funding from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute to evaluate the technology’s use in patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
Depiction of the anemia-detection application for mobile devices. (Image submitted)

Anemia, a condition in which patients do not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body's tissues, is prevalent among cancer patients and likely related to the cancer itself, chemotherapy, radiation or blood loss. The creation of sHEA(smartphone-based bloodless spectrometerless HEemoglobin Analyzer) by Young Kim, associate professor with the Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and Md Munirul Haque, research scientist with the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue, aims to make detecting this condition easier and more convenient. 

“More than half the patients undergoing cancer treatment are likely to become anemic at some point in time,” said Kim. “The device we are developing has the potential to allow for earlier anemia detection, and it’s noninvasive, which is especially important for cancer patients who have greater sensitivities to needles as well as co-morbidities that cause problems with vein access.” 

The Indiana CTSI is a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue and the University of Notre Dame to facilitate the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into new patient treatments in Indiana and beyond. The $75K award from the Indiana CTSI’s Collaboration in Translational Research pilot grant program will allow Purdue researchers to team up with Attaya Suvannasankha, M.D., assistant professor of hematology and oncology at the IU School of Medicine, to introduce this technology to 144 cancer patients already undergoing treatment at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis. 


Purdue University graduate student Michelle Visbal Onufrak works with a dual port hyperspectral imaging system as professors Young Kim and Md Muniral Haque converse in the background. (Purdue University photo)

Researchers plan to spend the first four months of 2018 testing the sHEA technology with a large patient pool at the Kenya, East Africa-based AMPATH laboratory under an earlier grant from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center to improve mobile testing for anemia in resource-limited settings where anemia is prevalent. 

“Although the patient pool here in the U.S. will be smaller than the one in Kenya, the Indiana CTSI award will allow us to focus on personalized health-care monitoring in longitudinal fashion,” Haque said. “This study will be synergic to our Kenya study and allow us to evaluate and compare the performance of sHEA in diverse ethnic settings.” 

Both settings will provide information to create a reliable hemoglobin-detection algorithm needed to translate color data from the smartphone into virtual hyperspectral images. These images will include the detailed color information necessary for a smart phone “selfie” of a patient’s inner eyelid to accurately measure levels of hemoglobin in the blood. 

Source: Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering