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DMI Diagnostic Device Wins Grand Prize in Nokia Sensing XPrize

Xconomy San Diego — 

The XPrize Foundation returned to San Diego today to announce that a team led by Eugene Y. Chan of the DNA Medicine Institute (DMI) in Cambridge, MA, is the winner of the second $525,000 grand prize in the Nokia Sensing XPrize Challenge.

X Prize founder and chairman Peter Diamandis and Nokia CTO Henry Tirri announced the incentive prize competition during a 2012 digital health conference in San Diego as a way to stimulate innovations in wireless health sensing technologies. Finland’s Nokia provided a $2.25 million pool for awarding a series of prizes through two separate, consecutive competitions.

XPrize organizers plan to honor the DMI team at a lunchtime ceremony today during the Exponential Medicine Conference underway at the Hotel del Coronado, just across the bay from downtown San Diego. In a statement today, Diamandis says the technology DMI submitted “embodies the original goal of the Nokia Sensing XChallenge—to advance sensor technology in a way that will enable faster diagnoses and easier, more sophisticated personal health monitoring.”

An expert panel of judges selected DMI from 11 finalists, giving DMI the highest combined score in accuracy, consistency, demonstration quality, technical innovation, human factors, market opportunity, originality, and user experience. DMI designed portable diagnostic technology that can carry out hundreds of clinical lab tests on a single drop of blood—and provides accurate results within minutes.

DNA Medicine Institute

Eugene Y. Chan and DMI team.

DMI says just about anyone can use its handheld “rHEALTH” device, or Reusable Handheld Electrolyte and Lab Technology for Humans system. DMI’s rHEALTH system consists of microfluidic technology that mixes diagnostic nanostrips into a drop of blood, and uses a laser to perform rapid cell counts and to measure electrolytes, proteins, and other biomarkers. DMI funded most of the development through grants from NASA, the NIH, and the Gates Foundation.

DMI "rHealth" devices

DMI rHEALTH devices

In a statement, Chan says, “Our hope is that the rHEALTH system, once commercialized, will enable consumers to monitor their own health while on-the-go in a more efficient manner and alert them of more serious medical concerns almost immediately.”

Chan, a physician-innovator, founded DMI in 2004, and serves as CEO and chief scientific officer. The small group specializes in developing advanced biomedical technology and devices, and provides R&D consulting services, among other things.

DMI also is one of 10 finalists selected three months ago for the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize, a separate incentive prize competition organized by the XPrize Foundation. The winner will be announced next year.

The first $525,000 grand prize in the Nokia Sensing XPrize Challenge was awarded last year to Nanobiosym, a Boston-area organization led by Anita Goel, for its development of a portable diagnostic device that accurately detects the genetic signature of any pathogenic organism. Nanobiosym Diagnostics’ Gene-RADAR is intended to provide rapid and affordable medical diagnostics, even in developing countries where electricity and water are not widely available.

The 11 finalists, culled from a field of 27 teams in five countries, were announced in October. Of those finalists, the expert panel convened by the X-Prize Foundation also selected five teams for a $120,000 “Distinguished Award.” Those teams are:

Biovotion, a medical device company based in Zurich, Switzerland, is developing a multi-sensor wearable device for monitoring vital signs to provide hospital-quality monitoring to people with chronic medical conditions.

Eigen Lifescience, a Stanford University team engineered a biosensor platform that uses giant magneto-resistive spin valves to detect biomolecules for use in diagnosing individual patients.

Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing, a Minneapolis, MN-based team, also created a portable giant magneto-resistive biosensing system to detect biomarkers in human serum and urine samples.

Gues, based in London, England, has developed a sensor and companion mobile app for detecting sleep apnea as well as abnormally low respiratory rates.

Endotronix, a startup founded in Woodridge, IL, uses a biosensor implanted in the pulmonary artery and integrated with a wireless handheld device to monitor people with congestive heart failure.