Covid-19: Biophotonic Technologies to Measure Oxygen Saturation, Volume, and Blood Flow

Health News

At the beginning of the confinement in Spain, a team of researchers from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) joined from Barcelona to the international efforts being carried out around the world to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the guidance of ICREA Professor Turgut Durduran , these experts in the field of diffuse optics met remotely to formulate possible ideas based on photonic technologies that could contribute to the treatment of coronavirus patients.

He quickly worked to adapt a commercial device spectroscopy light in the near infrared (English, near spectrosopy infrared or NIRS) and provide it with specialized algorithms to provide an assessment of microvascular situation of the patient , as the health of blood vessels more Small can play a key role in the evolution of the disease.

“Working on this project during confinement was extremely fast,” says Durduran, whose team started a collaboration with intensive care physicians at the Parc Taulí Hospital , in Sabadell, led by Dr. Jaume Mesquida .

Together they developed a set of hypotheses and protocols aimed at testing endothelial and microvascular dysfunction in COVID-19 patients. This collaboration was made possible by biophotonic technologies that use near-infrared light to measure oxygen saturation, volume, and blood flow.

Tests at the Parc Taulí Hospital

HEMOCOVID-19 from ICFOnians on Vimeo .

The first device was sent to Hospital Parc Taulí in March and was tested on Covid-19 patients. Soon after, interest in this collaboration resulted in the formation of an international consortium called HEMOCOVID-19.

Its members have used the response of the microvasculature in the peripheral forearm muscles to prolonged arterial blockage (applied using a device similar to an inflatable tourniquet to measure blood pressure) to develop a biomarker of endothelial and microvascular health .

It is a non-invasive, portable device with built-in battery and cable-free, which can perform measurements throughout the entire stay of the patient in the intensive care unit.

The goal is to provide tools to assist physicians in patient selection and guide the development of therapies aimed at improving endothelial function as well as personalized salvage therapies , which play a critical role in the management of critically ill patients.

As Dr. Mesquida points out, “this will be very useful not only for risk stratification in Covid-19 patients [due to complications related to acute respiratory stress syndrome], but also as a tool to evaluate the efficacy of possible new therapies for disease “.

“As of today – he continues – we do not have other parameters available at the bedside to monitor endothelial function and it is likely that the use of this technology is mandatory to evaluate therapies directed at microcirculation, which seems to be very important in Covid -19 Most likely, these measures will also be useful in other populations with underlying endothelial disorders or inflammatory diseases, as is the case in patients with septic shock . ”

Preliminary results have encouraged the consortium. The next steps will involve the development of next-generation technologies to improve precision and expand clinical relevance . The consortium is growing and is currently made up of ten partners from four countries : Spain (where Hospital Clínic and Hospital del Mar have already joined), the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

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