How much do you know about the development of your favorite products? What about the devices you encounter at your doctor’s office?
So much of the work that goes into every single thing we use remains unseen by the user or consumer, from concept development to design to production.
Algorithms, Software, and Data
What goes into product development at a company like VisionQuest Biomedical?
Many things, but three of the most important include algorithms, software, and data.
“Algorithms,” says senior research scientist Vinayak Joshi, “can be acquired mostly from public platforms and open sources without spending any money.” Developers can be hired to work on software. But medical data “take the first position in terms of importance, value, and asset because the company needs to establish clinics and collect the data by itself. It’s not available readily in the market.”
Screening Subjects for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
For the past year, VisionQuest has conducted a clinical study of people with diabetes to collect that original data. As part of our Phase IIb grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (DK 104578), we have worked with doctors and clinical coordinators, screening subjects for diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) using a variety of clinical tests. These include vibration, monofilament, pinprick, and nerve conduction studies, as well as our newly developed thermal imager, i-RxTherm.
It hasn’t been easy. A pool of ten thousand candidates can quickly narrow down to a few hundred as people are excluded based on the study parameters. “The most difficult thing about recruitment for our study is finding people who fit our criteria,” says clinical coordinator Sheraz Saint-Lot. “The challenge is to find people who have diabetes but don’t already have other illnesses or conditions that exclude them from participating.”
Recruitment Is the Hardest Part
“Recruitment is the hardest part of a study,” adds VisionQuest founder and CEO Pete Soliz.
And yet we’re succeeding, as our program official has recently recognized.
Patient by patient, we’re approaching our goal and collecting the data we need to demonstrate i-RxTherm. Already, we’ve screened almost 150 New Mexicans. That data will allow us to begin the next phase of our work—commercializing i-RxTherm and delivering a clinic-ready device into the hands of health-care providers across the country.