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NASA Grant Awarded to ScanDx for Bone Density App

June 22, 2018

ScanDx was recently awarded a NASA Space Grant in collaboration with the University of Maine’s Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Department. The year-long grant will be conducted at the University’s Orono campus with support of biomedical engineering faculty and students.

The aim of the project is to develop and test a smartphone-based app for assessing bone density. The instrumentation developed could be used on future NASA missions. Prior NASA studies have shown reduced bone density in flight crews due to the effects of microgravity. An inflight method of rapidly gauging bone density will be essential in assessing exercise countermeasures and overall musculoskeletal health on longer missions.

The proof-of-concept device envisioned will build on the FractureDx technology previously developed by ScanDx. FractureDx utilizes a smartphone, miniature speaker and microphone to measure sound transmission changes associated with bone fractures. The components used have the advantage of being extremely compact and non-irradiative making them ideal for space flight.

“This is a very exciting project with a lot of potential, and we are happy to be working with ScanDx to make it a reality.” said Dr. Caitlin Howell, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and one of the collaborating faculty on the project. “Rapid diagnostics that can be performed with a smartphone are the wave of the future, and will help provide access to important health information for folks who don’t have a hospital or equipped doctor’s office  nearby- whether those people are astronauts or rural Mainers.”

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with UMaine faculty and students on this NASA grant.” said Dr. Todd O’Brien, CEO of ScanDx. “If we are successful, this project could lead to an ultralight device capable of rapidly assessing bone density. A future version of this instrument could end up on a NASA mission or in your doctor’s office.”