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Prototype in Development to Manage Sodium Levels in Complex Diabetes Insipidus

Published on September 26, 2022 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 5 months 3 weeks ago


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Daily management of complex diabetes insipidus often is challenging for families.

The Findings

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI) and the Raymond A. Wood Foundation (RAWF) wrapped up the first phase of developing an at-home sodium meter to manage complex diabetes insipidus (DI), a condition that often develops as a result of a brain tumor or treatment of the tumor that damages part of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland.

Why it Matters

Children with DI are missing a hormone known as vasopressin that has antidiuretic effects, which puts them at risk for losing too much water and developing dehydration. They receive daily synthetic forms of the hormone to address that deficit. Monitoring sodium levels in the blood is important in managing the condition, and it can be challenging for families to accomplish. For patients with complicated cases of DI, management may require frequent visits to a laboratory for testing. Currently, there is no at-home sodium meter approved for patients' use that gives them real-time feedback to guide their daily disease management.

"For a long time, we have recognized the need to give patients and families better tools to manage their DI," said Shana McCormack, MD, scientific director of CHOP's Neuroendocrine Center, who routinely treats patients with sodium regulation challenges from DI. "We envision that this new device, once in use, will help us partner with affected individuals to identify and address small problems early, before they turn into bigger problems that lead to emergency room visits and hospitalizations."

Who Conducted the Project

Development of this device was initiated through a partnership between Dr. McCormack and Amy Wood, executive director of RAWF and caregiver of a child with difficult-to-manage DI. The partnership also includes expertise from Khushbu Patel, PhD, director of Clinical Chemistry with the Chemistry Laboratory at CHOP.

How They Did It

The initial phase of the project explored a proof-of-concept prototype, designed to set the stage for future efforts. Similar to a glucometer that measures how much sugar is in a blood sample, the point-of-care device measures how much sodium is in a small volume of blood. OEI engaged a local medical device development firm to develop the prototype and oversaw the project plan with support from Drs. McCormack, Wood, and Patel, along with CHOP's Office of Technology Transfer.

Quick Thoughts

"This device is potentially lifesaving and will solve one of the many challenges faced by survivors of these tumors while giving caregivers and clinicians a better tool for management of care," Wood said. "We are grateful to OEI for moving this project forward."

What's Next

The team has secured a Small Business Innovation Research grant and is moving into the next phase of development and engineering.

Where to Learn More

OEI is responsible for creating an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the organization and helping CHOP team members turn early-stage ideas into reality. From new drugs and therapies to software, medical devices and mobile apps, OEI is identifying and promoting innovations that improve patient care and outcomes, reduce the costs of healthcare for patient families, and tackle problems associated with chronic disease. innovation [at] (CHOP employees can contact OEI) with new ideas and innovative projects.