Dr. Giacomo Vacca, Founder and President at KineticRiver, www.kineticriver.com , talked about sophisticated system design tools for medical device and life science applications, at www.bio2devicegroup.org .
Cost containment in medical device product development and commercialization, is challenging and extremely important. Often as development goes on, design changes and bug fixes become more and more costly and time-consuming. One of the most cost-effective ways to reduce these costs is to execute comprehensive system modeling early on. While many specialized solutions exist to model certain subdomains (e.g., optical propagation software, CAD packages, etc.), they typically do not tell the designer how the system as a whole will behave in response to design choices. Vacca shared about KineticRiver design approach that can drastically reduce trial and error by providing interactive and intuitive system modeling tools. Focusing the talk at first on one specific technical area, Flow Cytometry, Vacca demonstrated how KineticRiver builds the critical parameters of a system, into a live, hands-on simulation tool, that can be used to explore a wide range of design choices and to trigger system decisions with confidence (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VkHTr4qSBU) .
Flow cytometry is a laser based biophysical technology that measures cells in fluid flow, and is used in a variety of research and clinical applications. Cells are funneled very fast through a narrow nozzle and as they are suspended in a stream of fluid, light interacts with the cells, thorough an electronic detection apparatus. It allows simultaneous multiparametric analysis of the physical and/or chemical characteristics of up to thousands of particles per second. Large number of cells can be sorted, counted, and their key features, and key attributes, can be studied speedily and with greater efficiency. In hematology alone, there is $2.2 B dollar market that spans a wide range from floor standing flow cytometry models to bench top models.
The data generated by flow-cytometers can be plotted in a single dimension, to produce a histogram, or in two-dimensional dot plots or even in three dimensions. Recently engineered CyTOF (one is installed at Stanford Oncology Lab), system is giving new insights into the functional complexity of biological systems at the single cell level, with an ability to analyze up to 100 stable isotope labels, in a single sample. Plotting cells on multidimensional spaces and abundance of one type of cells versus another, can give a lot of information about diseases.
Flow cytometry can simultaneously measure and analyze multiple properties of single cells or particles with high sensitivity and precision and yet, conventional flow cytometers have fundamental limitations with regards to analyzing very large particles, analyzing at high flow rates, and providing fast analysis. In commercial products, the challenge is to design a tool, optimized for relevant primers, to yield high throughput, and with less cost and less complexity. Vacca demonstrated, with LabVIEW running, how a system can be set up and researcher can play with different parameters to get optimal performance. This simulation model allows for virtual exploration, sharply diminishing costs. This is not a model to do science or do research experiments in the dark. But Vacca’s demonstration showed that this interactive simulation model can incorporate both bottom-up physical principles and top-down empirical findings to give the user access to key design parameters, and at the same time it can highlight at a glance, the key performance parameters.