Creating multidisciplinary teams for e-health

NTNU Technology Transfer is the Technology Transfer Office for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim in Norway, and with whom Dehns has worked for many years.

This project required the assembly of a Dehns inter-disciplinary team to cover software and life sciences as it related to a new type of medical ultrasound scanning device which is expected to enable a wide range of disease states to be diagnosed and monitored more accurately and at much lower cost than today.

Understanding both the novel engineering features and the various clinical applications for the new device was key to protecting the IP, so a number of face-to-face workshops were held in 2016 and 2017 with the Dehns attorneys meeting the inventors and medical doctors to develop the optimal IP strategy, looking at both the medical and the engineering aspects of the new device, as well as taking account of a complex set of existing and planned public disclosures.

Ultimately five patent families were identified; a PCT application was filed in 2017, and four UK priority applications were filed in early 2018.

 

The significance, impact and/or outcome

The new ultrasound device differs from traditional devices in that it is fastened to the body, rather than being handheld, and in that it uses a much simpler design of transducer with simpler associated signal processing. This makes it potentially much cheaper than today’s state-of-the-art ultrasound scanning systems. The data derived from the devices is not always as detailed as that of conventional scanners, but the inventors have realised that, by monitoring the patient over an extended time period, it can nevertheless provide clinically-significant insights.

One important application of the new technology is fastening the device to a premature baby’s head to provide continuous monitoring of  the infant brain. This allows longer-term data to be captured, allowing for  earlier detection of a wide range of pathological processes which could harm the baby, compared with performing a one-off reading every few hours. Medical staff can act more quickly and more effectively, having access to the data they need to make a more-informed clinical decision and an earlier intervention. This greatly increases the chance of success when treating this vulnerable patient group.

To ensure the most comprehensive patent applications were drafted, Dehns assembled a multidisciplinary team, including engineering, software, and biomedical attorneys, and worked closely with the inventors and medical doctors, including hosting several workshops in Trondheim over a period of 18-24 months.

NTNU is pleased with the patent applications that have been filed.