Hackaday Prize Entry: Wearable Micro Pump Treats Your Fever for You

Would you strap a tiny pump to your body and let it dose you with medication based on your current vital signs? Most people wouldn’t, while some would appreciate the convenience, and many have no choice. [M. Bindhammer]’s 2017 Hackaday Prize entry, dubbed Sense-Aid, seeks to democratize the drug delivery process somewhat by building a sensor package linked to a tiny surface-mount pump into a single wearable device.

His chosen initial therapeutic area is fever, given that it’s easy to diagnose non-invasively with a simple thermistor and straightforward to treat with antipyretics like acetaminophen. Aside from the obvious regulatory hurdles such a device would face, he’s got a bunch of technical challenges to address. Surprisingly, sourcing a surface-mount pump is not one of them, although finding a medication to pump with it is. Anecdotally, a professor acquaintance of ours used to relate his sure-fire hangover cure: an aspirin tablet dissolved in the polar aprotic solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and absorbed directly through the skin for immediate relief. The story may have been apocryphal, and it certainly sounds like a bad idea, but such solvents may be one way of pumping medications non-invasively.

Obviously, this is only a concept at this point, as [M. Bindhammer] hasn’t even built a prototype yet. But that’s exactly what the first phase of the 2017 Hackaday Prize is all about: Design Your Concept. It may seem like a crazy idea, but at least it’s an idea, and that’s the first step. Have you submitted your idea yet? There’s still plenty of time.

37 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Wearable Micro Pump Treats Your Fever for You

  1. I used DMSO dissolved antibiotics to save my dog’s leg a couple of decades ago. Sweet little Eskie’ breath smelled like garlic while she was being treated. It saved her leg!

    I would think treating diabetes with insulin would be a primary application for something like this. Treating a fever with a pumped medication isn’t what you would call “standard of care.”

    1. There was something about Diabetes and a father creating an Insulin pump for his daughter and making his own insulin can’t remember where I seen it, Like the Chinese Man that built a Dialysis Machine from Bits and Pieces because it was too expensive to pay to get treatment Totally Tony Starked it without the money factor.

    2. DMSO doesn’t make anything smell of garlic, it apparently directly stimulates one of the olfactory nerves and gives you the sensation instead. So I think you actually got some DMSO on yourself when you were treating your dog :)

    3. “I would think treating diabetes with insulin would be a primary application for something like this”

      It has been for decades – although open-loop.

      Semi-closed-loop (basal adjustments, no bolus) is in the process of hitting the market (Medtronic 640G) and there are quite a few DIY systems based on OpenAPS. The main issue with OpenAPS is that pumps which are safest to use with it (e.g. ones that allow remote basal adjustment because a LOT more can go wrong with remote blousing) are only available on the used market.

  2. Well I’ve been stuck in hospital on an IV pump since Monday and it an’t no fun.I have Cystic Fibrosis and every once in a while my lungs need a wash out. (to put it simply). I have often wondered how much these pumps cost, the one I am connected to is no more than a programmable stepper motor. That is type in how much over how long and done.

    So the question is, could any Open Source system, either simple ones like I’m currently connected or ‘smart’ ones like in this project could ever get the OK to be sold??? To me this would be the goal, bring down the price of these bits of kit.

    BTW, being a hacker at hart, I’ve been spending my time coding some i2c drivers on my RPi. I’m on my lappy connected to the RPi which is running headless and VNC connection. I’m not their usual patient. LoL :)

      1. Everyone who works on electronic controlled medical devices should read up on the Therac 25 and other instances of poorly programmed radiological treatment devices that killed people when they were operated in a way that triggered the bugs.

        Those cases are why the FDA and most other countries certification agencies require such arduous certification processes. A device has to be tested every possible way they can think of to try and make it fail to work as it’s supposed to.

        So now all medical device software gets checked for race conditions. What will it do when user input is done at every single step of the program? If there’s a roll-over counter, what happens when the input or program thread the counter is watching triggers on every single number in the count, and between each tick? Have to make certain that what the counter triggers always happens when the input it’s watching occurs, and *only* that happens.

        The more complex the software, the more possibilities of programs state, input and output state there are. Nothing undesired can happen.

        If you are designing an infusion pump and the person operating it sets it to inject 1cc of a drug every three hours for 9 hours, then it must do that and only that no matter what goes on – if the operator takes a minute to set it up or 10 seconds, waits 5.245 seconds to press the start button or 10 minutes. It has to work every time, can’t have a glitch that makes it inject 10x the programmed dose that only happens with some certain input timing combination.

        For the Therac 25 a couple of simple condition checks would’ve fixed it. For the too fast input bug, the setup thread needed a completion test before allowing input from the trigger button. Put a “System not ready” light on the control panel so the operator wouldn’t wonder why it didn’t fire when the button was pressed.

        For the problem of it blasting too much radiation when using the remote trigger, the simplest patch would have it ignore the trigger when the counter was on 0 or 255, thus jumping over whatever would make it malfunction. Such a hack would work but wouldn’t be acceptable now. The actual bug making it screw up the dose would have to be found and fixed.

        The previous models had the same software bugs, but were also loaded with fuses, circuit breakers and interlocks – all added to safe stop the machine to prevent an incorrect radiation dose. Added as physical patches to software that their programmers couldn’t find the bugs in.

        1. Nice read thanks. I think it serves as a good warning when messing about with stuff like this.

          I’m a software engineer, I would not want to work on any product like this. Kind of scary thinking that a simple bug can and does kill. A bit more serious that loosing the word doc because windows just blue screened again. ;)

    1. By “wash out”, and what basic stuff I know about CF, you mean they flood a lung with liquid, then drain it back out again? Sounds like the sort of thing you couldn’t do gradually with a micro-pump.

      I suppose there’s nothing stopping you pumping water into your own lungs, nothing stopping you drowning or getting horrendous hard-to-treat infections either!

      Apart from all that, sounds pretty traumatic! Do they at least do you the courtesy of knocking you out first? Do you spend time bothering them with questions about their expensive equipment, that they don’t know the answer to? I know I would if it were me!

      1. “Do you spend time bothering them with questions about their expensive equipment” You bet I do. They don’t knock you out but do give you a sedative. Before they stick the camera and pipes down I ask if they can move the screen so I can see it. Kind of really very cool seeing your own lungs from the inside. This time around they did more hovering than washing. :)

  3. DMSO is good for boosting the effectiveness of medications like antibiotics and is readily available at farm stores. Just by itself it can reduce inflammation and allow tissue to heal. I’ve used it with colloidal silver to penetrate a deep wound and it healed quickly.

    The problem with DMSO is that its a solvent and must be stored in safe containers that will not leach material into the DMSO and make you sick.

  4. Pain can’t kill you, but all pain killers can. The irony is that the most addictive ones are actually the least toxic and they only kill you by stopping your breathing, *all* of the over the counter products are toxic if overused acutely or chronically.

      1. No it cannot, they are other associated concurrent pathological processes requiring a preexisting illness, the pain itself cannot kill you.

        The worst pain you can have is said to be childbirth or kidney stones and they don’t cause people to die, from just the pain. Pain can totally disable you, and that could have dangerous consequences in some contexts, but again the pain does not kill you.

        But it could make you want to kill yourself. e.g. Trigeminal neuralgia.

    1. Second on pain can’t kill you, and acetaminophen certainly can, in a most intensely, drawn-out, and unpleasant fashion, from a single overdose. This is not some rare thing, either, it kills 500 people a year in the US (source:fda) and is the most frequent cause of acute liver failure in the Western world. Not every human brain should be trusted with that drug, and no firmware should.

  5. I was diagnosed with polymyositis in 2002 and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) by a lung biopsy in 2007. I have been on prednisone at various dosages from the beginning along with various immune suppressant medications. I began taking tacrolimus in 2008 and have held off any progression of more scarring. I had shortness of breath and coughing. I was relatively active but I learned to pace myself. I have the best medical team that all work together.. As the disease progressed all medication stopped working, i was introduced to Health herbal clinic in South Africa who have successful herbal treatment to Pulmonary fibrosis and other lungs diseases. I spoke to few people who used the treatment here in USA and they all gave a positive response, so i immediately purchased the Pulmonary fibrosis herbal remedy and commenced usage, i used the herbal supplement for only 9 weeks, all symptoms gradually faded away, herbs are truly gift from God. contact this herbal clinic via their email healthherbalclinic @ gmail. com

  6. I don’t wanna read the comments if I would had invented the dialysis machine or pace maker. All this blah about how dangerous some medicine or software is. The most dangerous software is installed in the human brain. Most people die because the smoke or drink too much or eat to much fat and sugar every day.
    While we have here the usual naysayers I did an self-experimentation today: https://hackaday.io/project/20913-sense-aid/log/57517-experiment-on-myself
    Mostly the last resource for a scientist. And it works!

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