Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Israel news photo: courtesy of BGU

Ben Gurion University of the Negev is collaborating with the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to create medical devices for children.

The new project combines the medical expertise of doctors at the medical center with the technical and engineering expertise of faculty at BGU in Be'er Sheva.

The initiative is aimed at improving health outcomes for children by tailoring device designs to meet the unique physiological differences and medical needs of children, according to Netta Cohen, head of BGN, the technology commercialization company of BGU.

"The pediatric sector of medical device development has been neglected throughout the years,” Cohen said. “Only a small fraction of medical research and development funding has been devoted to pediatric medicine.”

The development of pediatric devices lags years behind the development of adult devices, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA cited high costs as a major barrier for development of pediatric devices in reports to the U.S. Congress, along with the limited market and economic factors.

Children represent only 10 percent of the total medical market; as a result, insufficient resources have been channeled to the invention of dedicated surgical and medical devices for the pediatric population, according to BGU. When devices cannot be adapted, physicians often must resort to more invasive treatments or less effective therapies.

"Many devices used today to treat children are actually miniaturized adult devices that do not sufficiently address the clinical needs of children,” said Dr. Richard Azizkhan, chief surgeon, Lester W. Martin Chair of Pediatric Surgery CCH.

"The challenge with adapted devices is that they frequently are not the ideal solution, especially for very small and fragile infants. This collaboration is an opportunity to target new solutions and improve medical outcomes for children.”