Bioengineering a Better Treatment
David Walsh, PhD, Bioengineering, 2016—Every two months, Northeastern bioengineering graduate student David Walsh’s 91-year-old grandmother goes to the doctor to receive a drug injection into her eyes. She has wet age-related macular degeneration. There is no cure, only this invasive, recurring treatment.
To solve this problem, Walsh is developing a device that will provide valuable feedback to patients such as his grandmother and their clinicians.
As a member of associate professor of chemical engineering Shashi Murthy’s lab, Walsh helps design microfluidic devices that use a single drop of blood or other bodily fluid to diagnose a range of diseases. In work recently reported in the journal Lab On a Chip, Walsh and his colleagues have created a device that monitors the efficacy of treatments for two eye diseases: age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
The team collaborated with clinicians at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, North Carolina, to obtain fluid samples with which to test the device. It passed with soaring colors, distinguishing not only between patients with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy and patients with other diseases, but also between patients who have active and inactive forms of either of these two eye diseases.
Separately, Walsh also recently earned a NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide grant to perform related ocular diagnostic research at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He will begin that work in September 2014.