Pentagon seeks protective bubble for Ebola patients
To avoid problems caused by faulty biohazard suits used in tropical climates, the Pentagon is rushing to develop by January a portable "Care Cube" that would envelope patients infected with the Ebola virus while allowing caregivers to work without wearing the bulky suits, according to a newly released military document.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to spur the development of the cube, which it calls a "long-term version of the present bubble isolation devices used to transport patients in airplanes to the west."
"Unlike current devices, the Care Cube is meant to provide for a patient's needs for up to 10 days, including the gelling, disinfection and containment of all waste," said the DARPA document, which was filed to justify the hiring of San Francisco-based Otherlab, the Care Cube's developer, without going through an official bidding process.
The cube, DARPA says, "contains low-cost isolation gloves to allow family and caregivers to assist and even hug the patient. It provides for ventilation with a negative pressure environment, keeping disinfected family members in homes or quarantine areas of medical care facilities safe."
So far, at least 15,000 people have contracted Ebola in West Africa this year and about 5,400 have died. "There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined," DARPA says.
Otherlab, DARPA says, "has developed unique expertise in inflatable structures as a contractor in the DARPA Maximum Mobility and Manipulation Program," which is designing inflatable robotic technologies for use in "orthotics, medical device and protective clothing industries." The contract, issued last week, will pay Otherlab $493,000 for a prototype that DARPA wants to field in December and have test and evaluation results for in January.
Henrik Bennetsen, Otherlab's chief operations officer, declined to comment on the company's contract with DARPA.
By Ray Locker
Article tiré de USA today (États-Unis)
Article relayé par A.L.