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Sanmina on Cutting Edge of COVID-19 Detection Research

Sanmina Senior Engineer Robert Newberry has more than 30 patents in research and development to his credit in a distinguished career that has spanned 25 years and two countries.

He has been at the forefront of developing non-invasive methods to measure blood type, sepsis infection, insulin and glucose levels.

In late February something new came along that changed the course of the innovative groups he leads at Sanmina — the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Today, he’s spearheading research for a non-invasive device that could speed the detection process of possible COVID-19 infection. Sanmina has released a preprint paper, or one that has not been formally reviewed, and Newberry recently discussed his research.

If things go as hoped, Sanmina will produce a device that would be used like a blood-pressure monitor and could be used in a doctor’s office or emergency room. It would reveal indicators that could give health providers an early warning of possible viral infection within minutes. It would lessen patients’ possible exposure in settings where the virus might exist.

“We’re not looking at the antibodies, but we’re looking at the reaction of the different immune system components, the different organs, and our device allows us to do this, basically within five minutes,’’ said Newberry, a graduate of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. “So, this is the core mission of what we’re trying to accomplish, as well as trying to address the long-standing problem of patients going septic in the hospital.  Sepsis is the cause for about 50 percent of hospital deaths worldwide.

“It is an extremely severe problem and a lot of people have been studying this for quite some time. We’ve been doing research along this line. I am leading the research team. We have a number of patents that my team and I have been filing as we develop this technology.’’

Newberry said his teams have been “researching non-invasive optical sensing for the past several years, and it’s related to postdoc symmetry. We don’t use invasive techniques such as drawing blood. We monitor  data derived from a finger sensor  that produces signals to measure changes in circulation and other changing parameters.’’

Complex signals in the bloodstream, he said, reveal complex signals for detection and trends in a person.

“We’re working with … Dr. Evangelos J. Giamarellos-Bourboulis,” Newberry said. “He is the president of the European Septic Shock Society. We started a clinical trial to see if we could detect early sepsis, which you might be aware of is a form of an infection that goes out of control and makes organs dysfunctional. And so, we’ve been doing a lot of monitoring with our device in a clinical setting, and this was all going along just fine and then the pandemic hit.

“At that time, what we knew was that nitrous oxide, which is produced by the body, has three different synthetic forms, and one of those forms tends to amplify at a high rate prior to someone getting organ dysfunction beyond acceptance, which is sepsis. Our clinical data indicates that somewhere between two and six hours before a clinical diagnosis of sepsis, signals with our device can provide a pre-warning of sepsis. And this is fundamentally what our research is about.’’

Newberry’s long history of researching sepsis makes him an obvious candidate to explore COVID-19.

“In the worst case-patients with COVID-19, it leaves a pathway to sepsis,” he said. “So, when you hear about a patient with a severe case, normally they’ll go from the hospital ward to the ICU and they’re actually struggling with sepsis. In nearly every case this is what happens. The care providers in the hospitals are trying to fight this. In a fast-track study, we actually monitored known COVID cases in hospitals in Europe.

“We took a certain cohort of those patients and we were able to confirm, both with gold standard methods using the blood plasma and our sensor, that nitric oxide is greatly amplified prior to the severe condition of COVID-19. This is part of the results that have been summarized in the paper that you might have seen on the preprint. What we’re trying to discover is if we can identify three different sub-cohorts of COVID-19. We’ve already tested symptomatic patients that are hospitalized, but we’re trying to determine with our device whether we can tell if asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people are sick and provide an indication.’’

Sanmina is primarily a global contract manufacturer that builds products for other partners.

“We’ve been trying to get this technology to the next level of readiness so that a partner can deploy this solution,’’ Newberry said.

Newberry said he couldn’t offer a possible launch date for the device.

“I would say that our research that’s published is state of the art,’’ he said, “but I’m not able to comment about a timeframe.’’

Study: Local Housing Market Stronger than National Trends; Low Inventory a Concern

While Madison County continues to outpace the national residential real estate market, the inventory of available houses remains a concern, according to a recently released study.

The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors, in partnership with the University of Alabama-Huntsville College of Business,  released its real estate economics report, which compares the local housing market in Madison County to its national counterpart.

 “Huntsville and Madison County appear on so many Top 10 lists for several good reasons: great job opportunities, low cost of living, a diverse economy and entertainment culture, and responsible management by our elected officials,” said HAAR President Cindi Peters-Tanner. “As a result, our real estate market has out-performed national trends and it continues to be the best place in the nation to buy or sell a home.”

As a result of the local market’s success, inventory remains a concern.

According to the reports, Madison County held 6.4 months of housing supply at the end of 2015. Since then, that number has dropped to 1.8 months while, nationally, inventory has risen from 5.1 months to 5.9 months.

The report said local new construction will need to grow considerably to meet future demand.

Additional findings of the HAAR / UAH report include:

  • Home prices are rising locally and national at the same rate of 4.5 percent.
  • Heightened labor force participation and median household income have increased the number of local residents with the ability to afford a house.
  • Local population growth continues to outpace national growth.
  • New construction accounts for roughly one-quarter (26 percent) of all home sales, beating the national average of 21 percent.
  • Since 2015, the Madison County residential real estate market has led the national average in new home sales percentage and population growth rate. 

HAAR has partnered with the UAH College of Business to produce quarterly real estate economic reports to provide Realtors, their clients, public officials, community stakeholders, and the general public an up-to-date snapshot on the local housing market. This information helps our community anticipate positive or negative changes as we look ahead to new growth and the challenges it brings. 

For information, visit HAAR.realtor/real-estate-economics-reports

 

Apartments.com: Huntsville Ranked No. 5 Among America’s Top Affordable College Towns

The Rocket City found itself near the top of another list and this one concerns the area’s future workforce.
According to Apartments.com, the nation’s most visited apartment site, Huntsville is ranked No. 5 among the nation’s top affordable college towns.
A city with no shortage of southern charm and intellectual values, Huntsville’s local schools are among the best in the state. Students interested in attending the historic Alabama A&M University, the University of Alabama in Huntsville or Oakwood University are able to choose from more than 2,000 apartments at an average unit price of $826.
Apartments.com is sharing the top budget-friendly college cities ranked by average rent per unit and the amount of affordable housing options available based on a recent analysis from Apartments.com and parent company, CoStar Group.
The top four towns are:

1. Wichita, Kan.
Topping the list is a thriving cultural and economic hub full of energy and excitement. Students thinking of attending the flagship institution of Kansas’ biggest city – Wichita State University – have more than 1,115 rental options near campus with most of the popular dining, entertainment, and nightlife hotspots just a few miles down the road. With the average rent per unit at just $671, residents won’t have to break the bank. Faculty and other community members supporting the university can expect to pay 16% of their income on rent.

2. Tulsa, Okla.
With eight four-year colleges within 40 miles of Tulsa and nearly 3,000 apartment rentals available, students have a variety of options for not only where to attend school but also where to live. Less than three miles from Downtown Tulsa, the University of Tulsa is surrounded by a wide range of apartments, condos, and houses available for rent. With the average unit price at $694, students are able to find the perfect home at an affordable price with money left over for tuition, textbooks, and more.

3. Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, one of the least expensive metropolitan areas in the nation with residents spending just 18% of their income on rent, has been expanding in recent years. With the average rent per unit at just $756 and 1,533 rentals near Oklahoma State University, the neighborhoods that surround the campus are full of rental houses, apartments, and condos to fit any budget and within a short walk of the university.

4. Fargo, N.D.
The largest city in North Dakota ranks in the top four affordable college towns, with the average rent per unit averaging at $775 and residents spending 18% of income on rent. Students looking for somewhere unique and artistic with no shortage of things to do should consider North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, or Concordia College at Moorhead. With 1,720 rentals available near North Dakota State University, students looking to become part of the Thundering Herd will have plenty of options to find the perfect apartment.