Innovation Future Specialist
This presents a set of innovative ideas to defeat current and future diseases caused by infections from viruses and bacteria. It has been developed in response to the current pandemic arising from another variant of the corona-virus (Covid 19). It would be unwise to assume this will be our last major challenge caused by viral or bacterial infection, and so we should take steps to develop innovative short and long term solutions.
The primary purpose of the following ideas, at this stage, is to stimulate you to come up with more ideas, improve on these ideas, develop prototypes for evaluation, and implement solutions.
This advice is given freely and without warranty of any kind. You may circulate this information freely and adapt it to your needs. It is best to share a link to this page, as multiple additions and revisions are anticipated here.
This is not for use by the general public. It does not contain proven medical treatments, just ideas to inspire research, development and innovation. The public should only use proven treatments.
The following content is suitable for anyone interested in fighting the current disease and taking steps to be better prepared when future diseases arise. These ideas may be of interest to medical professionals and/or innovators. It does not go into detail about the relevant biological processes, but it does provide potentially useful out of the box thinking for medical professionals. Conventional medical practices will probably find a vaccine, and develop useful tests (to detect the presence of an infection and antibodies indicating a prior infection) - however this is a slow process, and innovations might be able to speed this up. It is hoped that some of the following ideas might inspire medical professionals, innovators, and those involved in policy formulation, strategy design and implementation.
If you require elaboration or extra ideas for a specific aspect then please ask.
You can create your own ideas with this tool: My Ideas
Here are the ideas so far [more might follow]. Note that these are raw unevaluated and untested ideas. The primary purpose at this stage is to stimulate you to come up with ideas, improve on ideas, develop prototypes for evaluation, and implement solutions.
We know that when data is digitised great things can happen! Just look at all the great achievements in the IT and communications sector. Now imagine you could digitise medical measurement data - we can and already do. We have devices that measure blood pressure, heart beat and oxygen levels, and thanks to an XPRIZE challenge we have sophisticated devices that were inspired by the Star Trek Tricorder. What we urgently need now is a low cost device that can digitise key medical parameters and a system that is able to determine if you have an infection or disease. In particular, right now, we need a system that can tell you in real-time (within seconds) whether you have been infected by the covid19 virus. This would allow regular daily testing of many people and provide a key tool for real-time pandemic monitoring and control strategies.
We need something like a "Rapid XPRIZE" challenge to inspire the development of such a device - within weeks. These timescales are audacious but they are possible (for example see the rapid development of an alternative ventilator technology in the UK).
There are many potential approaches to achieve this. Here is one idea that may inspire potential innovators:
» Blow into the device
» Device digitises a molecular spectrum
» Data set uploaded to a server
» Real-time diagnosis returned
A device digitises measurements taken from the breath a person exhales (or perhaps a urine or pin-prick blood sample). The device is designed to have general purpose use so that it can detect viral and bacterial infections, and other diseases (e.g. cancer). So rather than the device having sensor materials that only detect specific biochemical markers (molecules) we want a device that provides a broader snapshot of the biochemistry of a person.
The device digitises a broad range of molecules detected in the sample. It doesn't necessarily need to digitise every molecular type, just a sufficient number of types for the following system to be successful. This data set is then uploaded in real-time to a secure Internet service, which analyses the data in real-time and returns a (probable) diagnosis. The most promising option to achieve this is probably an artificial intelligence system that has been trained to recognise different infections and diseases based on molecular data sets for each disease.
There are various potential approaches that could be deployed for the technology of the medical digitiser: spectroscopic analysis; mass spectroscopy (a low cost, portable, innovation); quantum technologies; lasers; etc. For example, a combination of infrared spectroscopy and AI (and microscopy) has shown promising signs for identifying individual cancer cells in real-time during brain surgery! A similar approach may be able to detect the presence of various diseases, just by smelling your breath.
At global and national level, we probably need an automated and integrated real-time system for the following:
» Impact prediction
» Policy and strategy selection
» Control, and
The above intelligent system uses real-time data and modelling algorithms (possibly using AI) to predict potential outcomes. Based on this an intelligent strategy selection tool then recommends an appropriate policy and strategy. The controller selects a given policy and strategy and the automated control and communications system activates appropriate control measures and disseminates information.
» Air filter mask with neutralising solution. This could be 3D printed. Diagram shown below. Air outlet valve (top left, magenta) and inlet valve (below). An internal pipe goes to bottom of the container, which contains an array of small holes for air to bubble through the neutralising solution. Face mask part shown on the right. Neutralising solution may differ for different tasks (e.g. neutralise viruses, bacteria, and/or absorb air pollution particulates). A cap at the top allows solutions to be added and removed.
» Prevention: Use a safe chemical to lock onto receptors on the surface of lung cells to prevent virus penetration. Probably deployed using inhaler type devices, or the device shown above.
» Policies to deter environments that promote the evolution of new viruses (e.g. reducing the contact between people and animals known to be involved in viral development).
» Rapid DIY approaches for clothing that offers some level of protection (e.g. assemble from polythene bags using scissors and duck tape).
» Trigger premature ejection of the viral genome outside of host cells; so that the virion does not get to infect a cell.
» Trigger viral process using fake cells: cell membranes (which contain appropriate receptors that the virus latches onto). Perhaps (microscopic) oil droplets or water droplets coated with the key chemicals.
» Use a chemical compound that latches on to the viral receptor mechanism - preventing cell penetration.
» Smother the virus with a safe substance that prevents the virus penetrating a cell (e.g. vegetable oil?).
» Cover virus in markers/antigens that immediately flag it up to the immune system; perhaps using something our immune systems will quickly identify (e.g. markers for something we have typically been exposed to it before).
» The above triggers and prevention mechanisms might be deployed within an (indoor) air cleansing system, an innovative mask, or delivered into the lungs via an inhaler.
» Expose the virus to unfavourable conditions (e.g. pH, temperature, humidity, ionisation, electric arc, UV, microwaves, alcohol, oxidation/reduction agents, oil, detergent, or chemicals). [What is most effective and practical for a safe environment?]
» Air cleansing tech: Innovations for indoor air purifiers and masks.
» Air cleansing tech: Innovative (virus) particle detection and destruction (e.g. via laser).
» Air cleansing tech: Innovative use of microwaves, electric arcs (including ozone generation), UV, etc.
» Air cleansing tech: Innovative application of existing air pollution filtering to this context, e.g. electrostatic precipitation of particles (virus), and spraying the air (in the device) with appropriate [and safe] reagents.
» Air cleansing tech: High speed vortex technology might not remove small viruses but it might force them against a surface that degrades them (chemicals, receptor blockers) or adsorbs them (sticky surface - chemically or electrostatically).
» How long does the virus last? What affects the degradation rate? Accelerate degradation.
» Can we slow the viral life-cycle? What factors govern the speed of viral processes?
» Use robotic avatars to avoid people-people contact.
» Create electrostatic surfaces that viruses stick to. Similar to the rubber belt in a Van de Graaff generator. The moving charged surface attracts particles (including viruses). The belt then moves into a trough where the (charge and) viruses are removed. Useful for indoor settings, e.g. hospital, shops, transport vehicles and hubs.
» Hand sanitiser gel that changes from transparent to a vivid colour with time (e.g. exposure to air / moisture). This reminds people to wash their hands again. It also shows which surfaces have potentially been contaminated - where people have been touching things - and so these surface also need cleaning.
Minimising future outbreaks.
» Prevent close animal-human proximity, for animals and environments thought to cause viral evolution and the start of outbreaks.
» Change traditional transport and working arrangements: work from home (or small local hubs); and use robotic avatars for "manual labour" type jobs. Make this the new norm. Helps stop the spread of future infections, reduces environmental impact, and improves air quality.
» Deter international travel - use the Internet instead. Add a tax to fund the new way of working, and the development of health and logistics services required for future outbreaks.
» Effective global collaboration: research, real-time data sharing systems, policies, strategies, logistics, intelligent systems, products, standards, tests, treatment, and real-time monitoring and alert systems.
» Robotic / avatar deliveries and automated shops to reduce people-people contact.
» Proactive policies and strategies, developed and tested in advance. Resilient and widely distributed systems, able respond and scale up rapidly, and near the point of need.
» Clean zones: only allow people entry into these zones if they have been tested and are clear of the virus and/or people that have been vaccinated / have immunity. Official pass required to enter the zone. Essential workers may be allowed in too - but ideally they should be vaccinated. For example, a clean zone might be a town, city, part of an urban area, or specific site.
» We probably need a list of essential workers (by job function) to provide the above passes; and a mechanism to allocate them.
» A strategy to re-introduce people into society and clean zone could be useful. Effective monitoring would probably be a key part of that.
» Monitoring and control of traditional points of high people density could be useful, such as transport hubs and public transport vehicles. Depending on the strategy in force, people might require a clean pass, a mask, or just keep their distance from others.
» Effective preparation requires the design and testing of appropriate policies, regulations, procedures, strategies and systems.
» Real-time monitoring sensors that can detect the presence (and an indication of concentration) of a virus. (Using digital networked systems, along with automated modelling predictions and intelligent alerts of potential hot-spots.)
» Monitoring -> Modelling -> Strategy Selection and Activation (levels red, amber and green).
» List key of locations and contacts (e.g. transport hubs, logistics facilities, key manufacturers and service providers and standby organisations, utilities, critical communications, databases and IT systems).
» Integrated communication and data systems are important for effective and efficient command, control and communications. Typically, each organisation (and department) has its own (incompatible) systems and inter-organisational coordination relies on poorly informed chiefs liaising with each other in an inefficient manner. There is an opportunity to streamline inter-organisational communications and data sharing; and to introduce automation and intelligent recommendations (perhaps via AI). This requires shared data in a common format.
» Strategy preparation would benefit from: advanced notice of policy and strategy to be implemented (for the public and relevant authorities); start and estimated end (or review) date; guidance, help and support; and systems to report the estimated impact.
» Need common (and open) standards for everything! For example, it was reported that tests could not be scaled up because an organisation was waiting for a specific cassette that fits their testing devices. If one common standard is adopted globally then such bottlenecks are removed, and all relevant manufacturers can contribute quickly to the common good (e.g. sufficient testing equipment).
» Intelligent systems (e.g. AI and lab robotics) to accelerate research: detailed modelling of the chemistry and processes taking place in viruses, bacteria, human cells and immune systems. Modelling of the whole entity, not just isolated parts.
Potentially worthy XPRIZE challenges: home health digitiser; masks; indoor air cleansing; and intelligent (AI) systems.
» Development of an innovative device that can be used at home to digitise relevant human parameters that aid in the detection of infections. For example, the device might take input from swabs, pin prick blood samples, urine, or the odour in exhaled air. The molecular composition would then be digitised and sent to a secure intelligent (AI) server that diagnoses the infection status - with a real-time response (in seconds).
» Development of a long-life re-usable face mask. For example, removable washable filters (or very cheap replaceable filters), and/or electrostatic precipitator. (And perhaps masks that can be rapidly 3D printed by many people / organisations.)
» Indoor air cleaning technology that removes general particulates [discussed previously in the XPRIZE community] and bacteria and viruses.
» Prevent virions from leaving the host cell. For example, to leave the plasma membrane there needs to be cleavage of sialic acid residue from the glycoproteins and glycolipids. Neuraminidase removes these sialic acids. Without this process the viral particle would not be released.
» Use AI for automated "vaccine" [antigen] design of the molecular structure and create in an automated process. [3D printing of proteins, etc?]
» Develop policies and strategies.
» Policy: lockdown of urban hot-spots.
» Policy: testing of people approaching a border.
» Policy: support open systems, and public data.
» Develop monitoring, reporting and alert systems.
» Monitor transport hubs and public transport vehicles.
» Air monitoring systems for viruses (and bacteria).
» Improve logistics, and proactive preparation times.
» Block virus mechanisms, e.g. locking onto receptors.
» Trigger premature ejection of viral payload, outside host.
» Degrade and destroy virus.
» Develop vaccines, anti-virals and innovative approaches to stop any virus.
» RAPID AUTOMATED PROCESSES:
» Digital / AI analysis and recognition of virus.
» Digital / AI modelling of biochemistry - cell, virus, bacteria.
» Digital / automated creation of treatments (e.g. vaccine) ... and automated testing of treatment efficacy and safety.
» Could bacteria destroy the virus?
» Protective equipment - low cost, widely distributed, rapid deployment solutions.
» Protective clothing - innovative clothing designs to reduce public transmission rates.
» Self testing kits (via Internet) and global reporting - low cost, widely distributed, rapid deployment solutions.
» Air cleaning technology - extracting or neutralising viruses and bacteria (and particulates).
» Response rates are too slow (detection, reporting & alerting, strategy implementation, and logistics).
» Viruses keep mutating => change environmental conditions that currently favour the creation of new viruses (e.g. prevent relevant animal-human contact).
» Covid-19 will not be the last major viral disease - get smarter and faster (strategies and systems).
» Invest in automated systems for: research, monitoring, prevention, and reaction. => faster cures, and fewer deaths.
» Innovative medical treatments.
» Policy: specify standby storage requirements (capacity, stock and geographic distribution) for critical equipment and minimum manufacturing rates required when a response strategy is activated. Similarly, for critical people and support services.
» Innovative mask: small channels contain filaments or laser beams that destroy viruses (and bacteria) by a rapid burst of heat. Masks might just activate the heating mechanism when particles are detected in the channels (conserving energy for a battery powered device). Masks might clean air inhaled and exhaled.
» Innovative mask covers virus with a substance that degrades or destroys them; or prevents them locking onto cellular receptors; or triggers premature ejection of nucleic contents Outside the host - thus potentially stopping infection.
» Nanoscopic filters for masks (e.g. charcoal, graphene, or materials created based on processes used in the semiconductor fabrication industry). Low cost, efficacy, and rapid manufacture are desirable features.
» Consider electrostatic filters, and other particulate filtering used in an air pollution context.
» Sophisticated computer systems for modelling, prediction, graphical display and intelligent strategy selection recommendations.
» Mask with micro-electric arcs to zap viral particles [and perhaps generate ozone to oxidise and destroy the virus -- though must be careful not to expose users to an unsafe level of ozone!]
» Fake cellular receptors that the virus latches onto, instead of infecting a host. For use in masks, air cleaning technology, and within the body [it must be a safe substance of course].
» Viral degradation and destruction by other means? e.g. UV, focused ultrasound, acid, alkali, oxidising/reducing agents, ionisation, ...
» Could [safe] bacteria be used to neutralise viruses?
» How can we slow or stop each process in the viral life cycle?
» What if we had a computer that could simulate human cells and viruses?
» How could AI help?
» How do we improve data sharing and collaboration?
» Can we develop a low cost, portable, early warning system for every member of the public?
» How can we automate and accelerate the development and testing of vaccines, and other treatments?
» How do we model and predict the spread of the disease so as to give early warning to the next potential hot spots (see hot spot policies and strategies).
» How can we develop (generic) resistance to all viruses (and bad bacteria)?
» If impact modelling results were made available to the public, could that encourage greater co-operation and adherence to policies.
» Can we develop technology that spots individual particles (virus and bacteria) and destroys them? (e.g. laser scanning perhaps with some spectroscopy and destruction by micro-laser beam). (Probably encased in an air cleaning device, so as to shield beams from people.)
» Microscopy and spectroscopy (and AI) to identify virus (and bacteria) types - deployed in medical research, monitoring and cleansing contexts.
» Concentrate air flows (in innovative mask and air cleansing technologies) so that the majority of viral (and bacterial) particles are forced into contact with neutralising / filtering technologies.
» Sticky surfaces for microscopic particles (e.g. electrostatic, or chemical bonding).
» Fine mist to precipitate out viral (and bacterial) particles.
» Citizen science
» ... and apps (e.g. https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1263 )
» Coat virus in microscopic layer of [safe] oil, or other substances, to disable receptor mechanism [?] [innovative mask or air cleansing tech] - micro-spray, or bubble air through container of oil (etc.)
» Policy: testing at ports; and a new Biological Precautions Tax for international transport of people to support relevant strategies and systems.
» High speed vortex to capture particles.
» Dry ice smoke/mist to adsorb particles. [perhaps with added reagents]
» Adjust humidity and temperature to unfavourable values for the virus [?]
» Bubble air through hot/cold water/solution to degrade virus.
» Ionised particles [?]
» More use of robotics to reduce people-people contact.
» Death of the city: Should we be preventing growing populations in cities, and moving to more dispersed ways of living (sub-urban and rural)?
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