Our first product, now undergoing testing in preparation for FDA approval, is the self-contained blood irradiator (SCBI). This does not make the blood sterile: it inactivates T-leukocytes in order to prevent graft versus host disease. Stellarray is also experimenting to see if this system can be used to inactivate pathogens in blood platelet supplies. Current FDA guidelines limit storage of platelets to five days due to the risk of bacterial contamination. Our hope is to extend the shelf life and thereby increase platelet supplies by killing pathogens in platelet bags. Variations of SCBI could be used for many other applications such as materials processing, vaccine research and seed termination.
These will be larger systems designed for continuous processing of medical products, food and other items which require penetrating radiation for sterilization of pathogens. Medical products are preferably sterilized in their packages and penetrating radiation is a good alternative in many cases. Current product sterilization facilities use high-energy X-rays produced with megavolt electrical sources such as linear accelerators, or, more commonly, gamma rays from radioactive isotopes. These facilities require massive concrete walls for radiation shielding, making them costly and centralized. Conveyor belt sterilization systems using FPXS panels will use lower, safer energies, be largely self-shielding, reduce capital and operating costs by 90%, and bring sterilization close to the point of production. The savings in inventory costs to manufacturers could be large. Elimination of shipping costs could also make food sterilization economically more attractive than it is today.
Water and Wastewater Treatment
Stellarray is developing UV-C panels and UV-C pipes which will offer significant advantages over the medium pressure mercury lamps used in the radiation treatment of drinking water and effluent water streams. These include higher power efficiency, high power levels, tunable power, no mercury content, ease of maintenance and a high degree of scalability. An NSF project has supported UV-C source development and the application of our FPXS sources to the treatment of wastewater solid streams, where they show promise for the efficient treatment of both common contaminants and harder contaminants such as nematode eggs and estrogen compounds.
DAXS panels will be used primarily in imaging applications, especially medical imaging, where they will replace mechanical gantries with digital addressing of X-ray pixels for CT systems with no moving parts. We are working with the MD Anderson Cancer Center on <<digital tomosynthesis>> in an NIH-supported project to improve the accuracy of breast cancer screening and in another NIH project for <<four-dimensional CT>>, which will be used in applications including angiogenesis imaging. Later non-contact mammography systems will use alternating DAXS sources and electronic detectors. We are working with the UVa Medical Center in an NIH project for a small animal imaging system (“mouse CT”), an area of increasing importance due to growing needs for mouse models and the recent mapping of the mouse genome. Current CT systems are expensive and provide poor images of the cardiovascular system since the mouse heart rate is over 500 beats per minute. Our system will cost less and have no trouble keeping up with mice. DAXS panels will also be combined with flat panel detectors in portable CT systems for battlefield and emergency medicine, and in emerging markets.