Military Medicine

With clinical studies well under way, Gaia Medical Institute ™ moves farther towards the development of a rapid, non-invasive, point-of-care diagnostic tools.


Current News:

Gaia Continues US Army Clinical Studies:


Gaia continues clinical studies of the Hydration Status Monitor for the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Please visit Military Operational Medicine Research Program.

Gaia Joins Fight Against Ebola

Ebola Virus

Gaia Medical Institute ™ has joined the National Institutes of Health in the fight against Ebola. The objective is to develop a NEXT GEN screening test for early detection of Ebola and other emerging diseases.

Dr. Sarka Southern Nominated for Athena San Diego's Pinnacle Award in Life Sciences

Ebola Virus

Dr. Sarka Southern was nominated for the Athena San Diego Pinnacle Award in Life Sciences. This honor recognized extraordinary individuals, companies/organizations and educators who "personify Athena San Diego's mission of fostering the personal and professional growth of women through mentoring, education, recognition, and leadership training." Awards were presented to those who have played an exemplary role in the development and advancement of women within their organization or the San Diego community. For more information visit: Athena Pinnacle Awards

Updated: June 21, 2019

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Updated: June 21, 2019

Military Medicine Topics

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Hydration Status Monitoring

Facing A Public Health Issue

DesertOver 90 million people are expected to become dehydrated in the U.S. each year. The most common cause of dehydration is sweat loss during heavy physical labor or exercise. Other causes include fever, blood loss, burns, diarrhea, vomiting and side-effects of some medical drugs such as those used by cancer and diabetes patients. Children and the elderly become dehydrated faster and more severely than healthy adults. Low to moderate dehydration causes weakness and dizziness while severe dehydration is a life-threatening emergency. Untreated severe dehydration may result in heat illness, seizures, permanent brain damage and even death. When dehydration is recognized and treated promptly, the outlook is generally good. Currently, dehydration is diagnosed using a blood test performed in a hospital laboratory. Because there is no outpatient test for dehydration, many people are hospitalized unnecessarily for assumed dehydration, while others develop complications due to untreated dehydration because they could not get the hospital test. Moreover, the blood test cannot detect the type of dehydration that is caused by blood loss, burns, diarrhea, vomiting or diuretic pills. As a result, about 10 billion dollars are spent annually for unnecessary hospitalizations and avoidable complications related to dehydration. The people most at risk for dehydration are children and the elderly. In addition, dehydration is common during marathons, cycling events, soccer, football and basketball. Dehydration is also common in trauma patients with burns and blood loss (e.g. car accident victims) and patients with diabetes, kidney dialysis, cancer or Alzheimer's disease. Hydration monitoring is also crucial during the end-of-life care. In global healthcare and disaster response, dehydration is major issue during trauma triage, enteric epidemics, famine relief and in refugee camps.

Soldiers and Marines frequently become dehydrated when training or fighting in hot and mountainous environments such as Afghanistan because heat and high altitude increase the body's water loss. In Warfighters, preventing dehydration is critical because an aggressive enemy can exploit the loss of performance caused by dehydration, and threaten the mission and the Warfighter's life. There is an urgent need for new technology that could be used to monitor Warfighter's hydration level in the field. The new technology needs to be rapid, light weight and simple to operate.


The Technology

Molecular Dehydration Test

Responding to the need, Gaia Medical Institute ™ has developed a new patent-pending technology for monitoring hydration status based on molecular biomarkers in saliva. The biomarkers can be measured using a technically simple, noninvasive test. Currently we are performing clinical studies in collaboration with the University of California in San Diego (UCSD), the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) and the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC). The clinical studies will deliver a validated panel of saliva markers for the diagnostics of dehydration. These markers will be used to develop a commercial dehydration test in 3 to 5 years. The commercial test will be a simple hand-held device similar to the home pregnancy test. The test will be suitable for home or field use, and deliver results in minutes at a fraction of costs associated with the standard blood test. The test will be pain free because it would use saliva instead of blood. A rapid oral test for dehydration will be a key breakthrough in human hydration assessment because it will move testing from hospital to the field, and make frequent testing convenient and affordable. The oral dehydration test will help to protect Warfighters against dehydration during training and fighting in extreme environments. It will also improve the prevention and treatment of dehydration in children, the elderly, sports participants, patients with diabetes, kidney dialysis, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and during end-of-life care.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Facing A Public Health Issue

DesertTraumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of mortality in persons under 45 years old, and a leading cause of disability in all age groups. In civilians, TBI is caused by car crashes, falls, sports, assaults and it is emerging as a potential threat in civilian terrorism. In the military, blast TBI caused by improvised explosive devices is one of the most serious wounds currently suffered by U.S. combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even a mild TBI (mTBI, a concussion) can result in a severe neurocognitive impairment called post-concussional disorder (PCD). PCD develops in about 20% of mTBI patients within 3 to 12 months after the injury. PCD involves persistent memory loss, headaches, balance problems, hearing problems, lack of self-control, mood changes, ringing in the ears, problems sleeping and cognitive deficits. These problems impair employment, disrupt stable social relationships can isolate the individual to a narrow world of disability and reduced opportunity. Soldiers or athletes with mTBI injuries typically return to the field. This can lead to cumulative concussions that increase the risk of PCD. In soldiers, PCD severely interferes not only with performance in the field but also with the ability to live a normal life after deployment. Early diagnosis and treatment of mTBI injuries is critical to minimize physical and mental disability, co-morbidity, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. The main challenge in predicting PCD risk is the lack of a rapid test that could be used for routine monitoring of mTBI patients in point-of-care settings (POC). Currently, PCD diagnostics is based on neuropsychological tests. These tests are costly, time-consuming and do not discriminate between patients who will have spontaneous symptom resolution from those who will have persistent complaints.

The Technology

Molecular TBI Test

Responding to this need, our goal is to develop a rapid oral test suitable for monitoring mTBI patients in POC. The test will be based on Stress Response Profiling (SRP) biomarkers in saliva, a new patent pending technology developed by Gaia Medical. Currently we are performing a clinical study in collaboration with the Traumatic Brain Research Center at Pittsburgh University. The study will deliver a validated panel of biomarkers for detecting PCD risk. A commercial test will be developed in 3 to 5 years. The new test will be a simple hand-held device similar to the home pregnancy test and will utilize lateral-flow immunoassay technology. The test will be pain-free, affordable, and suitable for field use. Test results will indicate risk of PCD. This will be useful for deciding whether a TBI patient should start a treatment, or modify the current treatment because it is not working well. The proposed test has potential to significantly accelerate the delivery of treatment for mTBI by enabling rapid simple forecasting of PCD risk and individualized therapeutic monitoring.

Goal: Development of a Rapid In-Vitro Test for PTSD Diagnostics

PTSD Diagnostics

PTSD is one of the most serious and highly prevalent wounds suffered by U.S. warfighters that were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. 33-39% of individuals with a history of mTBI will develop PTSD. Approximately 17% of active duty and 25% of reserve military personnel meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD 3-6 months post-deployment. Among veterans, the prevalence of PTSD is nearly 20%.

PTSD is serious health disorder with significant costs to the individual and society. There is a major concern across VA and DoD healthcare regarding PTSD diagnostics and care. Currently, PTSD is diagnosed using examination by mental health professionals. The gold standard is the CAPS test. Many warfighters avoid getting tested because of stigma associated with mental health.

PTSD is serious health disorder with significant costs to the individual and society. There is a major concern across VA and DoD healthcare regarding PTSD diagnostics and care. Currently, PTSD is diagnosed using examination by mental health professionals. The gold standard is the CAPS test. Many warfighters avoid getting tested because of stigma associated with mental health.

Capability Gap: the lack of objective, rapid test for PTSD assessment in point-of-care settings (POC). The proposed rapid POC PTSD test will enable PTSD screening during routine health exams. This will facilitate early, objective detection, guide effective individualized treatment of PTSD, and provide objective metrics for return-to-duty decision.



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Where Medical Necessity Meets Innovation