December 2, 2022
ATS Northwest June 2022
James Arruda's EEG device sends optical pulse signals to a patient's eyes and then measures brain activity responses.
ATS Northwest June 2022
Organizers of the 10th annual Pensacon, a three-day comic book and pop culture convention held in Pensacola featuring some 100 celebrities and 30 entertainment programs, say the event attracted nearly 35,000 guests. Pensacon spokesman Julio Diaz says the event also produced more than 2,000 local hotel room night stays by guests, vendors, agents, celebrities and staff.

Photo: John Blackie/USA Today Network

Northwest Florida Roundup

University of West Florida psychology professor James Arruda develops early Alzheimer's disease detection device

James Arruda's EEG device sends optical pulse signals to a patient's eyes then measures brain activity responses.

Carlton Proctor | 6/30/2022

INNOVATION

Early Alzheimer’s Detection

University of West Florida psychology professor James Arruda is playing a key role in the development of a device that could become an important breakthrough in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

Arruda recently signed a consulting and licensing agreement with California-based Biopac Systems, to collaborate on the development of an electroencephalographic testing device, or EEG.

“This innovative work being conducted by Dr. Arruda may have a major impact on the ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier and more easily,” says Biopac CEO Frazer Findlay. Arruda says the EEG device uses a series of brief optical pulse signals to a patient’s eyes. The device then measures brain activity responses and, based on those responses, is capable of detecting the early neuropathological changes associated with Alzheimer’s dementia.

“The early detection of Alzheimer’s dementia may allow current and future treatments to mitigate or even reverse the neurobehavioral effects of the disease, if caught early enough,” says Arruda.

Arruda, an Alzheimer’s disease researcher for more than a decade, says he envisions Biopac’s EEG test becoming a routine, annual cognitive test for patients over age 60.

Biopac is in the process of applying for a U.S. patent, and Arruda says the company expects to submit the application for approval later this year. More research and development will be needed before the device could seek federal approval for clinical use.

AVIATION

  • ST Engineering’s aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at Pensacola International Airport has crossed the 200-employee threshold at its first hangar, which was completed in 2018. The number marks the halfway point for ST Engineering to reach 400 jobs as part of an incentives deal. A second hangar is under construction as part of a $210-million project to expand the facility into four hangars and office space that, when complete, city officials say will employ at least 1,725 aviation workers by 2028.

CONSTRUCTION

  • The much-delayed Washington Square hotel project in downtown Tallahassee has been given a two-year extension by city commissioners. The project’s original completion deadline was March 2022, but so far construction on the hotel’s superstructure has yet to take place. In granting the extension to developer Ken McDermott, city commissioners mandated the developer must provide proof of financing to the city by Sept. 1 and that construction will begin by the same date.
  • Gulf Breeze-based Innis free Hotels is building another hotel on Pensacola Beach, marking the third large hotel development announced in recent months by the company. The 215-room, $85-million project will be located on the site of the former Clarion Suites Resort. The new hotel brand has yet to be named, but the project will include energy-efficient mechanical systems, LED lighting and local products, says Innisfree spokeswoman Brittney Barnett.

HOUSING

  • The Bay County city of Callaway, hit hard by Hurricane Michael in 2018, has approved two development orders that will bring hundreds of new homes to the community just east of Panama City. The Category 5 storm damaged or destroyed thousands of homes in the area and caused billions of dollars of damage to nearby Tyndall Air Force Base. Ed Cook, Callaway city manager, says developers have already started construction on the 276-unit Callaway Bayou Townhomes and on the initial phase of the 341 single-family homes in the Alexandra Park subdivision.
  • St. Joe Co. has begun development of a large-scale, multi-phase housing development in the Ward Creek Community in Bay County. St. Joe’s plans call for development of 1,600 total properties, split between single-family homes and townhomes. St. Joe spokesman Mike Kerrigan says 714 home sites are already under construction.

HOSPITALITY

  • The 111-room Hilton Garden Inn on Miramar Beach in south Walton County has been sold to Chatham Lodging Trust of West Palm Beach for $31 million.
  • The six-story, 100- room Best Western Fort Walton Beachfront hotel as been sold to a South Carolina buyer for $23.6 million, the seller’s listing brokers Marcus & Millichap announced.

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