BP cuff + accelerometer detect early preeclampsia

Purdue’s Craig Goergen has developed a sensor-based supine pressor test to detect preeclampsia.

The technology measures and notes the difference between a pregnant woman’s diastolic blood pressure while in two different positions, using a BP wrist cuff and accelerometer on the stomach.

The two devices are connected to an app which guides the wearer, and ensures that the readings are taken in correct positions. Diastolic pressure differences are the definitive way to detect preecamplsia, which according to the researchers, can be seen and treated earlier with the simple system.

Click to view Purdue video


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“Placenta on a chip” to study pre-term birth

Penn researchers have developed a “placenta-on-a-chip” to model the transport of nutrients across the placental barrier.  It will be used in studies to identify causes of  and prevention methods for dangerous preterm birth. (Lungs, intestines, and eyes “on chips” are similarly being used for research.)

The underlying mechanisms of pre-term birth studies currently rely on experimenting with intact, living human placentae.  This method is limited by complexity, the scarcity of samples, and the limited time the tissue is viable.

The device contains two layers of human cells that model the interface between mother and fetus. Microfluidic channels on both sides allow the study of how molecules are transported through, or are blocked by, that interface.


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AI robot learns ward procedures, advises nurses

Julie Shah and MIT CSAIL  colleagues have developed a robot to assist labor nurses.  The AI driven assistant learns how the unit works from people, and is then able to make care recommendations, including scheduling and patient movement.

Labor nurses attempt to predict the arrival and length of labor, and which patients will require a C-section.  A smart robot, who has observed thousands of these decisions, could be a useful resource.  Whether a machine can replace human judgment in stressful situations must still be proven.

Click to view CSAIL video

Wireless monitor tracks contractions, fetal heart rate

TrueLabor is a wireless monitor that measures uterine contractions and fetal heart rate throughout all stages of pregnancy and labor.  It’s creator, OB-Tools, claims that it can distinguish between true and false contractions, and is not affected by movement.

A uterine monitor measures electrical activity via surface  EMG electrodes attached to the abdomen.  An algorithm generates a wave pattern that graphically demonstrates the presence, frequency, and intensity of contractions, while filtering excess noise.

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Smartphone fluid sensors to detect pregnancy, STDs, diabetes

Kort Bremer and Bernhard Roth at the Hanover Centre for Optical Technologies are developing lab-on-a-chip devices for smartphones to monitor blood, urine, saliva, sweat or breath.  This could enable phone based detection and monitoring of pregnancy, STDs, or diabetes, among other applications.

The surface plasmon resonance sensors  detect biomolecular interactions when polarized light strikes an electrically conducting surface at the interface between two media,

Smartphone blood test detects HIV, Syphilis

Columbia bioengineering professor Samuel K. Sia has developed a cheap smartphone dongle that can detect three infectious disease markers from a finger prick of blood in 15 minutes. The device replicates mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab based blood test.  It performs an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay without requiring stored energy, as power is drawn from the phone. Its triplexed immunoassay — HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and non-treponemal antibody for active syphilis infection — is not currently available in a single test format.

This could be a breakthrough for disease prevention in the developing world.  A recent study details 96 patients in Rwanda who tested whole blood obtained via a finger prick, with the goal of preventing mother to child disease transmission.

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Phone pulse oximeter detects preeclampsia, pneumonia

Christian Petersen and colleagues at the University of British Columbia have developed a low cost smartphone pulse oximeter.  Its light sensor attaches to a user’s fingertip to measure blood oxygen levels. Software analyzes and simply displays the data on a phone, tablet or computer.

The phone oximeter can measure heart and respiration rates, and be used in conjunction with other monitoring equipment, including blood pressure cuffs.

As it has been designed primarily to measure blood oxygen levels, researchers claim that the device and software could detect early signs of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women and diagnose pneumonia in young children.

Human body simulation for health research

The Virtual Physiological Human project is a computer simulated replica of the human body that is being created to test drugs and treatments.  It will allow physicians to model the mechanical, physical and biochemical functions of the body as a single complex system rather than as a collection of organs.  The goal is to offer personalized treatment of disease.

The University of Sheffield is significantly contributing to the project:

Dr Paul Morris is creating personalized “virtual arteries” using images of a patient’s heart, which can accurately predict how effective an operation, such as the introduction of a stent, might be.

Professor Jim Wild believes that computer models of a patient’s lungs could allow doctors to detect signs of lung diseases such as emphysema much earlier.

Dr Xinshan Li  is researching the impact of pregnancy on women’s pelvic floor muscles.   “It’s positioned as a predictive tool,” she said. “The idea is to get the geometry of your pelvic floor either during pregnancy or before you become pregnant, and then run simulations of the birth process and see how likely it is that the muscle will be damaged. If the risk is high, then there are certain interventions we can do during the birth process to mitigate the risk.”

Algorithm determines embryo quality in IVF procedures

http://pc2013.afeka.ac.il/files/assets/basic-html/page238.html

Researchers from Tel Aviv’s Afeka College of Engineering and Sourasky Medical Center have developed software to find the best embryos for IVF procedures.  Their algorithm uses Matlab to process microscopic pictures to choose the highest quality fertilized egg.

Today embryologists use a microscope to find the best embryos, which five days later are inserted into the uterus. “The examination done now depends on the embryologist and isn’t precise. The new test increases the potential for choosing as healthy an embryo as possible,” said lead researcher Danai Menuhin.