Self tracking for diabetes — more efficient, still complicated

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/the-diabetics-paradox/274507/

Diabetes patients have been self monitoring for years.  Advances in mHealth have made the process more efficient, though still complicated.

The iPhone can improve the functionality of glucometers; last month the FDA approved LifeScan’s VerioSync glucometer; the device automatically sends blood sugar levels to an iPhone via Bluetooth (fewer steps mean fewer mistakes and less anxiety). The iBGStar is a similar patient-centric tool.

The ultimate goal is a non-invasive glucose monitor, which will allow patients to check their blood levels without drawing blood. We aren’t there yet.  When such devices can connect to automatic insulin pumps, which adminster insulin into a patient’s bloodstream subcutaneously through an open line rather than an injection, some of the hassle and stigma of diabetes may be lessened.

Implantable microchip could be used to battle obesity

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21852062

The microchips were designed by Imperial College London professors Chris Toumazou and Sir Stephen Bloom.  They will soon be tested in a series of animal trials which could determine whether or not they are a good alternative to weight loss surgery.

The intelligent implantable modulators are only a few millimeters wide and will attach to the vagus nerve in the abdomen’s peritoneal cavity using cuff electrodes. The vagus nerve serves as the primary communicator between the brain and the digestive tract.  Once attached, the chip would be able to read electrical and chemical signals indicating appetite. It would then respond by sending a signal of its own to the brain reducing or halting the urge to eat.

Bats use of sonar applied in medical ultrasound machines

http://news.discovery.com/tech/innovations-inspired-by-animals-130325.htm

Bat sonar has long had an edge over man-made sonar and ultrasound devices, but scientists are working to decrease that gap. Nathan Intrator of Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, in collaboration with Brown University’s Jim Simmons, created mathematical models that improve our understanding of the ultrasound process.

“Animals explore pings with multiple filters or receptive fields, and we have demonstrated that exploring each ping in multiple ways can lead to higher accuracy,” Intrator said. “By understanding sonar animals, we can create a new family of ultrasound systems that will be able to explore our bodies with more accurate medical imaging.”

MIT’s Boyden wins European prize for Optogenetics research

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/31/health/boyden-brain-map/

Ed Boyden at MIT pioneered Optogenetics–using light to manipulate the brain.  ApplySci described MIT’s latest Optogenetics chip in our post of 12/4/12. Today, at least 1,000 neuroscience groups worldwide are using Optogenetics to study the brain.  Professor Boyden compares his work to that of a philosopher and is a recipient of the 2013 Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize.  Being able to turn individual cells on and off could be powerful in finding therapies for brain disorders.

Life Science VCs cautious about digital health

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidshaywitz/2013/03/28/life-science-vcs-definitively-indefinite-about-digital-health/commentId=comment_blogAndPostId/blog/comment/1534-1894-625

While the digital health sector is booming, life science VCs have hesitated, fearing a potential bubble and onerous government regulation.

Many of the earliest investors in digital health have been tech investors such as Vinod Khosla, who feels that “mobile devices, big data, and artificial intelligence will disrupt healthcare.”

Sensor detects swallowing problems in stroke patients

http://www.futurity.org/health-medicine/stick-on-sensor-detects-trouble-swallowing/

 A small, external sensor developed at the University of Pittsburgh records how a person swallows and could result in more efficient and less invasive testing for stroke patients.

Dysphagia can have dire consequences like malnutrition, dehydration, pneumonia, and even death. Current evaluation and monitoring methods are often cumbersome and not as effective as they need to be.

EPSRC funds 15 creative healthcare engineering projects

http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2013/Pages/enghealthcare.aspx

The EPSRC is funding technologies in three health areas:

1. Medical Imaging.  Projects include technology which could:

-lead to better diagnosis and treatment for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, depression, dementia as well as breast cancers and osteoporosis

-reduce risks during brain surgery by creating ultrasound devices in needles

-improve therapies for brain injured patients and help severely disabled people interact with the world around them

2. Acute Treatment Technology.  Projects include:

-a multiphoton scanner and a multiphoton endoscope to collect images of tissue at depth and sub-cellular level, allowing immediate diagnosis during surgery

-ultrasonic bone-penetrating needles to deliver drugs and obtain biopsies in bone

-laser spectroscopy to quickly analyze tissue in cancer patient

-a pulsed laser system to restore tooth enamel

3. Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation.  Projects aim to:

-improve prosthetics, hearing aids, and develop a wearable material to support healing muscles or create an exoskeleton.

Study shows babies, children and adults learn in their sleep

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130226081155.htm

Sleep helps us to learn. It may just be too hard for a brain to take in the flood of new experiences and make sense of them at the same time. Instead, our brains look at the world for a while and then shut out new input and sort through what they have seen.

Both children and adults who had more slow-wave sleep–an especially deep, dreamless kind of sleep–learned better.

Implantable chip analyzes blood and sends data to doctors

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-03/20/implantable-chip-doctor

A multidisciplinary Swiss team has developed a tiny, implantable device that instantly analyses the blood before wirelessly sending the data to a doctor.

The device can be used for monitoring general health, but the team also sees immediate applications in monitoring the efficacy of treatments such as chemotherapy in order to tailor drug delivery to a patient’s unique needs.