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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
An overview of 8 new sensor based health tracking devices. Some predict that 400 million such products will enter the market by 2014.
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.
The Health eHeart Study will use smartphone apps, sensors and other devices to gather data on a wide variety of measures associated with cardiovascular health—including blood pressure, physical activity, diet and sleep habits—in real time.
A Fujitsu research lab has developed software that can accurately measure a subject’s pulse using the small digital cameras attached to smartphones and tablets.
The technology is based on the fact that the brightness of an individual’s face changes slightly as their heart beats, due to their blood flow. Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body, absorbs green light, so analyzing the change in color of parts of the face reveals their heart rate.
As most image sensors capture pixel information in red, blue and green, they have the ability to detect hemoglobin built in. Fujitsu’s technology keeps track of specific regions of the face over time to take pulse measurements.
Redundancy is arriving to commercial electrical circuits. A circuit, reminiscent of neural computation, enables backup circuitry to be engaged when main functioning breaks.