Strong, elastic artificial “skin” mimics collagen structure

Jang Kyung-in, of the Rogers Research Group at the University of Illinois,  has developed artificial skin, intended for health monitoring,  that mimics the structure of collagen.  The strong and elastic platform is well suited for silicone-based electronic sensing systems.  It will attach to real skin like a band-aid.  Users can apply  and remove it multiple times without damage.

Jang  believes that the new “skin” also creates opportunities for tissue engineering and biomedical devices.   ApplySci described a related development in December.  Roozbeh Ghaffari’s pressure, moisture, heat and cold detecting artificial skin can revolutionize prosthetics, allowing a bionic hand’s fingers to stretch and move as real fingers would.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.  Early registration rate available until March 275h.

Google files patent for cancer targeting wearable

Following its patent application for a pill that “paints” cancer cells for scanner detection, Google has filed a new patent for a wearable to detect and destroy the painted cells.  It describes a Calico developed device that “can automatically modify or destroy one or more targets in the blood that have an adverse health effect”.  These could include proteins, enzymes, cells, hormones, or other molecules that may affect health when present in blood.

The wearable  can modify or destroy the cells by transmitting energy into blood vessels. This could be by radio frequency pulse, time-varying magnetic field, acoustic pulse, or infrared or visible light signal.  The energy provokes a physical or chemical change in the targets to fight illnesses, including cancer.

Google believes that the device could also help Parkinson’s patients, as certain proteins have been noted as a partial cause of the disease. If the wearable could destroy these proteins, disease progression might be slowed.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.  Early registration rate available until March 27th.

Small study shows Alzheimer’s drug significantly slows cognitive decline

A small study of an experimental Alzheimer’s  drug from Biogen Idec significantly slowed cognitive decline and reduced what is believed to be brain destroying plaque in early and mid stage patients.

The drug, Aducanumab, or BIIB037, was tested on 166 people, divided into five groups  Each of four groups received a different dose.  The fifth  received a placebo.  The Biogen treatment led to reductions in brain amyloid, according to interim data presented at a conference in Nice last week. The plaque reduction was more pronounced over time, and as the dose of the drug increased.

According to Biogen’s Chief Medical Officer, Alfred Sandrock:  “It marks the first time an experimental drug demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in amyloid plaque as well as a slowing of clinical impairment in patients with mild disease.  It’s a bigger treatment effect than we had hoped for.”

While promising, the drug has only been tested on 166 people and requires much larger and longer trials.  The personal, family, and societal devastation of Alzheimer’s disease is enormous,  and the promise of effective drugs and research has disappointed many.  ApplySci hopes that this study truly indicates a breakthrough.

Biogen will  soon begin enrolling patients in a large Phase III trial, the results of which could be used to seek approval of its drug.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.  Early registration rate available until March 27th.

Sensor probe to prevent hospital pressure ulcers

GE and the US Dept of Veterans Affairs have developed a multi sensor probe to detect the earliest signs of pressure ulcer formation.

The device combines computer vision with motion detection, thermal profiling, image classification, 3-D object reconstruction and vapor detection to identify patients at risk and improve treatment.

Hospitals generally advise caregivers to turn patients every two to four hours to prevent ulcers.   Last year ApplySci described Leaf, a sensor that automates and prioritizes turning schedules for large groups of patients.  Traditionally, when ulcers appear, healing is monitored manually by measuring and recording the dimensions of visible lesions.  The VA believes that  by combining physical inspection with  real-time monitoring, ulcers may be prevented from forming or advancing.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.  Early registration rate available until March 27th.

Robot helps build social skills in autistic kids

Milo by RoboKind is a humanoid robot designed to engage and build social skills in children with autism.  It is used with  the company’s Robots4Autism curriculum which includes conversation, social situation, and emotional understanding modules.

Milo is 2 feet tall, with a childlike voice and facial features.  Its arms move and facial expression change. Sensors gauge eye contact, which is often a problem for children with autism, and cameras and microphones record interactions.

Embedded software includes the Robots4Autism curriculum and components for reporting  interaction and progress. Children and therapists use tablets to interact with Milo.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.  Early registration rate available until March 27th.

Biosensor patch to manage obesity, diabetes

Mayo Clinic and Gentag have announced the joint development of wireless, disposable patch sensors to monitor and manage obesity and diabetes.  The wearables will communicate with smartphones via a closed-loop diabetes management system.   Other indicators monitored by Gentag patches include heart rate, temperature, hydration, sweat, blood sugar, lactic acid, electrolytes and other biomarkers.  It is unclear how many of these will be included in the Mayo/Gentag patch.  Gentag currently monitors glucose with patches that work with tiny, battery-free sensors implanted under the skin.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.  Early registration rate available until March 27th.

Smart watch strap enables customized monitoring

Pebble Time and Time Steel will incorporate a charging and data conductor, enabling the use of custom “smartstraps.”  This will empower the wearer to determine–and change–the type of monitoring he or she desires.

External companies will develop compatible straps with various health and fitness tracking capabilities. The Pebble could power the straps, or a second battery could be built into them.  A quick-release mechanism will allow easy changes,  and can automatically launch an app when a specific strap is attached.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences

Apple Watch issues put wearable accuracy in spotlight

This week the Wall Street Journal reported Apple’s announcement about its highly anticipated watch not featuring planned health monitoring features.  It is unclear if the glucose tracker ApplySci detailed this month will still be included.

Apple Watch was envisioned as a device  full of sensors that could measure heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure and more.  After testing, many of these sensors performed erratically.  The skin conductivity feature did not work on dry skin or hairy arms, and results varied depending on how tight the watch was worn on the wrist.

This is, actually, great news.  There are many “health” monitors on the market, making claims of accuracy that may or may not be substantiated.  Crowdfunding sites are filled with toys and gadgets that promise the world, and occasionally deliver.  May Apple’s decision not to release its health monitoring features prematurely lead to a world of reliable wearables that can improve or save lives.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences

Tiny robotic gripper for cancer diagnostics, remote surgery

Johns Hopkins professor David Gracias has created a tiny, flexible, microscopic, robotic,  hand-like hydrogel gripper that could help doctors perform remotely guided surgical procedures and biopsies.    He believes that the materials could also, in the future,  deliver therapeutic drugs to difficult to reach places.

The hydrogel can swell in response to changes in temperature, acidity or light, providing energy without being tethered to a power source.  A stiff biodegradable polymer makes the  microhands strong enough to wrap around and remove cells.  Magnetic nanoparticles guide the microhands with a magnetic probe.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences

Apple watch will track glucose

The forthcoming Apple Watch will include the DexCom glucose tracking app.  To use it, a tiny sensor must be placed under the skin to measure glucose levels every five minutes.  Results will be displayed on the watch with a simple graph.

While DexCom has FDA approval, due to recent a recent FDA clarification on wearable devices, other health apps can be included, and this will remain a “Low Risk” device, not requiring prior marketing approval.  This is great news for both device makers and consumers, as it will inspire a proliferation of health apps.  ApplySci hopes that the competition will ensure that the most accurate health trackers become the most popular, and will continue to curate this movement with that goal.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.