Devices that collect personal medical information are growing both prolific and inexpensive. The biggest challenges lie not in collecting and transmitting the data, but in building the backend systems that can interpret it.
OSU researchers attempt to reduce the cost of wireless EEG and ECG monitoring to less than a dollar. Applications include self-tracking and enabling doctors to monitor at-risk patients in real time. Multiple chips around the body can continuously track specific metrics.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center tested four apps to analyze images of 188 moles, including 60 melanomas. All of these moles were pre-evaluated by a dermatologist.
The best-performing app forwarded the images to board-certified dermatologists to review at cost of $5 per mole, and claims to be accurate 98% of the time. Some are skeptical. We are sure that we will soon see a proliferation of early, at home detection apps.
In addition to the remote monitoring of chronic conditions, sensors, computerized pattern recognition and links to human responders can detect and head off health threats to the elderly living alone.
The “sensorization” of CES was obvious. Which technologies are meaningful, and which are simply stylish? The health monitoring sector is set to grow exponentially in 2013. It’s important to understand the science behind the gadgets. ApplySci, the crowdfunding platform, is committed to bringing you peer reviewed, life enhancing, sensor based mobile health monitoring technology. And the ApplySci blog will regularly review this technology. We welcome your input.
Self-tracking, self-monitoring, and using smartphone peripherals to encourage health habits emerged as big themes at this year’s CES.
“This study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” study author Kerry O’Banion, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement.
Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute had another idea. They knew a gene called Tbx18 is normally activated during the sinoatrial node’s development, when an embryo is forming. So they set out to add Tbx18 into a functioning, fully grown heart. To do it, they inserted the code for this gene into a virus, which they then inserted into the hearts of guinea pigs. The infected hearts beat according to this newly formed pacemaker, Eduardo Marbán and colleagues report in Nature Biotechnology. It also worked in a Petri dish.
The team used ventricular cells, one of three main types of heart cells (along with pacemaker cells and atrial cells). The infected cells changed their appearance, taking on a distinctive tapered shape, and this lasts even after the Tbx18 has faded away. That suggests it’s a permanent structural change, which means this could be a lasting treatment for diminished sinoatrial cells.
“This technology thus represents a promising alternative to electronic pacing devices,” Marbán et al. write. Longer-term experiments are still needed, but the work so far is promising, they say.
Startup Interaxon has announced that it will ship a $199 headset called the Muse next spring. It will let people use their brainwaves to directly control videogames and other computing operations.
MIT’s Technology Review reports advances in genome sequencing in several areas. Most applicable to ApplySci is the melding of mind and machine. Their coverage follows:
“The melding of mind and machine was also big this year. Scientists in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, demonstrated that a brain implant could replace some cognitive function in primates, which could one day help people with brain damage. On the flip side, two research groups published the first accounts of quadriplegic people using brain implants to control robotic limbs. The implants recorded the participants’ intentions to move, which were translated by a computer into instructions for a robotic arm. The idea is that one day people with severe paralysis or amputations could use such neural prosthetics at home to help with the tasks of daily life.
Brain electronics were also implanted into Alzheimer’s patients this year in an attempt to slow a disease that has so far evaded pharmaceutical treatment. The urgency for treatment is growing, but the community still doesn’t know what sets into motion the cascade of molecular events that robs people of their memory and thinking skills. With better diagnostic tools and the discovery that there are warnings decades before symptoms, scientists are turning to treating patients with a genetic predisposition for the disease before they start having symptoms. Perhaps this will be the key to treatments in future years. ”
MIT Technology Review, December 24, 2012