Researchers at MIT have been working on a chip that could one day be offered to patients with suspected gastrointestinal bleeds instead of an endoscopy. The researchers have created a prototype of the chip that can be swallowed like a pill, sampling a patient’s gastrointestinal environment for signs of bleeding as it travels through their digestive system.
The chip doesn’t just rely on electronic components to do its work, however: it has an army of bacterial sentinels too. The chip has four wells filled with genetically-engineered bacteria that are designed to react to haem, a protein found in red blood cells. If the bacteria in the chip encounter any haem, they express a genetic circuit that causes them to bioluminesce — that is, if they see blood, the bacteria light up.
The researchers predict that it could take between five and 10 years before the pill could be used commercially. One of the key challenges that will need to be addressed is the size of the pill, which is currently around 3cm by 1cm. While it can be swallowed at that size, for people with damaged gastrointestinal tracts, there’s a risk that its dimensions could cause complications, so future work will look to shrink the device to more manageable levels. In future, the pill could also potentially be fuelled by a voltaic cell that generates energy from the acid environment of the stomach — a pH that’s so low it’s not found anywhere else in the body.
The city of Edmonton opened Canada’s first all-natural pool, without any chlorine, this month. Costing CAD 14.4 million to construct, the Borden Natural Swimming Pool uses plankton, a filtration system and aquatic plants to remove contaminants from the water. Natural pools are said to offer a ‘cleaner’ experience, which means that swimmers won’t feel the effects of chlorine (like itchy eyes), and be more energy efficient than a regular pool. In order to prevent pathogens from forming, the Borden pool will be colder than most (23 degrees Celsius versus the common 28–29). Swimmers cannot wear cotton, which can harm the aquatic plants, and must use phosphate-free sunscreen.
Solaris Disinfection has had U.S. sales for its Lytbot robot that blasts away hospital germs using ultraviolet light says its Solaris Lytbot is the ideal weapon in the war against hospital-acquired infections such as C. difficile. The Lytbot cycles through a programmed pattern and fires pulsed UV light until it completes a 360-degree sweep of the room. The robot’s beams have a devastating effect on germ cells and bacteria spores through called “cellular disruption”.
On the other hand, Dr Kevin Katz of the North York General Hospital says most hospitals rely on products like bleach or activated hydrogen peroxide for infected surfaces.”I don’t think the evidence is there to use this technology to replace environmental cleaners in healthcare environments,” says Katz, who adds a recent Ontario health technology review of UV technology did not support the purchase of products like the Lytbot at this time.
What’s more, Katz is concerned cash-strapped hospitals would be tempted to use the robotic technology instead of old-fashioned human cleaners with mops and pails.
Adam Steinhoff, chief operating officer and co-founder of Solaris Disinfection, says he has had some success selling the Lytbot to U.S. hospitals, but Canadian health-care institutions have so far been hesitant and Lytbot isn’t meant to be a replacement for daily cleaning, but a supplemental method of disinfecting a room after traditional hand cleaning is done.
The UV Sense is simple to use. Stick it on your nail, swipe it over your iPhone or Android phone, and it will wirelessly transfer UV exposure data to the companion app using near-field communication (NFC). It’s the NFC chip that also charges the device through the data transfer process.
Placing it on your thumbnail exposes the UV Sense to optimal sunlight, and the sensor is activated by UVA and UVB rays. Along with your UV report, you’ll also get some advice on on avoiding the sun, and recommendations on L’Oreal products to purchase.
The data the sensor collects is accurate, or at least that’s what L’Oreal claims.
It’s important to note the UV Sense itself strictly measures UV exposure. The app is where you can find additional information such as allergens, pollution, and other factors in the environment that can effect your skin
Pilot program and launch
The UV Sense will launch in the U.S. this summer as a pilot program. The company will continue to do testing with dermatologists and consumers, which allows L’Oreal to get even more feedback to improve the experience even better.
Using the hot-air dryers common in bathrooms can undo that handy hygienic work. Hot-air dryers suck in bacteria and hardy bacterial spores loitering in the bathroom—perhaps launched into the air by whooshing toilet flushes—and fire them directly at your freshly cleaned hands, according to a study published in the April issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The authors of the study, led by researchers at the University of Connecticut, found that adding HEPA filters to the dryers can reduce germ-spewing four-fold. However, the data hints that places like infectious disease research facilities and healthcare settings may just want to ditch the dryers and turn to trusty towels.
The research findings and other data show that hot-air dryers and jet dryers can launch and disperse germs from hands into the air and onto surfaces—essentially setting off a very dirty bathroom bomb. But the new study clearly demonstrates that the less powerful hot-air dryers can also bathe hands with germs already swirling in the wash room.
The researchers speculated that “one reason hand dryers may disperse so many bacteria is the large amount of air that passes through hand dryers, 19,000 linear feet/min at the nozzle. The convection generated by high airflow below the hand dryer nozzles could also draw in room air.”
Facebook had asked top hospitals to share anonymized patient data, including information on illnesses and prescriptions, CNBC reported.
The social media giant planned to use the data to help “several major U.S. hospitals,” which were not named, identify patients who may need care.
The effort never passed the planning phase, a Facebook spokesperson told the network, adding the company didn’t receive or analyze such data. Patient consent was not discussed in the early talks, according to the report.
While Facebook’s patient data program may be put on ice for now, the company has a lot of data on individuals and could reboot the effort.
Meanwhile, healthcare companies, and particularly insurers, are pushing to move patients to lower levels of acuity settings, including urgent care and primary care clinics. More emphasis is being given to so-called social determinants of health, primarily access to food, care services and housing, as these factors are known to impact a person’s health.
As preventative care moves upstream and away from hospitals, technology companies see an opening into the $3 trillion healthcare market. Companies from Lyft to Uber and Apple have all announced healthcare platforms this year. Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway also announced they formed a healthcare company in an effort to take greater control over costs and their employees’ health.
“For the first time, (digital) diagnosis of disease was the most-funded value proposition among digital health companies,” Rock Health found in its Q1 digital health funding report. Digital health startups continue to both tackle the clinical aspects of care (diagnosis of disease, monitoring of disease) and reducing friction between patients and the healthcare system (health benefits administration, on-demand healthcare services).
Other companies such as Omada Health, Virta Health and Vida Health all specialize in accumulating patient data for specific chronic conditions, highlighting a rising of digital therapeutics brands and products.
Whether its a startup or a mature technology company, new entrants have their sights set on healthcare and many are betting on data..