E-skin? Bionic skin? No matter the name, the ‘ultimate wearable’ for monitoring is advancing.

‘Bionic skin’ as the ultimate wearable has been taking several dimensions. TTA Editors have previously reported on tattoo-like stretchy sensors applied to the skin for monitoring vital signs from a variety of academic and commercial developers. Here are two new advances of interest for those who follow the progress of wearables:

  • [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/TFT-sensor-Tokyo-U.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]From University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering, a team led by Professor Takao Someya has developed an e-skin (left) that can measure vital signs and basic images, send them to clinicians, and–in what may be a first–display them on the surface in real time. This feature is useful for anyone, but especially for those who have difficulty communicating information due to speech or cognitive impairments. According to EurekaAlert, it combines a flexible, deformable display with a lightweight sensor composed of a breathable nanomesh electrode and wireless communication module. Developed in conjunction with Dai Nippon Printing (DNP), it is a 16 x 24 array of micro LEDs and stretchable wiring mounted on a rubber sheet. In its test form, it communicated temperature, pressure, myoelectricity (the electrical properties of muscle), and recorded an ECG. DNP expects to commercialize it in three years and improving its coverage for larger surfaces. It lasts about one week without creating irritation, another major factor in skin sensors. Video on EurekaAlert. Also Engadget. A paper on this research was delivered at AAAS last week
  • More information on Prof. Someya’s research is available in this IEEE Spectrum article, largely about the challenges of e-skin flexibility for use in patches and in prosthetics. Their research is utilizing TFTs (thin film transistors) and plastic skin one-tenth the thickness of common plastic wrap as the most sensitive and adaptable technologies.
  • University of Colorado Boulder has developed a monitoring e-skin that self-heals if damaged, which may extend e-skin life and usability. It uses a polymer (polyimine) laced with silver nanoparticles which can be repaired by easily available ethanol compounds and is fully recyclable with another solution that separates out the silver. The test patch conducts temperature and pressure. This looks thicker than plastic wrap, however. Engadget

Health tech for stroke prevention and rehab from Kardia Mobile, Watch BP, Northwestern U (UK/US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Northwestern-stroke-patch.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Is stroke avoidable? We know it is an expensive medical event at $20-23,000 for hospitalization alone (NIH), which does not count rehabilitation or the devastation to individuals and their families, including loss of ability and work. NHS England is testing two devices, the Kardia Mobile and Watch BP, with an eye to preventing stroke in those vulnerable to it. 6,000 devices are being distributed to GP practices in England in a program through 15 NHS and care innovation bodies known as Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). The Alivecor‘s Kardia Mobile is a smartphone add-on clip that captures a medical-grade ECG in 30 seconds, stores, and sends readings to physicians. The application to stroke is primarily in atrial fibrillation (AF) and irregular heart rhythms, which according to statistics, more than 420,000 people across England have. Watch BP is a blood pressure cuff device which is also equipped with an AF detection system. The goal of the project is to identify 130,000 new cases of AF over two years, to prevent at least 3,650 strokes and potentially save 900 lives. Savings to NHS are being estimated at £81 million annually. Digital Health News

Post-stroke rehabilitation treatment is also being boosted by a new device developed at Northwestern University and being tested at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a Chicago research hospital. It is a Band-Aid® like device which can be applied to key areas such as the throat (left above, credit AbilityLab), chest, or limbs to send back information to doctors on how a patient in treatment post-discharge, especially at home, progresses. The sensors and platform measure heart activity, muscle movement, sleep quality, swallowing ability, and patterns of speech. Especially revolutionary is the monitoring of speech communication and swallowing, which are often impaired in stroke patients but hard to track once the patient is out of a facility. The team’s research was presented last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting. New Atlas. Hat tip to Toni Bunting.

Advances in 2017 which may set the digital health stage for 2018

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Our second Roundup takes us to the Lone Prairie, where we spot some promising young Health Tech Advances that may grow up to be Something Big in 2018 and beyond. 

From Lancaster University, just published in Brain Research (academic/professional access) is their study of an experimental ‘triple agonist’ drug developed for type 2 diabetes that shows promise in reversing the memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment in APP/PS1 mice with human mutated genes used a combination of GLP-1, GIP, and Glucagon that “enhanced levels of a brain growth factor which protects nerve cell functioning, reduced the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s, reduced both chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, and slowed down the rate of nerve cell loss.” This treatment explores a known link between type 2 diabetes as a risk factor and the implications of both impaired insulin, linked to cerebral degenerative processes in type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and insulin desensitization. Other type 2 diabetes drugs such as liraglutide have shown promising results versus the long trail of failed ‘amyloid busters‘. For an estimated 5.5 million in the US and 850,000 in the UK with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and for those whose lives have been touched by it, this research is the first sign of hope in a long time. AAAS EurekAlertLancaster University release, video

At University College London (UCL), a drug treatment for Huntington’s Disease in its first human trial has for the first time safely lowered levels of toxic huntingtin protein in the brain. The group of 46 patients drawn from the UK, Canada, and Germany were given IONIS (the pharmaceutical company)-HTTRx or placebo, injected into spinal fluid in ascending doses to enable it to reach the brain starting in 2015 after over a decade in pre-development. The research comes from a partnership between UCL and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. UCL News releaseUCL Huntington’s Research page, BBC News

Meanwhile, The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s All of Us programpart of the Federal Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), seeks to track a million+ Americans through their medical history, behavior, exercise, blood, and urine samples. It’s all voluntary, of course, the recruitment’s barely begun for a medical research resource that may dwarf anything else in the world. This is the NIH program that lured Eric Dishman from Intel. And of course, it’s controversial–that gigantic quantities of biometric data, genomic and otherwise, on non-genetic related diseases, will simply have diminishing returns and divert money/attention from diseases with clear genomic causes–such as Huntington’s. Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Let’s not forget Google DeepMind Health’s Streams app in test at the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust Hospital in north London, where alerts on patients at risk of developing acute kidney infection (AKI) are pushed to clinicians’ mobile phones, (more…)

‘F for Fake’ in peer-reviewed journals

F for Fake was the film master Orson Welles’ last released film; it was a small documentary on the art forger Elmer de Hory, with a side serving of Clifford Irving (the author of the fake Howard Hughes autobiography), and explored the nature of authorship and authenticity. We now have a burgeoning ‘F for Fake’ scandal in peer-reviewed open-access scientific journals which can’t–or won’t –detect bogus research. A Science Magazine (American Association for the Advancement of Science–AAAS) journalist, John Bohannon, drafted a ‘spoof’ paper which was submitted to 304 peer-reviewed, open-access journals. It detailed the anticancer qualities of a chemical derived from lichen. Despite the complete fabrication of the discovery, the researcher and his university  (more…)