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…)

Is startup funding actually going to startups? Where are all of them, anyway?

Markus Pohl of Research2Guidance, in two successive blog postings, asks provocative questions on Whither Startup Funding. This Editor will attempt to summarize his key points but read both articles to get the real impact–and surprise.

  • There is $4 bn annually managed by accelerators and incubators that invest in health–over $1 bn in 1st Quarter–but only a portion of this funding goes to startups. (The $4 bn / $1 bn are not footnoted, but they are the Rock Health investment numbers [see TTA 10 Jan and 11 Apr])
  • After subtracting for ongoing investments in portfolio companies, operational costs, and ex-healthcare investments, this funding for startups is realistically closer to $300 million
  • This money will only be spent if there are startups that qualify for the 340+ accelerator and incubator programs
  •  According to the last year’s R2G survey, mHealth App Developer Economics, there are 58,000 mobile health app developers. 15,000 are considered to be in the startup phase (eligible for an accelerator or incubator program). But “The majority of mobile app developers in healthcare tend to struggle on the finance and business side.”
  • The surprise: there are not enough quality startups for the available programs, even though most startups apply to more than one.
  • “Accelerators struggle to build up a high-quality selection funnel.” They suffer from lack of awareness, especially regional accelerators.
  • Accelerators and incubators will be adapting to startup candidate scarcity–or fail–within the next two years. Narrowing their focus to certain healthcare niches and focusing on their target may help. (But there may be a bubble here–Ed.)

More than US$4bn funds raised by accelerators & incubators investing in health. Why is only a small portion landing in the hands of start-ups? and Most digital health accelerator and corporate start-up programs must refocus to survive

For TTA readers, the R2G sponsored 7th Annual mHealth App Developers survey is here. It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete, so grab a cup of coffee or tea, and go! The survey is still open for about two weeks more. It is most applicable to mobile health app developers, project managers, publishers, co-founders, digital health experts, influencers, opinion makers, and investors–in other words, our Readers! Anyone who completes the survey will receive a copy near the end of 2017.

The R2G App Developer Economics Survey is supported by a stellar roster of distribution partners, accelerators, and media partners including Bayer, PCHAlliance, Health 2.0, dhaca…and TTA.

Analysis of an underserved market: only 0.2% of migraine sufferers use migraine apps

research2guidance has published a short article on how migraine sufferers constitute an underserved market, and how present apps do not meet their needs. Here is an opportunity for app developers and companies to address a common and often near-intractable pain that affects everyday life. The author is David Ireland, Research Analyst, r2g Berlin.

Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world affecting 1 billion people worldwide^. However, this demographic of migraine sufferers is heavily underserved by mobile health applications, with only 0.2% of migraine sufferers using a migraine app*. But why? A major opportunity exists for an application with the right strategy, and the right balance of features and functionalities to lead the market, while having a positive impact on the health of migraine sufferers.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation (2017), migraine is the sixth most disabling illness in the world. More than 4 million people suffer from chronic migraine attacks every day. U.S. healthcare and loss of productivity costs are estimated to be around US$36 billion annually; just the cost of brain scans of headache sufferers alone comes in at around US$1 billion per year. Migraines are responsible for a huge loss in productivity, rendering 90% of sufferers unable to function normally, costing U.S. employers US$13 billion, and 113 million work days in 2016.

Far from being just a bad headache, migraine attacks can cause a diverse range of disabling symptoms such as severe pain, nausea and visual disturbance. While medications exist to help treat symptoms, migraine sufferers need to carefully manage their medication intake, while monitoring risk factors such as food, sleep and triggers to treat, and prevent the condition from becoming chronic. Tracking medication is critical, as most chronic migraine sufferers are a result of medication overuse^.

The main promise of migraine apps is to provide migraine sufferers with a way to better manage their condition, decreasing the chances of migraine attacks, of headaches intensifying into migraines, and of the condition becoming chronic. To achieve this, migraine apps could provide users with the following (in no particular order of priority):

  • Log-books / diaries: recording migraine events to help the user better understand their condition, while allowing for a better communication between the user and GP
  • Reporting: for analyzing and summarizing the users’ behavior, triggers, risk and symptoms, while allowing for a better communication between the user and GP
  • Information repository: peer-reviewed educational content aimed at educating the user on neurological conditions, and how best identify, treat, manage and prevent them
  • Pattern recognition: based on historical user data to notify the user of high-risk scenarios (more…)