New in-body sensor could monitor and regulate insulin levels in real-time

Researchers at Stanford University have designed a dynamic real-time biosensor that could one day continuously detect and maintain optimal levels of drugs like insulin.

Health monitoring via in-body sensors is one of the hot areas of current research. This particular technology, which accounts for individual variability in the response to drugs, may allow more effective use of insulin for people with type 1 diabetes.

This would effectively take other technologies integrated in artificial pancreas systems, like TypeZero’s inControl platform, to the next level. Those control solutions only make suggestions on corrections to insulin management.

Tom Soh, a Stanford electrical engineer, and his postdoc fellow, Peter Mage, developed a three component model of the new in-body sensor, which resembles a thin rectangular microchip.

It consists of a biosensor which detects active levels of a drug in the bloodstream, paired with a controller that calculates exactly the right dose to maintain and a programmable pump acting as a delivery man that releases just that amount.

The sensor part forms a complex of molecules, called aptamers, that have been specially designed by Soh to bind receptors of any drug of interest, in the same fashion as seats on a bus that have to be filled.

As a drug enters in contact with a receptor site, the aptamers change shape and send an electric signal, in response to which the pump technology loads or unloads more or less of the drug if and when a seat is empty.

It essentially behaves as a closed-loop system, one that monitors and adjusts continuously. Soh and Mage first began testing it by administering a chemotherapy drug, called doxorubicin, in animals.

Many years of tests still lie ahead, but the first animal experiments yielded encouraging results. The researchers were able to stabilise levels of the chemotherapy drug, even when deliberately introducing a second drug that is known to change its effects.

Provided that it works as well in humans, this mode of delivery, described in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, could be applied to so many drugs and areas of health, including the diabetes field.

In a not too distant future, it could perhaps enable people with type 1 diabetes to better use insulin to prevent dangerous spikes or dips in blood sugar levels.

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Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body:

  • Being ineffective at using the insulin it has produced; also known as insulin resistance and/or
  • Being unable to produce enough insulin

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to metabolise glucose (a simple sugar). This leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time may damage the organs of the body.

From this, it can be understood that for someone with diabetes something that is food for ordinary people can become a sort of metabolic poison.

This is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid sources of dietary sugar.

The good news is for very many people with type 2 diabetes this is all they have to do to stay well. If you can keep your blood sugar lower by avoiding dietary sugar, likely you will never need long-term medication.

Type 2 diabetes was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40. However, type 2 diabetes is now becoming more common in young adults, teens and children and accounts for roughly 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.

How serious is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition that often requires the use of anti-diabetic medication, or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, the development of type 2 diabetes and its side effects (complications) can be prevented if detected and treated at an early stage.

In recent years, it has become apparent that many people with type 2 diabetes are able to reverse diabetes through methods including low-carb diets, very-low-calorie diets and exercise.

For guidance on healthy eating to improve blood glucose levels and weight and to fight back against insulin resistance, join the Low Carb Program.

Following pre-diabetes or metabolic disorder, type 2 diabetes can potentially be avoided through diet and exercise.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is not used effectively by the cells in your body. Insulin is needed for cells to take in glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and convert it into energy.

Ineffective use of insulin results in the body becoming resistant to insulin – also known as insulin resistance, which in turn causes blood sugar levels to rise (hyperglycemia).

In…

How this tech startup drew the attention of Gavi, Gates and Google

A health worker looks inside a vaccine refrigerator, monitored using the Nexleaf Analytics ColdTrace wireless remote temperature technology. Photo by: Nexleaf Analytics

Google.org has announced a new partnership to support Nexleaf Analytics, a Los Angeles-based startup that builds wireless sensors turning everyday objects like refrigerators and cookstoves into connected devices.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is matching a $2 million contribution from Google.org in a collaboration resulting from INFUSE, an accelerator launched by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to identify innovations that can modernize the way vaccines are delivered.

Nexleaf builds wireless sensor devices and data analytics tools such as ColdTrace, a wireless remote temperature monitoring technology that protects vaccines, and StoveTrace, a cloud based remote monitoring system that monitors the use of improved cookstoves. With funding from this new partnership, Nexleaf will now develop an analytics framework, gathering data from the countries its technology reaches, in order to share data with other governments looking to make evidence-based decisions regarding vaccine delivery.

“We focus on: How do you get vaccines safely to kids, stored at the right temperatures, fixing problems with refrigerators along the way?” Nithya Ramanathan, president and co-founder of Nexleaf, told Devex. “Everybody brings their piece of the puzzle and what we bring is data.”

Before scaling its work on refrigerators and cookstoves, Nexleaf started collecting data on refrigerators one clinic at a time, and data on cookstoves one household at a time. But just like nurses need to know when a fridge is too hot or too cold for vaccines, governments can also benefit from this information, which can inform decisions on…

AI-Powered Breath Detector Diagnoses 17 Different Diseases

breath-test-smartphone

Our breath contains a slew of information about our health in the form of molecules whose existence and concentration can serve as biomarkers for disease. Typically breath sensors focus on a single biomarker and therefore are limited in their scope and screening ability. A worldwide scientific collaboration headed by a team from Technion−Israel Institute of Technology has developed a breath sensor capable of detecting many different molecules and correlated these biomarkers to 17 different diseases.

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GreatCall acquires home-monitoring startup Healthsense

Healthsense monitoring technology
Healthsense monitoring technology

GreatCall, maker of mobile technology for seniors, has acquired home-monitoring startup Healthsense. The two privately held companies did not disclose terms of the deal.

Mendota Heights, Minnesota-based Healthsense places wireless sensors around living spaces to monitor patients at home and in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. The company then applies algorithms to data collected by the sensors to, as GreatCall CEO David Inns described it, “predict high-cost health episodes in seniors.”

“We will be integrating these technologies into our portfolio,” Inns said. GreatCall wants to be able to, for example, combine data from its existing line of personal emergency response systems and Healthsense’s home sensors to get “the most robust…

Review: Life with The ZoomHRV Wearable Fitness Monitor

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We had the opportunity to get our hands on a ZoomHRV 2.0 by LifeTrak, retailing at $139. This impressive fitness wearable is capable of continuous activity and heart rate monitoring even under water. It is unequivocally designed for the multi-sport athlete obsessed with data about their health and fitness.

When asked about the underlying technology behind Zoom, LifeTrak says, “…[it] is both a unique and proprietary sensor, developed by LifeTrak’s parent Salutron Inc.” While the Zoom’s optical sensor utilizes the principles of photoplethysmography (referred to as PPG technology), it is significantly different than other PPG-based sensors found in various existing wearables.

The most noticeable difference is the use of four separate optical sensors vs. the typical single sensor approach. This gives Zoom an advantage of a broader ‘sensor area’ when interfacing with the skin and the underlying capillaries, allowing for more in-depth signal analysis for both heart rate and heart rate variability.

zoomhrv_6

As well, the Zoom uses a single LED as a light emitter vs. multiple LEDs often used, which supports an extended battery life of five days during normal usage of one hour of active workout per day with heart rate readings every 10 minutes over the entire day.

LifeTrak has not published data on the accuracy of the system, however, we know that PPG is widely used across the industry with acceptable accuracy for its use case. It does seem that the implementation of this sensor set has been perfected by LifeTrak, allowing it to be used on different parts of the body and under water, which are use cases that many cannot promise.

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Unboxing and…

Nanowear gets FDA clearance for cardiac-monitoring clothing

New York City-based Nanowear has received FDA clearance for SimpliECG, a “remote cardiac-monitoring undergarment”. This is the first clearance for the company, which has been in talks with the FDA since 2015, according to a press release.

“This is a big milestone for our young company,” Cofounder and CEO Venk Varadan said in a statement. “The FDA’s decision not only positions us for commercial opportunities in remote cardiac monitoring, but more importantly, it provides accreditation of the company’s one-of-a-kind, cloth-based sensor technology as medical-grade. This is the first step and foundation of what we believe to be an extensive array of applications for our nanosensor technology – including numerous other electrical, biometric and biochemical signals that can be measured directly from the skin without conductive gels, adhesives or skin preparation. The market of applications for healthcare alone is a multi-billion-dollar…

Open source wearable Angel shuts down

Angel, a company that has been working since 2013 on an open source wearable tracker that could be programmed for different use cases, has shut down the project and, likely, the company.

The company announced the news via a large banner on its website reading “This project is no longer active”. Angel executives did not respond to MobiHealthNews’s request for an interview. Bob Troia, known as “Quantified Bob” in quantified self circles, spotted the announcement and posted about it on Twitter and on the Quantified Self forum.

“Well, looks like the Angel Sensor folks have (finally) officially thrown in the towel,” he wrote. “Not really a surprise, as they had gone silent for nearly a year after delivering their crowdfunded product over two years late. They did release code for their open-source SDK, and there is a community of developers who have forked it on GitHub3 to continue development. Too bad they gave up, as the promise of a truly open source wearable with an array of useful…

Heart Rate Tracking Headphones: Review of Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition

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In August, Jabra unveiled their next-gen wireless sports headphones, premiering the world’s first sports headphones to feature automatic (and continuous) VO2 max fitness testing. I got to spend a few days testing the headphones, and was more than excited to see the new features in action.

First Impressions

The headphones come in sleek packaging, geared towards the fitness inspired. Boxed with six sets of silicone or foam buds, 4 pairs of EarWings that help secure the headphones for a better fit, there are options for almost anyone’s ears. I have small ears, so typically a whole day of wearing earbud headphones can make my ears sore, but after finding the right EarWing they were comfortable to wear for extended periods. The right fit also made the Jabras feel a lot more secure and I haven’t had them slide out of place whether I’ve been running, walking, or lifting weights.

Overall, the housing of the headphones feels durable and light, both good signs. The microphone controls are simple to use, and the Bluetooth connects with the touch of one button. With so much technology packed into the headphones, the overall footprint was surprisingly small. Jabra managed to fit the opto-mechanical heart rate sensor into a small nub on the left earbud, and the charging port on the right.

Heart Rate Sensor

Developed by Valencell, a company out of Raleigh, North Carolina, the sensor utilizes a method called photoplethysmorgraphy(PPG) to measure the heart rate. The nub on the headphones house an accelerometer as well as an optical emitter and detector which refract light through the thin skin of the ear to calculate variable blood flow. The cool thing about this optical sensor is that its position next to the thin skin of the ear allows it to take better readings than common wrist-based optical sensors. Using the data collected by the sensor, the Jabra Sports Pulse Special Edition…

‘Smart’ Socks Designed By Siren Care Aim To Help Diabetics Track Health Of Feet Effectively

Sirencare socks

Siren Care, a Diabetic health tracking startup has come up with a method to detect inflammation and injury of the feet in real time using ‘smart socks’. These socks are specially designed to use temperature sensors for this very purpose. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients are prone to foot injuries, swelling and other issues due to nerve damage and hence can create serious problems like severe infection and even amputation if not treated in time. While at Northwestern University, co-founder of the startup, Ran Ma was working on growing biomass to grow skin that had been damaged and during this research she thought of making a wearable that could prevent and track injuries at the same time. Both the founders, Ma and Veronica Tran were aware that early detection of an injury is vital to treatment and thought that built in sensors in a wearable are the solution to the problem at hand.

How it works?

Siren’s socks aren’t the first wearable that tries to detect foot injuries. SurroSense Rx is a wireless insert for the shoe for diabetes patients and Tillges Technologies’ PressureGuardian is a boot that is designed for the same purpose. However, a boot or a foot pad is either bulky or difficult to insert and not sufficiently close to the skin. Siren’s socks have sensors woven into the fabric and help detect wherever inflammation is found. After detection all the information is uploaded to an app on your smart phone that alerts you about where the problem lies. All data is stored on the…

Smart Care Smart Socks Monitor Diabetes; Tracker Uses Temperature Sensors To Observe Foot Injury

  • Siren Care Smart Socks
    Siren Care has utilized the technology and invented a smart way to track diabetes instantly. (Photo: Ran Ma/Youtube Screenshot)

Diabetes tracking company Siren Care has discovered a smart way to track diabetic health. It has come up with smart socks that use temperature as parameter to detect if a person is diabetic.

Siren Care Smart Socks Identifies Diabetes

While studying the methods of treatment of diabetes at Northwestern University, Siren Care co-founder Ran Ma got inspired to invent a smarter way to track the diabetic health of a person. By using temperature sensors, the device detects inflammation and tracks real-time diabetes.

At the university, the students learnd how to use biomass to lead to the growth of the lost skin and get it back. It was then when the co-founder of Siren Care planned to make something wearable to ensure the detection of injuries and diabetes.

How…

Siren Care makes a “smart” sock to track diabetic health

Diabetic health tracking startup Siren Care has created smart socks that use temperature sensors to detect inflammation — and therefore injury — in realtime for diabetics.

Co-founder Ran Ma was working on growing biomass to grow back skin that had been damaged while at Northwestern University when she started learning how to treat diabetic feet and thought of making a wearable that could track and prevent injuries.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients are prone to foot swelling, among other foot issues and it can lead to some serious problems such as infection or amputation of the foot if not checked. Early detection is crucial to head off any serious complications and Ma and her co-founder Veronica Tran believe built-in sensors are the key.

But Siren’s socks aren’t the first wearable to aim for detection of a diabetic foot injury. SurroSense Rx is a wireless shoe insert for diabetics and the PressureGuardian from Tillges Technologies is a boot designed to detect issues as well.

But a boot is cumbersome and Siren’s socks are closer to the skin than a foot pad in your shoe. The…

Smart cane could transform lives of the blind and visually impaired

An enterprising researcher from The University of Manchester has developed a prototype tool that could help transform the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

Vasileios Tsormpatzoudis has upgraded the white cane – which has been used as a mobility tool for centuries – by adding a low-cost embedded computer that functions in a similar way to a car parking sensor.

PhD student Vasileios, from the University’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was inspired to develop mySmartCane after witnessing the struggles of his mother who has retinis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disorder which affects the retina.

“mySmartCane allows visual impaired people to sense their environment beyond the physical length of their cane,” said Vasileios Tsormpatzoudis, who is researching energy storage and power network integration at The University of Manchester.

“The user is alerted to approaching objects using gentle audio, rather than waiting for the cane to physically bump into the object. Navigation is therefore easier and much faster.”

He added: “My main inspiration was my mother, who has retinis pigmentosa. I have seen first-hand the struggle visual impaired people have to put up with when they try to navigate with the traditional white cane.”

“Even though the white cane is a simple…