Four Patients Test Retinal Implant That Could Stop Age-Related Blindness

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Some parts of getting older are awesome. Retirement. Early bird specials. Free reign to whine about your various aches and pains.

Not so great? Your vision can start to go.

Luckily, a new retinal implant may soon help treat a common cause of age-related vision loss.

Non-neovascular age-related macular degeneration (NNAMD) (also known as “dry” AMD) causes a blurry area right in the middle of a person’s line of vision that can grow as the disease progresses. Sometimes, the previously blurry spot becomes simply blank.

In short, that can be debilitating, making it pretty impossible to live a normal life. After all, you need to be able to see what’s in front of you to do things like drive a car or cook a meal.

Currently, there’s no treatment for the advanced stages of NNAMD, but a research team led by Amir Kashani, an assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at University of Southern California (USC), is hoping to change that.

NNAMD likely begins with the breakdown of cells in a membrane in the eye called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Kashani and his team designed an implant to mimic the function of this membrane. The implant fits on the retina and is made of human embryonic stem cells placed on a base material.

The team had already tested a version of the implant on rodents, so the next step was to make the leap to humans. So the researchers placed their implant into the eyes of four people with advanced NNAMD. Then, they monitored those people for between four and 12 months.

According to the researchers’ study, published today in Science Translational Medicine, none of the four participants had any negative or severe side effects from the retinal implant, and experienced no vision loss over the course of the trial. Once participant even “demonstrated an observable improvement” in their vision.

When the team took post-operative images of the patients’ eyes, they saw that the stem cells had blended with the existing retinal tissue. That is, the retinas looked like they were regaining their RPEs. A good sign.

Of course, this was an exceptionally small sample size that delivered promising (but not overwhelmingly positive) results. So the researchers’ next step is to test their implant on a larger group.

If it works the way researchers hope, it may someday be a game-changer for thousands of visually-challenged seniors. After all, what good’s a senior discount on movie tickets if you can’t see the screen.

The post Four Patients Test Retinal Implant That Could Stop Age-Related Blindness appeared first on Futurism.


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The Internet Made Everyone a Medical Expert, and Patients Are Worse for It

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Admit it, you’ve done it: you notice a strange ache or a bump where there wasn’t one before, so you run to the internet. In mere minutes, you’re convinced you have cancer, or a parasite, or a rare disease that was only seen one time on the other side of the world. Even when your doctor tells you it’s just a rash and you shouldn’t worry about it, you can’t help but wonder: is she sure?

Turns out, that sort of self-diagnosis does more than just stress you out — it has lasting repercussions on medicine as a whole. Patients who’ve spent too much time on WebMD are pressuring doctors into over-prescribing antibiotics, which in turn has bolstered the rise of antibiotic resistance.

According to Wiredheath care workers say they worry about bad patient satisfaction and negative reviews online creates a “Yelp effect,” which drives doctors to make decisions based on what patients want instead of, you know, actual medicine.

And it seems patients expect antibiotics: a 2016 study of a large group of medical records showed that a third of antibiotics prescriptions were written for viral infections, which, as you might know, do not respond to antibiotics.

“Providers believe — whether it’s accurate or not — that there is a business reason, in terms of customer satisfaction, patient retention, to give patients what they want,” David Hyun, a pediatric infectious disease physician who recently directed a review of why doctors mis-prescribe antibiotics, told Wired. “We frequently hear providers say, ‘If I don’t give the antibiotics, the patient will go across the street, to urgent care or another primary care practice, and get them there.’”

Wired reports that the problem has gotten so bad that there’s even a petition on, by the organization Physicians Working Together, asking Yelp to remove negative reviews of doctors.
Hyun’s research suggested there are lots of other reasons that doctors might improperly prescribe, like being worn out at the end of the day (when doctors tend to prescribe antibiotics more often).But of all the squeaky wheels in medicine, whiney patients seem like the easiest to fix.
And then there’s the role of the internet, which seems to be misleading an awful lot of would-be patients — a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center found that 35 percent of American adults had used the internet to diagnose themselves or someone they knew. (That number has likely risen since then, as more and more people become connected to the web.)
There’s certainly nothing wrong with checking out a simple symptom to quell your paranoia. But in the same way you know not to blindly believe every headline that screams about latest food that causes cancer, it’s ultimately the doctor who has gone through an average of 14 years (in the U.S.) of training to decide whether or not you have anything wrong with you. Or if you even need that antibiotic you saw on WebMD.
So, be an adult. Don’t leave nasty Yelp reviews for doctors that don’t give you what you want. Not taking antibiotics when you don’t need them could one day save lives.

The post The Internet Made Everyone a Medical Expert, and Patients Are Worse for It appeared first on Futurism.


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A Mobile Scanner Reveals Brain Activity of Patients Doing Everyday Tasks

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Children with mental and neurological disorders have plenty of challenges in their lives. The last thing they need is to sit still for a while with their heads stuck in a machine — the current technique that scientists use to take pictures of their brain activity. It’s inconvenient and unpleasant, but it’s also pretty limited, because it tells scientists nothing about how the brain behaves when the patient is active, going about their daily lives.

Scientists in the U.K. and U.S. decided it was time to make brain imaging way less stressful for patients, not to mention suitable for patients that struggle to keep still, such as toddlers.

They came up with a (scary-looking but) versatile helmet that allows them to move relatively freely as it scans their brain. The helmet is 3D printed, can be personalized to fit a patient’s head, and weighs less than one kilogram.

The researchers were able to shrink the machine without reducing its function by replacing the conventional sensors, which require a heavy cooling system, with tiny ones that use a different technique to capture the brain’s magnetic field.

As reported by New Scientist, the team tested the helmet on four volunteers. They were asked to move their fingers, to play a ball game and even have a cup of tea (because England). These experiments showed the portable scan worked as precisely and accurately as a conventional static one.

“This has the potential to revolutionize the brain imaging field, and transform the scientific and clinical questions that can be addressed with human brain imaging,” Gareth Barnes, a neuroimaging expert with the University College London and a partner of the project, told The Guardian.

Patients wearing the helmet can’t exactly forget about it — the scanner only works inside a special room designed to suppress the influence of the Earth’s natural magnetic field, which would interfere with the procedure. Oh, and it don’t just sit on the top of the head, but covers part of the face, too.

Still, the device could help researchers study child development, or brain activity of children with epilepsy. Better understanding could allow doctors to catch problems sooner, and treat them better.

Although still experimental, the device’s creators are confident that a mobile brain scanner holds great promises for science. They may do more tests, on people with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, or psychoses, and see if they learn anything new.

They also realize the design isn’t quite where it needs to be. So they’re working on making future iterations look similar to a bike helmet. Perhaps they realized that terrified patients with their heads stuffed in giant devices might not give the most reliable brain scans.

The post A Mobile Scanner Reveals Brain Activity of Patients Doing Everyday Tasks appeared first on Futurism.


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Healthcare gets personal: How health is shifting into the hands of patients

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This year’s CES displayed a huge array of new developments and possibilities from the health and medical technology market. Many are not ready for public use, but they give us a glimpse into the future of healthcare. CNET’s ‘Next Big Thing’ panel was centred around “The Invisible Doctor” and what it means for consumers and the wider industry. It’s evident that the shift in healthcare monitoring (from hospital to patient) could overhaul the entire structure of patient care. 

From a physician-centric treatment to patient-preferred healthcare, technology is creating a positive impact on the ability to manage lifestyle diseases and personal health. As consumers take a pro-active interest in their own personal health and wellbeing, there’s huge potential for greater technology adoption and the creation of new devices. The results are beneficial to both parties, as patients generate more data which doctors can then use to make more accurate diagnoses and inform new research.

Personal health devices

Wearable medical devices sales are expected to globally top $ 55 billion USD in revenue in 2022, increasing from $ 10.5 billion USD in 2017, according to ABI research. Medical technology companies will need to keep up with creative, regulatory and quality compliance and value-driven engineering and manufacturing solutions if they want to enjoy growth in both expanding and emerging markets.

The continuous stream of physiological data received from devices such as glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, and BP monitors is playing a key role in helping doctors monitor post-hospitalisation recovery and other long-term health conditions.

Using Bluetooth technology, healthcare professionals are able to provide diagnostic monitoring, apply physical therapy and even adjust ongoing therapy of implantable devices. For example, caregivers can track movements of elderly patients and receive health measurements. Patients, on their part, can promptly send measured body values wirelessly to their doctors.

Data is then collected and transmitted to facilities such as monitoring centres in primary care settings, hospitals and intensive care units, skilled nursing facilities, and centralised off-site case management programs. Health professionals monitor these patients remotely and act on the information received as part of the treatment plan. Soon, there will be less of a need for someone to visit the GP’s practice.

Monitoring programmes are tools to help achieve the "triple aim" of healthcare, by improving patient outcomes, expanding access to care and making healthcare systems more cost effective. These devices then provide the clinicians access to current and ongoing data to track the health of their patients for developing and managing individual health plans or to study trends across a defined population.

Additionally, quality of life and patient experience are constantly improving through medical developments like minimally invasive surgeries and better monitoring systems, along with more comfortable scanning equipment.

Driving efficiencies in healthcare

Healthcare technology is also drastically reducing the need for travel time from a patient’s home to the place of treatment. Patients – especially those in areas not well served by certain physician specialties – can be monitored and their treatment plans adjusted remotely or at a local primary care facility, rather than traveling back to a specialty clinic a long distance away. The UK’s NHS also made moves to reduce the growing pressures on GP surgeries by launching the Babylon Health app in December 2017, which offers video consultations with GPs.

Additionally, inclusive or specialised medical devices support custom fitting and designing unique size body parts, such as hips and knees, using technologies like additive manufacturing for replacement and implantation of orthopaedic (musculoskeletal) body parts. The positive environment created by these technologies helps accelerate post-operation recovery in patients.

All these advancements in medical device manufacturing are enhancing personalised healthcare in numerous ways.

Learning from innovation in other industries

There is potential for medical device and imaging markets to leverage new technology platforms to reduce development time, save investment costs and lower barriers to market entry. Medical technology design must rely on distinguishing features and market adoptability to ensure it is in-line with global megatrends, with many innovations carrying forth a technology convergence that is prepped for a "smart" world.

This trend is creating an openness to innovation in a highly regulated industry, allowing new technologies and products to be developed by companies outside of the healthcare industry. The likes of Google and IBM, for instance, are investing in technologies and building partnerships to be a part of this growth. Google’s DeepMind now works with the NHS in the UK to provide mobile tools and AI research to get patients “from test to treatment” faster and as accurately as possible. We are moving to an age where knowledge spill overs and blending innovation between sectors will become more frequent. How each sector learns from the other will remain a strong factor in delivering value to patients by using data gathered to develop better experiences, delivered efficiently. Latest from the homepage

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Future dialysis patients could grow their own artificial veins

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I rarely think about kidney failure, and when I do, it's almost always in the context of a charity appeal from my local hospital. Dialysis machines are the primary way that people with kidney disorders survive until a donor organ can be found. Going…
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Lyft partners with AllScripts to help patients reach their doctors

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Lyft isn’t just for quick trips to the store or a friend’s home – it’s becoming one of the top options for medical transportation. Two years ago, the company began working with the National Medtrans Network in New York City to drive people to non-emergency medical appointments. The service, called Lyft Concierge, allowed the organization to book rides on behalf of patients (many of whom were seniors without a smartphone).

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“Intestine-Chip” Could Help Patients With Diseases Like Crohn’s


Patients with debilitating gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome often have to try several costly treatments before they find one that works for them. These drugs can cause individuals painful side effects or ultimately be ineffective for their personal conditions. However, a new testing tool called an “Intestine-Chip” could save patients this pain and cost.

Intestinal lining cells created from an individual’s adult stem cells can be placed on a chip and mirror what is happening inside that individual’s body, according to a study from researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and Emulate, Inc. in Boston.

After being placed in a chip, intestine lining cells form folds like they do in the human body. Image Credit: Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute
After being placed in a chip, intestine lining cells form folds like they do in the human body. Image Credit: Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute

So, instead of testing drugs within a patient, you could test them on the Intestine-Chip first, protecting the patient from needlessly experiencing negative side effects. This could also reduce the amount of drug used, the difficulty of the application, and potentially the cost of the testing. This study was recently published in the journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Improving Medicine

Not only would Intestine-Chip allow researchers to better test drugs for patients, it could also give researchers more control in studies of these cells. Because the cells are on a chip and in a controlled environment, researchers can more easily study how they interact with immune cells and blood cells (as well as drugs) and better understand cell function.

“This is an important advance in personalized medicine.” -Clive Svendsen

Additionally, the fact that the chip uses stem cells allows doctors to study a patient’s intestinal lining without having to perform invasive surgery to obtain a tissue sample, Clive Svendsen, director of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and a co-author of the study, said in a press release. And the process is good for more than one test, too.

“We can produce an unlimited number of copies of this tissue and use them to evaluate potential therapies,” Svendsen said in the press release. “This is an important advance in personalized medicine.”

Replicating organs on chips is not a new concept. Scientists are exploring this type of research with a variety of organs, even the human brain. Beyond improving and advancing personalized medicine, it could cut testing costs and one day replace animal testing.

The post “Intestine-Chip” Could Help Patients With Diseases Like Crohn’s appeared first on Futurism.


Medumo tries working out how to best nudge patients to prepare for procedures

 Medumo co-founder Adeel Yang has plenty of first-hand experience dealing with cancellations for procedures and appointments as a physician — but it’s been a problem that’s a deceptively hard to solve. So Yang and his co-founders decided to start Medumo to address the problem they’ve seen so often themselves. The company’s main goal is to reduce procedure… Read More
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Tailored and Interactive Text Messaging Improves Chronic Condition Medication Refill Adherence in Medicare Patients, New Study Shows

According to the findings of a new three month study, tailored and interactive text messaging are powerful tools when it comes to boosting chronic condition medication refill adherence in Medicare patients.

On Tuesday, mPulse Mobile — a Los Angeles-based mobile health engagement solutions company — announced the results of this first of its kind study conducted with Kaiser Permanente.

Per the data shared, the peer-reviewed study, recently published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, found a 14 percent higher refill rate for those that received the text message intervention program.

Patient nonadherence affects 50% to 60% of chronically ill patients, and the cost of medication-related hospitalizations is $ 100 billion annually.

Non-adherence is a major concern in the management of chronic conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes where patients may discontinue or interrupt their medication for a variety of reasons.

While text message reminders have been used to improve adherence, no other programs or studies have explored the benefits of tailored and interactive text messages with older populations and at scale.

“The program results far exceed our expectations with 44% refill rate in the text message group as compared to 30% in the non-text group,” said the paper’s corresponding author, Rena Brar Prayaga, Behavioral Data Scientist at mPulse Mobile. “In addition to the difference in refill rates, the 37% response rate by this older Medicare population was higher than expected and patient feedback was very positive with 96% of the patients indicating that the solution was easy to use.”

The full study, “Improving Refill Adherence in Medicare Patients with Tailored and Interactive Mobile Text Messaging: Pilot Study” can be found at JMIR mHealth and uHealth.

Due to the success of the pilot study, the mPulse Mobile Medication Adherence program is being expanded to other Kaiser Permanente regions.

The post Tailored and Interactive Text Messaging Improves Chronic Condition Medication Refill Adherence in Medicare Patients, New Study Shows appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

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With iOS 11.3, Apple looks to unite patients and their healthcare data

Apple has announced that its upcoming iOS 11.3 release will allow patients to view electronic medical records (EMRs) and other clinical information about themselves on iPhones and iPads.

Apple’s new Health Records feature uses the existing Health app (released in 2014 on iOS 8) to enable medical facilities to connect via an API to their EMR systems to share data between providers and patients.

The new Health Record feature is currently available to the patients of 12 hospital systems via the iOS 11.3 beta, according to Apple.

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