We bring you the most stimulating and exciting stories from the world of wellness research.
PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Ten Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.
During this year’s SXSW Festival, StartUp Health, a hybrid entrepreneurial incubator and academy focused on reforming the healthcare industry, announced its first class of class of 10 entrepreneurs (chosen from a pool of 400 applicants) who will take part in the intensive three-year program. The curriculum will offer strategic thinking tools and collaborative peer groups designed to help innovators navigate the new digital health field. Unlike similar programs that support start-ups, many of the companies in the inaugural class are well on their way in terms of funding and staff, but are still lacking some of the necessary support and structure to create truly sustainable businesses. The companies represent a diverse vision for improving the delivery of care from mobile tools and real-time data to remote assistance and new therapies.
A new technology being developed by researchers at Florida State University has the potential to drastically change the way pharma companies discover new drugs, creating the potential for personalized cancer treatments, lower-cost medicine and more affordable, higher-quality health care. Currently, these companies use a process known as high throughput screening, which requires specialized laboratories and substantial manpower to test hundreds of thousands of compounds on different cell cultures. The new technology miniaturized that process by printing all of the compounds on a single glass surface and testing them on cells using an innovative technique involving liposome microarrays, which are basically collections of drug-containing oil drops on a surface.
Scientists at Clemson University have modified an HP DeskJet 500 printer, making it capable of creating temporary holes in live cells. The technology allows researchers to deposit molecules into large numbers of living cells in order to quickly perform experiments with high data sets. Inkjet printing can process thousands of cells in minutes without damaging the cell membrane, which is much more efficient than the current method of manual microinjection.
Japanese designers have designed a refreshing take on the traditional hospital IV drip bag with the “Fill Your Energy Up!” LED light fixture that is intended to look like the medical mainstay. The lamp can be plugged into the USB port of a computer or a regular wall socket, creating a flexible lighting solution for any environment. To add an additional layer of authenticity, the ‘bag’ can even hold liquid, helping diffuse the light source. By taking the IV out of the context of the hospital, the light challenges the clinical paradigm of wellness and helps promote health awareness outside the health care category.
IBM Research has developed a clinical decision support tool called Clinical Genomics that will help doctors understand how best to address individual patients’ conditions. The platform analyzes a patient’s unique disease profile against a range of clinical guidelines and previously acquired clinical data gathered from other patients to suggest treatment guidelines. It can also provide administrators with an aggregated view of patient care, enabling them to evaluate performances and streamline processes for maximum safety. The system is currently being tested at the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, a research and cancer treatment center in Italy.
Researchers in New Zealand have developed a prototype Bluetooth-enabled wearable, medical monitoring device that can be connected wirelessly to a smartphone to capture various physiological data. The device can be outfitted with a variety of sensors to track body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, movements, and eventually even blood glucose. The team behind the device see the mobile phone as a gateway the broader health care system, relaying data to a remote database via the mobile network for remote diagnosis and advice from doctors and caregivers.
Scientists from the US Air Force Research Laboratory have discovered that by dipping ordinary silk into certain chemicals they can create an antibacterial fabric that can kill bacteria and coated spores. The antibacterial silk fabric can be used to treat contaminated water or to help purify air by removing harmful, airborne pathogens. While other fabrics treated with the same chemical coating have shown to damage biomolecules, silk was chosen because of its wide availability around the world.
Researchers at Oregon State University have tapped into the power of carbon ‘nanotubes’ to increase the speed of tiny biological sensors which will someday allow doctors to greatly increase the speed at which they perform lab tests, leading to quicker diagnosis while reducing medical costs. Nanotechnology deals with extraordinarily small particles near the molecular level and this breakthrough will someday allow scientists to develop a new wave of infinitesimal sensors that should find applications not only in medicine, but in toxicology, environmental monitoring, new drug development and other fields. While this discovery is being hailed as a huge leap forward in the world of nano engineering, scientists say that further work is needed before the technology is ready to be used to develop commercial biosensors.
In an effort to provide communication tools for people in the developing world, Medic Mobile has developed a system using simple text messaging to connect patients in rural areas with health workers living in distant towns. By providing mobile phones to community health workers in rural areas, Medical Mobile has made it possible for them to gather health data of the people living there more efficiently. The system also assists workers with patient follow-up, vaccine adherence, and appointment reminders. Currently, Medic Mobile has equipped 6,000 community health workers across 15 countries and estimate that they have changed patient care for half a million people.
Game designer and author, Jane McGonigal, recently launched SuperBetter, an online, social game aimed to help players achieve their personal health and wellness goals. The platform is a self-directed resource that adds gaming elements to help participants lose weight, recover from injury, quit smoking, or overcome any other personal, health-related challenge. Players set their personal goals and embark on seven missions which set the foundation for an open-ended, self-guided adventure for personal improvement, played with family and friends in the real world. Every mission in the game is inspired by leading research in psychology, neuroscience and medicine, empowering gamers with successful practices in meeting their personal goals.
PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a steady stream of inspiring news and ideas in the health and wellness space. Once each week, we will be posting an article on PSFK.com. If you would like to gain access to the full stream of content, please check out Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, where they are publishing a regular stream of inspiring and informative content.