Healthcare Watch September 2019

Kayla Walsh

PM360

September 3, 2019

Discoveries/Innovations: AI Will Diagnose Brain Aneurysms

GE Healthcare and Fujitsu Australia are developing an AI tool to quickly and automatically detect brain aneurysms, which often occur without detection. The AI algorithm will be trained to look for abnormalities within the brain during brain scans by highlighting blood vessels within the circle of Willis, an arterial ring sited at the base of the brain.

“As the consequences of brain aneurysm rupture are often fatal, effective and expedient detection is crucial,” Matt Tucker, President and CEO of GE Healthcare Australia & New Zealand, said in a statement. “Unfortunately screening and monitoring takes time and specialist expertise not afforded by every radiology practice.”

The system also will be designed to help track and monitor aneurysms over the long term, providing radiologists with a diagnostic support tool and patients with greater peace of mind that known aneurysms are being effectively monitored over the long term.

Time and Expertise Intensive

A brain aneurysm is a ballooning of a blood vessel in the brain which can eventually rupture and bleed causing a hemorrhaging stroke and other severe, often fatal complications in the brain. “Even in ideal circumstances, detecting brain aneurysms is time and expertise intensive and missed aneurysms can have terrible outcomes,” says John Magnussen, a diagnostic and interventional radiologist at Macquarie Medical Imaging. “By creating an AI assistant to automatically flag potential aneurysms and allow for accurate follow-up, we can make a huge difference to patient care.”

The second part of the funded project will include a planning tool for surgical (stent) intervention. This tool will use fluid dynamic modeling to predict the risk of aneurysm rupture. With a $1.4 million grant from the Australian government Fujitsu will lead Macquarie University and Macquarie Medical Imaging through the process with GE contributing its Revolution CT scanners.

TeleMed Texts: Phone Camera Detects Blood Pressure

A new study shows that we can now get an outstandingly accurate blood pressure reading by simply taking a video on a smartphone. Researchers from the University of Toronto published a study in which they used a technology called transdermal optical imaging on quick videos taken of faces on smartphones. Kang Lee, an applied psychology professor and lead author of the study, discovered that this standard tech has healthcare implications when trying to use it to develop a contactless lie detector.

The transdermal optical imaging uses the translucent nature of facial skin by registering red hemoglobin underneath the skin when light hits it. Using the optical sensor on a smartphone to capture this reflected red light from the hemoglobin, the technology can visualize and measure blood flow changes under the skin.

The researchers measured the blood pressure of 1,328 Canadian and Chinese adults by capturing two-minute videos of their faces on an iPhone and found that they were able to measure three types of blood pressure with 95% to 96% accuracy.

“From the video captured by the technology, you can see how the blood flows in different parts of the face and through this ebb and flow of blood in the face, you can get a lot of information,” Lee says.

Passionate about his discovery, he teamed up with the University and entrepreneur and future CEO of his startup, Marzio Pozzuoli, to found NuraLogix. The startup now offers a smartphone app called Anura that allows people to try out the transdermal optical imaging software for themselves. In the publicly available version of the app, people can record a 30-second video of their face and will receive measurements for stress levels and resting heart rate. In the fall, the company will release a version of the app in China that includes blood pressure measurements.

Patient Pages: Is Apple the Key to FemTech Success?

The FemTech wave has brought us tons of women’s health focused apps, not the least of which have been apps to track menstrual cycles. Beyond being primary pregnancy indicators, these FemTech apps aim to help women understand what “normal” means to them at the individual level, assisting in the prevention and management of female healthcare issues as well as offering meaningful information to better inform conversations with healthcare professionals.

Apple’s first period tracker, Cycles, is one of many apps with these same noble goals in mind, but PulsePoint’s VP of Marketing, Maria Simeone, believes it has the potential to be outstandingly helpful to women everywhere. Cycles, set to be released with the iOS13 update, is not any more unique in its content than other FemTech, but it is vastly more accessible to women around the world than an independent operating app. With access to health information being so vital to the delivery and quality of care, one has to acknowledge the limitations racial and economic disparities have on accessing this kind of FemTech data. Apple’s reported 1.4 billion active Apple devices in the world, gobbling between 20% and 40% of market share by country, is in a unique position to reach an unparalleled population of women worldwide.

Simeone says that closing the gap in healthcare access is one reason why the internet became a powerful tool for healthcare, and it is the reason Apple has the opportunity to solve an issue that government programs designed to close the digital divide in healthcare have failed at today. Health-focused apps like Cycles, backed by pervasive company like Apple, can contribute to improved health outcomes by placing more information directly into millions of individuals’ hands to help in their decision-making process.

Trend Setting: Making Strides in Pediatric Oncology

A new collaboration seeks to develop a novel class of compounds, called “imipridones,” that selectively target G protein-coupled receptors, an underexploited target in oncology. Oncoceutics, Inc. will work with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded Pediatric Preclinical Testing Consortium (PPTC), enabling the company to expand its pediatric oncology program. Oncoceutics’ ONC201 interested the PPTC with its promising clinical trials for adult and pediatric diffuse midline gliomas. The collaboration will focus on in vitro and in vivo testing in order to develop data to support the evaluation of ONC201 more broadly across pediatric cancers in the clinic. ONC201 can then undergo studies in preclinical models of pediatric glioblastoma, ependymoma, medulloblastoma, neuroblastoma, Ewing sarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma. Trials will be carried out at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Med Device: Ingestible Medical Adherence System Patented

etectRX has announced its U.S. Patent Approval for its proprietary technology, the ID-CapTMSystem. The ID-Cap System is an ingestible event marker, which gives clinicians and researchers the ability to accurately track and manage patients’ medication adherence on a per-dose basis. The marker is a “digital pill” or an ID sensor delivered within a standard, hard gelatin capsule shell. The sensor is powered by stomach fluid and emits very low-power digital messages from within the patient each time an ID-Capsule is ingested. The messages are transmitted to a wearable reader called the ID-Cap Reader and can be forwarded to the patient’s smartphone through the system’s mobile application—the ID-Cap App.

“We are confident that these additional patents will broadly protect etectRx’s technology and provide our products with long-term market value,” said Harry J. Travis, BS Pharm, MBA, President & CEO of etectRx. “These patents are important assets in etectRx’s intellectual property portfolio covering the ID-Cap System and our unique methods for monitoring patient adherence to medications.”

While the tech is still in development, when launched it will be taken with a patients’ regular medication to assist in the adherence process as well as the collection of data regarding medical adherence.

FDA Update

Drug Approvals

The FDA approves the first and only treatment for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), Alexion’s Soliris (eculizumab). The drug is designed for adults who have tested positive for anti-aquaporin-4 (AQP4) auto-antibodies, who account for approximately three quarters of all patients with NMOSD. NMOSD is a rare medical condition that attacks the central nervous system (CNS) without warning, which can cause irreversible damage to the brain and other functions of the body, leading to long-term disability. NMOSD often leads to blindness, paralysis, and even death due to attacks on the CNS and is shown to disproportionately affect young women and African American women. Soliris has the potential to reduce the risk of future attacks caused by this rare neurological disease.

Bayer Healthcare’s Nubeqa has been approved for treating non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. The drug is taken orally twice daily at home and may increase metastasis-free survival rates.

Baqsimi nasal powder is the first glucagon therapy approved for the emergency treatment of severe hypoglycemia administered without an injection. Eli Lilly will sell the powder in a single-use dispenser, which anyone can administer in the nasal passage of a patient suffering from a severe hypoglycemic episode. Severe hypoglycemia occurs when patients’ blood sugar levels fall to a level where they become confused or unconscious or suffer from other symptoms that require assistance from another person to treat. Baqsimi is approved to treat severe hypoglycemia in patients with diabetes ages four and older.

Med Device Approvals

Medtronic’s CoreValve System family of devices has been approved for use in patients at intermediate risk for surgical therapy when the aortic heart valve is narrowed and blood flow is restricted due to calcium build up. A doctor surgically implants CoreValve to reduce stress on the heart and prevent life-threatening heart complications.

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