We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
EverlyWell, maker of a digital platform that lets consumers order lab tests online, provide samples and receive results, has raised another $2.5 million in a round led by Next Gen Venture Partners. This brings the company’s total funding to date to $5 million after raising $2.5 million last year. They plan to use the latest funding to hire more leadership positions, explore new partnerships and improve their product features. After their beta launch in 2015 – a three-month period during which they gained almost 1,500 customers across 45 states – they started with tests across eight different health areas, including food sensitivity and thyroid levels, and they now have 12 different at-home lab tests altogether.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 795,000 people have a stroke each year, and more than 130,000 die because of a stroke every year in the United States. Redivus Health has created an app that can be compared to the GPS system replacement of paper maps: an electronic guide for medical procedures, such as heart attacks. Creator Jeff Dun launched the company in 2015 and the app was created to reduce medical error during “critical, time-sensitive, high-mortality events” such as cardiac arrests, or strokes. Redivus Health is already been used in three of five critical-access hospitals that are part of the University of Kansas Health Systems to help improve health services in rural communities. “At the end of the day, we want to save a lot of lives here, and that’s really the goal of using this technology,” Dunn said.
Over the past three years, Harvard Medical School student Andrew Le and his colleague Eddie Reyes have developed a digital health tool that would function as a health-specific search engine. “Right now, the status quo is Googling symptoms and getting scared. That is the front door of healthcare,” Le told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “So what we wanted to do was change the ramifications of that front door.” The result is Buoy, an AI-powered resource used online or via an app that sources over 18,000 clinic papers and offers individuals a list of possible conditions after asking the patient questions. Buoy also sees its tool as a new way to gather significant amounts of research that could otherwise be missed in traditional studies.
By using a smartphone, scientists have been able to control the activity of living cells inside an animal. With the fusion of biology and technology, it was able to control blood sugar levels in mice with diabetes, and could pave the way for a “new era” in medicine, Chinese researchers said. The technology is called optogenetics and these cells would kick into gear when exposed to specific wavelengths of red light. A set of wirelessly powered LEDs and a smartphone app would then be used to control them. Their ultimate goal is a fully automated system that both detected sugar levels and releases the right amount therapeutic chemicals, and in the future the cells could be engineered to manufacturer a wide range of drugs. Prof Mark Gomelsky, a molecular biologist from the University of Wyoming, said the study was an “exciting accomplishment”.
With millions of people using Fitbits, Apple Watches, and other wearables to track their steps, what if there was a measureable difference between a good and bad step? Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), believe there’s a difference and they can measure it with a new wall-hanging device. The device reads wireless signals bouncing off your body as you walk around the house. The white, painting-sized device, named WiGait, emits a tiny wireless signal and augments the information collected on your smartphone about how you walk in every life, your “gait velocity”. Most fitness measurement devices use precise accelerators to measure movement, whereas WiGait measures speed and stride-length. Next step for Katabi’s team is to test WiGait on patients with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Each of us has a unique “odorprint” made up of thousands of organic compounds, where molecules give away who we are, revealing age, genetics, lifestyle, hometown – even metabolic processes that underlie our health. For decades, researchers have been trying to figure out how to build an inexpensive odor sensor to detect quick, reliable and non-invasive diagnoses. Owlstone raised $23.5 million to put its odor analysis technology into the hands of clinicians, and Britain’s National Health Service is funding a 3,000-subject clinical trial to test Owlstone’s sensor to diagnose lung cancer. As for the sensor, it’s a silicon chip stacked with various metal layers and tiny gold electrods. “You can program what you want to sniff out just by changing the software,” Mr. Boyle said. “We can use the device for our own trials on colorectal cancer, but it can also be used by our partners to look for other things, like irritable bowel disease.” Said Billy Boyle, co-founder and president of operations at Owlstone.
San Francisco-based ReThink Medical raised $3 million to develop a medical wearable to predict and prevent heart failure. The round was led by Norwich Ventures and Launch Capital, supported with additional funding from Launch Capital. “Essentially the problem we’re tackling is heart failure,” CEO Reza Naima told MobiHealthNews. “One of the key problems is that patients have no insight into the disease progression in their systems until really late in the development of the disease.” The device tracks six different vitals including heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, and fluid levels. It will then be connected by Wi-Fi to a hub that will transmit to the patient’s care team, who can reach out if it detects a problem. ReThink would like to use the funding to build out its team, support clinical trials and work on the design to make it as user-friendly as possible.