An App Better than Doctors at Detecting Jaundice?

Researchers have reported data from a trial with 100 newborns for an app that can detect jaundice.

It was found that the app had greater accuracy in detecting jaundice than visual exams performed by doctors. It also matched the accuracy of blood tests for bilirubin. High levels of bilirubin can indicate that that the liver isn’t functioning properly and signifies jaundice.

The app works by using a smartphone with a camera and flash to take pictures of the newborn’s chest with a colour calibrator – a sheet about the size of a business card with eight different colours. The software processes the images and creates a report.

The University of Seattle team working on the app, dubbed BiliCam, believe it will someday be useful in calming parent anxiety and reducing healthcare costs

The BiliCam research was funded in part by Coulter Foundation and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

The smartphone application is still in development but may someday help parents and healthcare providers screen for jaundice in newborns.

The Blood Test Diagnosing Depression

The first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults has been developed, providing the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression.

The test measures the levels of nine genetic indicators (known as “RNA markers”) in the blood and can also predict who will benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy, offering the opportunity for more effective, individualised therapy for depression-sufferers. The test also showed the biological effects of the therapy, the first measurable, blood-based evidence of the therapy’s success and showed who is vulnerable to recurring episodes of depression, Northwestern University researchers report.

“The longer this delay is, the harder it is on the patient, their family and environment,” said lead researcher Eva Redei, a professor in psychiatry and behavioural sciences and physiology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“Additionally, if a patient is not able or willing to communicate with the doctor, the diagnosis is difficult to make,” she said. “If the blood test is positive, that would alert the doctor.”

The test works by measuring the blood concentration of the RNA markers. A cell’s RNA molecules are what interpret its genetic code and then carry out those instructions from DNA. After blood is drawn, the RNA is isolated, measured and compared to RNA levels expected in a non-depressed person’s blood.

The blood test’s accuracy in diagnosing depression is similar to those of standard psychiatric diagnostic interviews, which are about 72 – 80% effective.

 

Blackberry’s Medtech Smartphone…

Disregard the excitement of the launch of Apple’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch, as Blackberry is taking a bold step into healthcare!

After losing ground in the smartphone race, Canadian phone maker Blackberry Limited has decided to venture into a new field by launching a healthcare service platform that will integrate thousands of medical devices to enable early detection of illnesses in India.

Blackberry has allied with NantHealth, which makes medical device interoperability systems, to develop a service platform designed to aggregate data from thousands of devices in order to generate insight into the spread of disease.

The companies plan to offer a smartphone designed to tap into the medical device network to integrate data from a variety of devices, including ECG machines, scanners and other systems. Blackberry’s platform will also provide analytics and decision support.

“Work has started on it but we haven’t finalized an official launch date,” said Sunil Lalvani, managing director of BlackBerry India. “We are running trials with multiple hospitals in India. It includes integration with different hospital information systems as well as various medical equipment.”

Image credit: Silicon Angle

Can We Diagnose Malaria Using Magnets?

Despite the recent Ebola virus outbreak which has claimed over one and a half thousand lives as of August 26th, Malaria still remains Africa’s biggest killer.

Diagnosing Malaria has changed very little over the past seven decades – after taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and looks under a microscope for the Plasmodium parasite, which causes the disease. This approach gives an accurate count of how many parasites are in the blood — an important measure of disease severity — but is not ideal because there is potential for human error.

A research team from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology (SMART) have now developed a novel way to diagnose malaria using magnetic fields. This affordable and quick technique can detect parasitic waste products in the blood of infected patients.

Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical and biological engineering at MIT, said: “There is a real potential to make this into a field-deployable system, especially since you don’t need any kind of labels or dye. It’s based on a naturally occurring biomarker that does not require any biochemical processing of samples.”