UCSF Fields Malaria Tracking Tool Powered By Google Earth

Researchers with UC San Francisco are piloting an online platform designed predict the spread of malaria before it happens, allowing health workers to preemptively strike as they work to suppress outbreaks more quickly. The goal of the program is to provide a tool for local health workers to use to help fight back against a disease that takes the lives of 600,000 people a year, most of which are children.

UCSF Fields Malaria Tracking Tool Powered By Google Earth

For years, epidemiologists tracking malaria have noticed that poor countries will defund malaria prevention programs just as they are beginning to take control of the situation, often costing themselves the opportunity to completely eradicate the disease from their country. Hugh Sturrock, PhD, MSc and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics warns, “This can have disastrous consequences, since malaria can quickly rebound, putting years of expensive control efforts to waste. But with these maps, health workers will know exactly where to target their scarce resources. That way, they can keep fighting the disease until it’s eliminated within their borders.”

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A Simple Breathalyzer May Be The Next Lung Cancer Screening Tool

Last week, clinicians descended on Munich to attend the annual European Respiratory Society’s International Congress. During the event, a group of researchers from the University of Foggia, Italy presented findings from a small study that left many hoping that a cheap, non-invasive lung cancer screening test may finally be just around the corner.

A Simple Breathalyzer May Be The Next Lung Cancer Screening Tool

The presentation focused on a group of 82 patients that had been referred for an x-ray to investigate possible lung cancer. X-ray results established that of the 82 patients, 40 had confirmed lung cancer, and 42 did not. Next, researchers analyzed breath temperature across both groups and found that the patients with lung cancer exhale measurably warmer breath. The researchers were able to analyze the variations in breath temperature between the two groups and identify an accurate cutoff threshold that would reliably identify lung cancer in a patient. Researchers also noted that breath temperature increased at consistent and predictable levels depending on what stage lung cancer was in. Additionally, increases in breath temperature were associated with the number of years a person had been a smoker.

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Keas Raises $7.4 Million Series C For Its Employee Wellness Program

Keas, a San Francisco-based employee wellness startup, announces the closing of a $7.4 million Series C led by returning investor Ignition Partners, and with participation from new investor Atlantic Investors, and other undisclosed investors. The new funding follows an $8 million Series B round closed in June 2013, that was also led by Ignition Partners. The funding brings Keas’ total raised to $33 million since its 2008 launch.

Keas Raises $7.4 Million Series C For Its Employee Wellness Program

Keas markets an employee wellness platform that poses as a social network, driving consumer engagement through established best practices borrowed from other industries. The company delivers a web-based health management tool that employees use to form groups and sign up for group health challenges. Group challenges can focus on weight loss goals, establishing healthier eating habits, or increasing daily activity levels. Employees work together toward accomplishing their group’s goal. Progress is posted to the Keas social network, and as a result participants receive encouragement and motivation from their group members. The challenges are incentivized by employers through a variety of reward structures that vary from employer to employer, but that are designed to help keep groups goal-focused as they sign up for new challenges.

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$500k Lemelson-MIT Prize Awarded To Health Sensor Inventor

The Lemelson Foundation created the Lemselson-MIT prize in 1994 to provide recognition and financial support to mid-career inventors that have managed to translate novel ideas into world-changing new technologies. The $500,000 prize makes it the single largest award for US inventors. The award is financially backed by the Lemelson Foundation but it is organized and executed by MIT. MIT is responsible for soliciting and evaluating nominees, and then two pools of finalists are chosen by two independent screening committees composed of MIT faculty. A national group of technology experts then selects the winner from the two pools of finalists.

$500k Lemelson-MIT Prize Awarded To Health Sensor Inventor

This year, Sangeeta Bhatia, a biomedical engineer with a Ph.D from MIT and an MD from Harvard University, has taken the top prize. Bhatia is an MIT professor, and has built her career around miniaturizing technologies with the goal of creating more powerful health sensors. Bhatia and her team at MIT have designed novel cancer detection tests by developing an enzyme that when injected into a tumor, sheds key biomarkers that can be picked up on a urine paper strip test.

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6Sensor Labs Raises $4 Million Seed Round For Food Allergy Testing Device

San Francisco, Calif.-based 6Sensor Labs announces a $4 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures and supported by SoftTech VC, SK Ventures, Xandex Investments, Mitch Kapor, and Lemnos Labs. 6Sensor Labs is a member of Lemnos Lab’s hardware incubator, which focuses on bringing early-stage hardware startups through the design process and ultimately to market and commercialization. 

6Sensor Labs Raises $4 Million Seed Round For Food Allergy Testing Device

The startup is building a portable food analyzer that can quickly identify ingredients within a meal that may trigger an allergic reaction. The device is theoretically capable of testing for a variety of ingredients, but is focusing on gluten first, and is marketing to people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivities. The team behind the startup comes from MIT, where they worked on the project together as students. After conducting a cost-benefit analysis and technical feasibility studies, they realized that the project was achievable and had measurable market demand. 6Sensor Labs co-founder Shireen Yates, who herself struggles to maintain a gluten-free diet, explains “Most of the people we surveyed felt they got sick from cross contamination about one out every three times they dined out.”

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News for the Week of 9/12/14

Wellframe raises $8.5 million Series A. Wellframe was interesting to me when I first heard about it. I think they’ve been heads down with early customers and product, and I assume now are looking to scale. Wellframe offers a care management platform that helps patients follow evidence-based guidelines and connects them with care team members more easily. I’ve met the Wellframe team and was impressed.

News for the Week of 9/12/14

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Apple’s Lack of Focus on Healthcare

On the heels of announcing HealthKit (with Mayo and Epic as partners) and with the launch of its first wearable device, most of us thought Apple would make a splash into healthcare this week. As Lt. Dan covered, the Apple announcement fell short of what most people expected to hear about Apple and healthcare. 

Apple’s Lack of Focus on Healthcare

I heard from several people about work they were doing related to HealthKit integration. Most people, like us at Catalyze, were planning on a big week in healthcare for Apple and wanted to take advantage of the press. There was a lot of that, but it was mostly about how disappointed people are that Apple didn’t announce anything big.

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Glen Tullman Launches Livongo Health On $10 Million Seed Investment

Former Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman launched his consumer health startup Livongo Health at today’s TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference, held on Pier 48 in San Francisco. The startup is being backed by General Catalyst, who provided Tullman with a $10 million seed  investment to get his company off the ground. Details on the investment were not disclosed, however General Catalyst was able to place both its managing director Hemant Taneja and principal Niko Bonatsos on Livongo’s board of directors.

Glen Tullman Launches Livongo Health On $10 Million Seed Investment

Livongo Health is building a technology-focused chronic disease management platform that it hopes will take some of the burden out of managing complex medical conditions. Its first efforts are focused on diabetes care. Tullman developed a strong interest in diabetes after his son was diagnosed. He now serves as the chancellor to the International Board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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