Google Patents Needle-Free Blood Draw Technology

In September, Google’s Life Sciences Division announced that it would be launching a major research and development initiative aimed at improving diabetes care through technology. At that time, Google had already made digital health headlines when it unveiled a pair of contact lenses that double as a continuous glucose monitor. Google’s contact lenses have since been licensed to Novartis for commercialization, and will likely be the first non-invasive glucose monitor available to diabetics in the US. This advance in non-invasive glucose monitoring is one that medical device firms had already spent millions in R&D efforts trying to accomplish, but where they failed, Google prevailed. Now, with credibility and respect firmly in its court, pharmaceutical companies are lining up to ink R&D deals with Google. The company has partnered with DexCom to miniaturize traditional continuous glucose monitors, and Sanofi in a multi-year initiative focused on moving glucose meters and insulin pens into the 21st century by connecting them to a cloud-based disease management platform.

Google Patents Needle-Free Blood Draw Technology

Last week, Google was issued a patent for yet another potentially game-changing technology developed by its diabetes team. Like all Google patents, it’s important to keep in mind that Google owns patents on thousands of technologies, some of which move through the development pipeline and become commercial products, while others never leave the lab. Its newest invention is a needle-free method of drawing blood. Google has invented a system that uses gas propulsi0n to fire a small micro-particle down a tube and into the tip of a user’s finger. The tube itself is negatively pressurized, which causes it to immediately draw a drop of blood into the chamber once the skin has been penetrated. The real-world question that Google’s patent leaves unanswered is how it compares to a traditional needle from a pain perspective. Diabetes tends to have poor disease management adherence and many suggest that it is because users are required to endure daily finger pricks, which can be painful. A new method of measuring glucose would certainly benefit diabetics, but for it to be worth the effort of rolling out a new technology, the average pain score associated with drawing blood this way will need to be significantly lower than using a traditional needle.

Read more...

Cornell University Researchers Develop Point-Of-Care Device That Delivers 10 Minute Stroke Diagnosis

Researchers from Cornell University’s Baker Institute for Animal Health and Department of Biomedical Engineering, along with colleagues from State University of New York, and the New York Presbyterian Hospital have developed a point-of-care device that uses nanoparticles to quickly detect key biomarkers in the blood that could one day help doctors rapidly diagnosis emergency conditions. The technology behind the device has broad implications, as it could theoretically be used for rapid detection of a wide variety of conditions, including stroke, heart attack, acute brain injury, and lung cancers.

Cornell University Researchers Develop Point-Of-Care Device That Delivers 10 Minute Stroke Diagnosis

To test the device, the team chose to focus on the biomarker Neuro-Specific Enolase (NSE), which appears in higher concentrations in stroke patients. In addition to helping diagnose stroke, earlier studies have found that “serum levels of NSE in first few days of ischemic stroke can serve as a useful marker to predict stroke severity and early functional outcome.” The team coated nanoparticles with immobilized enzymes that naturally bind to NSE. The nanoparticles are then exposed to a small drop of blood, where they are able to detect NSE. When a nanoparticle binds to an NSE molecule, it is designed to emit light that researchers can then measure. The more light emitting from a sample, the higher the NSE concentration levels in the blood.

Read more...

Welltok Raises $45 Million In New Funding, Acquires Silverlink

Denver-based population health startup Welltok has closed a $45 million funding round led by EDBI, Flare Capital, and Georgian Partners. The new round follows a $37 million Series D that closed in January, and a combined security and equity-based funding round of $21 million raised in May, bringing its total raised for 2015 to a staggering $103 million and its lifetime funding level to $130.2 million.

Welltok Raises $45 Million In New Funding, Acquires Silverlink

While $139 million is notably high, the company has been in operation for six years and has taken an acquisition-based approach to growth and development, which generally requires larger capital outlays than an organic growth strategy. Since its launch, Welltok has acquired: IncentOne (2013), an incentive-based consumer-engagement vendor; Mindbloom (2014), a gamification consumer-engagement vendor; Predilytics (2015), a data analytics vendor focused on consumer behavior; and Zamzee (2015), a consumer-engagement vendor focused on pediatric health and wellness. While financial terms for each of those acquisitions was left undisclosed, the aggressive pace of acquisitions has had a significant impact on Welltok’s funding needs, and helps to contextualize its aggressive 2015 fundraising.

Read more...

Propeller Health Signs R&D Partnership With GlaxoSmithKline

Propeller Heath has signed a new R&D agreement with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to co-develop an inhaler sensor designed to work with GSK’s Ellipta dry-powder inhaler. Propeller Health and GSK are not new business partners. The pair have worked together before on a very similar project developing sensors for GSK’s Diskus dry powder inhaler. That project concluded in July when Propeller Health secured FDA clearance to market a Discus-based medication usage sensor.

The newest round of sensor development efforts are a precursor to larger clinical trials GSK is preparing to conduct, and will support those trials by automatically tracking medication usage within the participant population. Each sensor will capture medication utilization data and then wirelessly transmit this information to a server for analysis by GSK researchers. The trials will give GSK the data it needs, while simultaneously providing Propeller Health with much of the data it needs to secure FDA clearances for the new sensor.

Read more...

Scripps Launches Wearables-Powered Population Health Study

A team of researchers working at Scripps Translational Science Institute are launching a new clinical trial that will remotely monitor patient heart rates in order to measure the prevalence of undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heart beat, in the general population. Called the mHealth Screening To Prevent Strokes study, awkwardly abbreviated as mSToPS, the study aims to determine whether routine, at-home heart-rate monitoring is a financially and technically viable way of improving atrial fibrillation diagnosis in high-risk patient populations.

Scripps Launches Wearables-Powered Population Health Study

Researchers will recruit a total of 6,100 participants before the study commences. Enrollment will be limited to women over 65 and men over 55 that are found to be at high risk for having undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. Twenty-one hundred participants will be outfitted with one of several home-monitoring technologies, while the remaining 4,000 will act as a control group. Most of the 2,100 patients selected for home monitoring will be sent home with a transdermal patch-based sensor by iRhythm Technologies. The patch is outfitted with a single lead ECG sensor that is water resistant and can be worn 24 hours a day for up to two weeks. Scripps worked with the startup behind the patch on a previous study, testing the device’s ability to diagnose atrial fibrillation when compared to a traditional Holter monitor. In that study, iRhythm’s patch outperformed the Holter monitor, accurately detecting 96 atrial fibrillation events compared to the Holter monitor’s 61. Researchers from that earlier study concluded, “Physicians who reviewed data from both devices reported reaching a definitive diagnosis 90 percent of the time when using the patch results and 64 percent of the time when using Holter monitor data.” A subset of participants in the new study will also be asked to wear the Amiigo wristband, a newer technology that was also designed to monitor heart rate. While participants wearing the iRhythm’s patch will only wear the device for the first and last two weeks of the study, participants using the Amiigo will be asked to wear the device as much as possible for the entire four-month study.

Read more...

New Personal Coach and Fitness Tracking Startup Raises $13.4 Million Series A

Menlo Park, CA-based activity tracker startup GOQii, pronounced go-key, has closed a $13.4 million Series A funding round led by prominent digital health investment firm New Enterprise Associates and Chinese mobile communications developers Cheetah Mobile. The round also included investments from DSG Consumer Partners, Great Wall Club, and a number of angel investors. Since its launch in 2014, GOQii has raised several angel-backed seed rounds, though funding totals from those rounds were not disclosed.

New Personal Coach and Fitness Tracking Startup Raises $13.4 Million Series A

GOQii is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur and angel investor Vishal Gondal. After selling a video game startup to Disney for $100 million in 2011, Gondal has been investing in businesses and working on his own next project, GOQii. The new company is an activity tracker and personal coaching app rolled into one. The team behind GOQii claims that the platform was designed from the ground up to deliver sustained end-user engagement, something that both activity trackers and personal fitness apps have struggled to deliver.

Read more...

Researchers Use Machine Learning Algorithms To Uncover New Diabetes Sub-Groups

Researchers from the Departments of Endocrinology, Personalized Medicine, Genomic Sciences, and Health Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine have collectively published interesting new findings from a computer science-based approach to researching type 2 diabetes. The team used machine-learning algorithms to sift through thousands of patient records, analyzing hundreds of individual data points within each record, to help them learn more about the underlying workings of type 2 diabetes. While researchers have been studying diabetes for decades, the depth and speed at which advanced algorithms are able to analyze large datasets is helping researchers uncover new information about the disease.

Researchers Use Machine Learning Algorithms To Uncover New Diabetes Sub-Groups

The team employed a machine learning-based sorting technique to create a patient similarity network in which patients with like symptoms or conditions were grouped together in a network map representing the dataset. This algorithm worked its way through the records of 2,500 diabetic patients, sorting them based on hundreds of data points in their chart. The resulting scatter plot, seen above, clearly shows three distinct sub-groups within the overall type 2 diabetes patient population. Endocrinologists had long known through observation that type 2 diabetes seemed to present in a number of distinct groups, but until now these groups were undefined and unstudied.

Read more...

Fitbit Devices Can Now Automatically Identify Exercises and Track Workouts

Fitbit has released a software upgrade for its Surge and Charge HR activity trackers that adds functionality allowing the devices to automatically detect when users begin a workout, and even discern what type of exercises were done. Prior to the update, Fitbit users needed to manually tell their devices that they were about to start a workout, after which they were prompted to enter details on the type of exercise they would be doing. This information was subsequently used to trend workout habits and calculate daily caloric burn.

Fitbit Devices Can Now Automatically Identify Exercises and Track Workouts

To help reduce manual workout logging, Fitbit has enhanced its activity trackers with software that will detect an increase in activity levels, and then analyze the details of that activity to identify what exercise is being performed. The extent to which Fitbit will identify activities is limited. In a press release, the company reports that its trackers can now automatically identify biking, running, walking, and elliptical use. Beyond this, exercise will be sorted into one of two generic categories: aerobic workouts or sports workouts. By default, Fitbit will not count the activity as a workout until the user spends 30 minutes exercising, but this threshold can be reduced to as low as 10 minutes, or increased all the way to 90 minutes.

Read more...
↑ Back to top

Founding Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors