SyncThink uses VR to find concussions faster

SyncThink, founded by Dr. Jamshid Ghajar from Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance center, will use virtual reality to discover concussions earlier.

SyncThink uses a DK2 Oculus Rift develop kit with eye-tracking sensors that allow quick and portable access to athletes to discover early brain trauma.

SyncThink specializes in neurotechnology and received FDA clearance to use the EYE-SYNC on March 22nd, 2016. EYE-SYNC analyzes eye movement and reportedly can assess abnormal eye movement in under 60 seconds.

The headsets are being used in the Stanford University Athletic programs. The company also announced that Indiana University will be using the EYE-SYNC technology to study sub concussive head impacts.

Battling Alzheimer’s disease early on

A new genetic test may be able to identify people who are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 35 years old.

Most drugs are made to slow down symptoms from disease, it’s much more difficult to spot diseases early on. Scientists in the US are developing methods to catch the disease before symptoms surface. A study was published in the journal Neurology.

“Dementia is caused by a complex interplay of genetics, lifestyle and environment so this risk score, which exclusively looks at genetics, can only give us part of the picture,” Said Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society.

The testing, developed by Massachusetts General hospital, combines gene variants that are known to raise the risk of Alzheimer’s. With their genetic testing, people who scored higher for cognitive impairment were more likely to fully develop dementia and were more likely to have a smaller hippocampus, which is crucial for memory and spatial awareness. Scientists studied the genes of 166 people with dementia and 1,026 without using MRI images and polygenic testing to create scoring for the test. The average age was 75. Scientists then calculated the same risk score and hippocampal volume in 1,322 people between the ages of 18 and 35.

Dr Brown said: “This study provides evidence that creating a ‘risk score’ based on a combination of several different genes could possibly be used to predict whether someone has a higher chance of developing memory problems.”

Scientists discovered that people aged 35 and younger who scored on the higher end for the test had a small hippocampus and were likely to develop the disease later in life. Younger adults with various genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s have a smaller hippocampal volume, said Elizabeth Mormino, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study.

“The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to take regular exercise, avoid smoking and eat a healthy, balanced diet,” said Dr Brown.

This type of early detection methods could help lower the effects from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s not curable as of now, methods can be taken to reduce risk and protects ones self.

CRISPR may begin clinical trial on human patients

CRISPR, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, the genome-editing technology may be used on a trial involving patients by the end of the year.

On June 21st, an advisory committee at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) approved a proposal to use the CIRSPR-Cas9. CRISPR will be used to augment cancer therapies using the patients T cells, immune cells. Gene editing could improve treatments drastically.

The first trial has been designed to test the safety of the technology for us in people. The University of Pennsylvania will manufacture edited cells and treat patients with locations including California and Texas. An immunotherapy foundation will be funding the project.

There will be approximately 18 patients who will have their T cells removed. 3 CIRSPR edits will be performed: The first edit will insert a gene for an engineered protein capable of detecting cancer cells and instructing T cells to target them, the second edit removes a T-cell protein that may interfere in the process, and the third edit will remove the gene for a protein which identifies the T cells as immune cells and prevents them from being disabled by the cancer cells. The last part of the process will be to infuse the edited cells back into the patient.

With the approval coming from NIH all that’s needed to successfully being trials is the permissions from US regulators and review boards. Though if approved trials could begin by the end of the year.

Researchers from IBM and Singapore create chemical that can kill Viruses

On March 21st, 2014 the first case of the Ebola virus was reported, it spread and killed an estimated 11,315 people, according to the World Health Organization. When viruses break out its often difficult to stop them, let alone cure. Though recently it has been announced that IBM in partnership with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, in Singapore, have developed a new chemical that may be able to kill Ebola, Zika, Dengue, Herpes, and bacteria, and they’re making it in an antimicrobial soap.

In 2011, researchers from IBM and Singapore showed a biodegradable nano particle that could be used to attack bacteria cells, many that are resistant to antibiotics. In 2013 they introduced “nanomedicine” that could fend off viruses and bacteria. The medicine came in the form of cream or gel that is placed on top of wounds and worked differently from traditional antibacterials. Instead of killing off bad and good cells it would identify bacteria cells and destroy them without destroying good cells.

This new new chemical works by intercepting a virus before it increases infection. Viruses spread by attaching to cells and this new chemical has the potential to attach to immune cells and prevent the virus from doing infecting those cells. It also has the potential to destroy a cell if the virus gets pas the chemical, decreasing the number of cells the virus can use to replicate itself.

While the chemical is not available as of yet in the commercial market it may soon be. The company is working on the best delivery method in order to get to the public. With the world still feeling the effects of the Ebola virus this new chemical may get the approval of many from around the world. It could also help us in combating life threatening viruses in the near future.

Google files patent for computerized eye lenses

Google has patented a new technology that could replace smart glasses with smart lenses that are directly injected int your eyeballs.

The company released Google Glass in 2013 for select “explorers” and publicly in 2014. Though what followed wasn’t what was imagined. There were very critical and negative views about the product and even leading to legislative actions for privacy concerns, with many organizations banning users from wearing the product in their establishment. Even with all the negative reactions Google came out with an updated product in 2015 and now have taken a step further.

Google has stated in its patent application, it would remove the lens of your eye, replace that empty space with a fluid, and then place an electronic lens in the fluid. It might seem very painful and obstructing though with this enhancement you wouldn’t need to wear glasses or worry about loss of vision.

The company has said these new lenses could be used to cure age-related conditions such as presbyopia, which stiffens people’s eyes and overtime their ability to focus decreases or is even lost.

As with Google Glass and its massive privacy issues, the company has stated that there could be privacy concerns with the lenses. The lenses transmit data, which could be used by outside sources such as hackers or authorities to track your whereabouts, but not only that if the lenses take in data of what you are seeing then potentially that private data could get into the wrong hands. Google has stated that it could make the lenses take out personal information.

Though this seems like a logical or a next step for Google Glass, the company has not stated that it is working on a public product. Therefore, we might not even see technology like this for a very long time or at all. This is, however, the next step in bridging the gap between nature and technology. In an essence this technology might be more prominent and could replace handheld technology all together in the future. We are in an era of discovery and that’s the best part we get to be a part of emerging technology and Google is a company that is always pushing the limits and boundaries.

Wearable patch being developed by South Korean Research team to monitor diabetes

An experimental device has been created that uses a patch to monitor blood sugar levels through sweat and uses micro-needles that deliver diabetes drug through the skin.

A team at Seoul National University, Republic of Korea, led by Dae-Hyeong Kim published their findings online on March 21 in the Nature Nanotechnology journal. Currently there are two options for monitoring glucose (blood sugar levels). The first requires a sick that uses a drop of blood for testing and the second requires a sensor placed underneath the skin for continuous monitoring. Both options can be painful and intrusive.

Using graphene, the research team have developed a thin patch that conducts electricity, is soft, thin, and can be transparent. It has a variety of sensors to detect humidity, glucose levels through sweat, pH and temperature, and heat sensitive micro-needles, according to the researchers.

The prototype was developed by assistant professor Dae-Hyeong Kim who partnered with MC10, a flexible eletrconics company in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Hyunjae Lee, a study author from Seoul National University said “Diabetics are reluctant to monitor their blood glucose levels because of the painful blood-gathering process. We are highly focused on a noninvasive monitoring and therapy system for diabetics.”

Researchers have tested the ability of the patch to accurately measure blood sugar levels and they were successful. Tae Kyu Choi, a study author from Seoul National University, said “We integrated a humidity sensor in the diabetes patch to check how much sweat is generated. So the person who perspires heavily wouldn’t affect the sensing.” They also tested for someone who perspires very little and found that the patch works in both conditions, whether or not you sweat a lot of very little.

This concept is still far from being available in the market. Lee and Choi have estimated that the device wouldn’t be available for at least five years. But when it does it might be one of the most important innovations in our time and could prove to lead to some revolutionary changes in how we monitor our health.