July’s top news stories

6 August 2019 (Last Updated August 9th, 2019 14:08)

Urine tests may help determine treatment for prostate cancer and Machine learning model to offer bladder cancer diagnosis. Medicaldevice-network.com wraps up key headlines from July 2019.

July’s top news stories
A new machine learning model analyses a patient’s metabolites and their chemical descriptors to detect bladder cancer. Credit: Seanbatty from Pixabay.

Urine test may help determine treatment for prostate cancer

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Toronto partnered to devise a new non-invasive diagnostic test for prostate cancer.

The team identified a urine biomarker for aggressive prostate cancer that is expected to aid in deciding an appropriate treatment plan for patients.

With existing screening tools, around 25% to 40% of patients with a clinically insignificant disease undergo unnecessary surgeries and radiotherapy treatments.

The researchers also added that 20% to 35% of men with prostate cancer do not receive enough therapy and often experience disease recurrence.


Machine learning model to offer bladder cancer diagnosis

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and Moores Cancer Center worked with CureMatch to develop a machine learning model to diagnose bladder cancer and identify what stage its at.

Called multi-layer perceptron or MLP, the approach is expected to provide a non-invasive diagnostic option and analyse a patient’s metabolites and their chemical descriptors to detect the cancer.

The research team noted that the new technology could accurately classify bladder cancer stages in a patient. It is hoped that this model would help the current invasive and costly diagnosis process.


Mylan HIV Self Test receives WHO prequalification approval

Pharmaceutical company Mylan and medical device maker Atomo Diagnostics secured World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification approval for an in-vitro HIV rapid diagnostic meant for self-testing.

WHO prequalification is meant to ensure that medical products for high burden diseases meet global standards of quality, safety and efficacy for improving health outcomes and use of health resources.

Manufactured by Atomo Diagnostics, the handheld HIV Self Test has been designed to identify the presence or absence of HIV type 1 and type 2 antibodies via a fingerstick within 15 minutes.


New blood test aims for smarter tuberculosis diagnosis

A UK study displayed potential for a new blood test to diagnose human tuberculosis (TB) and identify those most at risk of developing the disease.

Researchers found the Actiphage assay, which has been commercialised by PBD Biotech for the livestock industry as a blood or milk test for bovine TB and Johne’s disease, was able to positively identify human TB with 73% accuracy.

The 66 participants in the study were divided into four groups: those with active pulmonary TB, those with latent TB, a control group of patients referred for suspected TB but found not to have the disease and a control group of healthy individuals.


New technology analyses patient’s gaze to detect autism

A new technology developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada examined visual gaze in order to accurately diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children.

Findings from a study revealed that children with autism scan a person’s face differently compared to a neuro-typical child.

Based on these findings, the research team devised an approach to analyse the transition of a child’s gaze from one part of a person’s face to another.

While the new technology can be used in all ASD diagnoses, the researchers believe that it would be particularly effective for children.


Amazon Alexa offers UK users health advice in NHS partnership

The Amazon Alexa voice assistant began offering expert NHS health advice to UK users, with the aim of improving the quality of public health information and reducing demand on the overstretched health service.

The smart home device now automatically searches and provides information from the official NHS website when UK users ask for health-related advice. Previously, it provided health information based on a variety of popular responses.

As well as filtering out disinformation from unverified sources, it is thought the technology will be particularly useful for elderly or visually impaired people who may struggle to use a computer to look up their symptoms.


Study finds hearing aids may protect against dementia

A new online study by the University of Exeter and King’s College London revealed that wearing a hearing aid to address age-related hearing problems may eventually result in better brain function.

Called PROTECT, the study builds on recent findings by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care, which indicated that hearing loss is a key risk factor for dementia.

According to the latest research, which involved 25,000 people aged 50 years and above, a hearing aid can protect the brain and potentially reduce dementia risk.

The study involved annual cognitive tests over two years in a group of people who wore hearing aids and another group who did not.


MIT researchers create microfluidics device for sepsis diagnosis

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US developed an automated, microfluidics device to detect sepsis within approximately 25 minutes.

Sepsis is characterised by an inflammation chain reaction caused by the body’s immune response to infection. The condition could lead to septic shock and organ shut down.

Sepsis is currently diagnosed using a variety of approaches, including blood, imaging, and lab tests.

Previous research revealed that protein biomarkers in the blood could help detect the condition early. It was observed that a protein called interleukin-6 (IL-6) increases hours before other symptoms appear.


Zeus Scientific Lyme disease assays secure clearance in US

Zeus Scientific received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for new indications of four of its diagnostic tests intended for Lyme disease.

The assays are the Zeus ELISA Borrelia VlsE1/pepC10 IgG/IgM, Borrelia burgdorferi IgG/IgM, Borrelia burgdorferi IgM and Borrelia burgdorferi IgG Test Systems.

The tests involve concurrent use of two enzyme immunoassays (EIA), instead of the existing two-step process requiring an initial EIA test followed by a protein test called Western Blot.

Lyme disease tests are designed to analyse a blood sample for antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative bacteria which is transmitted via infected ticks.


Researchers convert brain speech signals into written text

Patients with paralysis-related speech loss could benefit from a new technology developed by University of California San Francisco (UCSF) researchers that turns brain signals for speech into written sentences.

Operating in real time, this technology is the first to extract intention to say specific words from brain activity rapidly enough to keep pace with natural conversation.

The software is currently able to recognise only a series of sentences it has been trained to detect, but the research team believes this breakthrough could act as a stepping stone towards a more powerful speech prosthetic system in the future.