The Future of Disease Detection: Who Are the Leaders?

disease-detection

Disease detection is one of the most important components of healthcare. This is because it is impossible to provide effective and efficient treatment without knowing what is wrong with the patient, meaning that it is critical for ensuring a positive outcome. However, it should also be noted that earlier detection increases the chances for successful treatment because a lot of medical conditions have unfortunate tendencies of becoming worse and worse without intervention, meaning that disease detection is often a matter of life or death.

Summed up, disease detection is important, so much so that it should come as no surprise to learn that there are numerous institutions looking into improvements for numerous medical conditions. Some of these efforts have turned up nothing or next-to-nothing, but others have produced much more promising results, which should come as welcome news to those who are concerned about the maintenance of their personal well-being.

Here are 5 disease detection leaders that are making promising progress:

IBM

Cancer is one of the leading killers for both men and women living in developed countries, so it should come as no surprise to learn that it receives an enormous share of the resources poured into disease detection research. One interesting development is related to IBM’s Watson, which is a computer system capable of machine learning that managed to make recent waves because of a successful media blitz.

IBM is planning to use Watson to execute gene sequencing as well as other cancer diagnosis services, which will be made available to medical professionals over long distances through the power of cloud computing. Since the computer system is so much more capable than its counterparts, this means superior results in less time, which should mean better outcomes for cancer patients. Something that has been made possible because of IBM’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, which specializes in this sort of business.

Translational Imaging Center

There are numerous medical conditions that can cause blindness, which is a serious problem because of how much it can interfere with the patient’s day-to-day routine. As strange as it sounds, the single most common cause of blindness in adults in diabetes of all things, which can cause damage to the delicate blood vessels in the retina of the eye. As a result, it is possible to notice this particular issue by picking up on suspicious changes such as leakage, swelling, missing blood vessels, and even the abnormal growth of blood vessels.

Traditionally, this required a process involving the injection of a dye that would light up when exposed to blue light, which is not just invasive but also expensive and time-consuming. Now, the Translational Imaging Center has come up with an innovative system that bounces light off of small mirrors in order to see what is happening with the eye, which is a huge improvement over the previous method.

National Institute on Aging

This year has been a good year when it comes to the detection of Alzheimer’s disease, seeing as how a number of blood tests have been developed that can detect its presence before its symptoms can begin to appear in sufferers. However, it seems that this is a trend that will continue into the near future because the National Institute on Aging has presented a study showing that people with Alzheimer’s disease had much higher levels of the inactive form of a protein in the brain called IRS-1 than people without the medical condition.

In more practical terms, this means that this could lead to the creation of a blood test that will be able to detect Alzheimer’s disease up to 10 years before the onset of symptoms with extremely high accuracy, which is well beyond even what the latest blood tests can manage.

Forest Devices

Strokes are when a blood vessel in the brain either bursts or becomes obstructed, meaning that blood is unable to reach the whole of the brain. As a result, strokes can not just kill but also cause lasting impairment because the brain governs so much of human function. In fact, the longer it takes for the sufferer to receive treatment for their stroke, the higher the chances of such impairments, thus making fast stroke detection a matter of incredible importance.

In response to this need, Forest Devices has come up with an electrocardiogram headband that can be put to use with unrivaled speed, which is set to start clinical testing to see whether it can start seeing use on the market or not. Should this medical device prove capable of meeting the standards of the FDA as well as those of other relevant authorities situated all around the world, it will be an unprecedented leap over the current method, which involves complicated and time-consuming CT scans.

In other words, if Forest Devices’s electrocardiogram headband turns out to be a functional product, the results could be nothing short of game-changing.

Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Sciences

For people with Type 1 diabetes, low blood sugar is a serious problem that can cause fatigue, shakiness, and even disorientation. Should this state be permitted to continue without intervention, it is even possible for it to result in seizures, unconsciousness, and even worse consequences. As a result, Type 1 diabetes sufferers use a wide range of methods to tell when their blood sugar is low, with one particularly interesting example being dogs that have been trained to alert them when they need to take the appropriate measures.

Recently, researchers at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Sciences at the University of Cambridge have discovered much higher levels of a chemical called isoprene in the breathes of people experiencing low blood sugar, which suggests that this could be one of the cues that dogs pick up on when they notice that something is wrong with their owners.

While this is more a matter of curiosity than meaningful change at the moment, it is nonetheless one more step in our understanding of Type 1 diabetes, which could lead to the development of superior detection methods based off of this particular discovery in the future.

References:

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/technology/ibm-is-counting-on-its-bet-on-watson-and-paying-big-money-for-it.html
  2. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-06-method-diabetes-patients-diabetic-retinopathy.html
  3. http://www.alzheimers.net/12-3-14-blood-test-detects-alzheimers-early/
  4. http://www.post-gazette.com/business/healthcare-business/2016/06/01/New-stroke-detection-device-promises-faster-diagnosis/stories/201606010026
  5. http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/chemical-found-in-breath-could-explain-why-dogs-can-detect-diabetes-symptoms-1.2976371


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