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March 26, 2021 HealthcareNews

We all already forgot to take medication, right? Now, imagine people that have to take it on a daily basis for the rest of their life! People that really depend on it to have a stable health! But, if there are people that depend on medication to have a healthy life, what is the risk of forgetting to take medicine? Or to take it wrong? This has become a major problem, and not only for patients, but also for hospitals and professionals, because this leads to more hospitalizations and higher healthcare costs.

There are some measures that have been taken to overcome this, such as giving initial training to patients about the medication they take and their medical devices. However, overtime patients forget, and the errors of the self-administration become undetected and are only seen when there is a serious health problem. So, what can we do to overcome this?

Massachusetts Institute of Technology did a research on the possibility of using artificial intelligence to access the medication self-administration of patients at home! Their focus was on inhalers and insulin pens, but their findings can easily be applicable to other devices and medications.

Their solution uses a Wi-Fi sensor that analyzes the radio reflections of the signal from the environment to track specific movements associated with the use of an inhaler or insulin pen. This system documents the results of the self-administration and uploads it in a digital health record of the patient, that can be accessed by health professionals. Furthermore, the system sends reminders to the patient if the medication was not taken at the prescribed time.

This innovation can have a huge impact on people’s health, especially in a pandemic crisis like the one we live today!

Artificial intelligence can really change the way we provide healthcare, and this technique is the prove of that! There still research to be done, mainly in the upscale of the AI system to other medical devices and in the upgrading of the current one, but this study already shows promising results!

 

 

Source:

Zhao, M., Hoti, K., Wang, H. et al. Assessment of medication self-administration using artificial intelligence. Nat Med (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01273-1



March 19, 2021 HealthcareNews

For a long time, research has been done about drug’s efficacy, and the major factor that impacts the drug’s performance inside the body is the way in which it is delivered. A lot of drug delivering systems have been studied in the past years, and microneedle arrays have become an attractive option for their minimal invasion through the skin, being a promising transdermal drug delivery system.

The microneedle arrays are minimal invasive devices that penetrate the skin’s barrier – the stratum corneum – creating a pathway for drug permeation. These microneedles are applied to the skin surface and create microscopic aqueous pores through which drugs diffuse to the dermal microcirculation, painlessly. However, microneedles have limited ability to deliver drug loading doses and therapeutically
sufficient drug concentrations and can break up in the skin tissues, causing skin irritations.

However, Tohoku University has been studying a technique that have shown promising results, enhancing the permeation of macromolecular drugs through the skin, solving some of the microneedle’s limitations. They studied a solid polymer-based ion-conductive porous microneedle that contains interconnected micropores for improving iontophoresis, which is a technique that applies a direct current through the skin, accelerating the transdermal penetration. This allows dose individualization and pulsed delivery profiles.

With the need of improving home healthcare systems, especially because of the growing problems of an aging society and improving medical care during epidemics, this technique shows progress in the development of healthcare patches for transdermal drug delivery.

The iontophoretic transdermal drug delivery systems have been actively studied and some of the applications already commercialized are for fast dosing of drugs for dermal anesthesia, post-operative pain relief, anti-migraine and as a simple collection method for medical diagnosis.

So, the combination of iontophoresis and microneedles is being investigated as an option for transdermal delivery, showing promising advantages of their ability to deliver macromolecular drugs.

 

 

Source:
<https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-20948-4>
<https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927796X16300213>
<https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0928098718305268?token=A51B2E1485061458C6EF8B3BC58290
350D405B29ED4A42A793574BB90C10AC67F9CEBD15B5369DF5BEC049DE278A95B7>
<https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1773224721000137?dgcid=rss_sd_all>



March 12, 2021 HealthcareNews

 

You probably already heard about clinical trials, but you might have been hesitant to participate in one. Don’t worry, we will clarify in this post about how clinical trials are conducted, what are the different phases of clinical trials and the benefits of volunteer in one.

Have you ever thought about the fact that in every disease prevention and innovative treatments there was a lot of volunteers that participated in clinical trials? Probably you wouldn’t be that healthy if it wasn’t because of that people’s initiative!

But what are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are research studies performed in people to find out if a new treatment, drug or medical device is safe and effective.

However, there are a lot of phases in a clinical trial, and they are only done after a lot of laboratory tests and animal studies, that show favorable results and are approved to be tested in humans.

The first phase of a clinical trial consists of experiments done in a small group of health people, so the research group can evaluate the safety and side effects. The second phase uses more people and focus on the effectiveness of the treatment, meaning tests are made in people with a certain disease or condition. The third phase gathers more information and studies various populations and dosages. If the results of this phase are positive, they will be approved for the next phase. The last phase allows tests to be done in a larger population for a longer period, so researchers can have great proof of the treatment’s efficacy.

It’s important to notice that these studies have very strict regulations, and each trial is monitored by a lot of experts. People usually are reluctant about participating in clinical trials, but did you know that you are just likely to experience side effects from a clinical trial as from medication already approved? Furthermore, clinical trials can help to find new treatment options for diseases that you or your family might have in the future or have at the moment.

So, if you never thought about volunteering in a clinical trial, you can find
about what is currently being done in https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ .

 

Sources:
<https://www.policymed.com/2010/05/the-importance-of-clinical-trials.html>
<https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-are-clinical-trials-and-studies



March 5, 2021 HealthcareNews

 

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.80 million cancer cases in 2018 were from people with colorectal cancer (which includes cancers of the colon and rectum), being one of the most common causes of cancer death.

In the past years, the number of younger adults (people with less than 50 years old) with the disease has been increasing, and some analysts estimate that the risk among millennials is, approximately, 2 to 4 times higher than their grandparents. This means that there are health behaviors and environmental
factors that are impacting the increase of numbers.

As scientists discussed in an event organized by NCI and NIEHS, the main priority is to identify the risk factors that are leading to the emerging of younger adult’s cases, especially because young people tend to be diagnosed at later stages.

In their discussion three main risk factors were presented – diet, bacteria in the gut and inflammation.

Regarding diet, several studies showed that overweight can increase the chance of having colorectal cancer, and we can see the increase of overweight young people in the past years.

The bacteria in the gut are also another possible factor, as it may affect the effectiveness of the cancer treatment. However, gut bacteria are affected by the food people eat, because It can change the type of bacteria in the gut, so this is related with the previous factor discussed.

Another factor is inflammation, because bacteria in the gut block immune cells that fight cancer, which can intensify inflammation due to the bacterial toxins. Furthermore, some conditions can also increase inflammation, as diabetes or Crohn’s disease.

In addition, is also important to understand the environment factors, as it can expose people to many chemicals that will interact with their genetic.

However, beyond the research about what is causing these numbers, is also important to identify the disease at early stages. A common prevention treatment is screening but usually It is used for people over 50. For young adults, this treatment is not that common, as it is costly and invasive. There have been done some research about alternatives to this technique, as the Epi proColon, a bloodbased test, however, are necessary more results to come to more concrete
conclusions.

So, if we can have a clear vision about the main factors that are contributing for the growth of cases in young adults, we can have more clear approaches to prevent the disease.

 

Source:
‘Why Is Colorectal Cancer Rising Rapidly among Young Adults? by the National Cancer Institute
<https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/colorectal-cancer-risingyounger-adults>



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