Precision Medicine

Early diagnosis can improve your chances of survival massively, and is also a big opportunity to new technology to help as shown in the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE entries.

Hopefully one day (and not some distant time in the future) you will be able to be quickly scanned for a wide variety of diseases and infections – hundreds of times more than could realistically be considered by a GP considering general symptoms such as fever, nausea and pain – of course they have to assume its the most common ailments first so could be months before all the other possible causes are tested for and discounted.


Read blog posts tagged with diagnostics.

Nokia Sensing XChallenge – XPrize

Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE

Scanadu Scout Medical Tricorder indiegogo project –

Latest News

Leukaemia blood test breakthrough – Independent – 9-Jul-2018
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) can become life-threatening without warning.
DNA mutations are measurable up to five years before it emerges.
Bone marrow mutations cause the over production of neutrophils and monocytes.
Researchers used blood samples from 800 patients in EpiC.
Similar markers may exist for other types of leukaemia.

Digistain offers revolution in detailed cancer diagnosis – Imperial College London – 13-Mar-2018
New imaging technology to grade tumour biopsies.
Reduce the subjectivity and variability.
Nearly all biopsies stained with same two vegetable dyes used for 100 years.
Practitioners will only agree on a slice’s grade about 70% of the time.
Digistain using mid-infrared light to photograph the tissue slices.
Measures chemical changes such as nuclear-to-cytoplasmic-ratio (NCR).
Based on a physical measurement, rather than a human judgement.

Low-cost single-cell analysis for rheumatoid arthritis – Science Daily – 23-Feb-2018
New York Genome Center has develop a portable, low-cost microfluidic controller.
3D-printed custom device obtained and assembled for a cost of about $600.
Studied synovial tissue from patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Identifies cells that may prove to be important drug targets.

Swallowable sensor transmits live from the gut – BBC News – 23-Jan-2018
Pill-sized sensor capsule transmits live data from the intestines.
Transmits information to a mobile phone app.
Different types of intolerances occur in different gut locations.
Will improve diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders and diseases.
RMIT in Australia have recently conducted human trials.

Blood test detects eight common forms of cancer – BBC News – 19-Jan-2018
Looks for mutations in 16 genes and eight proteins that regularly arise in cancer.
Blood test detects eight common forms of cancer.
Vision is an annual test designed to catch cancer early and save lives.
Tumours release tiny traces of their mutated DNA and proteins they make into the bloodstream.
Found 70% of cancers in over 1000 patients.
Cancer Seek is now being trialled in people who have not been diagnosed with cancer.
Costs less than US$500 which is around the same price as a colonoscopy.

Moving towards clinical applications of genomics – Open Access Government – 18-Jan-18
Role of high throughput sequencing (HTS) in rare and complex diseases.
High throughput sequencing (HTS) to play a central role in rare and complex diseases.
Generation of multiple layers of high throughput data from a single sample possible.
TrainMALTA project aims to provide diverse forms of training in bioinformatic analysis.

Total-body PET/CT scanner could revolutionize analysis of disease – Eurek Alert – 3-Jan-2018
Scientists at UC Davis outline the development and benefits of this innovative diagnostic tool.
Allows imaging of all the tissues and organs of the body simultaneously.
Will be able to detect focal pathologies at considerably lower levels of disease activity than is currently possible.
Scan times could be less than one minute.
Positron emission tomography (PET) is the most sensitive technique for non-invasively studying the living human being.

Funding to quickly determine if cancer treatment is working – Evening Express – 2-Nov-2017
Cartridge would quickly extract small fractions of circulating tumour DNA in the blood
Currently risks involved in sending to labs with no standard procedures.
Heriot-Watt University to spend 4 years designing and piloting a credit card-sized device.

New 3-D imaging technique for precision medicine – Phys – 18-Oct-2017
For an illness like cancer, doctors often turn to computed tomography (CT) scans for a more definitive diagnosis, based on reconstructing a 3-D organ from multiple 2-D image slices.
At the molecular level, such 3-D scans could become an important part of precision medicine: a future of tailoring treatment decisions to each patient’s unique cellular features.
These new type of images may inform treatment decisions not only for cancer, but also for pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which damaged and scarred lung tissue reduces a patient’s ability to breathe.

Owning the diagnostic journey – Irish Examiner – 2-Oct-2017
Diaceutics CEO Peter Keeling is working to bridge the gap between pharmaceutical companies, diagnostics, and laboratories.
Hundreds of thousands of patients could be missing out on life-saving drugs.
Most medicines have been little tested and used to treat everyone broadly the same.
15 years ago a breast cancer patient would have been treated with the same type of cocktail of drugs, regardless.
But breast cancer is a whole series of different types of diseases.
Better identification of disease enables greater impact with the treatment.

Genetic test for early detection of pancreatic cancers – Medical Xpress – 2-Oct-2017
Pancreatic cysts are increasingly detected on medical scans.
Most are benign but some progress to pancreatic cancer.
Can’t risk unneeded surgery to remove all the cysts.
Small amount of fluid from cyst can be tested for 10 different tumor genes.
First use of next-generation sequencing in a certified clinical laboratory.

Genetic testing helps set safe dose of common blood thinner – Washington University School of Medicine‘s – 26-Sep-2017
Warfarin is commonly prescribed to patients to prevent life-threatening blood clots.
Person’s genetic makeup influences how the drug is processed in the body.
Too much warfarin can cause internal bleeding; too little fails to prevent clots.
It causes more major adverse events than any other oral drug.
Genetic testing reduced adverse events by 27 percent.
Clinical trial took into account genetic variants in three genes.

Computer knows how much pain you are in – New Scientist – 1-Sep-2017
A new algorithm can rate how much pain you are in just by looking at your face.
By examining tiny facial expressions and calibrating the system to each person, it provides a level of objectivity in an area where that’s normally hard to come by.
According to its creator Dianbo Liu the main challenge is measurment of pain levels as people express pain differently, so a doctor’s estimate of a patient’s pain can often differ from a self-reported pain score.
This systen might be useful in determining real pain from faked one.

Altered bacteria could turn faeces blue if you’re ill – New Scientist – 30-May-2017
E. coli bacteria given genes that are sensitive to tetrathionate – an indicator of ulcerative colitis.
In presence of tetrathionate, bacteria switch on a gene to make an enzyme which is passed in faeces.
Enzyme can then be identified in lab tests, in which it changes colour.
Different colours could allow people to check their own faeces for multiple diseases.

Tricorder X Prize winner announced – MobiHealthNews – 13-Apr-2017
Final Frontier Medical Devices wins $2.6 million prize after beating 255 teams that registered back in 2012.
Handheld device must continuously monitor five vital signs, diagnose 13 disease states and be usable by anyone.
FDA worked with the X Prize Foundation to provide a dedicated help desk for participants.

Graphene sheets allow for very-low-cost diagnostic devices – Kurzweil AI – 20-Mar-2017
Could make it possible to capture and analyze individual cells from a small sample of blood.
Specially treated sheets of graphene oxide produced using low-temperature annealing.
Can attach chemicals to the surface to select and bond with specific molecules of interest or even whole cells.
Next step is to try to make a working detector for a specific disease model.

Faster way of detecting bacteria could save your life – Science Daily – 3-Feb-2017
Michigan State University has created a molecular diagnostic system.
Point-of-care diagnostic test “In-Dx” produces results within two hours.
Can use blood, urine, spit, wound, stool or cerebral spine fluid samples.
Currently in a clinical trial – preliminary results already look promising.
Knowing specific bacteria means a much more targeted treatment (e.g. antibiotic) could be given right away.

Prick of the Finger Can Diagnose a Concussion – WIRED – 17-Jan-2017
Current tools to determine concussion are crude and often subjective (e.g. count backward from ten to one).
Damaged axons release a tau proteins into the cerebral spinal fluid – some of which enter the bloodstream.
So few of the proteins end up in the blood that until very recently no one’s been able to detect them.
Quanterix Simoa robotic biochemistry assay instrument can detect tau protein in hours – with trials planned to reduce to 15 minutes.
Tau levels closely predict severity of injury, and time needed before athletes should return to activity.

Craig Venter talks through his new Health Nucleus clinic – Aging Reversed (YouTube) – 13-Jan-2017
The new approach to healthcare:
Life threatening diseases discovered in 40% of clinic visits who thought they were 100% healthy,.
Machine learning can predict face model from genome alone.

Nanoarray sniffs out and distinguishes ‘breathprints’ of multiple diseases – Kurzweil AI – 23-Dec-2016
International team of scientists have identified a unique “breathprint” for 17 diseases with 86% accuracy.
Noninvasive, inexpensive, and miniaturized portable device screens breath samples to classify and diagnose several types of diseases.
Researchers analyzed breath samples collected from 1404 patients who were either healthy or had one of 17 different diseases.
Each disease produces a unique breathprint, based on differing amounts of 13 volatile organic chemical (VOC) components.
COMMENT: I’m often proclaiming the future of healthcare is precision medicine using a drop of blood – but using my breath would be even easier

Sore throat sufferers urged to take pharmacy test – BBC – 12-Nov-2016
Sore Throat Test and Treat service will determine if an illness is caused by a virus or a bacterial infection.
Results from a throat swab, which measures sugars on the tongue, are provided in five minutes.
Walk-in service is aimed at reducing doctor appointments and to help reduce the over-use of antibiotics.
In a trial only 10% people were given a prescription – “a massive reduction.”

Woman diagnosed with HIV after 30 years – BBC News – 12-Oct-2016
In 2013, the British HIV Association recommended that patients be offered an HIV test on registration with their GP in high-prevalence areas.
70% of local authorities in high prevalence areas in England do not fund all GP surgeries to test patients.
Dr Chloe Orkin: “Deaths due to late diagnosis are completely preventable through excellent treatments.”
One woman diagnosed with HIV after 30 years and two husbands.
COMMENT: One day we’ll have annual blood screening for a wide variety of conditions

Gene-reading software to cut TB diagnosis from months to minutes – New Scientist – 21-Sep-2016
CRyPTIC aims to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant TB by looking at its genome.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that ranks alongside HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease.
Ending the epidemic will mean tackling drug resistance which has risen dramatically in last 10 years.
Resistant bacteria can be defeated with the right cocktail of drugs.
TB genomes being sequenced around the world are fed into a machine learning system at University of Oxford that is being taught what drugs work for particular strains of TB.

Rapid detection of bacterial infection – New Scientist – 6-May-2016
Standard tests for bacterial infections involve growing bacterial cultures from patient samples and takes three to five days to get results.
Harvard Medical School has developed a small, portable device that can detect five of the most common infections in hospitals.
Device can analyse a sample of mucus or other fluid in a matter of hours using a technique that reads the genetic sequences of bacteria.
1 in 15 patients in developed countries will catch an infection during their hospital stay.

New 10-minute test for cancer developed by scientists – Telegraph – 13-Feb-2016
Test could be taken at home – non-invasive and cheap, costing around £15.
Single drop of saliva contains enough data to give a definitive diagnosis as soon as a tumour develops.
Due to enter full clinical trials in lung cancer patients later this year.
Down the road it might be possible to test for multiple cancers at the same time.

Odoreader accurately detects prostate cancer from urine – gizmag – 11-Feb-2016
Non-invasive prostate cancer test more accurate than standard prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests.
Uses gas chromatography sensor combined with specially developed algorithms to analyze urine samples.
Odoreader designed in 2013 to detect bladder cancer.

Disolving wireless brain sensor – Laboratory Equipment – 22-Jan-2016
Made mainly of polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) and silicone.
Monitors intracranial pressure and temperature.
Absorbed by body negating need for surgery.
Could build similar absorbable sensors to monitor activity in other organs.
Reduces risk of infection and inflammation.
Tested in rats – now planning human trials.

Blood test can now tell if antibiotics are needed for infections – The Telegraph – 20-Jan-2016
Antibiotics  have no effect on respiratory infections caused by viruses – but doctors under pressure to prescribe.
Duke University has discovered that genes react differently when they are working to fight of viruses or bacterial infections.
Simple blood test can detect difference in an hour.
Coughs and colds are one of the most common reasons for a GP visit.
COMMENT: of course you only get a 10 minute appointment with your GP so will need some mechanism to create the prescription if blood test is positive.

Digital Diagnosis: Intelligent Machines Do a Better Job Than Humans – Singularity Hub – 18-Jan-2016
Currently medical robots are improving patient outcomes not reducing cost.
Blood tests and genetic testing can be carried out automatically and very cost effectively by machines.
An appropriately trained machine will be superior at pattern recognition than any human could ever be.
Knowledge and experience is lost when human pathologist retires.
Mobile phones with high-quality cameras could link to global database.
An X-ray taken in equatorial Africa could be read with the same reliability as one taken in an Australian centre of excellence.

Artificial intelligence used to detect cancer – Swansea University – 15-Jan-2016
Researchers trained algorithm to recognise specific cell of interest.
Also determines a cell’s age which may determine suitable treatment.
Avoids the use of fluorescent stains which  alter the cell’s behaviour.
Speeds up analysis from 10s per hour manually to 1000s per hour.

Digesting the next generation of wearable tech – The Guardian – 13-Jan-2016
Digital pill dissolves in your stomach acid, releasing a signal to an adhesive patch on your body, which in turn bluetooths an app on your smartphone.
Proteus ingestible sensor is closest to launch.
PillCam’s “camera pills” track your stomach’s health with tiny camera.
Embeddable skin patches can measure blood flow rate.

Microbubbles provide clear images of blood vessels in live animals – New Scientist – 25-Nov-2015
Technique takes advantage of how high-frequency ultrasound waves interact with tiny gas-filled bubbles about 2 micrometres in diameter.
Allows doctors to image organs deep in the body in microscopic detail – pixels about the size of a red blood cell.
Other techniques make compromise between clarity, speed and organ depth.
Could help understand diseases that modify blood-vessel systems, e.g. diagnose what stage a cancer is at and better understanding of stroke.

Prototype lab in a needle – Today’s Medical Developments – 23-Nov-2015
Can test liver toxicity in 30 minutes instead of several days.
Could condense the entire laboratory process into the sample collection device.
Sample preparation on microfluidic chip and while amplification performed on a second connected chip.
Next steps are to integrate chips, scale up for mass production and test for other health conditions.

Smart bandage deployment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital – isansys – 12-Nov-2015
RAPID (Real-Time Adaptive & Predictive Indicator of Deterioration) programme uses isansys Lifecare Lifetouch smart patches.
Biotelemetry and wireless sensors continuously measure vital signs such as heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen levels.
Real-time data is analysed to predict when a child’s condition may be deteriorating – which can save lives and shorten hospital stays.
Will study 1,200 patients over the three year lifetime of the project.

Anomalies in flesh detected from 30cm away – Kurweil AI – 9-Nov-2015
Microwaves heat up flesh-like material by only 1/1000th of a degree.
Ultrasound pressure waves given off that could be detected
New detector copes with drastic transmission loss when sound jumps from the solid to air.
Technique derived from DARPA research designed to detect buried plastic explosives.
Decade away from practical use – test was to detect location of a 4 square centimetre embedded target.

Targeted choice of antibiotic for urinary tract infections – BBC News – 19-Sep-2015
New mini DNA sequencing device can detect bacteria directly from urine samples four times more quickly than traditional methods.
Clinician can prescribe effective antibiotic earlier for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Six new major centres for diagnostic test development – PHG Foundation – 30-Jul-2015
Medical Research Council (MRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announce 6 university based pathology centres.
Molecular pathology will revolutionise the way we diagnose and treat disease, with patients receiving treatment tailored to their particular condition.

5 distinct prostate cancers identified – BBC News – 30-Jul-2015
250 prostate cancer samples studied – 5 distince genetic variations identified with different aggresiveness. Will enable doctors to decide on the best course of treatment.

Precision Medicine Catapult HQ set for Cambridge – PHG Foundation – 14-Jul-2015
UK’s new innovation centre for precision medicine to research more targeted disease prevention and treatment that takes into account people’s individual variations in genes, environment, and lifestyle.

Laser test for malaria, no blood sample required – New Scientist – 22-Jun-2015
Laser applied to person’s wrist or earlobe absorbed by waste crystals produced by the malaria parasite. Detector picks up sound of bubbles in 20 seconds. Reduces cost of testing from 50 cents to 8 cents per-person.

Single test identifies past exposure virus infections – BBC News – 4-Jun-2015
Another step closer to instant diagnosis from a pin prick of blood.
Average human have 10 infections identifiable from long-lived antibodies.

Acoustic device rapidly isolates circulating tumor cells from blood samples – MIT – 6-Apr-15
Help predict whether patients’ tumors will metastasize (Video)

Lung cancer breath test trialled – BBC News – 14-Feb-15
Clinically trials planned for this year

HIV and syphilis diagnosis in 15 minutes on smart phone dongle – Columbia Engineering – 4-Feb-15

Smartphone technology revealed at the British Science Festival could help diagnose and treat Parkinson’s disease. – BBC News – 9-Sep-2014

Intricate algae produce low-cost biosensors – Oregon State University – 29-Aug-2014
Reduces costs by factor of 100

AtomoRapid – Atomo Diagnostics (YouTube) – 4-Jun-13
The AtomoRapid all-in-one blood test can accommodate test strips for a wide variety of conditions from celiac disease and allergy through to infectious diseases such as malaria and HIV.




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