Smartphone-based System Does Job of Pancreas, Treats Type 1 Diabetes

Please sir/madam, you’ll have to disable your pancreas during take off and landing.  FAA regulations… 😉

People suffering from type 1 diabetes may soon be able to ditch constant finger pricks and manual insulin injections—if they have a smartphone on hand, that is.

Combined with a tiny sensor and wearable insulin pump, a smartphone can stand in for a pancreas, automatically monitoring blood-sugar levels and delivering insulin as needed, researchers report. The system, backed by a $12.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, will enter two final phases of international trials this year.

Source: Smartphone-based system does job of pancreas, treats type 1 diabetes

FAA guidelines already have exemptions for medical devices.

The “wireless sensor which reports every 5 minutes” is the part that most concerns me.  I know some who love their CGM, and they’re reasonably accurate.   But not accurate enough to trust for actual dosing decisions — before making any adjustments on an insulin pump, verify with a fingerstick.

Unless they’re using some new not-yet-released sensor, I wouldn’t want any automated algorithm making decisions based on the current CGM. Garbage in, garbage out… Except now, “garbage out” could kill you.  And that’s not even addressing security/safety concerns in the communication protocols, which others have pointed out. I’m glad to see innovation in this area and hope it develops, but there’s a long way to go here.

Pediatricians Now Agree: Screen Time Isn’t So Bad for Kids

When families seek our professional advice on managing technology in their children’s lives, we turn to research-based AAP guidelines that promote positive media use and discourage potentially harmful use.

Source: Beyond “Turn It Off”: How to Advise Families on Media Use

I’ve covered neuroplasticity before.  And there is a theory for why some are nearsighted…  But in this day and age, there’s a risk of hindering developing minds if they don’t have access to things their peers do.  It’s coming to the point that the Internet is a fundamental service, not unlike electricity or water.

Parenting tip: I know of one parent who keeps tabs on his kids via Facebook, using an account for the family dog.  The kids can’t be that old, but apparently open up to the “dog” account – unlike for an adult/parent account.

A Smartphone Dongle That Will Tell You If You’ve Got STDs

One step closer to the Star Trek tricorder!

A team of researchers, led by Samuel K. Sia, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, has developed a low-cost smartphone accessory that can perform a point-of-care test that simultaneously detects three infectious disease markers from a finger prick of blood in just 15 minutes. The device replicates, for the first time, all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test. Specifically, it performs an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) without requiring any stored energy: all necessary power is drawn from the smartphone. It performs a triplexed immunoassay not currently available in a single test format: HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and non-treponemal antibody for active syphilis infection.

…During the field testing in Rwanda, health care workers were given 30 minutes of training, which included a user-friendly interface to aid the user through each test, step-by-step pictorial directions, built-in timers to alert the user to next steps, and records of test results for later review. The vast majority of patients (97%) said they would recommend the dongle because of its fast turn-around time, ability to offer results for multiple diseases, and simplicity of procedure.

Source: Smartphone, Finger Prick, 15 Minutes, Diagnosis—Done!

Screw the relatively useless features that smartphones currently provide.  I’m looking at you, NFC and 1080p…  There’s no mention, but I’d hope the device would be able to help with diabetes, INR…

Brains: Reshaped by Touchscreen Use

You know what they say about big thumbs… 😉

Extensive use of smartphone touchscreens is changing the sensory relationship between our brains and our thumbs, a study published in Current Biology has revealed.

…”What this means for us neuroscientists is that the digital history we carry in our pockets has an enormous amount of information on how we use our fingertips (and more),” explains one of the study’s authors, Arko Ghosh.Linking this “digital history” to brain activity was a case of using electroencephalography (EEG) to examine how regular smartphone users responded in tests compared to those who use older-style feature phones. Each set of phone users had their brain response to various mechanical touches recorded, with a focus on the thumb, forefinger and middle finger.

Source: Our brains are being ‘continuously reshaped’ by smartphone use

We’ve known for a long time that your brain specializes and you gain greater sensitivity when you repeat tasks or increase usage of a part of your body.  Braille is the classic example. Most people would have a hard time discriminating the individual raised dots without wiggling their finger on each one (and some people not even then), but once you learn and practice your fingers can read them at a fairly decent speed.  Other examples include: martial arts, yoga, artistry and artisanry (blacksmithing, masons, tilers, etc), athletes…

Some would argue that this is evolutionary.  But sperm DNA is continuosly modified, so men pass on different things at different ages. Eggs are all formed before birth.  This is why a theory exists that cancers/etc might occurring in children whose fathers are older.  Secondly, we have lots in our bodies which serves no purpose, but it wasn’t phased out completely.  IE: the appendix.  Not only it doesn’t help, but it represents a potential cause of death in some cases. We have evolved not to need it/ use it, but we didn’t get rid of it.  Similarly – the tail bone.  Some do have a vestigial tail.  Don’t send me pics, I’m only interested if the tail is prehensile.  Epigenetics is the field working to explain what you are imparting on your children.

The real take-away from the abstract is the suggestion that your brain increases activity to your thumbs, but only while you’re using a touchscreen (smartphone, tablet, etc).