Devices that use video technology to detect a person’s heart and breathing rate are nothing new but until recently such devices were only effective on brightly illuminated, light-skinned people. DistancePPG, developed by researchers at Rice University, is a video technology that compensates for different skin tones, patient movement, and whatever ambient lighting is available. The device uses algorithms that average the color changes in a patient’s entire face while monitoring specific body areas as well. With these improvements DistancePPG might be widely adoption in neonatal wards and other clinical environments where patients need to be kept under close supervision.
In the world of neurology, researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed an experimental machine that performs highly targeted deep brain stimulation (DBS). The electrodes focus on the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for many higher brain functions. In experiments, DBS has been shown to keep the memory sharp and help prevent dementia.
Nanoparticles and imaging are also trending in medtech news. In January researchers at the University of Buffalo designed a nanoparticle that can be detected by six medical imaging techniques: computed tomography (CT) scanning; positron emission tomography (PET) scanning; photoacoustic imaging; fluorescence imaging; upconversion imaging; and Cerenkov luminescence imaging. In the future, a patient might receive a single injection of nanoparticles and have all six types of imaging done at once. Called “hypermodal” imagery, the nanoparticles can give a doctor a much clearer picture of a patient’s organs and tissues.
Nanotech is also being utilized in an improved prostate cancer screening test. Researchers at the University of Central Florida have devised a $1 screening tool for prostate cancer called NanoDLSay (Nanoparticle-enabled Dynamic Light Scattering Assay). Using nanoparticles, the screening tool quantifies the elevated immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels found in prostate cancer blood samples. With an estimated 233,000 new cases, and 29,480 deaths in 2014 in the United States, prostate cancer represents the second most diagnosed cancer in men after skin cancer. NanoDLSay is about twice as effective as the PSA test currently used.