Shot to the Gut: “Robotic” Pill Sails Through Human Safety Study

The autonomous, easy-to-swallow device administers a drug injection inside the intestines An average person with type 1 diabetes and no insulin pump sticks a needle into their abdomen between 700 and 1,000 times per year. A person with the hormone disorder acromegaly travels to a doctor’s office to receive a painful injection into the muscles of the butt once a month. Someone with multiple sclerosis may inject the disease-slowing interferon beta drug three times per week, varying the injection site among the arms, legs and back.    Medical inventor Mir Imran, holder of more than 400 patents, spent the last seven years working on an alternate way to deliver large drug molecules like these, and his solution—an unusual “robotic” pill—was recently tested in humans. The RaniPill capsule works like a miniature Rube Goldberg device: Once swallowed, the capsule travels to the intestines where the shell dissolves to mix two chemicals to Continue reading Shot to the Gut: “Robotic” Pill Sails Through Human Safety Study

From the Segregated South to Bell Labs to the AI Frontier

Legendary inventor James West is trying to save lives with a smart stethoscope This blog post is about a coauthor of the IEEE Spectrum feature article: “A Smart Stethoscope Puts AI in Medics’ Ears.” The invention that made James E. West famous came out of his conviction that he could make things better. West was born into a world in dire need of improvement. He grew up during the Great Depression in rural Virginia, where racial segregation laws denied his family many opportunities. But he challenged the status quo with every step forward in his education. In 1953, he entered Philadelphia’s Temple University, and he soon landed a coveted summer internship at Bell Labs. His supervisors asked him to work on headphones used in acoustics experiments, which weren’t able to transmit ultra-precise pulses of sound. West built a new kind of headphones with a transducer made from a solid dielectric Continue reading From the Segregated South to Bell Labs to the AI Frontier

A Smart Stethoscope Puts AI in Medics’ Ears

Engineers from Johns Hopkins reinvent the humble stethoscope to save lives Video: Johns Hopkins University Tech for a Noisy World: Researchers simulated an extremely noisy environment in the lab (the sound meter shows levels of around 70 decibels). They compared the audio heard through a top-notch commercial stethoscope, in which the breathing sounds are mixed with ambient noise, to that heard through the Johns Hopkins smart stethoscope, which uses active acoustic filtering to isolate the breathing sounds. You wake up one morning to discover that your child is ill: His forehead feels hot to the touch, and his rapid breathing has a wheezing sound. You live in Malawi, where your health care options are few. When the local clinic opens, you wait for your turn with the solitary clinic worker. She’s not a doctor, but she’s been trained to identify and handle routine problems. She puts on a stethoscope and Continue reading A Smart Stethoscope Puts AI in Medics’ Ears

AI Helps Amputees Walk With a Robotic Knee

Computer algorithms help prosthetics wearers walk within minutes rather than requiring hours of training A movie montage for modern artificial intelligence might show a computer playing millions of games of chess or Go against itself to learn how to win. Now, researchers are exploring how the reinforcement learning technique that helped DeepMind’s AlphaZero conquer chess and Go could tackle an even more complex task—training a robotic knee to help amputees walk smoothly.

Cyberdyne’s HAL Exoskeleton Helps Patients Walk Again in First Treatments at U.S. Facility

Patients at a Florida clinic are the only ones in the United States with access to Cyberdyne’s HAL exoskeleton, but that will change in 2019 Danny Bal was riding his brand new motorcycle to work from his home in Ocala, Florida two years ago when the driver of an oncoming car fell asleep and ploughed into Bal’s electric-blue bike.  After the accident, which crushed three of Bal’s thoracic vertebrae and shredded a spinal nerve, Bal adjusted to life in a wheelchair. He added a motorized lift to his beloved F-250 truck, explored local trails with a hand-powered bike, and joined a therapeutic horseback riding program. Now, one of Bal’s daughters is about to get married, and 57-year-old Bal wants to walk in her ceremony. So on a recent Friday morning in December at Brooks Rehabilitation in Jacksonville, Florida, Bal was back on his feet, taking slow but steady steps as his granddaughter Continue reading Cyberdyne’s HAL Exoskeleton Helps Patients Walk Again in First Treatments at U.S. Facility

Choosing Sensors for Medical Applications

Sensor based monitoring is becoming popular among the aging population. Here’s how to select a sensor to fit your application and parameters. With the ever growing and aging population, patient auto-monitoring systems are becoming more and more popular. Their popularity stems from being both consistent and repeatable in addition to being low cost. Sensor-studded monitoring instruments in this category are also versatile because they can be used both in hospitals and at home. Selecting a sensor can be simple if the application and the parameters that need to be monitored are clearly understood. The most complicated sensors are implantables, followed by sensors used in catheters (through incision) and sensors used in body cavities, sensors that are external but come in contact with body fluids and sensors for external applications. IMPLANTABLE SENSORS Implantable sensors need to be small, lightweight, and compatible with body mass as well as require very little power Continue reading Choosing Sensors for Medical Applications

The First Frontier for Medical AI Is the Pathology Lab

But before adopting startup PathAI’s tools, doctors must see if they are worth the cost Illustration: Carl De Torres This is how a pathologist could save your life. Imagine you’re coughing up blood, and a chest scan reveals a suspicious mass in your lungs. A surgeon removes a small cylindrical sample from the potential tumor, and the pathologist places very thin slices of the tissue on glass slides. After preserving and staining the tissue, the pathologist peers through a microscope and sees that the cells have the telltale signs of lung cancer. You start treatment before the tumor spreads and grows. And this is how a pathologist could kill you: The expert physician would just have to miss the cancer. Or, more likely, misclassify the cells viewed on the slides as the wrong cancer subtype. Rather than getting a targeted therapy that beats your cancer into remission, you receive conventional chemo Continue reading The First Frontier for Medical AI Is the Pathology Lab

“AI Clinician” Makes Treatment Plans for Patients With Sepsis

Researchers say the AI doesn’t just see like a doctor, it acts like a doctor Most experiments with artificial intelligence in medicine thus far have worked on the diagnostic side. AI systems have used computer vision to examine images like X-rays or pathology slides, and they have combed through data in electronic medical records to spot subtle patterns that humans can miss. Just last week, IEEE Spectrum reported on hospitals that are trying out AI systems that identify patients with the first signs of sepsis, a life-threatening condition where the body responds to infection with widespread inflammation, which can lead to organ failure. Sepsis is the third leading cause of death worldwide, and the primary cause of death in hospitals. But the technology that goes by the name AI Clinician, described today in a paper in Nature Medicine, doesn’t diagnose—it makes decisions. It takes all the information about a patient with sepsis and recommends Continue reading “AI Clinician” Makes Treatment Plans for Patients With Sepsis

Prosthetic Skin to Sense Wind, Rain, and Ants

A new tactile sensor could enable people with prostheses to feel subtle touch Could you perceive the touch of an ant’s antenna on your fingertip? This new tactile sensor can, and its inventors report that it could one day be integrated into prostheses to give wearers a superhuman sense of touch. The sensor converts pressure from touch to electric signals that, theoretically, could be perceived by the brain. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Ningbo, Zhenhai, described their invention yesterday in the journal Science Robotics.  There have been a lot of touch sensors described in the literature, but this one’s sensitivity is off the charts. It perceives the most subtle touches, including wind, tiny drops of water, and the actions of an ant. In tests of the device, when the ant wasn’t walking, the tactile sensor even detected the touch of the insect’s antenna. In numbers, that’s a sensitivity of 120 newton-1, a detection limit of 10 micronewtons, and Continue reading Prosthetic Skin to Sense Wind, Rain, and Ants

“Unorthodox” AI Helps Identify Best Cancer Treatments

The self-learning model identifies drug regimens that shrink tumors while minimizing side effects AlphaGo became the first household AI name by teaching itself to play the ancient Chinese game Go and then beating the world’s best human player. Self-driving cars use AI systems to learn to park or merge into traffic by practicing the maneuvers over and over until they get it right. It’s clear that AI programs are good at training themselves to win, maximize, or perfect. But what if success means striking a balance? In cancer treatments, doctors endeavor to dose patients with enough drugs to kill as many tumor cells as possible but as few patient cells as possible. In other words, they balance shrinking a tumor with minimizing side effects. “We said, ‘Wait. This sounds like a machine-learning search problem and optimization issue,’ ” says Pratik Shah, an MIT Media Lab principal investigator. “We thought we could do Continue reading “Unorthodox” AI Helps Identify Best Cancer Treatments