The traditional model of health care has always been pretty linear: 1) observe your symptoms; 2) schedule a visit with your doctor; 3) meet with your doctor, answer questions, possibly have bloodwork or other testing; 4) follow your doctor’s advice.
But what if by the time you see the doctor, it’s too late to head off a serious medical problem? What if your doctor orders a blood test, but the closest lab is a 45-minute bus ride away, will charge a significant co-pay and closes at 5 p.m.?
The biomedical technology company Theranos has set out to upend this traditional model, simplifying the blood-testing process and giving individuals more control. The company’s goal is to establish wellness centers within five miles of every American, where anyone can order from a menu of blood tests with or without a doctor’s order. Walgreens already has 21 operating centers.
At age 13, Jack Andraka lost a family friend to pancreatic cancer. At age 15, he developed a diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that early findings suggest is highly accurate. In this session, Andraka describes his journey, the Johns Hopkins professor who took him on, his fascination with carbon nanotubes and how open access to scientific journals can help people around the world create solutions to problems. The diagnostic itself is in the early phases of testing.
When people hear about ROI, they often think of financial returns and “return on investment.” But, in my world, ROI is actually “return on innovation.” While the return on innovation can be financial, it can also take many other forms. Here are my top five.
As Epilepsy Awareness month closes out and we embark upon the holiday season, we’re pleased to see an innovation initiated here at Boston Children’s Hospital move toward commercial development. This wearable device for patients with epilepsy, called Embrace, is like a “smoke alarm” for unwitnessed seizures that may potentially prevent tragic cases of sudden, unexpected death from epilepsy (SUDEP) in the future.
The Bluetooth-enabled, sensor-loaded wristband, using technology developed and tested in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, can detect the onset of a convulsive seizure based on the wearer’s movements and autonomic nervous system activity.
Teen science prodigy Jack Andraka, 17, addressed more than 300 summit attendees and shared his journey from Baltimore, Maryland high school freshman to developer of an early diagnostic test for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers. And he achieved this extraordinary task before getting his driver’s license.
After the loss of a close family friend to pancreatic cancer in 2010, Andraka, then 13, sought answers.
What all of these things have in common is data. Lots of it. Some of it represents kinds of data that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago, but all of it is slowly beginning to fuel the pharma sector’s efforts to create the next blockbuster drug or targeted therapeutic.
A mouse surrounded by computer screens turns its head when it notices lines moving across one of them, as a camera captures this evidence of visual acuity. A chamber similarly equipped with video cameras tests social interaction between mice. A small swimming pool, with shapes on its walls as navigational cues, lets scientists gauge a mouse’s spatial memory. A pint-sized treadmill, with a tiny camera to watch foot placement, measures gait.
Here in the Neurobehavioral Developmental Core at Boston Children’s Hospital, managed by Nick Andrews, PhD, the well-tended mice also have opportunities to play: “If you have a happy mouse,” says Andrews, “researchers get better, more consistent results.”
Nephrotic syndrome is one of the worst diseases a child can have. It strikes the filtering units of the kidney, structures known as glomeruli. There’s no good treatment: Steroids are the main therapy used, but 20 percent of cases are steroid-resistant. In the syndrome’s most severe form, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), children are forced onto chronic dialysis and often require a kidney transplant—often only to have their disease recur in the new organ.