Numerous nonprofit groups have been established in the interest of raising money for particular illnesses. The mission of many organizations centers on a primary goal: to find a cure.
The discovery of a cure for debilitating, common diseases is foremost in the minds of many in the medical community as well as among the general population. Cancer, in particular, is an illness many would like to see eradicated. However, one important area of medicine that should not be discounted in the fight against serious illness is early diagnosis.
Convergence in Healthcare plays an important role in the development of early diagnostic tools that will make a difference in the survival rates and quality of life of patients living with a wide range of conditions. It has also facilitated the design of the pioneering medical tests, all of which identify particular diseases at their earliest stages.
Paper-Based Urine Tests for Cancer
It is a well-known medical fact that discovering a tumor in its earliest stages of development improves treatment options, increases to the chance of saving a life and the emotional and financial cost for treatment is less than late stage treatment for the patient.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers implemented Convergence in Healthcare collaboration to explore a promising diagnostic test designed to be effective, easy to use and affordable. The paper-based technology detects the presence of synthetic biomarkers in a patient’s urine.
It works like this: nanoparticles containing the synthetic biomarkers are injected into a patient. If a tumor is present in the body, the nanoparticles react to specific proteins carried by the tumor. This causes the release of the synthetic biomarkers.
A patient’s urine on a special paper strip shows whether or not the synthetic biomarkers were released within the body, which signals the presence or absence of a tumor. So far, the method has been used to test for colorectal cancer and other illnesses, including liver fibrosis.
Software-Based Tests for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Early diagnose of serious brain-based conditions such as autism is critical since it impacts the severity of symptoms autistic people experience throughout their lives.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF) says early intervention for people living with autism has a significant impact on overall development. Children who are connected with specialists when they begin to show early-stage symptoms of autism are more likely to develop better social, emotional, mental and physical skills. Early symptoms of autism may occur in children as young as 18 months.
Through convergence, researchers are exploring the use of an affordable new test for parents and their children. The test is administered via a smartphone app. The phone’s front-facing camera is used to measure and record a child’s eye movements while viewing a video on the phone’s screen.
Using a specially-designed algorithm, the app produces a score indicating whether or not the child shows potential signs of autism. The test is inexpensive and provides information for parents to seek a professional consultation for a child.
AI-Based Tests for Heart Disease
Data presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows approximately one-quarter of all deaths in the United States each year are attributable to heart disease. It is the number one killer in the country, claiming the lives of more than 600,000 Americans per year.
Recognizing heart disease through early diagnosis is key to prolonging life before the disease has a chance to do lasting disability or fatal damage. Traditional tests used to diagnose heart disease and assess the subsequent risk of heart attack include electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, Holter monitoring, MRIs and CT scans.
Cardiologists who use the standard detection methods may miss early signs of heart disease as often as one in five times, according to a recent BBC article. Fortunately, Convergence in Healthcare has led to the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in accurately diagnosing heart disease and predicting heart attack.
The AI system known as Ultromics is able to review a patient’s heart scan and accurately determine if a patient is at risk of a heart attack. The system was created by scientists from John Radcliff Hospital in the U.K.
The full data from Ultromics has yet to be published. However, since its initial clinical testing in six cardiology units, the AI system is said to be more effective than human cardiologists at identifying the likelihood of heart attacks.
In May 2108, the Ultromics AI platform was incorporated into the cardiology practices of 20 additional hospitals in the U.K. Expansion to U.S. hospitals is planned for the near future.