Better Ways of Diagnosing Viral Infections
Written by Alyssa Clark
Tired of taking off work and waiting 45 minutes in the waiting room, just to hear that you have cold, or another type of viral infection? Duke University researchers are hard at work to help make sure that patients are being diagnosed correctly, the first time they come in for an office visit.
If a virus truly is the culprit, we all know that some antibiotics will be ineffective and still can be outrageously expensive depending on or if one has insurance. Researchers at Duke University are currently developing a blood test to more easily tell whether a respiratory illness is due to a virus and not a bacterial infection; this more specific understanding of what is plaguing a patient will help cut down on the over-usage of antibiotics, and the speed of arriving at the correct diagnosis.
Essentially working through a fingerprinting system of your immune system, researchers and future physicians alike will be able to see firsthand how our bodies are responding to the infecting agent. This is a huge difference than the practice that is done today— providing a concrete alternative in opposition to a doctor’s “guessing game” as some may call it. If this technology and practice produces the kind of success that researchers are currently predicting, this kind of system could help the next flu outbreak or mysterious MERS virus pandemic which has erupted in the Middle East.
Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg, Duke’s genomic medicine chief, calls the new technology “quite powerful” and a “possible game-changer”. He is currently leading a team that conducted a study involving 102 people proving that this kind of technology can work.
Doctors around the world struggle with this guesstimating procedure of diagnosing viruses, using time-of-year factors and other public health concerns at the time to help direct their diagnoses, but most of the time guesstimating just simply doesn’t get the job done. This kind of advancement in giving doctors a better resource will not only help them in their efficiency and ability to give an effective diagnosis, but it will allow patients to rest-assured that they are being treated properly and effectively as well.
"This is something we struggle with every day," said Dr. Octavio Ramilo, infectious disease chief at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who wasn't involved in the new study. Particularly with children, a respiratory virus and a bacterial infection "in the beginning look completely alike," he added.
Trying to combat the almost inherent problems that come with diagnosing viral infections, doctors and researchers seriously have their work cut out for them. Using genomic fingerprints will hopefully be able to distinguish a flu strain from another common virus, and the Duke team is currently analyzing dormitories in hopes of learning how to inhibit and contain the possibilities of outbreaks of the flu or other diseases of that nature for the near future.
About the Author
Alyssa Clark is the Editor of Healthcare Global
NeuTigers: edge AI in healthcare
What is edge AI?
Edge AI is essentially a combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Algorithms are processed locally - directly on a mobile device or server - rather than in the cloud. This reduces cost, computing power and energy requirements. There are also claims that edge AI is so fast it is possible to reach near real-time analytics.
Edge AI devices include smart speakers, smart phones, laptops, robots, self-driven cars, drones, and surveillance cameras that use video analytics.
Who is NeuTigers?
NeuTigers is a spin-off company from Princeton University, formed in 2018 to apply edge AI and machine learning to solve challenges in healthcare, energy, productivity, and security.
With offices in Princeton, NJ, the company is based at one of the top AI accelerator programs of FutureLabs in New York, and has also established a subsidiary in Nice, France.
How is NeuTigers applying edge AI to healthcare?
The NeuTigers AI Technology Stack uses deep neural networks that mimic how the human brain perceives and interprets the world. The company has developed the StarDeepTM Smart Health Platform for health monitoring and biomedical imaging, to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosing diseases.
NeuTigers say the platform has the potential to monitor and screen for thousands of conditions, when used in combination with medical devices and smart sensors already deployed in healthcare settings.
Are there any real world examples?
In January NeuTigers launched CovidDeep, a tool that predicts COVID-19 with more than 90% accuracy, using physiological data from a wristband along with blood pressure and blood oxygen readings. It then analyses the data and gives a prediction within two minutes.
This week NeuTigers announced a new study to detect the early signs of complications with sickle cell anaemia. Conducted at a hospital in Paris, the research will begin by looking at changes to skin response, heart beat, sleep and temperature to predict an acute episode of sickle cell anaemia, and how this impacts on the patients’ disease conditions and quality of life.
The second phase of the project is to expand with prospective studies across different sites in EU, Africa and the US to explore the models' accuracy and clinical effectiveness.
Adel Laoui, CEO and founder of NeuTigers, says: “The best way to deal with a crisis is to avoid it happening in the first place. We are now entering a new era where medical early warning systems have become a reality.
“We are excited at the possibility of deploying a technology that can save lives of patients dealing with sickle cell anaemia. The potential of the StarDeep platform to dramatically improve patient outcomes while slashing some of the highest costs of healthcare makes it one of the most exciting developments in preventative personal medicine.”