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Writing in the New York Times, Siddhartha Mukherjee — Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” — reviews Yuav Noah Harari’s “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow”. Siddhartha astutely points out that the current limitations of genomics should temper the optimism of this key area of Yuav’s forecasts. While he seems to concede that “organisms are algorithms” (reference my oft-repeated point that DNA is a digital molecule), he does not, as he says, “share Harari’s optimism about certain medical technologies. The examples he provides — of gene sequencing to map and predict human fates, say — have crashed into inherent limits: Chance plays such a crucial role in the development of certain illnesses that genes, although important, may still be relegated to the background. Perhaps we’ll learn to “hack” chance in the future too. But until then, the interventions that preoccupy Harari’s fantasies will be dominated by few, highly penetrant genes that influence fates and futures in an autonomous manner. Several such genes do exist — but it would be premature to extrapolate this idea to the whole genome.”
I was interviewed by GenomeWeb for an article about Sync for Genes, a project funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT that is designed to help bring clinical genomics to the point of care through the use of standards. It also supports the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which aims to collect genomic data on 1 million or more Americans. It is critical that genomic data — including from next generation sequencing (NGS) labs — be shared in a consistent and usable way. Sync for Genes was established to expedite the use of standards to enable and improve the ability of patients to seamlessly share their genomic information through application programming interfaces (APIs).
While as common as female infertility, male infertility often goes undiagnosed due to socioeconomic factors such as social stigma, cost, and access to labs. To address these issues, Manoj Kumar Kanakasabapathy, Hadi Shafiee, and other researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School have designed a smartphone-based assay that doesn’t require any additional lab equipment and can be used at home or in remote clinics.
According to research firm IDC, the wearable tech market will “hyper-segment” and double in annual sales by 2021, reaching 237 million units. Apple is expected to continue its dominance with a projected 152 million units sold during that time period. Specific niches identified by IDC within the smartwatch segment include connected kids’ watches, athletic watches, luxury and fashion watches, and lifestyle watches that better address different segment needs, whether they be communication, health and fitness, or as smart luxury and fashion timepieces.
Writing in Fast Company, Mark Sullivan provides a comprehensive overview of Samsung’s R&D effort that never really turned into a commercial digital health product: the Simband wearable and SAMI cloud data platform. They were reportedly trying to preempt what they thought the Apple Watch might be in terms of a more medically-focused device than it actually was in its first version. Note: I consulted Samsung at this time on social media strategy for Simband and SAMI.
In what should be an added convenience and safety-enhancing feature for people who want to know the location of friends and family, Google Maps will now let you share your location with others for a period of time and give them directions to your location. You can also also share your location with someone long-term. Caution should be exercised in who this information is shared with, since it can be opened to the public.
The final two teams in the $10M competition to build a home health device inspired by ‘Star Trek’, aka the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, were featured in the Washington Post. The two teams are Dynamical Biomarkers Group and Final Frontier Medical Devices. Devices from both teams will undergo consumer testing over the next few months at the Altman Clinical Translational Research Institute at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), and the winner will be announced in Q2, 2017.
Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier
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