The Fourth Wave: Digital Health Newsletter — Dec 31, 2018 — No. 117

The Fourth Wave: Digital Health Newsletter — Dec 31, 2018 — No. 117

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The Fourth Wave: Digital Health Newsletter for Dec 31


Researchers at the CZ Biohub division of the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) have published a report in Nature on the results of a wireless implantable brain device system called the WAND. As Erin Brodwin at BI reports, in a new study on primates, the system is able to record, stimulate, and disrupt or even stop movement in real time. The method is being described as a therapy intended to treat diseases like epilepsy or Parkinson’s by stopping a seizure or other disruptive motion just as it starts. The research is reportedly being conducted in isolation from Facebook’s related work with brain-computer interfaces (BCI).

In another study published in Nature, an implanted battery-free self-powered vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device was shown to be effective at producing weight control in rats. The device, which automatically generates electrical stimulations in correlation to stomach movement, kept the average body weight controlled at 350 g, or 38% less than the control groups. Basically, the system fools the rat’s brain into thinking that it has a full stomach.


In contrast to alarmist concerns that the Apple Watch’s new ECG feature may place an increased burden on the healthcare system that it can’t handle as currently set up, there are incidences emerging of the Watch’s built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) function detecting previously-undiagnosed unusual heart rhythm associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart failure. For example, after updating his Watch’s software, a Richmond, Virginia man was immediately alerted him that he may have atrial fibrillation. Doctors later confirmed that he did have a-fib, which “occurs when abnormal electrical impulses causes (sic) the top chambers of the heart, the atria, to quiver and spasm. Blood can pool in heart chambers affected by a-fib, increasing the risk of stroke-causing blood clots. People with a-fib often are prescribed blood thinners.”


Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted the following “FYI: thanks to anti-net neutrality FCC Leadership, your text messages can now be monitored, censored, or blocked. Those concerned w/ privacy are moving away from default cell texting. ⁦There are alternative texting app recommendations in this article.”

According to Brian Hauss, an attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project: “Should it be a crime to call public officials corrupt? Yes, according to the police in Exeter, New Hampshire. Earlier this year, they arrested a local man for writing a comment on a news website accusing Police Chief William Shupe of covering for a corrupt officer.”


The FDA has approved Teva Pharmaceuticals’ ProAir Digihaler, which the company describes as “the first and only digital inhaler with built-in sensors which connects to a companion mobile application and provides inhaler use information to people with asthma and COPD.”


Dr. He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who created an international uproar after announcing that he had created the first genetically edited babies, is reportedly being held under house arrest in a guesthouse at the Southern University of Science and Technology.

Consumers receiving surprise DNA family family relationship test results are calling into 23andMe’s customer service line and, effectively, turning the reps into therapists of a sort. According to Kent Hillyer, head of customer care for 23andMe: “We don’t really play the role of therapist, but rather listen and try to be sympathetic and empathetic, getting them to process things.”


Tridiuum, a venture-backed maker of a software platform that tracks behavioral health indicators, just raised $9.5 million Series B round with an eye to scaling its sales, product and marketing operations.

K Health, which provides consumers with an AI-powered primary healthcare platform, has raised $25 million in Series B funding.

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Copyright © 2018 Paul Sonnier, Story of Digital Health

Paul Sonnier
Advisor ⋅ Author ⋅ Speaker ⋅ Technologist ⋅ Social Entrepreneur
Book: The Fourth Wave: Digital Health
Founder, Digital Health group on LinkedIn
Creator, Story of Digital Health
Twitter: @Paul_Sonnier
San Diego, CA, USA

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