CLOSE

This High School Student Has Created a Device to Help Parkinson's Patients

When Utkarsh Tandon was 10 years old, he saw a YouTube video of Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch. The tremors of the former heavyweight champion sparked his curiosity, and soon, Tandon was reading about Parkinson’s disease. The wheels in his head were already turning on how he could help those who suffered from it.

Fast forward to a few years later when Tandon was in a computer science class, studying machine learning. While researching, he stumbled upon a study in which a phone was secured to the hands of Parkinson’s patients and used to assess their tremors. With that, Tandon was on his way to creating OneRing—a 3-D printed wearable device that was just funded (twice over) on Kickstarter.

Named for the prized ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, OneRing goes on a patient’s finger and monitors their movements throughout the day. It categorizes those movements based on severity into three categories: dyskinesia, bradykinesia, and tremor. The time-stamped data then appears on an iOS app in the form of a daily report, helping patients and doctors best determine a course of treatment.

The plastic ring contains a box on top that holds a Bluetooth microchip, not unlike other wearable devices like the Fitbit. And like other wearable devices, Tandon is still working on making the design a little more fashion-friendly. He told FastCoDesign: "It has to be something people want to wear. I want to make it look good while it's doing the diagnosis in the background."

OneRing actually started as a 2014 science fair project when Tandon was a high school freshman. He created a machine learning model that did essentially what the product does today—gathers and classifies information on Parkinson’s patients. He won, and received a grant from the UCLA Brain Research Institute, which propelled the development.

Check out OneRing and hear Tandon explain the device in the video above.

[h/t FastCoDesign]

Images via Kickstarter.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Medicine
New Cancer-Fighting Nanobots Can Track Down Tumors and Cut Off Their Blood Supply
iStock
iStock

Scientists have developed a new way to cut off the blood flow to cancerous tumors, causing them to eventually shrivel up and die. As Business Insider reports, the new treatment uses a design inspired by origami to infiltrate crucial blood vessels while leaving the rest of the body unharmed.

A team of molecular chemists from Arizona State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences describe their method in the journal Nature Biotechnology. First, they constructed robots that are 1000 times smaller than a human hair from strands of DNA. These tiny devices contain enzymes called thrombin that encourage blood clotting, and they're rolled up tightly enough to keep the substance contained.

Next, researchers injected the robots into the bloodstreams of mice and small pigs sick with different types of cancer. The DNA sought the tumor in the body while leaving healthy cells alone. The robot knew when it reached the tumor and responded by unfurling and releasing the thrombin into the blood vessel that fed it. A clot started to form, eventually blocking off the tumor's blood supply and causing the cancerous tissues to die.

The treatment has been tested on dozen of animals with breast, lung, skin, and ovarian cancers. In mice, the average life expectancy doubled, and in three of the skin cancer cases tumors regressed completely.

Researchers are optimistic about the therapy's effectiveness on cancers throughout the body. There's not much variation between the blood vessels that supply tumors, whether they're in an ovary in or a prostate. So if triggering a blood clot causes one type of tumor to waste away, the same method holds promise for other cancers.

But before the scientists think too far ahead, they'll need to test the treatments on human patients. Nanobots have been an appealing cancer-fighting option to researchers for years. If effective, the machines can target cancer at the microscopic level without causing harm to healthy cells. But if something goes wrong, the bots could end up attacking the wrong tissue and leave the patient worse off. Study co-author Hao Yan believes this latest method may be the one that gets it right. He said in a statement, "I think we are much closer to real, practical medical applications of the technology."

[h/t Business Insider]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Medicine
New Peanut Allergy Patch Could Be Coming to Pharmacies This Year
iStock
iStock

About 6 million people in the U.S. and Europe have severe peanut allergies, including more than 2 million children. Now, French biotechnology company DBV Technologies SA has secured an FDA review for its peanut allergy patch, Bloomberg reports.

If approved, the company aims to start selling the Viaskin patch to children afflicted with peanut allergies in the second half of 2018. The FDA's decision comes in spite of the patch's disappointing study results last year, which found the product to be less effective than DBV hoped (though it did receive high marks for safety). The FDA has also granted Viaskin breakthrough-therapy and fast-track designations, which means a faster review process.

DBV's potentially life-saving product is a small disc that is placed on the arm or between the shoulder blades. It works like a vaccine, exposing the wearer's immune system to micro-doses of peanut protein to increase tolerance. It's intended to reduce the chances of having a severe allergic reaction to accidental exposure.

The patch might have competition: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., which specializes in food allergy treatments, and the drug company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are working together to develop a cure for peanut allergies.

[h/t Bloomberg]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios