The Digital Health Newsletter by Paul Sonnier
June 6, 2017
Greetings!
Apple held its big product announcement event this week and for digital health fans expecting an  OEM glucose monitoring sensor or device, it was a bit anticlimactic. Of course, the caveat is that the legal liability for a medical device is much different than for a consumer device, so it makes much more sense that Apple has instead expanded its partnership with glucose monitoring device-maker Dexcom via a new direct-to-Watch Bluetooth API. The API will also be available for other developers of Bluetooth-equipped bands and devices.
New sports and fitness capabilities for Apple Watch will include  NFC-enabled wireless-syncing of treadmill and elliptical machine workout data via 'Gym Connect' . Partners represent the lion's share of the gym equipment market: Life Fitness, Cybex, Schwinn, Star Trac, and StairMaster. Conspicuously absent is Peloton.
The 'one more thing' announcement is Apple's  $350 Siri speaker called HomePod. Famed Twitter user @SwiftOnSecurity humorously quipped that "Apple's fitness product will be called HomeBod". As in a 'homebody', a person who likes to stay at home, especially one who is perceived as unadventurous. 
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"Digital health is the convergence of the digital and genomic revolutions with health, healthcare, living, and society." - Paul Sonnier
As I shared on LinkedIn, this cartoon is emblematic of the response of some stakeholder groups and sectors/industries to the disruption of digital health... 
HEALTHCARE
A new study shows that digital self-reporting of symptoms and side effects by patients with advanced cancer lived a median of five months longer than patients who only reported issues at the physician's office. According to Ethan Basch, an oncologist at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, this is a "greater benefit than what's provided by many targeted drugs for metastatic cancer."
An HHS task force report on healthcare cybersecurity issued to the United States Congress states that healthcare cybersecurity is in critical condition due to a severe lack of security personnel, old equipment running vulnerable operating systems, and premature and over-connected systems driven, in part, by Meaningful Use requirements that were implemented without secure design.
Hyperpolarised MRI (h-MRI) imaging is being used to aid in the development of a new drug intended to reduce heart muscle inflammation following a heart attack. Other imaging methods used on heart attack patients are limited in how clearly they can show inflammation. By boosting the signal strength to more than 25,000 times that of traditional MRI, h-MRI can show the level of inflammation and thereby the effects of new drug treatments.
GENOMICS
A new oral therapy drug is directly targeting an acquired genetic defect called TRK fusions that accelerate cancer cell growth. While not yet approved by the FDA, this would be a major advancement in precision medicine similar to Merck's recently-approved immunotherapy drug that also targets specific genetic biomarkers regardless of where a tumor originates in the body.
A new cell and gene therapy treatment for multiple myeloma cancer is proving effective in driving cancer remission. A patient's blood is filtered to remove immune system T cells, which are then altered to contain a cancer-targeting gene, and then reintroduced intravenously. While already being used to treat some forms of leukemia and lymphoma, the application to multiple myeloma is new.
ANIMAL RESEARCH
A new artificial intelligence system can reportedly tell if a sheep is in pain. The system looks at five different facial expressions to determine the presence and severity of pain based on a standardized tool developed by veterinarians. The system has ethical implications in that it may be applied to improve the well-being of sheep, horses, and other animals.
By placing electrodes on the heads of mice, scientists are investigating the feasibility of performing deep brain stimulation without surgically implanting electrodes deep inside the head . Currently, deep brain stimulation can provide relief to patients with Parkinson's and epilepsy. In this research, stimulation of the mouse's hippocampus is possible because the brain is a natural conductor of electricity. 
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