The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier
April 8, 2017 — #270
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Surfer and doctoral candidate Cliff Kapono and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Center for Microbiome Innovation are spearheading the "Surfer Biome Project", an effort aimed at examining the microbiomes of surfers around the world. By collecting, sequencing the DNA, and mapping the microbial communities found in samples from surfers' bodies (and even their surfboards), Cliff hopes to see if the oceans spread antibiotic-resistant organisms to us.

In big news for direct-to-consumer (DTC) Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) testing services, the FDA has given the green light to 23andMe to tell consumers if they have an increased risk of developing ten different diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In a statement, Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, head of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said that “Consumers can now have direct access to certain genetic risk information, But it is important that people understand that genetic risk is just one piece of the bigger puzzle—it does not mean they will or won’t ultimately develop a disease.”
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"Digital health is the convergence of the digital and genomic revolutions with health, healthcare, living, and society." — Paul Sonnier
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IN OTHER NEWS
The U.S Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using predictive analytics to identify and support suicidal veterans. According to a statement by the VA, "recent research suggests that 20 veterans die by suicide each day, putting veterans at even greater risk than the general public. Using a new predictive model, "REACH VET" analyzes existing data from veterans’ health records to identify those at a statistically elevated risk for suicide, hospitalization, illness, or other adverse outcomes. This allows VA to provide pre-emptive care and support for veterans, in some cases before a veteran even has suicidal thoughts."
In what Dr. Eric Topol calls "a timely and impressive review", Nature Medicine has published a research report "Refining strategies to translate genome editing to the clinic". Recent progress in developing programmable nucleases (e.g. CRISPR), have paved the way for gene editing to enter clinical practice. Several clinical gene-editing trials, both ex vivo and in vivo, have been initiated in the past 2 years, including studies that aim to knockout genes as well as to add therapeutic transgenes. Here we discuss the advances made in the gene-editing field in recent years, and specify priorities that need to be addressed to expand therapeutic genome editing to further disease entities
In an article by Chrissy Farr in MIT's Tech Review titled "Can “Digital Therapeutics” Be as Good as Drugs?", there's evident confusion about the fact that "digital health" is an overarching term for "digital medicine" and "digital therapeutics", not a parallel term.  Peter Hames, CEO of Big Health, says  “It’s still a fluid space that everyone is trying to categorize.” Not exactly, as Farr explains: "About a dozen startups now call themselves digital therapeutics providers, and say they’re distinct from the rest of the digital health market of activity monitors, smart scales, and sleep trackers." Operative phrase: "the rest of the digital health market".
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