News in Brief

News in brief: smart contact lens, digital health passport for asthma, KCL explores use of AI in endovascular surgeries, and more

It’s time for another news in brief round-up – let’s take a look at some of the stories that caught our eye recently.

Stanford University and Pohang University of Science and Technology develop smart contact lens

Researchers have developed a smart contact lens designed to allow continual blood sugar monitoring, which they believe could support non-invasive monitoring for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia along with delivery of “alerts and perhaps even treatments”.

Adding gold and platinum nanoparticles to the polymer hydrogel forming the contact lens means that tear fluid containing glucose can be absorbed. This in turn leads to a chemical reaction which can be measured in order to calculate the amount of glucose in the tear, and in the blood by extension.

The researchers note that whilst the smart lens is not the first wearable blood sugar monitoring system, it is “the first glucose monitoring device to make a direct correlation between tear and blood glucose concentrations independently without aid of another medical device, such as a glucometer”.

Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB launches asthma Digital Health Passport app

Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB has launched the asthma Digital Health Passport app, designed to support children, young people and carers with self-management of asthma along with providing access to educational resources to help develop knowledge and confidence.

Other features of the app include the sharing of asthma plans with family and friends, tracking of symptoms, connecting with the community through peer support and online resources, medication reminders, and trigger avoidance advice.

Vicky Webster, ICB associate director for children and young people, said: “Having this sort of information at a touch of a button will be a big bonus, especially as it will allow young people to self-manage their asthma and get the right help at the right time. It will also mean less time being spent at A&E as you will be able to avoid your triggers through the alerts from the app.”

Deciphex and Xybion combine forces to enhance pathology reporting processes

Deciphex, a health tech organisation focused on supporting pathology through tailored workflows and artificial intelligence, has partnered with Xybion, provider of unified cloud software solutions. The collaboration aims to enhance pathology reporting processes and optimise workflow efficiency for pathologists in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

The partnership will allow for integration between Deciphex and Xybion’s platforms, streamlining pathological studies with capabilities including study planning; protocol management; study execution and data collection; quality, compliance and deviation management; and data management. It will also enable number of functionalities including a digital slide viewer, AI decision support, and synchronised data capture.

Dr Pradip Banerjee, chairman and CEO of Xybion Digital, commented that the collaboration “perfectly aligns with our commitment to provide innovative solutions that optimises workflows, enhances compliance, and drives efficiency across regulated industries.”

Success of diabetes study at Ipswich Hospital sees plans for further participants

The Freestyle Libre study, offering free continuous glucose monitoring equipment for patients, has been given permission to double the number of research participants owing to its success to date, according to East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

The study provides patients with a wearable sensor and an app to track their glucose levels, with a recent update to the app allowing people using the Freestyle Libre 2 system to receive automatic glucose readings every minute.

Professor Gerry Rayman, consultant diabetologist, said: “It is great news we’re able to grow the study which has opened up access to a device some people may not have been able to use before. The study helps ensure the devices are accurate and gathering high-quality data to those not just on the study but to everyone using the Freestyle Libre system.”

King’s College London explores role of AI in endovascular intervention surgeries

A group of researchers from King’s College London (KCL) have conducted a systematic review designed to analyse use of artificial intelligence when applied to surgeries involving endovascular interventions.

Findings from the review showed that “robots have the potential to guide a catheter or guide wire inside the blood vessels of the patient”, and that “AI can be trained using data from experts who have performed the procedures before to act as the ‘brain’ of this robot and decide the actions it should take to get to the target site”.

“AI-driven robotic components may prove to make robots safer than those without such components. If proven to be safe, AI-driven robotic systems could be set up in hospitals nationwide and tele-operated remotely from a central location. The result would be an increase in the speed of access to treatments beyond what is possible currently in many parts of the UK and other countries.”

Liverpool University Hospitals pioneers robotic surgery for mouth and throat cancer

Liverpool University Hospitals has announced plans for the Versius robot to support surgery of patients with mouth and throat cancer, with the phase two trial for the technology due to take place later this year.

The trust says that the technology “will transform the way in which surgeons operate on head and neck cases, enabling surgeons to control the robotic instruments while sitting at an open console with a 3D HD view”.

Professor Terry Jones, director of Liverpool Head and Neck Centre, said: “I look forward to seeing how innovative devices, such as the Versius Robot, can improve the way surgery is performed. Not only will this advancement potentially benefit patients through enabling surgical procedures to be more efficient, but also allows surgeons to use more minimally invasive techniques, reducing patient recovery time and complications. This is also an example of how Research and Innovation is helping ease the pressures on our NHS”.