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3 August, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Medical reality catches up to science fiction

Medical reality catches 
up to science fiction

Average folks may one day be able to use a Star Trek-inspired home medical device to diagnose a dozen different ailments and track five major vital signs, all without needing to draw blood or visit a doctor's office.

Engineers developed the DxtER device as part of a competition to create a modern-day version of the "tricorder" that Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy waved over patients on the starship Enterprise to diagnose illnesses.

The DxtER combines an array of different sensors with intelligent diagnostic software in a package weighing less than 5 pounds, said technology design expert Philip Charron, a member of the team that created the device.

A person using the DxtER at home can test themselves for anemia, urinary tract infections, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), sleep apnea, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pneumonia, ear infection, whooping cough, high blood pressure, mononucleosis and increased white blood cell counts, Charron said.

"A regular consumer can sit down with our device, answer some questions, and it will come back with a diagnosis," Charron said.

The DxtER also can monitor five vital signs continuously: blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate and blood oxygen levels.

All of the sensors are noninvasive. No blood needs to be drawn and nothing needs to be inserted into the body, he explained.

Charron said that his group, Final Frontier Medical Devices, received a $2.6 million award in April for developing the DxtER and demonstrating an accuracy rate higher than 70 percent.

Final Frontier was to present the DxtER this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) in San Diego. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal. "Now it's up to the peers in the scientific community to see if it works the way it's supposed to," said AACC President Michael Bennett, director of the Palmieri Metabolic Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

All of these devices interact with diagnostic software running on a tablet, Charron noted.

The competition, called the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, kicked off in 2012 and involved 300 different engineering teams.

"It really was a five-year mission, just like in Star Trek," Charron said.

The Final Frontier team put about a half million dollars out of their own pockets into the endeavor, which ate up as many as 24,000 hours of combined effort, according to Charron.

The team tested its diagnostic software against an approved set of anonymous patient charts, to see if it would accurately diagnose illnesses when provided the proper vital signs and body chemistry readings, Charron said. For the contest, researchers handed the device to patients with diagnosed medical conditions. The patients had to be able to use the device on themselves, unaided, to accurately diagnose their specific illness.

     HealthDay

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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