Who are we?
Precision Medicine in Dermatology.
In order to achieve this we will require a much deeper understanding about the different factors that contribute to the course of disease between patients with the same disease such as: Environmental. Genetic. Molecular. Our current research projects aim at developing technologies that should enable us to adress these questions, resulting in solutions that can one day support treatment decisions.
News from the hub
Two LEO Science & Tech Hub partners – outside of their partnerships with the Hub – are looking at how different technologies in development could possibly help patients and healthcare providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remote Measurement via Radio Signals
The LEO Science & Tech Hub began its collaboration with Dina Katabi and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in 2018 to explore the potential of the MIT group’s exploratory Emerald system to quantify scratching behavior as it relates to dermatological diseases.
Emerald is a WiFi-like box that analyzes wireless signals in the environment through use of artificial intelligence to track and measure a person’s vital signs, sleep quality and patterns, and movement. The Emerald technology in development uses the reflection of radio signals to measure human activity.
“The Emerald system includes new machine learning algorithms that analyze the radio signals in the environment to recognize movement patterns,” said Katabi, PhD and Professor of Computer Science at MIT. “The more you teach it, the greater its ability to recognize different patterns.”
In a separate initiative unrelated to the Hub collaboration, clinical teams at multiple hospitals and assisted-care facilities are exploring how Emerald technology might be used to monitor a COVID-19 patient remotely in a patient’s room or home, tracking breathing, sleep and physical activity.
For example, a healthcare provider can remotely track the patient’s progress from any location, without having direct interaction with the patient. Katabi adds COVID-19 is particularly challenging for assisted living facilities and retirement homes, since they have vulnerable populations who already have other diseases.
Katabi believes such remote-sensing device technology may support expansion of healthcare capacity with the potential for hospitals and physicians to triage patients with less severe symptoms, enabling monitoring in their homes yet still being able to respond immediately should illness worsen.
Learn more from the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab: CSAIL device lets doctors monitor COVID-19 patients from a distance
Exploring a Sweat-Sensing Patch in Times of COVID-19
Epicore Biosystems is a wearable microfluidics and biosensor spinout from Northwestern University’s Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics.
Epicore and the LEO Science & Tech Hub are advancing a research collaboration in atopic dermatitis (AD), developing Epicore’s wearable patch and electrochemical sensors to measure prognostic skin health and inflammation biomarkers.
“Real-time assessment of inflammatory biomarkers found in sweat and interstitial fluid push the boundaries, leading to objective assessment of interventions for people affected by AD as well as across other chronic diseases,” said Dr. Roozbeh Ghaffari, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Epicore Biosystems.
In the collaboration with the LEO Science and Tech Hub, a proof-of-principle study in AD patients is underway to track inflammatory biomarkers across different skin locations. An initial study was completed in June 2019 in collaboration with Northwestern dermatologists to establish baseline data and test clinical utility. The team demonstrated the ability to quantify the concentrations of target cytokines in sweat across different skin locations.
In its separate effort, Epicore has also begun to explore potential of it’s sweat-sensing technology in light of the pandemic. Patients affected by the virus may experience symptoms of fever, chills and night sweats, and may also become dehydrated. The company is looking at how to measure inflammation levels as the immune system releases cytokines, small proteins associated with immune response.
Initial thinking is that patches can help healthcare professionals by providing measurement of patients affected by COVID-19 and signaling when a patient’s condition worsens. There is also potential for Epicore’s digital sensors to be used by healthcare professionals who are wearing masks, by monitoring and tracking changes in respiration rate, temperature and coughs of those professionals who are in direct contact with patients.
MAT-35992. June 2020.
For Michael Sierra, Vice President of the LEO Science & Tech Hub, mentoring others is about meeting people where they are, lifting them up, and watching them blossom and grow. Mentoring is also a vital ingredient in dermatology innovation.
“As leaders, one of our responsibilities is to develop people, and I try to incorporate that into everything that we do,” said Michael. “We might not be the person who advances the breakthrough idea, but we can share our knowledge and experiences with others, who then add it to their efforts and experiences. Someone you mentor today can go on to deliver life-changing science tomorrow.”
Michael explains that Hub team also exudes this spirit of support.
“Whether we are interested in a collaboration or not, we always work to provide constructive feedback to those who we meet. We ask how we can help bring expertise or connect them to someone in our ecosystem,” explained Michael. “When LEO Pharma began the LEO Science & Tech Hub in the Boston area, a key focus was to create a spider web of relationships and become part of the innovation ecosystem DNA. Being accessible as a mentor within this community helps us make a greater impact.”
Michael was recognized in May 2020 by the Advancing Innovation in Dermatology (AID) Education Committee for his commitment to mentorship and promotion of innovation. The 2020 Mentorship Award was presented virtually. This award is given each year to an individual who makes substantial and inspirational contributions to the education of a next generation of dermatology innovators.
Advancing Innovation in Dermatology (AID) is a non-profit organization committed to catalyzing the development of new solutions that can significantly improve skin health. AID provides support, resources and a nexus for individuals and organizations who are effecting change in dermatology by creating a next generation of innovative and impactful products.
“Michael is a truly generous human being who is always looking to give back,” said William Ju, MD, FAAD, AID President and Founding Trustee. “As we have often heard him say, ‘It’s not what you take out that’s important, rather it’s what you put in.’ He and LEO Pharma are tremendous partners in our goal to help advance innovation to substantially improve dermatologic health for future generations.”
Each year, AID Education Committee (EC) members choose to nominate an individual for the honor. The committee leads initiatives to support innovation in the field, including the AID Scholars Class supporting early-career researchers and clinicians interested in product and service innovation in dermatology by training, inspiring and connecting next generation dermatology innovators.
Previous Mentoring Award honorees are Rox Anderson, M.D., FAAD, Professor in Dermatology, Director of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at MIT; Clark Otley, MD, FAAD, Chief Medical Officer of Mayo Clinic Platform, Mayo Clinic; and William Ju, MD, FAAD, President of Advancing Innovation in Dermatology
Learn more: Advancing Innovation in Dermatology