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
The Journal of Investigative Dermatology (JID) recently published “Rapid Capture and Extraction of Sweat for Regional Rate and Cytokine Composition Analysis Using a Wearable Soft Microfluidic System” in its Letters to the Editor.
The article highlights a study involving Epicore Biosystems, Inc.’s soft, skin-interfaced microfluidic patch in development to enable rapid capture and extraction of sweat volumes for the analysis of cytokines.
Epicore Biosystems, Inc. is a LEO Science & Tech Hub partner and a wearable solutions spinout from Northwestern University’s Querrey-Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics. The partnership advances the development of Epicore Biosystems’ wearable Discovery patch and electrochemical sensors to measure prognostic skin health and inflammation biomarkers. The goal is to explore if and how these biochemical markers may apply to and inform treatment decisions.
This initial study highlighted in JID was completed in June 2019 in collaboration with Northwestern University dermatologists to establish baseline data using the Discovery platform and to test its clinical utility.
Patches were skin mounted on 10 healthy individuals to collect sweat when individuals were exposed to heat in a controlled environment.
Concentrations of three cytokines – IL-1α, IL-1RA, and IL-8 – were assessed twice a day and on consecutive days. The team demonstrated the ability to quantify the concentrations of target inflammation biomarkers in sweat across different skin locations.
MAT-37562. August 2020.
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.