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Prototype taps into the sensing capabilities of any smartphone to screen for prediabetes

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three adults in the United States has prediabetes, a condition marked by elevated blood…

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three adults in the United States has prediabetes, a condition marked by elevated blood sugar levels that could lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The good news is that, if detected early, prediabetes can be reversed through lifestyle changes such as improved diet and exercise. The bad news? Eight out of 10 Americans with prediabetes don’t know that they have it, putting them at increased risk of developing diabetes as well as disease complications that include heart disease, kidney failure and vision loss.

Credit: University of Washington

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three adults in the United States has prediabetes, a condition marked by elevated blood sugar levels that could lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The good news is that, if detected early, prediabetes can be reversed through lifestyle changes such as improved diet and exercise. The bad news? Eight out of 10 Americans with prediabetes don’t know that they have it, putting them at increased risk of developing diabetes as well as disease complications that include heart disease, kidney failure and vision loss.

Current screening methods typically involve a visit to a health care facility for laboratory testing and/or the use of a portable glucometer for at-home testing, meaning access and cost may be barriers to more widespread screening. But researchers at the University of Washington may have found the sweet spot when it comes to increasing early detection of prediabetes. The team developed GlucoScreen, a new system that leverages the capacitive touch sensing capabilities of any smartphone to measure blood glucose levels without the need for a separate reader.

The researchers describe GlucoScreen in a new paper published March 28 in the Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

The researchers’ results suggest GlucoScreen’s accuracy is comparable to that of standard glucometer testing. The team found the system to be accurate at the crucial threshold between a normal blood glucose level, at or below 99 mg/dL, and prediabetes, defined as a blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dL. This approach could make glucose testing less costly and more accessible — particularly for one-time screening of a large population.

“In conventional screening a person applies a drop of blood to a test strip, where the blood reacts chemically with the enzymes on the strip. A glucometer is used to analyze that reaction and deliver a blood glucose reading,” said lead author Anandghan Waghmare, a UW doctoral student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “We took the same test strip and added inexpensive circuitry that communicates data generated by that reaction to any smartphone through simulated tapping on the screen. GlucoScreen then processes the data and displays the result right on the phone, alerting the person if they are at risk so they know to follow up with their physician.”

Specifically, the GlucoScreen test strip samples the amplitude of the electrochemical reaction that occurs when a blood sample mixes with enzymes five times each second.

The strip then transmits the amplitude data to the phone through a series of touches at variable speeds using a technique called “pulse-width modulation.” The term “pulse width” refers to the distance between peaks in the signal — in this case, the length between taps. Each pulse width represents a value along the curve. The greater the distance between taps for a particular value, the higher the amplitude associated with the electrochemical reaction on the strip.

“You communicate with your phone by tapping the screen with your finger,” Waghmare said. “That’s basically what the strip is doing, only instead of a single tap to produce a single action, it’s doing multiple taps at varying speeds. It’s comparable to how Morse code transmits information through tapping patterns.”

The advantage of this technique is that it does not require complicated electronic components. This minimizes the cost to manufacture the strip and the power required for it to operate compared to more conventional communication methods, like Bluetooth and WiFi. All data processing and computation occurs on the phone, which simplifies the strip and further reduces the cost.

The test strip also doesn’t need batteries. It uses photodiodes instead to draw what little power it needs from the phone’s flash.

The flash is automatically engaged by the GlucoScreen app, which walks the user through each step of the testing process. First, a user affixes each end of the test strip to the front and back of the phone as directed. Next, they prick their finger with a lancet, as they would in a conventional test, and apply a drop of blood to the biosensor attached to the test strip. After the data is transmitted from the strip to the phone, the app applies machine learning to analyze the data and calculate a blood glucose reading.

That stage of the process is similar to that performed on a commercial glucometer. What sets GlucoScreen apart, in addition to its novel touch technique, is its universality.

“Because we use the built-in capacitive touch screen that’s present in every smartphone, our solution can be easily adapted for widespread use. Additionally, our approach does not require low-level access to the capacitive touch data, so you don’t have to access the operating system to make GlucoScreen work,” said co-author Jason Hoffman, a UW doctoral student in the Allen School. “We’ve designed it to be ‘plug and play.’ You don’t need to root the phone — in fact, you don’t need to do anything with the phone, other than install the app. Whatever model you have, it will work off the shelf.”

The researchers evaluated their approach using a combination of in vitro and clinical testing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to delay the latter until 2021 when, on a trip home to India, Waghmare connected with Dr. Shailesh Pitale at Dew Medicare and Trinity Hospital. Upon learning about the UW project, Dr. Pitale agreed to facilitate a clinical study involving 75 consenting patients who were already scheduled to have blood drawn for a laboratory blood glucose test. Using that laboratory test as the ground truth, Waghmare and the team evaluated GlucoScreen’s performance against that of a conventional strip and glucometer.

Given how common prediabetes and diabetes are globally, this type of technology has the potential to change clinical care, the researchers said.

“One of the barriers I see in my clinical practice is that many patients can’t afford to test themselves, as glucometers and their test strips are too expensive. And, it’s usually the people who most need their glucose tested who face the biggest barriers,” said co-author Dr. Matthew Thompson, UW professor of both family medicine in the UW School of Medicine and global health. “Given how many of my patients use smartphones now, a system like GlucoScreen could really transform our ability to screen and monitor people with prediabetes and even diabetes.”

GlucoScreen is presently a research prototype. Additional user-focused and clinical studies, along with alterations to how test strips are manufactured and packaged, would be required before the system could be made widely available, the team said. 

But, the researchers added, the project demonstrates how we have only begun to tap into the potential of smartphones as a health screening tool.

“Now that we’ve shown we can build electrochemical assays that can work with a smartphone instead of a dedicated reader, you can imagine extending this approach to expand screening for other conditions,” said senior author Shwetak Patel, the Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at the UW.

Additional co-authors are Farshid Salemi Parizi, a former UW doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering who is now a senior machine learning engineer at OctoML, and Yuntao Wang, a research professor at Tsinghua University and former visiting professor at the Allen School. This research was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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For more information, contact Waghmare at anandw@cs.washington.edu. For questions specifically for Dr. Matthew Thompson, please contact Barbara Clements at bac60@uw.edu.


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World Bank: Global Economic Growth Expected To Slow To 2008 Levels

World Bank: Global Economic Growth Expected To Slow To 2008 Levels

Authored by Michael Maharrey via SchiffGold.com,

Most people in the mainstream…

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World Bank: Global Economic Growth Expected To Slow To 2008 Levels

Authored by Michael Maharrey via SchiffGold.com,

Most people in the mainstream concede that the economy is heading for a recession, but the consensus seems to be that downturn will be short and shallow. Projections by the World Bank undercut that optimism.

According to the World Bank, global growth in 2023 will slow to the lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

In other words, the World Bank is predicting the beginning of Great Recession 2.0.

You might recall that the Great Recession was neither short nor shallow.

In fact, World Bank Group chief economist and senior vice president Indermit Gill said, “The world economy is in a precarious position.”

According to the World Bank’s new Global Economic Prospects report, global growth is projected to decelerate to 2.1% this year, falling from 3.1% in 2022. The bank forecasts a significant slowdown during the last half of this year.

That would match the global growth rate during the 2008 financial crisis.

According to the World Bank, higher interest rates, inflation, and more restrictive credit conditions will drive the economic downturn.

The report forecasts that growth in advanced economies will slow from 2.6% in 2022 to 0.7% this year and remain weak in 2024.

Emerging market economies will feel significant pain from the economic slowdown. Yahoo Finance reported, “Higher interest rates are a problem for emerging markets, which already were reeling from the overlapping shocks of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They make it harder for those economies to service debt loans denominated in US dollars.”

The World Bank report paints a bleak picture.

The world economy remains hobbled. Besieged by high inflation, tight global financial markets, and record debt levels, many countries are simply growing poorer.”

Absent from the World Bank analysis is any mention of how more than a decade of artificially low interest rates and trillions of dollars in quantitative easing by central banks created the wave of inflation that continues to sweep the globe, along with massive levels of debt and all kinds of economic bubbles.

If you listen to the mainstream narrative, you would think inflation just came out of nowhere, and central banks are innocent victims nobly struggling to save the day by raising interest rates. Pundits fret about rising rates but never mention that rates were only so low for so long because of the actions of central banks. And they seem oblivious to the consequences of those policies.

But being oblivious doesn’t shield you from the impact of those consequences.

In reality, central banks and governments implemented policies intended to incentivize the accumulation of debt. They created trillions of dollars out of thin air and showered the world with stimulus, unleashing the inflation monster. And now they’re trying to battle the dragon they set loose by raising interest rates. This will inevitably pop the bubble they intentionally blew up. That’s why the World Bank is forecasting Great Recession-era growth. All of this was entirely predictable.

After all, artificially low interest rates are the mother’s milk of a global economy built on easy money and debt. When you take away the milk, the baby gets hungry. That’s what’s happening today. With interest rates rising, the bubbles are starting to pop.

And it’s probably going to be much worse than most people realize. There are more malinvestments, more debt, and more bubbles in the global economy today than there were in 2008. There is every reason to believe the bust will be much worse today than it was then.

In other words, you can strike “short” and “shallow” from your recession vocabulary.

Even the World Bank is hinting at this.

Tyler Durden Wed, 06/07/2023 - 15:20

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DNAmFitAge: Biological age indicator incorporating physical fitness

“We expect DNAmFitAge will be a useful biomarker for quantifying fitness benefits at an epigenetic level and can be used to evaluate exercise-based interventions.”…

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“We expect DNAmFitAge will be a useful biomarker for quantifying fitness benefits at an epigenetic level and can be used to evaluate exercise-based interventions.”

Credit: 2023 McGreevy et al.

“We expect DNAmFitAge will be a useful biomarker for quantifying fitness benefits at an epigenetic level and can be used to evaluate exercise-based interventions.”

BUFFALO, NY- June 7, 2023 – A new research paper was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as “Aging (Albany NY)” and “Aging-US” by Web of Science) Volume 15, Issue 10, entitled, “DNAmFitAge: biological age indicator incorporating physical fitness.”

Physical fitness is a well-known correlate of health and the aging process and DNA methylation (DNAm) data can capture aging via epigenetic clocks. However, current epigenetic clocks did not yet use measures of mobility, strength, lung, or endurance fitness in their construction. 

In this new study, researchers Kristen M. McGreevy, Zsolt Radak, Ferenc Torma, Matyas Jokai, Ake T. Lu, Daniel W. Belsky, Alexandra Binder, Riccardo E. Marioni, Luigi Ferrucci, Ewelina Pośpiech, Wojciech Branicki, Andrzej Ossowski, Aneta Sitek, Magdalena Spólnicka, Laura M. Raffield, Alex P. Reiner, Simon Cox, Michael Kobor, David L. Corcoran, and Steve Horvath from the University of California Los Angeles, University of Physical Education, Altos Labs, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, University of Hawaii, University of Edinburgh, National Institute on Aging, Jagiellonian University, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, University of Łódź, Central Forensic Laboratory of the Police in Warsaw, Poland, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Washington, and University of British Columbia develop blood-based DNAm biomarkers for fitness parameters including gait speed (walking speed), maximum handgrip strength, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) which have modest correlation with fitness parameters in five large-scale validation datasets (average r between 0.16–0.48). 

“These parameters were chosen because handgrip strength and VO2max provide insight into the two main categories of fitness: strength and endurance [23], and gait speed and FEV1 provide insight into fitness-related organ function: mobility and lung function [8, 24].”

The researchers then used these DNAm fitness parameter biomarkers with DNAmGrimAge, a DNAm mortality risk estimate, to construct DNAmFitAge, a new biological age indicator that incorporates physical fitness. DNAmFitAge was associated with low-intermediate physical activity levels across validation datasets (p = 6.4E-13), and younger/fitter DNAmFitAge corresponds to stronger DNAm fitness parameters in both males and females. 

DNAmFitAge was lower (p = 0.046) and DNAmVO2max is higher (p = 0.023) in male body builders compared to controls. Physically fit people had a younger DNAmFitAge and experienced better age-related outcomes: lower mortality risk (p = 7.2E-51), coronary heart disease risk (p = 2.6E-8), and increased disease-free status (p = 1.1E-7). These new DNAm biomarkers provide researchers a new method to incorporate physical fitness into epigenetic clocks.

“Our newly constructed DNAm biomarkers and DNAmFitAge provide researchers and physicians a new method to incorporate physical fitness into epigenetic clocks and emphasizes the effect lifestyle has on the aging methylome.”
 

Read the full study: DOI: https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.204538 

Corresponding Authors: Kristen M. McGreevy, Zsolt Radak, Steve Horvath

Corresponding Emails: kristenmae@ucla.edu, radak.zsolt@tf.hu, shorvath@mednet.ucla.edu 

Keywords: epigenetics, aging, physical fitness, biological age, DNA methylation

Sign up for free Altmetric alerts about this article: https://aging.altmetric.com/details/email_updates?id=10.18632%2Faging.204538

 

About Aging-US:

Launched in 2009, Aging publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

Please visit our website at www.Aging-US.com​​ and connect with us:

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Martha Stewart Has a Spicy Take on Americans Who Want to Work From Home

This half-baked take might need to stay in the oven a little longer.

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Lifestyle icon Martha Stewart has been on a roll when it comes to representing vivacious women over 60. Whether she's teaming up to charm audiences alongside her BFF Snoop Dogg, poking fun at Elon Musk, or starring as Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue cover model, Martha stays busy. 

Her most recent publicity moment, however, doesn't have the same wholesome feeling Stewart brings to the table. In an interview with Footwear News, the DIY-queen had some choice words about Americans who want to continue working from home after covid-19 lockdown shut down offices.

“You can’t possibly get everything done working three days a week in the office and two days remotely," the cozy-home guru said. "Look at the success of France with their stupid … you know, off for August, blah blah blah. That’s not a very thriving country. Should America go down the drain because people don’t want to go back to work?”

Well, that's certainly a viewpoint. A lot to unpack there. Many online were confused--after all, didn't Stewart basically make her career by "working from home?"

Sitting down with The Today Show, Stewart elaborated on her controversial stance. It seems she's confusing "work from home" with a three-day workweek. 

"I'm having this argument with so many people these days. It's just that my kind of work is very creative and is very collaborative. And I cannot really stomach another zoom. [...But] I hate going to an office, it's empty. During COVID I took every precaution. We [...] set up an office at [...] my home[...] Now we're our offices and our three day work week, I just don't agree with it," Stewart tells viewers. 

"It's frightening because if you read the economic news and look at what's happening everywhere in the world, a three-day workweek doesn't get the work done, doesn't get the productivity up. It doesn't help with the economy and I think that's very important."

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