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Optogenetics Tech for Long-Term Changes in Neuronal Excitability
Scientists at MIT have developed an optogenetics technique that can lead to long-term changes in neuronal excitability by altering neuronal membrane capacitance. Unlike conventional optogenetics, which involves using light to rapidly activate ion channels on engineered neurons, the new technique relies on a light-sensitive reaction to increase the presence of conductive or insulating polymers in the cell membrane. The method creates long-term changes in neuronal excitability, and does not require continuous illumination to maintain these changes. The method is primarily intended as a research tool that can increase our understanding of the brain and neurological diseases, but it may also have therapeutic applications in the future.
Optogenetics was first developed about 20 years ago. The research technique uses genetically engineering neurons to express light-sensitive ion channels and then illuminates them to provoke an immediate and rapid neuronal activation. However, while conventional optogenetics is useful, there is room for improvement.
Point-Of-Care Biosensor to Detect Oral Cancer
Researchers at the University of Florida have created a point-of-care biosensor that can rapidly detect a biomarker for oral cancer. The device uses test strips, such as those used in blood glucose tests, to spot cell proliferation regulating inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (CIP2A), a protein biomarker that can reveal the presence of oral cancer. The device requires a liquid sample that is introduced to the end of the test strip, where it runs into channels that contain antibody-covered electrodes. The antibodies are specific for CIP2A, and antibody binding changes the electrical signal the electrodes produce, providing a readout if the protein is present. The technology could be useful in low resource or remote regions where access to conventional lab testing equipment is not available.
If oral cancers can be detected early, then the prognosis is frequently quite good. For instance, the researchers behind this latest technology report that oral
Health tech suppliers give their verdict
The year 2022 was unsurprisingly another busy one with lots of changes and developments in the digital health world. We asked health tech suppliers what they expect to happen in 2023. Here is what they had to say:
Markus Bolton, director of Graphnet Health
“I predict that the current drive towards using population health to transform how care is delivered will accelerate through 2023 as more and more use cases become de facto standards. We are already seeing huge strides in areas such as waiting list management, fuel poverty, hypertension, diabetes, early intervention (social care) and suicide prevention.
“2023 will be the year that care systems use data to move from insights into actions.”
Guy Lucchi, managing director of healthcare at System C
“There will be a drive towards digital enabling services to make the transformational shift to new models of care that are required to overcome key health and
OxfordVR combines with BehaVR for VR delivery platform
Oxford Science Enterprises’ health tech portfolio company, OxfordVR, is to combine with BehaVR, to offer comprehensive virtual reality-based treatments for mental health.
Supported by an initial $13 million in Series B funding, the merger of the two digital therapeutic companies will result in the largest VR delivery platform for evidence-based digital behaviour therapies.
OxfordVR describes itself as a provider of evidence-based immersive treatments for serious mental health illness and behavioural health.
Deepak Gopalakrishna, CEO of OxfordVR, said of the merger: “What an exciting time for digital innovation in mental health.
“We’re at a critical inflection point in the industry where the onus will be on companies to bring evidence-based, clinically validated treatments to patients that providers, payers, and employers can confidently stand behind. This brings together two of the leading organisations pioneering this work and will enable us to accelerate that future.”
The newly combined company will be known as