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Roche Acquires mySugr Diabetes App, Digital Healthcare Breakthrough

Healthcare giant Roche acquires mySugr, an online and digital diabetes monitor app and is turning it into a leading global dietary aid.

We are excited about this agreement, as we will be able to offer seamlessly accessible patient solutions within an open platform to better respond to the unmet needs of people with diabetes.

Roche will improve the digital platform with the latest graphics, facts and figures and ensure it’s a useful tool to help manage the life-threatening condition.

The firm’s goal is “to make diabetes suck less” and to help the world population suffering with the chronic illness.

According to CDC, it is estimated that there are 29.1 million Americans currently suffering with the disease. The World Health Organization states that the global number of people suffering with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.

Experts say that the increase in junk food, sugary drinks and bad diets has sent the health industry into a spin. The number of diabetes cases has increased dramatically and the cost for care far outweighs that of a healthier diet.

The ‘diabetes industry’, to pardon a rather crass term, is a multibillion dollar business. Roche is ensuring that they not only tap into this pot but also help to create a healthier global population.

Med City News says “the mySugr app will help guide users to enter relevant information on meals, exercise, glucose levels and mood. It automates tracking through connected devices and estimates HbA1c statistics.”

A “diabetes monster” avatar alerts users when they make a poor food choice based on their history, information, facts and glucose levels.

The app is so sophisticated that it can also be synced with the users’ medical team to help monitor their condition, and even help with insulin doses through a Blous calculator.

Providers Add Digital Services for Better Healthcare and Engagement

Graphic of checking diabetes with cell phone app.

Roche’s acquisition has highlighted a trend among healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, where they will add services to their roster to help “support patient engagement both to quantify the effectiveness of their drugs and devices and to gain additional insight from its customer base.”

Following on from this sentiment, Roche said that the mySugr app will become an integral part of its new patient-centered digital health services platform in diabetes care. The firm added that the app purchase will help bolster its position in diabetes management.

“We are excited about this agreement, as we will be able to offer seamlessly accessible patient solutions within an open platform to better respond to the unmet needs of people with diabetes. Our aim is to support people with diabetes to spend more time in their ideal glucose target range and improve their quality of life,” Roland Diggelmann, Roche Diagnostics CEO, said. “Having partnered with mySugr since 2014, we see an excellent cultural fit, as both our companies are passionate about taking diabetes management to the next level and making a difference in managing diabetes,” he added.

The app currently has more than one million users, and execs are hoping to increase this number globally over the coming years.

Automated News Reporting, Courtesy of Google

The Google Digital News Initiative recently committed more than $800,000 (£622,000) to The Press Association (PA) for the creation of an automated news story writer. Called the RADAR (Reporters And Data And Robots), the software will be able to write more than 30,000 news stories per month. The Press Association has brought on board Urbs Media, a news startup based in the United Kingdom, to help create the software.

This gives a bias skewed towards urban centers, and helps create an echo chamber for those who are in urban areas.

The aim of the software would not be to replace the job of writers still writing, but to augment the number of articles produced due to the decrease in the number of community publications. With the decline of local newspapers, there are a lot of regional and local stories which are not being written, and are no longer picked up by the national papers.

A BBC reported was quick to allay fears that the software will take the place of human writers. Journalists will be responsible for the curation and editing of the stories, as well as help with the fact-checking. With the proliferation of “fake news”, human sorting and curation would help keep these out of the news feed.

“Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but RADAR allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually,” PA editor Pete Clifton was quoted in the article.

Another potential problem inherent in automated news collation and writing is that there is going to be a shortage or outright lack of elegance of language. News writing has always put nuance into the use of words, putting more weight and meaning in the short stream afforded by the format. With humans on boards, the flair for language and creativity is seen on the page, and the resulting quality of output can be maintained.

Interestingly, the Associated Press has a similar program in place. The stories they produce are mostly financial and small niche sports articles, with the tagline: “This story was generated by Automated Insights”. Using Google search for the tagline reveals a wide range of stories.

Writing Stories That Need to be Told

A stack of newspapers

The internet has become a big source of news for a lot of people. The news can now be read through a user’s phone, and can come from a world of sources. This has prompted small regional and local newspapers to shut down. Along with these closed newspapers are countless news writers and reporters who have been forced out of their jobs. A direct effect from the loss of these papers is that small stories about people and local events which were already obscure before, have now completely disappeared. They are now seldom referenced even as special interest stories.

National circulation newspapers usually pick up these stories from the regional and local papers, as they also have their own page for such stories. However, with the dwindling sources, there are not enough interesting stories to be published. A paradox ensues where stories center around national or global events, skirting hometown news altogether. This gives a bias skewed towards urban centers, and helps create an echo chamber for those who are in urban areas. Opinions and events from rural areas and other sparsely populated areas are no longer heard.

The irony here is that artificial intelligence has now been tasked to tell these tales.

Printing Life, Capillaries Made with 3D Printers

3D printing technology, is a game-changer for many industries. From items like shoes to the parts of an airplane, companies exploring the magic of printing items on demand in small runs.

“We’ve confirmed that these cells have the capacity to form capillary-like structures, both in a natural material called fibrin and in a semi-synthetic material..”

One of the most interesting areas of research with 3D printing is in the medical and scientific communities. Because of the self-organizing nature of cells,

3d bioprinting of tissues and organs shows the promise to print tissues and is even being used for skin and vascular systems.

Researchers have already found ways to print tissues and organs. This bold invention has helped people who suffered from many diseases, including Autoimmune hepatitis and Grave’s disease. But because 3D printing organs and tissues can only be used with larger blood vessels, there have been problems with integration.

Small blood vessels are needed in order to deliver nutrients and carry away wastes from the organs’ cells. If 3D printing cannot create a prototype of small blood vessels like capillaries, which is essential for the survival of organs, the cells eventually die.

Advancement of 3D Printing Over the Years

Since 1984, 3D printing has been making its mark. In the world of medicine, several developments for the human body have already been made because of this bold concept. The Future of the Things mentioned 7 major advancements of 3D printing in the world of medicine:

A picture of human capillaries.

  • Organs
  • Stem Cells
  • Skin
  • Cartilage and Bone
  • Surgical Tools
  • Cancer Research
  • Blood and Heart Vessels

According to Brigitte de Vet, the Vice President of Materialise Medical, “In the future, 3D printing in medicine will no longer make the headlines, except in the most exceptional cases, because it will actually be an expected and accepted standard of care.”

TechRadar stated that today, some doctors are already using 3D printing in order to build real-life models of different patients. It helps them make an action plan in a whole new way, providing surgeons information that they have never had access to before.

Process of Printing Capillaries

Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University researchers worked together to develop a new technique that would help 3D printers to create actual capillaries. Because small blood vessels have many processes and links, creating a 3D print out of it has been a challenge.

Blood vessels are lined up with endothelial cells. In order to build vessels, each endothelial cell builds vacuoles, which are essentially empty holes. After the vacuoles have been linked to each other, they then form tubes that ultimately transform into capillaries.

For developing capillaries, the researchers have tried mixing endothelial cells with fibrin, a protein that is involved in the process of blood clotting, with gelatin methacrylate or GelMA, a semi-synthetic material. For fibrin, the endothelial cells created tubes very easily, but in GelMA, the researchers have added a stem cell that can be extracted from bone marrow to allow the endothelial cells to form tubes.

Gisele Calderon, a researcher at Rice University, said that “We’ve confirmed that these cells have the capacity to form capillary-like structures, both in a natural material called fibrin and in a semi-synthetic material called gelatin methacrylate, or GelMA.”

Following these experiments, the researchers focused on GelMA because it is something that they can be readily adapted to 3D printing in terms of tissue-engineering applications.

Benefits of Printing Capillaries and Tissue

  • Cells can now be patient-specific
  • Reduction in immune system complications
  • Rise of organ and vasculature growth
  • Does not induce immune responses
  • Helps boost the growth of cell
  • Helps the development of vessels

Within the next few years, the technology of 3D printing could become mainstream. The rise of this innovation is largely unstoppable. Its effect on the world of medicine promises a better health and longer life to many people.

Food Trends That Surprised The 2017 Market

Food trends go in and out of fashion just like the latest clothing lines. The success of a new food product isn’t always judged by how innovative and cutting-edge it is but by how popular it becomes.

Consumers may associate fermented foods with digestive health and clean and simple product formulations… awareness of fermentation is driven by continued interest in yogurt and beer.

David Jago, Director of Innovation and Insight at Mintel International, says some of the most innovative products aren’t best-sellers, and in most cases, are short-lived.

According to Food Business News, Jago and his partner Lynn Dornblaser discussed trends in product development during a series of presentations at IFT17.

“Consumers are faced with a lot of choice,” Dornblaser said. “Not only are they faced with a lot of choice in-store; they’re also faced with a lot of choice when it comes to where they buy products. It’s a very complex, very confusing marketplace.”

Official records show that more than 20,000 food and beverage introductions were made in the United States last year, which highlights the growing demand by the consumer for new and improved food products.

“What we see is most of the products that get introduced increasingly in the marketplace aren’t even new,” Dornblaser said. “They’re not innovation. They might be what we would call renovation.”

Customers are now more than ever driven by fresh, healthy and natural products, as opposed to lower prices or well-known brands.

Food Trends 2017

Here, we have collated the six surprising food trends currently on the market:

  • Seasonal Opportunitiesgrocery basket with organic food

Seasonal or limited-edition products have become popular for many well-known brands. Mondelez International had a recent success story with limited-edition Peeps Oreo cookies. They reportedly sold $6 million in just 16 weeks.

  • Thins and Minis

Food brands are taking advantage of their already successful sellers and producing mini or thin versions to increase sales. For example, Oreo Thins has so far accumulated $70 million in sales since 2015. The trend has seen other brands follow suit by introducing mini or thin versions, Kellogg’s Keebler and Chips Ahoy! are prime examples.

  • Consumer Collaboration

Several firms have held competitions or worked with consumers in some way, shape or form to produce customer collaboration products. The trend has proved a hit for both the industry and consumers.

  • Fermentation Frenzy

Fermentation is again an on-trend concept for food in America. “Consumers may associate fermented foods with digestive health and clean and simple product formulations. Additionally, consumer awareness of fermentation is driven by continued interest in yogurt and beer,” Dornblaser said.

  • Everyday Gourmet

Ensuring products have a gourmet version, or rebranding it with fancy packaging is currently proving a hit with consumers. “Adding premium positioning to products such as packaged bread may appeal to today’s consumer,” Dornblaser said.

  • Retro Foods

What’s old is new, and back in fashion again! Repackaging old products as new but retro versions seems to work with consumers today. “We see companies looking to the past to products that were popular, and might still be popular, and looking for ways to give them a little bit of a twist to make them appeal to a new audience,” Dornblaser said.