EARLY DETECTION OF DISEASES: ROLE OF SENSORS

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Most of us humans are prone to various diseases beyond our control. Disease detection must occur very early and be made more precise. If genes are at fault then genome mapping should help and eventually, as the science advances further,it should be possible to detect heart disease,cancers ,diabetes,hypertension,asthma and many others at a very early stage and then deal with it by giving suitable therapy and even modify the genome in order to prevent any recurrence. Can it be done inIndia? Yes, it can be.

But before we move in this direction, we need to look at methods to modernize country’s healthcare in a meaningful way. Most of the rural as well as urban population do not have access to clean drinking water, healthcare and education. Malnutrition is a big problem.So let us concentrate on digital technology to improve these important issues which are basic but essential prerequisites to improving the healthcare of everyone.The remoteness of countryside and poor connectivity is a challenge that can be tackled by wireless technology such as mobile phones and internet.

The process that occurs starts like a cascade in any living entity : Physiology→Pathology→Disease→Symptoms→Signs→Diagnosis→Treatment→Secondary Prevention. This whole process can be digitised and customised in such a way that an accurate treatment is delivered at a molecular level.Digital technology has already started to play a significant role and I am not talking about science-fiction.Modern medicine is integrating with smart phone applications and internet in  such a way that it will enhance power to the consumer.But in India we must know how to reap its benefits. The computer literacy and access is likely to increase in future. We have to recognise that there are many variations in any given population even in  normal physiological status and identification of these can be helped with genomics.Pharmacogenomics is already helping cancer therapy at molecular level.

 

Diabetes is becoming a big problem worldwide.We urgently need to teach young people about their lifestyle particularly obesity and lack of physical activity.Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to lifestyle but at the same time a specialist genomic research centre may be started with a focus on population more prone to diabetes.Those who need to monitor their blood glucose level closely may benefit from a sensor with a microchip that can be inserted safely in a vein once in a month and send signals about person’s blood glucose level by placing a smartphone on the arm where the sensor has been inserted.This technology is now available and saves the pain of finger pricks.Likewise,breath analysis of an asthmatic can give information about control of breathing and prevent serious attacks by a smartphone application at home before calling medical help. Heart disease particularly rhythm abnormality has been diagnosed with tremendous accuracy by a smart phone application called AliveCor awaiting clearance for much wider use in the US .The information can be transmitted by internet to the specialist in matter of seconds across the globe.Meditronics is slowly changing the field of medicine. Let us try and make it faster.

©Pradeep K. Mishra,MDMRCP. Founder, www.ilaajonline.com                                                                               Ref: 1.E.J.Topol,Transforming Medicine via Digital Innovation.Science Translational Medicine 2 (2010)

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