The experimental Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) recently sewed a piglet's gut together using a computer program and camera-based guidance, overseen by a team of doctors and computer scientists from the Children's National Health System in Washington DC and Johns Hopkins University. The procedure took 50 minutes, as opposed to 8 minutes when performed by a surgeon, but (unfortunately for doctors) resulted in more evenly spaced sutures and less leakage from the gut. And with iterative improvements, it's likely that the time difference can be shrunk. Meanwhile, FDA-approved robotic surgery on humans is making strides as well, though it requires a surgeon to operate the mechanical arm. The potential treatment paradigm, highlighted by The Economist this month, raises questions about whether patients will trust robots with their lives, and who is liable if something goes wrong.
Called IQcast, the feature tells users whether they have a low, medium or high chance of dropping below the target blood glucose range within the next one to four hours. These individual-specific predictions are generated by analyzing data collected through Sugar.IQ app and the Guardian Connect device. The Sugar.IQ app is currently available in the App Store for free download. The FDA-cleared app uses IBM Watson Health's AI and analytics tools to help users see how their glucose levels change during the day, and includes a smart food logging system, motivational insights, a glycemic assistant, a data tracker and a glycemic insights feature. Hypoglycemia -- defined by the American Diabetes Association as a blood glucose level lower than 70 mg/dL -- can lead to symptoms ranging from lightheadedness and lethargy to vision impairment and seizures.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is making the most of his final week at the agency. In the month that has passed since Gottlieb rattled the medical device industry with news of his impending resignation, the commissioner has issued 18 public statements pertaining to nearly all corners of the agency's realm, from food, tobacco, and cosmetics to drugs and devices. Friday is Gottlieb's last day on the job. On Tuesday, Gottlieb said the agency will consider a new regulatory framework for reviewing medical devices that use advanced artificial intelligence algorithms. AI has been making headlines in medtech for a while now, and this is certainly not the first time FDA has turned its attention to how AI-based medical devices should be regulated.
The first FDA-approved AI system for diagnosing eye diseases caused by diabetes is completely autonomous, and doesn't require a doctor to interpret the results. Several corporations including Google and DeepMind have been working on building algorithms for diabetic retinography, a leading cause of blindness amongst adults. The first biz to release a device approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year in April, however, is less well-known. IDx LLC, an AI diagnostics company based in Iowa, developed the tool known as IDx-DR. The details about the system were published in a paper in Nature Digital Medicine on Tuesday.
Great White North is on the top of that list. Because of its powerful academic research labs, Toronto has supplied a lot of talent in the field but has been experiencing a brain drain. As an effort to retain talent and make Toronto a global supplier of AI capability, the University of Toronto gathered a team of globally renowned researchers and founded the Vector Institute. The independent, non-profit AI research institution has created a lot of buzz and attracted a great deal of funding to its ongoing projects. With a combination of research and commercial goals, according to The Toronto Star, It will be backed by more than $150 million in public and corporate funding.