‘Smart’ Socks Alert To Diabetic Foot Ulcers

A pressing problem for patients with diabetes may soon find some relief: Israeli researchers have developed a sock with sensors that will relay information to a user’s smartphone if a foot ulcer is developing.

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage associated with the development of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Resulting from anatomical deformation, excessive pressure, and poor blood supply, it affects over 130 million individuals worldwide, according to several research reports. These reports also state that it is also the leading cause of amputation, costing the United States economy alone more than $10 billion annually.

Although patients are encouraged to get regular checkups to monitor for foot neuropathy, ulcers are only diagnosed after they occur. To address this challenge, researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center created SenseGO, a machine-washable sock containing dozens of micro-fabricated pressure sensors. With SenseGO, changes in pressure due to incorrect posture, anatomical deformation, or ill-fitting shoes are registered as electrical signals that are relayed to a smartphone app, which in turn informs the patient of developing risk and empowers him or her to seek medical treatment before the problem worsens.

Computer-Based Test Aims To Predict Dementia Risk

First heart disease, then breast cancer, then dementia had it: a computer-based test to determine risk.

Researchers from University College London have developed an algorithm that uses medical data of data-confirmed risk factors—age, sex, social interaction, smoking, body-mass index, alcohol use, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, irregular heartbeat, aspirin use, and depression—to predict a five-year risk of dementia. Their results are published in BioMed Central.

The Dementia Risk Score proved accurate when researchers used it to assess the records of more than 226,000 patients ages 60 to 79. However, it was not valid for people older than 80, because by that age the risk of dementia is elevated across the board, said the researchers.

At best, the test could ease the minds of people at very low risk for dementia and provide advance warning to people whose lifestyle choices are increasing their risk, said Kate Walters, lead investigator and director of the Centre for Ageing and Population Studies. At worst, the test could bring unnecessary worry to those who score a high risk and end up not developing dementia.

While it proved accurate looking at past records, the Dementia Risk Score needs further testing on current patients to verify its effectiveness, Walters said.

The Scoop On Poop: Fresh Or Frozen May Aid In C. Difficile Infection

A last resort for those with unresponsive Clostridium difficile infections (CDIs) just got an extra dose of promise: When it comes to fecal transplantation, frozen works just as well as fresh, reports a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

CDIs, resulting in severe diarrhea, have become the bane of health care settings. More than 60 percent of patients experience further episodes after the first recurrence.

Treatment for recurrent incidents is limited to a handful of antibiotics, many of which the bacterium has developed resistance against.

Fecal microbiotia transplantation (FMT)—a stool transplant from a healthy individual—has achieved high cure rates when given by enema. However, frozen FMT may offer advantages such as less cost due to fewer donor screenings, its immediate availability, and easier transport to centers that do not have on-site laboratory facilities.

Christine Lee, MD, of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues randomly assigned 232 adults with recurrent or refractory CDI to receive frozen (n = 114) or fresh (n = 118) FMT via enema. Both groups had similar clinical resolution of diarrhea without relapse and no differences in the amounts of adverse of serious adverse events.

 “In this clinical trial, the use of frozen FMT compared with fresh FMT for the treatment of recurrent or refractory CDI was noninferior [not worse than] in terms of efficacy; findings for frozen FMT and fresh FMT were similar in terms of safety,” the authors write. “Given the potential advantages of providing frozen FMT, its use is a reasonable option in this setting.”