Chang Gung University
The Center for Sustainable Health works in partnership with Chang Gung University and Memorial Hospital System in Taiwan to improve healthcare outcomes and reduce costs through improved diagnostics.
Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) — a mass spectrometry technique to quantify peptides — allows scientists to target specific protein fragments of interest. The newer immuno-MrM technique offers the ability to analyze multiple proteins simultaneously, more cheaply and in less time than immunoassays. Another technology, deep sequencing, is used to sequence millions of DNA or RNA strands simultaneously, which yields a comprehensive profile of the sequences present. Deep sequencing is more quantitative and more sensitive than microarrays. Deep sequencing can also detect rare variants in nucleotide sequencing. This is important because it allows scientists to discover new small RNA species.
Indeed, over the last decade, improvements in molecular technologies have now made it possible to survey very large numbers of molecular markers for the ability to inform patient care. An impressive amount of discovery work has been published, particularly from academic research laboratories reporting correlations between biomarkers and disease outcomes. But these discovery studies are often inadequate, requiring much larger and more standardized activity to verify and validate the reported candidate markers in each disease in order to determine the “biosignature” that is most informative for each clinical decision.
The Center for Sustainable Health is exploring how physiological data, potentially captured by a wide spectrum of devices and sensors, might integrate with molecular data to help individuals and health systems improve outcomes at lower costs. In keeping with our belief that better diagnostic information is a key lever for shifting health systems away from late-stage disease management and toward health promotion, we are particularly focused on how recent advances in information technology and sophisticated but inexpensive data capture devices promise to dramatically improve our ability to detect, diagnose and prevent disease.
Medical diagnostics encompass a wide range of devices and tools that help detect disease. Until recently, healthcare professionals in the clinic were the primary users of most diagnostics. Today however, personal diagnostics are becoming much more widespread. These tools measure a variety of health metrics that help individuals — not just providers—detect and manage disease. Using this information, users can see direct results in quantitative health markers based on modified behaviors.
According to a World Health Organization report released in 2011, chronic and non-communicable diseases are at epidemic proportions and cause more deaths worldwide than all other diseases. In its first global report on NCDs, the WHO said 36 million, or 63 percent, of the 57 million deaths worldwide in 2008 were the result of such illnesses.
These epidemiological trends have been an important driver in our discussions with health systems regarding the disease focus for implementation of our Sustainable Health model. Based on those discussions, we have begun work on the following diseases:
- Oral Cavity Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Chronic Kidney Disease and Acute Kidney Injuries
- Acute Myocardial Infarction
- Chronic Liver Diseases
- Neurodegenerative Diseases (e.g., Parkinson’s)
- Metabolic Syndrome
We anticipate that this list will grow quickly as we add future partners and collaborations.