Bill Gates: 7 healthcare technologies to watch in 2019

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Bill Gates was chosen to curate MIT Technology Review's annual list of breakthrough technologies and chose seven with potential healthcare applications, as featured by Advisory Board.   

"We're still far from a world where everyone everywhere lives to old age in perfect health, and it's going to take a lot of innovation to get us there," he wrote in an article that accompanies the list. "For now, though, the innovations driving change are a mix of things that extend life and things that make it better."

Seven technologies named by Mr. Gates with significant healthcare impact:

1. Stanford (Calif.) University bioengineer Stephen Quake, PhD, discovered a $10 blood test that can identify women who are likely to deliver their baby prematurely. Early insight allows physicians to potentially prevent preterm births and improve the baby's chances of survival.

2. Guillermo Tearney, MD, PhD, a professor at Harvard Medical School and physicist and pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, developed a probe that can be swallowed and used to screen for environmental enteric dysfunction, a disease that causes poor nutrient absorption. EED is common in poor countries and the device could help replace endoscopes, which are expensive to use.

3. German startup BioNTech and biotech giant Genentech are conducting clinical trials for the first personalized cancer vaccine, which would destroy cells with cancerous mutations.

4. David Keith, PhD, a climate scientist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., is piloting ways to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to create synthetic fuels. It would help reduce greenhouse gases and slow climate change, which is expected to have significant public health ramifications.

5. The Apple Watch band developed by startup AliveCor that can detect atrial fibrillation, as well as the electrocardiogram feature now embedded into Apple Watch, and others in development could help diagnose arrhythmia sooner and prevent heart attacks.

6. Two models of energy-efficient toilets — one from Tampa-based University of South Florida and the other from sanitation company Biomass Controls — can treat waste locally rather than using water to move it to an off-site treatment plant. These toilets could prevent people from dumping fecal matter into water sources and spreading disease.

7. Voice-enabled artificial intelligence assistants like Amazon's Alexa are being used in hospitals, and recent advancements are improving AI's ability to understand speech, expanding their potential uses for patient care.


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