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e‑BioMed : preventing falls chutes, stress and falling asleep at the steering wheel

Dan Istrate is a lec­tur­er-cum-research sci­en­tist at UTC and is respon­si­ble for the aca­d­e­m­ic Chair e‑BioMed ded­i­cat­ed to con­nect­ed bio­med­ical tools. Vin­cent Zalc, a CNRS research engi­neer, is also attached to the chair.

What are this chair’s aims? “The e‑Biomed chair was cre­at­ed in 2014 at the ini­tia­tive of Sor­bonne Uni­ver­si­ty in order to com­bine skills in the field of e‑health. It admin­is­tra­tive­ly reports to the UTC-BMBI UMR 7338 joint UITC-CNS Lab­o­ra­to­ry, notes Dan Istrate. 

What are the chair’s research areas? “The first con­cerns equip­ment for the homes of elder­ly peo­ple. It is a ques­tion of being able to remote­ly mon­i­tor every­thing relat­ing to phys­i­o­log­i­cal data in order to be able to react quick­ly, if nec­es­sary. This mon­i­tor­ing will make it pos­si­ble to pre­vent the risk of falling, but also to mon­i­tor the con­di­tion of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from chron­ic ill­ness­es by detect­ing warn­ing sig­nals,” he explains. 

And what are the tools you use? “We try to com­bine dif­fer­ent types of sen­sors inte­grat­ed into the envi­ron­ment. For exam­ple, for local­i­sa­tion, we will use motion detec­tors. Above all, we will process the sound envi­ron­ment in order to detect, not nec­es­sar­i­ly speech, but sounds that allow us to iden­ti­fy the per­son­’s activ­i­ties and in par­tic­u­lar their con­di­tion,” he stresses. 

“The sounds to be record­ed can be of var­i­ous ori­gins. It could be the appear­ance of a cough, heavy breath­ing or sneez­ing. These are all symp­toms that are at risk, espe­cial­ly for an elder­ly per­son. A scream would indi­cate a sit­u­a­tion of dis­tress, just as a tap that runs a lit­tle too long would indi­cate that the per­son can­not get up, etc.,” adds Vin­cent Zalc. 

Tools designed not only to detect events such as a fall, for exam­ple, but above all to antic­i­pate their occur­rence. “Thus, we can imag­ine that a per­son is begin­ning to suf­fer a loss of auton­o­my if he or she makes few­er move­ments in a room or to move from one room to anoth­er,” he says. 

These devices are use­ful in oth­er sit­u­a­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly in homes for the elder­ly. “We have worked with the com­pa­ny Legrand in par­tic­u­lar on EHPADs. Faced with a short­age of staff, equip­ping rooms makes it pos­si­ble to opti­mise the use of exist­ing resources,” explains Dan Istrate. 

Are oth­er areas of research explored by the chair? The detec­tion of stress or the ear­ly detec­tion of falling asleep while dri­ving. “Many stud­ies show that chron­ic stress is not only dan­ger­ous in the case of chron­ic ill­ness­es such as hyper­ten­sion, but can also lead to oth­er ill­ness­es. Using infor­ma­tion such as heart rate, skin con­duc­tance, back mus­cle con­trac­tion, etc., we hope to devel­op a device, such as a watch, to mea­sure stress lev­els con­tin­u­ous­ly. Final­ly, the last line of research con­cerns the ear­ly detec­tion of sleepi­ness while dri­ving, a project car­ried out with Core­ForTech, a start-up from Lille,” he concludes.

MICRO-ORGANS-ON-A-CHIP

The part­ner­ship between the UTC and Tokyo Uni­ver­si­ty is not new. The cre­ation of the inter­na­tion­al chair of which Cécile Legal­lais and Éric Leclerc are co-hold­ers is a proof. 

Enti­tled “Dis­rup­tive Organoids Tech­nol­o­gy”, this inter­na­tion­al chair was cre­at­ed in 2021 as part of the col­lab­o­ra­tion between UTC-BMBI on the one hand and the LIMMS, a joint unit of the CNRS and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo, on the oth­er. “The cre­ation of the chair meets the need to con­sol­i­date the col­lab­o­ra­tion between the two part­ners around the con­struc­tion and val­i­da­tion of these micro-organs-on-a-chip and, more specif­i­cal­ly, the study of meta­bol­ic dis­or­der syn­drome. Called the ‘dis­ease of the 21st cen­tu­ry’, it com­bines obe­si­ty, dia­betes and many oth­er meta­bol­ic dis­or­ders,” explains Cécile Legallais. 

Some objec­tives of the chair? “First­ly, to eval­u­ate in vit­ro ther­a­peu­tic solu­tions for patients suf­fer­ing from this syn­drome, but also to con­duct stud­ies to under­stand the mech­a­nisms and inter­ac­tions between organs in this dis­ease. The idea is to try to repro­duce a mod­el in our microflu­idic devices in order to under­stand the gen­e­sis of the pathol­o­gy,” she adds. 

Why the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo? “On the one hand, we are both inter­est­ed in future ther­a­peu­tic appli­ca­tions, and on the oth­er hand we have com­ple­men­tary skills in the devel­op­ment of these organs-on-a-chip, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the study of the liv­er,” con­cludes Cécile Legallais.

Le magazine

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