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Role of wearable sensors in the early diagnosis of Graft Versus Host Disease

Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a common complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) that occurs when the donated (graft) cells are rejected and attack the host’s cells as foreign. GvHD is a serious condition with high morbidity and mortality. There is a need for new approaches for the diagnosis of GvHD to enable early intervention and reduce mortality. According to a December 2019 study by He and colleagues published in Blood Advances, an accurate prediction of GvHD development could be made by continuous monitoring of body temperature.

The researchers from the University of Michigan, US, developed wearable sensors that monitor body temperature in mice that had undergone HSCT. The technology identifies patterns of temperature fluctuations as a predictor of GvHD development. The mice were monitored using machine learning to detect subtle patterns in temperature fluctuations. The researchers are hopeful that these experiments could be replicated in humans and temperature monitors could offer an efficient and low-cost method for quickly identifying patients developing GvHD.

The global distribution of GvHD is directly dependent on transplantation-related factors, including donor type, the ages of the donor and the recipient, the sex parity between the recipient and the donor, the pre-transplantation conditioning regimen, and the use of GvHD prophylaxis pre- and/or post-transplantation. Around 40%–60% of HSCT recipients will develop acute GvHD, and another 40%–50% of adult patients will develop chronic GvHD. GlobalData epidemiologists forecast an increase in the diagnosed incident cases of GvHD in the seven major markets (7MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and Japan) from 18,500 cases in 2018 to 22,500 cases in 2028, at an Annual Growth Rate (AGR) of 2.20%.

In the future, the number of HSCT procedures will continue to expand in every market parallel to the increase in the incidence of the spectrum of life-threatening indications treated with HSCT, which includes non-malignant, malignant, genetic, metabolic, and autoimmune disorders. As a direct result of the expansion of HSCT, more patients will be at risk of developing post-transplantation complications such as GvHD. While reducing the incidence of GvHD is essential, the key to ensuring success with HSCT is reducing the morbidity and mortality caused by GvHD. Wearable sensors and machine learning processes that detect fluctuations in temperature patterns could provide low-cost, practical solutions to the early diagnosis of GvHD.

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