Wearable, smart technologies are transforming the ability to monitor and improve health, but a decidedly low-tech commodity — the humble toilet — may have potential to outperform them all.
That’s the conclusion of a team of metabolism scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research, who are working to put the tremendous range of metabolic health information contained in urine to work for personalized medicine.
Urine contains a virtual liquid history of an individual’s nutritional habits, exercise, medication use, sleep patterns and other lifestyle choices. Urine also contains metabolic links to more than 600 human conditions, including some of the major killers such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease.
The team has two essential questions. First, can frequent monitoring and testing of urine samples glean useful real-time information about an individual’s health? And second, can a technology platform be adapted to toilets that can make the collection process simple, accurate and affordable?
They received some promising answers to the first question in a small pilot study conducted this year, the results of which were published in the November 11 issue of the journal Nature Digital Medicine. Two research subjects consistently collected all urine samples over a 10-day period, submitted those samples for tests with both gas chromatography and mass spectrometry for a complete readout of metabolic signatures.
The two subjects also happen to be lead authors on the paper: Joshua Coon, the Thomas and Margaret Pyle Chair at the Morgridge Institute and UW-Madison professor of biomolecular chemistry and chemistry; and Ian Miller, data scientist with the Coon Research Group. Collectively they provided 110 samples over the 10-day period, and also used wearable technology to track heart rates and steps, calorie consumption and sleep patterns.
The results? The samples do indeed contain a remarkable health fingerprint that follows the ebbs and flows of daily life. For example, the subjects kept records of coffee and alcohol consumption, and the biomarkers with a known connection to both those drinks were abundantly measured. One subject took acetaminophen, which was measured in urine by a spike in ion intensity. The metabolic outputs from exercise and sleep also could be measured with precision.
The next step: The Coon Research Group is designing a toilet that will incorporate a portable mass spectrometer that can recognize the individual and process samples across a variety of subjects. They plan to install the toilet in their research building and expand the user group to a dozen or more subjects. Coon says the design is “a bit Rube Goldberg-like” but functional.
“We know in the lab we can make these measurements,” says Coon. “And we’re pretty sure we can design a toilet that could sample urine. I think the real challenge is we’re going to have to invest in the engineering to make this instrument simple enough and cheap enough. That’s where this will either go far or not happen at all.”
While the pilot experiment didn’t examine health questions, many possibilities exist. For example, testing could show how an individual metabolizes certain types of prescription drugs, in ways that could be healthy or dangerous. Also, as the population gets older with more stay-at-home care, urine tests would indicate whether medications are being taken properly and having their intended effect.
Coon also believes the “smart toilet” concept could have major population health implications, not unlike the National Institutes of Health “All of Us” human genome database. “If you had tens of thousands of users and you could correlate that data with health and lifestyle, you could then start to have real diagnostic capabilities,” he says. It might provide early warning of viral or bacterial outbreaks.
Coon, who runs the National Center for Quantitative Biology of Complex Systems, says the idea of meta-scale urine testing has intrigued him for some time. “Josh mentioned this at a group meeting one time and it was met with laughter,” Miller recalls. “I thought, you know, I kind of like the idea. I already track a lot this stuff in my everyday life.”
Adds Coon: “So we went out and bought a couple coolers and started collecting.”
While the mass spec small molecule analyses are being done on $300,000 machines, Coon says that portable mass spec technologies exist at a tenth of that cost. He says that with a market this massive, they could eventually hit a reasonable cost threshold.
“Almost every automobile on the road is more complicated than that portable mass spectrometer,” he says.
The Latest on: Smart toilet
- Google Assistant: 5 useful tricks to tryon October 7, 2020 at 3:46 am
From location reminders to help with shopping, here are some of the cool things you didn't know Google Assistant could do.
- RIT, URMC receive grant to study benefits of AI-enabled toilet seat technologyon October 6, 2020 at 4:00 pm
PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Toilet seats with high-tech sensors might be the non-invasive technology of the future that could help reduce hospital ...
- RIT, URMC Receive NIH Funding to Study AI-Enabled Toilet Seat Technology for Heart Failureon October 6, 2020 at 12:49 pm
Toilet seats with high tech sensors might be the non-invasive technology of the future that could help reduce hospital return rates of individuals with heart disease.
- Poo-Pourri Launches a Bidet That Promises to Be ‘a Spa Day for Your Butt’on October 6, 2020 at 5:42 am
It’s launching a bidet which is, in the words of the cheeky cult-favorite brand, “a spa day … for your butt.” The Poo-Pourri bidet, an eco-friendly toilet attachment, aims to give consumers “a new ...
- NASA’s new $23 million titanium space toilet ready to blast off for testingon October 1, 2020 at 1:44 pm
NASA’s first new space potty in decades — a $23 million titanium toilet better suited for women — is getting a not-so-dry run at the International Space Station before eventually flying to the ...
- Do stall lights and toilet paper trackers make DFW Airport’s restrooms the nation’s best?on September 30, 2020 at 4:34 pm
DFW’s restaurants are one of 10 finalists for the nation’s best, according to the yearly competition from industrial supply company Cintas, standing ...
- Update Your Bathroom with these Smart Toiletson September 29, 2020 at 10:00 am
Whether it’s for advanced cleaning techniques, a user-friendly interface or an overall more eco-friendly experience, there is a plethora of smart toilet options out there to improve our day-to-day ...
- Global Smart Bathroom Market By Product, By Application, By Region, Industry Analysis and Forecast, 2020 - 2026on September 28, 2020 at 9:10 am
Reportlinker.com announces the release of the report "Global Smart Bathroom Market By Product, By Application, By Region, Industry Analysis and Forecast, 2020 - 2026" - Furthermore, growing home ...
- Mercedes-Benz partner Alphavan created a $145,900 smart Sprinter camper van — see insideon September 27, 2020 at 6:21 am
Benz partner Alphavan created a Sprinter-based camper van with a “rear garage” space that can alternatively be used as a children’s bedroom.The tiny home on wheels has separate defined living spaces, ...
- RHOS star Lisa Oldfield flushes her engagement ring down the toileton September 26, 2020 at 9:16 pm
Real Housewives of Sydney star Lisa Oldfield has announced her split from boyfriend James Laws in a very dramatic way — by flushing her engagement ring down the toilet.
via Bing News
The Latest on: Portable mass spectrometer
- DIY USB Spectrometer Actually Workson October 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm
When we hear spectrometer, we usually think of some piece of high-end test equipment sitting in a CSI lab. Sure, a hacker could make one if he or she put their mind to it. But make one out of a ...
- Ionpath lands $18M in series B funding roundon September 24, 2020 at 3:40 pm
The round also included global mass spectrometry leader Bruker Corp. as a new investor. All the company’s major series A investors contributed to the latest round, including Genoa Ventures, ND Capital ...
- A simpler way to ID deadly pathogenson September 22, 2020 at 5:00 pm
The Purdue group is also working on a shoebox-sized mass spectrometer that weighs just 22 lb, about one-thirtieth that of conventional models. Combining the portable mass spectrometers with DESI ...
- Portable device may help Mars rovers search for lifeon September 20, 2020 at 5:01 pm
In previous Mars missions, rovers have typically analyzed soil samples utilizing a combination of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry ... Willis has created a portable automatic ME-LIF ...
- French researchers test new breath test to detect COVID-19on September 17, 2020 at 6:13 pm
A new generation of mass spectrometers for VOC Swiss firm Tofwerk AG supplied the cutting-edge mass spectrometer specially designed ... between potentially infectious patients. This portable system, ...
- Potential Blood Biomarkers for Strokeon September 12, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Continuous improvement of mass spectrometry-based methods in recent years has dramatically increased the opportunities for discovery, identifi cation and validation of new biomarkers. For its ...
- Griffin 824 Trade Detection Mass Spectrometer - Expanded Libraryon September 9, 2020 at 4:59 pm
FLIR Systems, Inc. announced today that it has expanded the drug target library for the Griffin 824 Trace Detection Mass Spectrometer to include common designer drugs found in bath salts and ...
- What does the future hold for clinical microbiology?on September 4, 2020 at 4:21 am
Centralization should allow the development of P3/P4 laboratories, molecular-biology platforms, including mass spectrometry ... the development of portable flow cytometers could be useful in ...
- Torion T-9 Portable GC/MS from PerkinElmeron August 16, 2020 at 1:35 pm
PerkinElmer now offers portable GC/MS instrumentation for ... temperature programming and a miniaturized toroidal ion trap mass spectrometer (TMS) with a mass range from 41 to 500 Daltons.
- Spectro MS - ICP Mass Spectrometeron August 16, 2020 at 2:03 am
Let us help you with your inquiries, brochures and pricing requirements Request A Quote Download PDF Copy Download Brochure Data storage for the complete mass ...
via Bing News