The New Era of Deep Listening has Begun

Guest Blogger, Adam Hanft 16 January 2021

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – The Dalai Lama

In order to create a healthy society, we need to listen to each other. Just about every country is in crisis of non-listening. And in order to cultivate a physically healthy society, we need to listen to the body.

Listening, as a diagnostic approach, dates back to earliest days of medicine, as some of the earliest known medical manuscripts from 17th century BC show. Hippocrates was known to shake patients by the shoulders and then listen to the sounds produced by their chests. It took until the early 19th century for René Laennec to invent the stethoscope, and to coin the term ‘auscultation’ to describe the practice of listening to the body. As a flutist as well as a medical doctor, Laennec knew the importance of listening closely: he was a man who “knew how to listen,” as Dean Benjamín Juárez of Boston University points out.

Since then, you could argue that medicine has been on one long, continual mission to improve the accuracy and the nuance with which we can listen to the body. At MeMed, that’s been our singular pursuit since 2009. Our focus has been to innovate around a very specific mode of listening – the host-immune response – which involves listening to what our own immune systems are telling us. Because the immune system is so complex, and decoding its signals requires such sophisticated techniques and equipment, we’ve come to describe our mission as one of Deep Listening.

“The first duty of love is to listen.” -Paul Tillich

MeMed’s mission is to take the understanding of the immune system into new and often unexpected places. In addition to protecting our bodies from hostile invaders – in fact, as a result of that task – our immune systems are extraordinarily sensitive and accurate detection mechanisms.

What we’re learning at MeMed, however, is that this process involves a chorus of complex signaling, known as the Host-Immune Response, which kicks in when the body is under different kinds of attack. Our MeMed BV test has been tuned using understandings gained by AI and machine learning to identify three biomarkers: IP-10, CRP, and TRAIL. Our BV Test, together with our immunoassay platform called MeMed Key, which can run the test, have delivered results that include 97% AUC in independent, double-blind tests with over 20,000 patients. That’s a lot of global listening.

Our Deep Listening model also brings advantages to the medical community beyond just speed and accuracy, as important as they are. Because we are paying attention to immune markers which circulate freely throughout the body, rather than chasing down pathogens, we can diagnose cases where the infection site is not easily accessible or is simply unknown, as, for instance, in the case of a fever with no known source. Our test can also can distinguish between bacteria and viruses that are merely bystanders hanging around and watching the action, rather than causing the disease.

And of note at this moment, our Deep Listening approach to the immune system can be applied to pandemics such as Covid-19. MeMed is focused on applying our underlying technology to understanding how various reactions in the immune responses of COVID-19 patients can be turned into actionable insights predicting, the severity of how a patient will react to this disease. Some patients present a hyper-inflammatory immune response and others barely become ill at all. MeMed’s host-response technology can continuously measure the onset and course of COVID-19-induced hyper-inflammation. This essential, ongoing Deep Listening means physicians can be alerted to the right time to administer corticosteroids, or to manage the patient with other measures.

The brilliant immunologist Stefan H.E. Kaufmann summed up the history of this extraordinary field in a wonderful essay he titled “Immunology’s Coming of Age.”

Kaufmann describes an optimistic view of the future of the field we share and cherish, writing: “Ultimately, this system biology approach will provide a far more comprehensive perspective of immunology which will generate new concepts for prevention and treatment of diseases…”

In summary: The deeper we listen, the more we can diagnose, treat, and cure.

*MeMed COVID-19 Severity product is not available for sale in the US and it is not cleared by the FDA for any indication.

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