University of Utah electrical and computer engineering assistant professor Benjamin Sanchez’s technology to check and track tongue health was recently tested in healthy subjects and awarded a “Tongue electro-impedance myography: a window into FSHD” grant from Friends of FSH Research.

“Industry and researchers are in need of powerful biomarkers to accelerate efficient drug development and confirmatory drug trials in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy resulting in progressive weakness in the face, shoulders, and hip girdle,” Sanchez said.

The decline of tongue function plays a role in both speech and swallowing, directly impacting the overall quality of life and life expectancy. Current tools for tracking tongue impairment and response to therapy have significant limitations.

With funding from Friends of FSH Research, Sanchez will evaluate the suitability of a novel and convenient multi-sensor depressor designed to measure tongue electrical impedance as an electrophysiological biomarker of tongue health in patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.

Completing this work will support the implementation of a future longitudinal study to identify whether tongue impedance can detect deterioration, stabilization, and/or improvement in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy in a clinical trial setting compared to measurements using other generally accepted clinical markers. Sanchez’s work was also highlighted by the Editorial Team of Clinical Neurophysiology for its novelty and impact in future research.

Learn more about Sanchez’s work here: “Bridging the Gap Between Physicians and Engineers.”