The new wearable device can also administer medicine to help monitor certain diseases. The new sensor can help monitor diseases like oral ulcers and oral cancer (Image credit:Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain)
A new wearable device could change how we send and receive medical data. Huanyu 'Larry' Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Professor in the Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM), recently published a paper in Microsystems & Nanoengineering about a micro-and nano-device technology with the ability to deliver real-time medical data to those with eye or mouth diseases.
The device will collect both small and large amounts of biofluids, like tears and saliva, which would then be analyzed for certain conditions “on a rapid, continuous basis, rather than waiting on test results from samples in a lab.” To do this, the sensors have to be placed near the tear duct or mouth to collect samples. The data can then be viewed on your smartphone or sent straight to your doctor.
The collected samples can help manage diseases like oral ulcers, oral cancer, eye wrinkles and oral or eye infections like keratitis, which is inflammation of the clear tissue on the front of the eye. This new device can also administer medicine with a microneedle through the skin around the eye, mouth or tongue.
"Through nano- to micro-steel ports on the device, we can probe the cell to deliver molecular drugs for treatment in a very efficient process at the cellular level," Cheng said. "Conversely, the ports can allow us to get access to the gene and coding information on the cell."
Researchers are currently working on prototypes, which Cheng says have to be soft, discreet, and comfortable for people to wear. Though the device is only in the concept phase, there are already local manufacturers along with the National Institutes of Health and Amazon interested in manufacturing the device on a large scale.
With future support from the National Science Foundation, Cheng hopes the technology can be used for other applications as well. He said, "there is strong motivation for us to apply this technology to similar sensing devices in the future."
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