A group of sciences, including lead researchers from EFPL, have developed a tiny, implantable device that can continuously monitor the levels of up to five chemical substances found in the blood simultaneously and transmit the recorded data wirelessly. (via École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
Time for some human-aiding medical technology that will get under some people’s skin. A group of scientists from various European education institutions were brought together to create a tiny, implantable blood-testing device that can continuously read and wirelessly transmit patient data for up to a few months. The project, part of the interdisciplinary Swiss Nano-Tera Program, hopes to provide doctors and patients with a more suitable blood monitoring system that will give way to more personalized medical treatment options.
The device itself is only a few cubic millimeters in volume: the blood-tester measures 14mm in length, has 5 on-board sensors for measuring up to five different substances in the blood at once, utilizes a radio transmitter for wireless data delivery, and runs on a tiny electrical coil. A battery patch that sits outside of the body is used to charge the devices battery by inductively delivering the 1/10th of a Watt it needs to run. The implant transmits the resultant blood data to the same patch, which then uses Bluetooth to deliver the information to a smartphone or tablet. Given the size of the device, patients would have it implanted into the interstitial tissue either on their abs, arms, or legs for a little over a month before it needs to be removed.
Unlike other similar systems, head developers Giovanni de Micheli and Sandro Carrarra designed their blood-tester with the ability to monitor five different proteins and/or organic substances in the blood at one time. By covering each of the device’s sensors with an enzyme, targeted substances such as ATP or lactate can be consistently detected as long as the enzymes remain functional - hence the one plus months of continuous operation.
“Potentially, we could detect just about anything, but the enzymes have a limited lifespan, and we have to design them to last as long as possible,” said Prof. De Micheli of Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.
The implant will also serve as a potential gateway for individualized treatment options, including chemotherapy patients taking medications under the watchful eye of doctors. Patients will be able to opt for the device rather than submit to frequent blood tests, and doctors can then use the data to monitor the health and the impact of the medical treatments on a patient. An additional and potentially life-saving feature of the device is its ability to detect heart-attacks hours before they occur.
Check out the video below for more details on the tech implant from the EPFL scientists. The researchers involved in this project hope it will be available for patients and doctors to use within the next 4 years.
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