21.03.2013 - EPFL scientists have developed a tiny, portable personal blood testing implant that sends diagnostic data through mobile phone network.
A tiny subcutaneously implanted blood testing chip can analyse several diagnostic blood parameters and then transmit the results directly to a doctor's computer. The device, developed by researchers at Swiss EPFL in Lausanne is good news for patients with chronic illness such as diabetes or those undergoing chemotherapy, whose blood needs to be monitored permanently. The implant offers an alternative to non-invasive sensors under development, which measure through the skin.
Each of the 5 sensor's surfaces can be covered with an enzyme that allows to detect a blood metabolite or with an antibody that captures specific protein markers. The few cubic centimetre-large chip's sensors can trace blood glucose, proteins, ATP or organic acids such as lactate simultaneously, Giovanni de Micheli and Sandro Carrara announced at DATE 13, Europe's largest electronics conference.
Potentially, we could detect just about anything," explains De Micheli. "But the enzymes have a limited lifespan." The enzymes currently being tested are good for about a month and a half; that's already long enough for many applications.." After the measurement, the implant emits radio waves over a safe frequency. The patch collects the data and transmits them via Bluetooth to a mobile phone, which then sends them to the doctor over the cellular network. The implant could be particularly useful in chemotherapy applications.
Currently, oncologists use occasional blood tests to evaluate their patients' tolerance to a particular treatment dosage. Additionally, in patients with chronic disorders, the implants could send alerts even before symptoms emerge, and anticipate the need for medication. The researchers hope the system will be commercially available within 4 years.
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