Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL; Switzerland) have been investigating devices that allow blood to be analysed continuously over long periods of time. They recently unveiled a novel biosensor chip that is placed under the skin, and has the ability to monitor concentrations of a range of molecules.
Biosensor chips capable of measuring parameters such as pH and temperature have been developed previously. In addition to these functions, this device contains six electrochemical sensors that enable various molecules including glucose, cholesterol and certain drugs, to be quantified. The EPFL’s Integrated Systems Laboratory collaborated with the Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit Group to develop the 1 cm2 chip, which is implanted just under the epidermis. It is believed it can function for several days, or even weeks.
The new device contains a control unit that analyzes the incoming signals from the sensors, and a radio transmission module. A patch attached to the skin holds together an external battery that powers the chip via an induction coil, and a Bluetooth module that allows the measurements to be sent to a mobile phone instantaneously.
Sandro Carrara (EPFL) presented the device at the International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (24–27 May) in Lisbon, Portugal. He commented, “Knowing the precise and real-time effect of drugs on the metabolism is one of the keys to the type of personalized, precision medicine that we are striving for.”
The team performed in vivo tests at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (Switzerland), and their results demonstrate the chip’s ability to provide constant measurements of glucose and paracetamol concentrations in mice. The promising findings suggest that clinical tests on humans could be initiated within the next 3–5 years.