WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Scientists have designed a new, flexible skin patch that offers regular self-health check abilities.
- The wearable tool, which can also be used to monitor health outside of medical settings, tracks the wearer’s heart rate, blood pressure as well as alcohol and lactate levels.
- Implanted with various sensors, the new tech could also tell if a person is potentially at risk of becoming ill with Covid.
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, developed a new tool that can help people with underlying health conditions self-monitor their health on a regular basis.
What’s more, the thin, flexible skin patch that is worn on the neck would provide remote patient monitoring, especially during this pandemic when in-person visits to the clinic are restricted.
The wearable device, which is embedded with various tiny sensors, can track the wearer’s heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels. It can even calculate lactate, alcohol or caffeine amounts in the user’s blood. Additionally, the new technology could also help determine if a person is at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.
“The novelty here is that we take completely different sensors and merge them together on a single small platform as small as a stamp,” said Joseph Wang, a UCSD nano-engineering professor and study co- corresponding author, in a news release.
“We can collect so much information with this one wearable and do so in a non-invasive way, without causing discomfort or interruptions to daily activity,” he added.
Among the combination of sensors wrapped in a thin sheet of stretchy polymers that are implanted in the patch is a blood pressure sensor that lies at the center of the device. It features two ultrasound transducers that measure rebounding ultrasound waves to estimate blood pressure.
Additionally, the amounts of lactate as well as caffeine and alcohol, which are released in the wearer’s skin, are calculated using a pair of screen-printed electrodes that function as chemical sensors.
While one of the electrode sensors uses pilocarpine, a drug that induces sweating, the other uses electric shock to stimulate interstitial fluid release, which is used for glucose assessment.
“We chose parameters that would give us a more accurate, more reliable blood pressure measurement,” said Juliane Sempionatto, co-lead author and a nano-engineering doctoral student in Wang’s lab.
Solid gel barriers were also used by the researchers to block the signals from the different sensors from interfering with each other.
“We are fortunate to have this great collaboration between our lab and Professor Wang’s lab. It has been so fun working together with them on this project,” concluded Muyang Lin, co-lead author and also a nano-engineering doctoral student at UCSD.
For an even more extensive health monitoring patch, the scientists are now working to create new biomarker sensors that correspond with an even larger variety of diseases.
The technology was presented on Monday in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.