Smartphones have become a need for many people around the globe. Users can’t go days let alone hours without their iPhone or Android device. There are many time saving benefits to smartphones, but soon your phone may alert that you are about to have a heart attack. Researchers from Switzerland have created the world’s smallest implant to monitor critical medical conditions. The device looks at chemicals in the blood and results can be sent via Bluetooth to a phone.
The device was produced by a team led by scientists Giovanni de Micheli and Sandro Carrara. Its current version is 14mm small and it measures five indicators to show if and when a heart attack has occurred. One of the measured indicators is troponin, which is a protein found in the blood. Others include lactate, glucose and ATP. These traceable indicators could be also useful in monitoring certain diseases like diabetes.
How does this predict a heart attack? In many cases within hours of a heart attack, the body will have fatigued muscles that will begin to break down. During this process the body begins to spew the troponin protein into our blood. When the sensor picks up on this condition it can alert via the phone. The company is currently working on patenting a universal ring tone that will be known by everyone as a sign of what is occurring Having this as a standard makes sense, but the battle of choosing and agreeing on a certain tone will be difficult.
Technology that is present in the device is not necessarily cutting edge, but it is impressive when used together. A 14mm sensor contains five sensors, a bluetooth radio and a wireless charging method.
“Outside the body, a battery patch provides 1/10 watt of power, through the patient’s skin – thus there’s no need to operate every time the battery needs changing.”
Once the data reaches the phone it can be sent automatically to doctors over the available cellular or Wifi connection.
Sensors appear to be the only major setback currently. “Potentially, we could detect just about anything,” explains De Micheli. “But the enzymes have a limited lifespan, and we have to design them to last as long as possible.” A typical sensor is good for a month or two and it must be removed. Since they are small it is not a lengthy or painful procedure.
Heart attack awareness is just one of many possible applications for the monitors. An application like chemotherapy could also be used to test a patient’s tolerance to a certain treatment of drugs. An optimal dose is very difficult to administer with constant changing variables. De Micheli is claiming this will be the next step for personalized medicine. “It will allow direct and continuous monitoring based on a patient’s individual tolerance, and not on age and weight charts or weekly blood tests.”
Did our phones just become that much more important?
Under the skin, a tiny laboratory
EPFL scientists have developed a tiny, portable personal blood testing laboratory: a minuscule device implanted just under the skin provides an immediate analysis of substances in the body, and a radio module transmits the results to a doctor over the cellular phone network. This feat of miniaturization has many potential applications, including monitoring patients undergoing chemotherapy.
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