Personalized Medicine on a Wearable Patch
Kyle Maxey posted on April 03, 2014 |

nature, nanotechnology, medicine, cancer, gold, chromiumImagine treating a debilitating illness simply by slapping on an electronic patch and forgetting that your condition even exists. While that future may seem fantastical and far-fetched, it could become a reality in the very near future.

According to a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, Korean researchers have developed a prototype patch that can measure muscle movement, administer medicine and keep a log of everything it has recorded. Built using silicon nanosensors, chromium and gold nanowires, silica nanoparticles, and an adhesive pad, the new electronic monitor could be a lifesaver for patients suffering from Parkinson’s and other diseases that require constant medical supervision.

As detailed by researchers, once one of the patches has been applied to the skin silicon nanosensors sense minute muscle tremors. If programmed to do so, metallic wires woven throughout the adhesive dressing heat up silicate nanoparticles that contain medication. As these particles reach temperature medicine is released and is absorbed by the skin.

While all of that micro engineering is pretty impressive, the most remarkable aspect of this sticky device might be its onboard memory that can flex, bend and stretch to 125 percent of its original size. In fact, during the course of their study scientists tested the patch on a number of body parts that contort in various ways, finding that their monitor will stay put no matter where it’s applied.

[This] system represents a new direction in personalized health care that will eventually enable advanced diagnostics and therapy on devices that can be worn like a child’s temporary tattoo,” says Dae-Hyeong Kim, lead researcher on the project.

In coming years, researchers are looking to improve the performance of their epidermal electronics and untether them from their power supplies. If the device could be made wireless, clinical and regulatory tests could quickly commence and a new, more portable form of personalized medicine could be prescribed to patients suffering from disease or looking to monitor their overall well being.

Image Courtesy of Seoul National University 

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