A breakthrough by researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology that is expected to make a significant difference in the field of Advanced Materials and disease diagnosis is featured as the cover story in The journal Advanced Materials.
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The device developed by Technion researchers is based on smart micro-needles that are embedded inside a skin-attaching sticker (band-aid). The technology continuously monitors the patient’s medical condition and transmits information to both the patient and his or her physician.
Prof. Hossam Haick, head of the Technion’s Nanomaterials-Based Devices Laboratories and Dean of Certification Studies, is a pioneer in a range of sectors combining nanoelectronics, smart sensing, and others for medical applications, some of which are suited for the developing world’s requirements.
Unlike conventional medical needles, which penetrate the skin all the way to the blood vessels and nerves, causing pain and bleeding, smart microneedles are short and thin and penetrate only the first layer of skin. As a result, they are rather painless.
They monitor critical physiological markers despite their length because they penetrate the interstitial fluid beneath the skin’s surface and assess a variety of biological and chemical components – sodium, glucose, and the pH level.
The doctor and patient receive data remotely via cloud and IoT. (“Internet of Things” technologies). This continuous monitoring, which enables the early detection of a variety of physiological abnormalities, is critical for illness prevention and other health complications such as heart and renal disease, infectious infections, and more.
It does away with the necessity for conventional diagnostics such as blood tests, which are now performed in clinics, are uncomfortable for patients, and do not provide online or rapid findings.
Two of the disorders monitored by the new system are hypernatremia and hyponatremia, both of which are caused by an abnormally high or low salt content in the blood. The first is caused by excessive sodium levels, whereas the second is caused by insufficient sodium levels.
“To adapt the technology to daily life,” Prof. Haick explained, “we have developed a unique band-aid made of a flexible and soft polymer that stretches and contracts along with the skin and therefore does not interfere with any action whatsoever. Since it is important for us that the system is available to everyone, we made sure to use relatively inexpensive materials, so the final product will not be expensive. The technology we have developed represents a leap forward in diagnosing diseases and continuous physiological monitoring at home and in the clinic.”