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‘Shape-Shifting’ Implanted Medical Device to Provide Continuous Blood Pressure Monitoring

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 24 Feb 2023
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Image: The SMARTSHAPE consortium will develop a disruptive technology sensor (Photo courtesy of University of Galway)
Image: The SMARTSHAPE consortium will develop a disruptive technology sensor (Photo courtesy of University of Galway)

Hypertension is a significant contributor to premature death and is responsible for more than nine million deaths annually across the world. If elevated blood pressure remains undiagnosed or is poorly controlled, it can become a chronic lifetime risk factor that can result in serious cardiovascular events. Several high-risk patients need long-term monitoring for tailoring drug treatments and improving healthcare outcomes, although no clinically accepted method for continuous beat-to-beat blood pressure monitoring currently exists for use by patients outside of the hospital setting. Now, researchers are developing an implantable medical device that could offer a medical-grade, user-friendly, and minimally invasive solution for continuous blood pressure monitoring.

The SMARTSHAPE consortium of eight partner institutions led by the University of Galway (Galway, Ireland) has been awarded EURO 4.4 million by the European Union for developing a disruptive technology sensor. The consortium includes partners across Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, consisting of two academic partners, two multinationals, one ISO-certified company, two SMEs and a patient collaboration company. The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre for medical devices based at University of Galway focuses on developing biomedical implants, therapeutic and diagnostic devices that address the needs of patients living with chronic illness.

“Our SMARTSHAPE consortium has developed an IP-protected technologically disruptive sensor for continuous pressure measurement,” said Dr. Atif Shahzad, joint director of the Smart Sensors Lab at the University of Galway. “There are challenges related to biocompatibility, longevity, and delivery to the target tissue, and these need to be overcome to deliver the sensor to the market. This project will address these challenges by formulating an innovative biomaterial: a novel temperature-dependent shape memory polymer (SMP). SMPs will enable the development of a microsensor that can be curled up, introduced into the body through a minimally invasive procedure, and ‘opened up’ when placed at body temperature to take a predefined shape.”

“Blood pressure monitoring will represent the first SMARTSHAPE application. However, the potential of this sensing solution goes significantly beyond BP monitoring,” said Dr. Sandra Ganly, Senior Research Fellow in Cardiovascular Risk Factor Research at the University of Galway

“Continuous physiological pressure monitoring can provide key information for early diagnosis, patient-specific treatment, and preventive healthcare in a wide range of healthcare indications. This will significantly broaden the potential and open avenues for other products and research innovation.”

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