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Flexible Micro-Needles Platform Provides Quick, Continuous, and Pain-Free Disease Diagnosis

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 11 Feb 2022
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Image: Micro-Needles Platform Enables Disease Diagnosis (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: Micro-Needles Platform Enables Disease Diagnosis (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

A new system based on smart micro-needles will enable continuous and real-time monitoring of people's medical conditions.

The system developed by researchers at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa, Israel) uses smart micro-needles which are fixed inside a sticker (band-aid) that attaches to the skin. The system continuously monitors the patient’s medical condition and sends the data to the patient and his/her doctor. Unlike standard medical needles, which are inserted into the skin up to the blood vessels and nerves and, therefore, cause pain and bleeding, the smart microneedles are short and thin and cross only the first layer of skin. As a result, they are not painful. Despite their length, they monitor important physiological indicators because they reach the interstitial fluid under the skin's surface and measure different biological and chemical components – including sodium, glucose, and pH level.

The transfer of data to the doctor and the patient is done wirelessly through cloud and IoT ("Internet of Things" technologies). This continuous monitoring, which allows the early detection of various physiological disorders, is essential for the prevention of diseases and other health complications such as heart and kidney diseases, infectious diseases, and more. It eliminates the need for conventional diagnostics such as blood tests that are currently carried out in the clinic, are painful for the patient, and do not provide online or immediate results.

Two of the diseases that the new system monitors are hypernatremia and hyponatremia, both related to the level of sodium in the blood. The first is due to overly high sodium levels, while the second is due to sodium levels that are too low. Both diseases can affect neurological function and lead to various conditions including coma and loss of consciousness, so early monitoring can prevent suffering. Sodium is an essential element found in blood cells and blood fluid and plays a vital role in transmitting signals in the nervous system as well as other biological functions.

"To adapt the technology to daily life, 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," explained Professor Hossam Haick who led the research. "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."

Related Links:
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology 


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