When I was a child, I used to watch an anime about a team of doctors who can cure diseases using a ship that is shrunk and injected into the sick patient’s body. The concept of what if we can have those tiny people in the tiny ship inside your own body always fascinated me and I found out that with today’s technology we could experience something similar.
Shrinking people may still be impossible, but Giovanni de Micheli and Sandro Carrara from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland had invented a biosensor chip that can be placed under the skin to analyze one’s blood. The chip will give accurate and instant reading that can be sent to your mobile phone directly without waiting for days or even hours to get the lab results.
“This is the world’s first chip capable of measuring not just pH and temperature, but also metabolism-related molecules like glucose, lactate and cholesterol, as well as drugs,” said Dr. Carrara.
The tiny chip has three components: a circuit with six sensors, a control unit that analyses incoming signals, and a radio transmission module. To draw power in order to activate it, the chip has induction coil that gets all the power the chip needs from an external battery attached to the skin by a patch.
The chip offers many benefits to people’s health as it can ease the lives of diabetics and can prevent heart attacks. It can also provide doctors with better readings for the patient’s immune system and metabolic system, which will lead to better diagnoses and therefore better treatment.
“When you supply any drugs to a patient you have their immune system and that, to some extent work against you,” says Carrara. “The point is even the anesthesiologist does not know how this particular patient will behave to drugs. So in order to have an online monitoring system that can immediately provide the feedback of how the compounds are going into the bloodstream is of extreme importance for the doctor to fine tune it.”
The chip’s animal testing was proven to be a success and with that the team is moving to test the chip on humans in order to develop this idea further and enhance people’s lives. As the procedure is minimally invasive and the research is getting great attention from governments and private sectors, the chip could be heading our ways faster than we think.
Well, this takes the saying, “getting under your skin” into a whole new level.