Chip to analyse blood and send data to your phone

A tiny chip could soon be placed under your skin to measure cholesterol or sugar levels in your blood and send the data straight to your phone.

The biosensor chip was created by researchers from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne’s (EPFL) Integrated Systems Laboratory as part of ongoing work on devices that allow constant analysis over as long a period as possible.

“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 researcher Sandro Carrara.

A group of electrochemical sensors works with or without enzymes, which means the device can react to a wide range of compounds and it can do so for several days or even weeks.

This one-centimetre square device has a circuit with six sensors, a control unit that analyses incoming signals and a radio transmission module. It also features an induction coil that draws power from an external battery attached to the skin by a patch.

“A simple plaster holds together the battery, the coil and a Bluetooth module used to send the results immediately to a mobile phone,” said Carrara.

The chip was tested on mice and researchers were able to constantly monitor glucose and paracetamol levels without a wire tracker getting in the way.

The results were promising, researchers said, and test on humans could take place in three to five years. The procedure would be minimally invasive, with the chip being implanted just under the first layer of the skin.  

“Knowing the precise and real-time effect of drugs on the metabolism is one of the keys to the type of personalised, precision medicine that we are striving for,” said Carrara.

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