June 28, 2023 – Smartwatches can tell you a lot about your health, but in order to protect against major issues like diabetes and heart disease Threat, for now, blood testing remains the gold standard.
Someday, a wearable patch could give you the same information, except with arm poking and shuffling Go to the doctor’s office.
The patch will track the fluid under your skin, between and around your cells (called interstitial fluid) tags in .
If you’ve ever seen or used a continuous glucose monitor, you’ve seen this future. These skin patches, usually worn on the back of the upper arm, use interstitial fluid to track blood sugar levels in real time.
Now scientists are asking: What else can this technology help us measure?
“Our vision is ultimately to develop a laboratory under the skin,” said Dr. Joseph Wang, University of California Professor of Nanoengineering at UC San Diego.
Results: All your lab work – cholesterol, hormones, electrolytes, etc. – can be done yourself , reducing the burden on the healthcare system and providing you with real-time, clinical-grade information about your health.
How does it work?
sweat and saliva probably Easier to access, but interstitial fluid is a better mirror of blood. It seeps from tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to deliver nutrients to the skin and remove waste from the skin.
To capture this fluid, each monitor has a thin wire or a series of With microneedles down to a millimeter, they can penetrate the skin for days, weeks, or however long you wear them. “You can’t feel it,” Wang said. “Once you put it on your skin, you forget about it.”
Microneedling or The wires are made of polymers that absorb fluid, which flows to biochemical sensors that target the markers you want to measure.
The earliest patents for this technology can be traced back to the 1990s (the first home wearable Glucose monitors were introduced in the 2000s), but sensors have come a long way since then, becoming smaller, more accurate, and more complex.
Glucose sensors use an enzyme that reacts with glucose to indicate its concentration in the blood. Some researchers — such as Dr. Jason Heikenfeld at the University of Cincinnati and his team — have focused on “aptamers,” short, single-stranded pieces of DNA that bind to target molecules. “You can use the body’s own ability to produce substances to find a needle in a haystack,” he said.
As our population ages, healthcare costs spiral, and our healthcare infrastructure and workforce stretched to the limit, we see an impetus to decentralize healthcare, Heichenfeld said. Like other home monitoring technologies, interstitial fluid sensing holds promise for convenience and better access to care.
“With telehealth, over the phone, you can do a lot of things,” Justin T. Baca T. Baca, MD, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of New Mexico. “But we still haven’t figured out how to collect reliable biological samples and analyze them remotely.”
with Unlike traditional blood tests, which provide a snapshot of health at a single point in time, these devices track data continuously, revealing trends and helping doctors detect impending threats earlier.
Take ketones, a chemical produced by the liver when it breaks down fat, for example. High levels in people with diabetes can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, which usually develops slowly and may go unnoticed in its early stages.
Baca and others are using interstitial fluid to continuously measure blood ketone levels.
“This could be an early warning sign that someone needs a checkup, rehydration, or insulin shot,” “It’s an early diagnosis to avoid going to the hospital later,” Baca said.
The technology is OK Help us with something:
Chronic disease management
Seeing the effects of medications and diet on health in real time can motivate patients to stick with their treatment plan, Heichenfeld said. Researchers in Taiwan are developing a test that could help people with chronic kidney disease track cyst depression Levels of protein C, a protein that rises as kidney function declines. Heart patients can see their cholesterol levels drop over time, and of course, diabetics can already track their blood sugar.
Providers can monitor Drug levels Like antibiotics to treat an infection, watch the patient’s body to see how it is metabolized and adjust the dose as needed, Heichenfeld said.
Interstitial Fluids help us measure hormone levels, such as the stress hormone cortisol.
British and Norwegian scientists have developed a waist-worn device that uses Collect interstitial fluid samples for up to 3 consecutive days. Study author Dr Thomas Upton, a clinical research fellow at the University of Bristol in the UK, said that in their study, samples were sent for analysis, but one day the device could be equipped with sensors to monitor single hormones in real time. “There is a lot of interest in real-time cortisol monitoring,” he said.
Beneficiary: People with hormone deficiencies, night shift workers with disrupted circadian rhythms, or anyone who wants to keep tabs on stress responses people.
Athletes can Use the glucose and lactate monitors to optimize training, recovery time and diet. On a ketogenic diet? A monitor can help you adjust your carbohydrate intake based on your ketone levels. Abbott’s Analyte Ventures group is working on blood alcohol sensors, which will be useful for anyone trying to avoid excessive drinking helpful.
Early research is promising, but more work is needed before interstitial fluid sensors can be validated and approved.
Manufacturing will be a challenge. It won’t be cheap to mass-produce these sensors without sacrificing consistency or quality, Heichenfeld said. The development of today’s continuous glucose monitors took decades and hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, the foundation has been laid.
“As we move more towards interstitial fluids, there is a proven roadmap to success, with big diagnostics Many companies have been trying for decades,” Heikenfeld said.
Currently, scientists are improving the sensors and figuring out how to protect them from other bodily fluids. use, Wang said. But if it all comes together, the results could be game-changing.
Wang’s lab is developing a device that, he says, can monitor glucose and lactate or glucose and alcohol. The system will be operational in just two years.
Wang predicts that within the next ten years we will be able to measure a dozen markers with one Simple patch.