Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center are developing implantable living chips to monitor patients wirelessly and in real time. These tiny devices will integrate living cells with electronics to become literally 'living chips.' They could be used in a few years to better test new drugs or to control other implanted devices, such as an insulin pump, to detect patients' changes and react to them. But read more...
On the right you can see an image of a prototype of the future implantable wireless biosensors developed by Physiologic Communications (Credit: University of Rochester).
Here is the introduction from the University of Rochester news release.
It may sound like science fiction, but this concept is moving toward reality at Physiologic Communications LLC [website under construction], a biotech company founded by University of Rochester Medical Center cardiologist Spencer Rosero, M.D., who specializes in heart rhythm disorders. The company is developing implantable biosensors -- integrating living cells with electronics -- to create a "biological chip."
When implanted, this chip can detect physiologic and chemical changes with faster, improved accuracy. These more accurate results, retrieved without invasive testing, allow for better and timely response and, the hope is, a healthier patient.
And how this 'living chip' will work?
Ultimately, cells specific to the patient can be engineered to live on and function as part of the miniature electronic chip. The wireless biosensor is placed within and around blood vessels and nerves to provide detection and stimulation of the surrounding tissues or organ systems, with the ability to detect changes. A change triggers a message to a wireless device to alert the patient early on about a problem. The patient can then contact their physician.
And this is only the beginning of what is already called a "disruptive technology."
The initial application for this technology is expected to involve pharmaceutical companies, which could use the biological chips to test potential drugs in the lab more quickly and accurately. In later generations, the chip ultimately could command implanted devices -- for example, a wireless defibrillator/pacemaker or an insulin pump -- to take action to correct a detected abnormality. The device would communicate with the living chip in real time, making adjustments as a direct result of the chip's ability to detect changes.
So far, Physiologic Communications doesn't say when these sensors become available, but I guess it will not be before a number of years.
Source: University of Rochester Medical Center news release, September 18, 2006
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