Scientists create electronic skin that can deliver drugs

This smart skin is as thin as a temporary tattoo and can monitor, store and send data about a patient's movements.

Scientists have developed an electronic skin that can monitor, store and send information about a person's movements and deliver medications—an advancement that could provide a new level of personalized health care.

The scientists, who reported their findings in Nature Nanotechnology, say wearable systems like this are the next frontier in personalized medicine and they see a day when their electronic skin could be used to monitor and treat patients with movement disorders like Parkinson's disease. 

The electronic smart skin is a modern take on conventional monitoring devices. Those old school devices, which have helped improve doctors' understanding of heart failure and epilepsy, are good at capturing physiological data, the scientists say. Still, there are challenges to these devices. They can be clunky and visible enough to create social stigmas. Plus, they've only been able to monitor. 

And while there's an emerging class of stretchable biomedical electronics, adoption has been limited due to a number of technical challenges including the inability to store recorded data during long-term monitoring, the scientists say. 

The electronic skin does all of those tasks in a tiny, practically invisible package.

Thumbnail photo: Nanshu and Alex Jerez, University of Texas

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