A team of researchers has developed a technique that allows them to detect chemical changes in the body in real time.
The technique involves loading microneedles (which are thinner than a millimeter) with electrochemical sensors that detect specific molecules or pH levels. With it, researchers can monitor body chemistry continuously over time -- such as glucose levels in a diabetic patient.
Researchers from North Carolina State University, Sandia National Laboratories and the University of California, San Diego collaborated on the project.
Today, researchers must achieve the same results by taking samples at regular intervals and testing them. (Using diabetes as an example, diabetics must regularly test their blood sugar levels with a pin prick.)
But the sensor-laden microneedles are more flexible and painless, allowing them to be incorporated into wearable devices, such as a wristwatch.
The technology also allows for new applications, such as monitoring lactate levels during exercise. Today, we can only measure these levels before and after a workout, but not during.
The researchers' proof-of-concept sensor array incorporates three types of sensors: pH, glucose and lactate. But many more are possible.
Their work was published in the journal Talanta.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com