Glutamate sensor could predict migraines, monitor CNS drug effectiveness

Riyi Shi and Purdue colleagues have developed a tiny, spinal cord-implanted, 3D printed sensor that quickly and accurately tracks glutamate in spinal trauma and brain disease. The goal  is to monitor drug effectiveness, and predict migraine headaches in humans, although it has only been tested on animals.

Glutamate spikes are often missed.  Damaged nerve structures allow glutamate to leak into spaces outside of cells, over-exciting and damaging them. Brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, also show elevated levels of glutamate.

Devices to date have not been sensitive, fast, or affordable enough. Measuring levels in vivo would help researchers to study how spinal cord injuries happen, and  how brain diseases develop.

In a recent animal study, the device captured spikes immediately, vs current devices, where researchers must  to wait 30 minutes for data after damaging the spinal cord.

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Wireless, skin-like sensors monitor baby heart rate, respiration, temperature, blood pressure

John Rogers and Northwestern colleagues have developed soft, flexible, battery-free, wireless, skin-like sensors to replace multi wire-based sensors that currently monitor babies in hospitals’ neonatal intensive care units.  The goal is to enable more accurate monitoring, and unobstructed physical bonding.

The dual wireless sensors monitor heart rate, respiration rate and body temperature — from opposite ends of the body. One sensor lies across the chest or back, and the other wraps around a foot. This allows physicians to gather an infant’s core temperature as well as body temperature from a peripheral region.

Physicians also can measure blood pressure by continuously tracking when the pulse leaves the heart and arrives at the foot. Currently, there is not a good way to collect a reliable blood pressure measurement. A blood pressure cuff can bruise or damage an infant’s fragile skin. The other option is to insert a catheter into an artery, which is tricky because of the slight diameter of a premature newborn’s blood vessels. It also introduces a risk of infection, clotting and death.

The device also could help fill in information gaps that exist during skin-to-skin contact. The sensors also can be worn during X-rays, MRIs and CT scans.

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Artificial skin sensor could help burn victims “feel”

UConn chemists Islam Mosa and Professor James Rusling have developed a sensor that could detect pressure, temperature, and vibration when placed on skin.  

The sensor and silicone tube are wrapped in copper wire and filled with an  iron oxide nanoparticle fluid, which creates an electric current. The copper wire detects the current. When the tube experiences pressure, the nanoparticles move and electric signal changes.

Sound waves also create waves in the fluid, and the signal changes differently than when the tube is bumped.

Magnetic fields were found to alter the signal differently than from pressure or sound waves.  The team could distinguish between the signals caused by walking, running, jumping, and swimming.

The researcher’s goals are to  help burn victims “feel” again, and to provide  early warning for workers exposed to high magnetic fields. The waterproof sensor could also serve as a pool-depth monitoring wearable for children.


Join ApplySci at the 10th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference on February 21-22 at Stanford University — Featuring:  Zhenan BaoChristof KochVinod KhoslaWalter Greenleaf – Nathan IntratorJohn MattisonDavid EaglemanUnity Stoakes Shahin Farshchi Emmanuel Mignot Michael Snyder Joe Wang – Josh Duyan – Aviad Hai Anne Andrews Tan Le – Anima Anandkumar – Pierrick Arnal – Shea Balish – Kareem Ayyad – Mehran Talebinejad – Liam Kaufman – Scott Barclay – Tracy Laabs – George Kouvas

Wireless,biodegradable, flexible arterial-pulse sensor monitors blood flow

Zhenan Bao and colleagues have developed a wireless, battery-free, biodegradable sensor to provide continuous monitoring of blood flow through an artery.  This could provide critical information to doctors after vascular, transplant, reconstructive and cardiac surgery, with out the need for a visit.

Monitoring the success of surgery on blood vessels is difficult, as by the time a problem is detected, additional surgery is usually required.  The goal of the sensor is much earlier intervention.

The sensor wraps  around the healing vessel, where blood pulsing past pushes on its inner surface. As the shape of that surface changes, it alters the sensor’s capacity to store electric charge, which doctors can detect remotely from a device located near the skin but outside the body. That device solicits a reading by pinging the antenna of the sensor, similar to an ID card scanner. In the future, this device could come in the form of a stick-on patch or be integrated into other technology, like a wearable device or smartphone.


Join ApplySci at the 10th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference on February 21-22 at Stanford University — Featuring:  Zhenan BaoChristof KochVinod KhoslaWalter Greenleaf – Nathan IntratorJohn MattisonDavid EaglemanUnity Stoakes Shahin Farshchi Emmanuel Mignot Michael Snyder Joe Wang – Josh Duyan – Aviad Hai Anne Andrews Tan Le – Anima Anandkumar – Pierrick Arnal – Shea Balish – Kareem Ayyad – Mehran Talebinejad – Liam Kaufman – Scott Barclay – Tracy Laabs – George Kouvas

3D-printed, bluetooth-controlled ingestible capsule delivers drugs, senses environment

MIT’s Bob Langer and Giovanni Traverso have developed a 3D-printed, wirelessly-controlled, ingestible capsule that can  deliver drugs, sense environmental conditions, or both.  It can reside in the stomach for a month.  Data is sent to a user’s phone, and instructions from the phone are sent to the device.  The sensor could also communicate with other wearable and implantable devices, and send the combined data to a doctor.

The technology could improve drug delivery in conditions where drugs must be taken over a long period.  It can also sense infections, allergic reactions, or other events, and then release a drug accordingly.


Join ApplySci at the 10th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference on February 21-22 at Stanford University — Featuring:  Zhenan BaoChristof KochVinod KhoslaWalter Greenleaf – Nathan IntratorJohn MattisonDavid EaglemanUnity Stoakes Shahin Farshchi Emmanuel Mignot Michael Snyder Joe Wang – Josh Duyan – Aviad Hai Anne Andrews Tan Le – Anima Anandkumar – Hugo Mercier

Sensor patch monitors blood oxygen levels anywhere in the body

Ana Claudia Arias and Berkeley colleagues have developed a flexible, adhesive sensor that maps blood-oxygen levels over large areas of skin, tissue and organs, making it possible to monitor wound healing in real time, or oxygen levels in transplanted organs. It can also be used to continuously monitor blood oxygen levels in diabetes, respiration diseases and  sleep apnea.

The device is made of an array of alternating red and near-infrared organic LEDs and organic photodiodes, printed on bendable plastic that molds to the the body. Unlike fingertip oximeters, which measure oxygen levels at a single point, it can detect blood-oxygen levels at nine points in a grid and can be placed anywhere on the skin.


Join ApplySci at the 10th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference on February 21-22 at Stanford University — Featuring:  Zhenan BaoChristof KochVinod KhoslaWalter Greenleaf – Nathan IntratorJohn MattisonDavid EaglemanUnity Stoakes Shahin Farshchi Emmanuel Mignot Michael Snyder Joe Wang – Josh Duyan – Aviad Hai Anne Andrews Tan Le

Wearable system detects postpartum depression via baby/mother interaction

Texas professor Kaya de Barbaro is creating a mother-child wearable system to detect and attempt to prevent postpartum depression. Mother stress levels are measured via heart rythm, and encouraging messages are sent.  Mom wears the sensor on her wrist, and baby wears it on her/his ankle. The child’s sensor collects heart rate and movement data, which is correlated with the mother’s reaction.  Audio is recorded to track crying. Mothers receive messages, including “great job” and “take a breather” when stress is sensed via a faster heart beat, in an attempt to limit feelings of isolation.


Join ApplySci at the 10th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference on February 21-22 at Stanford University — Featuring:  Zhenan BaoChristof KochVinod Khosla – Nathan IntratorJohn MattisonDavid EaglemanUnity Stoakes Shahin Farshchi

Blood glucose-powered sensor for long term monitoring

Subhanshu Gupta and Washington State colleagues have developed an implantable sensor, powered by  harvested blood glucose, for long term monitoring.

The electronics consume only a few microwatts of power, while being highly sensitive. Combined with the biofuel cells,  the sensor is more efficient than (and non-toxic as compared to) traditional battery-powered devices.  Fueled by body glucose, the electronics can be powered indefinitely.

According to Gupta; “The human body carries a lot of fuel in its bodily fluids through blood glucose or lactate around the skin and mouth. Using a biofuel cell opens the door to using the body as potential fuel.”


Join ApplySci at the 10th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference on February 21-22 at Stanford University — Featuring:  Zhenan BaoChristof KochNathan IntratorJohn MattisonDavid EaglemanUnity Stoakes Shahin Farshchi

Adhesive emergency response sensors

VitalTag by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a chest-worn sticker that detects, monitors and transmits blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate and other vital signs, eliminating the need for multiple medical devices.

It is meant for emergency responders to quickly assess a person’s state.

Additional sensors are worn on the finger, and in the ear.

Data is displayed in an app, allowing responders to see patients’ location and receive alerts when status changes or they are moved.  Multiple patients can be monitored simultaneously.


Join ApplySci at the 9th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on September 24, 2018 at the MIT Media Lab.  Speakers include:  Rudy Tanzi – Mary Lou Jepsen – George ChurchRoz PicardNathan IntratorKeith JohnsonJohn MattisonRoozbeh GhaffariPoppy Crum – Phillip Alvelda Marom Bikson – Ed Simcox – Sean Lane

Small ultrasound patch detects heart disease early

Sheng Xu, Brady Huang, and UCSD colleagues have developed a small, wearable ultrasound patch that  monitors blood pressure in arteries up to 4 centimeters under the skin.  It is meant to detect cardiovascular problems earlier, with greater accuracy

Applications include continuous blood pressure monitoring in heart and lung disease, the critically ill, and those undergoing surgery.  It could be used to measure other vital signs, but this was not studied.

The wearable measures central blood pressure, considered more accurate and better at predicting disease than peripheral blood pressure. Central blood pressure is not routinely measured, and involves a catheter inserted into a blood vessel in the arm, groin or neck, and guiding to the heart. A non-invasive method exists, but it does not produce consistently accurate readings.


Join ApplySci at the 9th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on September 24, 2018 at the MIT Media Lab.  Speakers include:  Rudy Tanzi – Mary Lou Jepsen – George ChurchRoz PicardNathan IntratorKeith JohnsonJohn MattisonRoozbeh GhaffariPoppy Crum – Phillip Alvelda Marom Bikson – Ed Simcox – Sean Lane