mHealth Smartphone Lab on a Chip Could Save Lives

Last month, scientists Giovanni de Micheli and Sandro Carrara at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland announced that they have developed an implantable concentrated technology, utilizing five sensors in a few cubic millimeters.

giovanni de micheli, sandro carrara, ecole polytechnique federale de lausanne, hiv detection, health care providers, clinical immunology, organic acids, blood markers, lab on a chip, telemedicine network, europe conference, mhealth, smart phone, chemotherapy, diabetesThe device will include a radio transmitter and a power delivery system, and will be the first of its kind to monitor several blood markers at the same time. Outside the body, a battery patch will provide 1/10 watt of power, through the patient’s skin, eliminating the need to operate every time the battery needs to be changed.

Tiny Lab on a Chip

The “tiny lab on a chip” is intended to be implanted under the skin, and is capable of tracking up to five proteins and organic acids simultaneously. It will transmit the results wirelessly to a smartphone or other mobile device within a telemedicine network in hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices. The mobile device combines cell-phone and satellite communication technologies with fluid miniaturization techniques for performing enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a fundamental tool of clinical immunology used as an initial screen for HIV detection.

EPFL presented the results of its research in March at the Design, Automation, and Test in Europe conference, and expects to market the device within the next four years. The device will allow a much more personalized level of care than traditional blood tests can provide, EFPL claims. Health care providers will be better able to monitor patients, particularly those with chronic illness or those undergoing chemotherapy. The prototype, still in the experimental stages, has demonstrated that it can reliably detect several commonly traced substances.

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de Micheli says that a key feature of the device’s technology is the nanosensors. The surface of each sensor is coated with an enzyme that captures the target compound, for instance lactate, glucose or ATP. “Potentially, we could detect just about anything, but the enzymes have a limited lifespan, and we have to design them to last as long as possible,” says de Micheli.

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Under its current design limitations, the device would need to be replaced every six weeks for continuous, long-term monitoring, but its size lends itself to easy replacement.

About Christopher Ford

Christopher Ford is an expert in global medical device manufacturing compliance with over 20 years of experience, specializing in Class II and Class III medical devices and combination products. He is a certified ISO 13485 Lead Auditor, with over 600 audits under his belt, and he works with organizations of all sizes. His approach to compliance requirements balances customer needs with business objectives, while assuring that all regulatory requirements are met.