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Small patch could monitor important health information in the future

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 8 months ago

A wearable patch that tracks markers in fluid under the skin could revolutionize healthcare by providing real-time, clinical-grade information about a person's health. These patches, similar to continuous glucose monitors, use interstitial fluid to track various health markers such as blood sugar levels. Scientists are exploring the potential of this technology to measure other markers like cholesterol, hormones, and electrolytes, making lab work more accessible and convenient for individuals.

Interstitial fluid, which leaks from tiny blood vessels and carries nutrients and waste, is a better reflection of blood than sweat or saliva. The monitors use either tiny wires or microneedles to penetrate the skin and capture the fluid, which is then directed to a biochemical sensor targeting the desired marker. Sensors have come a long way since the 1990s, becoming smaller, more accurate, and more sophisticated.

This technology aligns with the push for decentralized medicine, as it offers convenience and better access to care. Continuous monitoring reveals trends and provides early warnings of potential health threats, allowing for timely interventions. For example, interstitial fluid sensing can detect high levels of ketones in diabetes patients, which can lead to life-threatening conditions if left untreated.

The potential applications of this technology are vast. It can aid in chronic disease management by motivating patients to adhere to treatment plans and allowing them to see the impact of medication and diet in real time. Providers can monitor drug levels in patients' bodies and adjust doses accordingly. It can also be used for stress and hormone therapy monitoring, as well as optimizing human performance and wellness.

While early research has been promising, more work is needed before interstitial fluid sensors can be verified and approved. Manufacturing challenges and cost considerations need to be addressed. However, researchers are optimistic about the future of this technology. In the next decade, it is predicted that a simple patch could measure a dozen markers, revolutionizing healthcare and empowering individuals with valuable health information.

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