Therapeutics can be personalized using devices with sensors to deliver what is needed when it is needed.
There is a growing demand and interest in advanced biomedical devices that provide personalized healthcare. Most medical instruments are still accessible only in hospitals and research labs and can be performed only by professionals. Therefore, we need advanced biomedical devices that provide convenient and accessible monitoring of an individual’s health. Such devices can warn patients and caregivers at the earliest possible time and allow for appropriate medical intervention and care.
Wearable biosensors are devices aimed to present advanced tools for monitoring human health in realtime. These devices can detect motions of the human body, physiological signals on the skin, and biomarkers in bodily fluid. This health-relevant data will be collected with easy-to-wear devices and shared on the cloud.
Here at the Terasaki Institute, we are developing a multitude of smart wearable devices that can monitor human motion, map electrophysiological signals, and detect biomarkers of interest. In particular, we focus on building minimally invasive platforms such as microneedles and contact lenses, for wearable detection of health indicators in interstitial fluid and tears. We distinguish ourselves by using organic bioelectronic approaches. This includes the synthesis of soft conducting polymers and conductive hydrogels, the development of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, and the fabrication of wearable organic bioelectronic sensors.
Theranostics, the combination of diagnostics and therapeutics, is the next step towards personalized medicine. Diagnostic devices that enable early detection provide useful and timely information about diseases that range from infection detection, disease diagnostics, etc. Furthermore, if one can combine early diagnostics with rapid therapy one can prevent numerous complications arising from late intervention. Along these lines, our group is working on a smart dressing for chronic wound healing applications. Chronic wounds are wounds that do not heal in a timely manner with a healing process exceeding 3-4 months. The smart dressing continuously monitors the wound area using pH and temperature sensors and in case of an infection delivers antibiotics for rapid intervention. By monitoring the wound in real-time, one can detect the infections instantaneously, submit the data to a medical professional and provide instant intervention preventing major medical complications such as severe infections, amputations, and extended hospital stays.
Over 6.5 million people in the USA suffer from burns and chronic wounds, and the imposed financial burden on the health care system is staggering. One of the major challenges in the healing process is bacterial infection, which not only impairs the wound’s healing process, but also exposes patients to other health risks due to the ineffectiveness of the skin’s physical barrier in the wound area. Detection of the infection process at an early stage and providing intervention in a rapid manner can prevent complications, including amputations. We have been developing a “smart wound dressing” platform that is able to continuously monitor the wound environment for bacterial infection using pH and temperature sensors and can provide local delivery of drugs for bacteria eradication. This platform is the first platform that demonstrates real-time sensing with a closed-loop feedback control for on-demand, localized delivery of drugs. The system consists of a multi-sensor chip that is connected to an electronics module used for acquisition, processing, and transmission of data.