UC San Diego engineers develop wearable Microneedle patch that measures glucose, alcohol and muscle fatigue in real time


Wearable microneedle sensors that track multiple biomarkers in interstitial fluid are finding their way into chronic disease monitoring and sample collection for clinical laboratory testing

Wearable devices that replace finger sticks and blood draws to monitor biomarkers of chronic diseases such as diabetes are the holy grail of non-invasive (or at least minimally invasive) technologies that collect samples for clinical testing in the lab.

Now, in their quest for alternatives to invasive phlebotomy blood sampling, engineers at the Center for Wearable Sensors at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have added their own wearable device to the mix. According to a UCSD press release, scientists have developed a multitasking “skin lab” microneedle sensor that monitors multiple biomarkers simultaneously.

“It’s like a complete lab on the skin,” said Joseph Wang, PhD (above), professor emeritus of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and director of UCSD’s Center of Wearable Sensors, in a press release. “It is able to continuously measure multiple biomarkers at the same time, allowing users to monitor their health and well-being as they go about their daily activities.” UC San Diego’s micro-needle patch for monitoring disease biomarkers would certainly be popular with patients who routinely have to undergo painful blood draws for clinical laboratory tests. (Photo copyright: UC San Diego.)

UCSD engineers published their findings in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineeringtitled “An Integrated Wearable Microneedle Array for Continuous Monitoring of Multiple Biomarkers in Interstitial Fluid”.

Advantage of monitoring multiple biomarkers in real time

While current glucometers on the market only measure glucose, the UCSD wearable device also monitors alcohol and lactate, providing other additional information to diabetics when engaged in activities that affect these biomarkers.

For example, UCSD’s microneedle sensor allows diabetics to monitor their glucose levels when they drink alcohol, which can lower glucose levels. Additionally, monitoring lactate during exercise could also be beneficial since physical activity influences the body’s ability to regulate glucose.

“With our wearable, people can see how their glucose spikes or drops interact with their diet, exercise, and alcoholic beverage consumption. It could also improve their quality of life,” said graduate researcher Farshad Tehrani. in nanoengineering at Wang’s lab at UCSD and one of the study’s co-first authors, in the press release.

UC San Diego wearable microneedle patch
UC San Diego’s wearable microneedle patch (above) is about the size of a six-quart battery and simultaneously monitors glucose, alcohol and lactate levels continuously. It attaches to the skin through a patch of micro-needles each about one-fifth the width of a human hair. Micro-needles barely penetrate the surface of the skin to sample biomolecules in the interstitial fluid and are not painful. The quarter-sized patch is worn on the upper arm and transmits its data to a smart phone app. The microneedle patch is disposable and the reusable electronics box is rechargeable using a standard wireless charger. (Copyright photo: Nanobioelectronics Laboratory/UC San Diego.)

Other Microneedle Wearable Monitoring Patches

The search for a painless alternative to hospital-based blood draws for many clinical laboratory tests has been ongoing around the world for years.

In “Researchers Develop ‘Smart’ Microneedle Adhesive Wound Dressing System to Monitor Sodium, Glucose, pH, and More,” Daily Dark reported on a proof-of-concept study by Israeli and Chinese scientists who developed a “smart” micro-needle adhesive bandage that measures and monitors in real time three critical biomarkers that currently require invasive blood sampling for patients. medical laboratory tests commonly performed on patients in hospitals.

And in “Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis use a microneedle patch with fluorescent nanotags to detect biomarkers in the skin’s interstitial fluid,” we explained how engineers at the McKelvey School of Engineering at the University of Washington had developed a microneedle patch with fluorine plasmonic, ultra-bright gold nanomarkers that illuminate target proteins, making biomarkers up to 1,400 times brighter at low concentrations per compared to traditional fluorescent markers.

Although more research and study validation is needed before UC San Diego’s wearable microneedle sensor patch can be deployed to monitor chronic disease, it’s in good company. Diabetics and others with similar chronic conditions can look forward to a future where they can monitor their health in real time without the need for invasive blood draws or clinical laboratory tests.

Andrea DowningPeck

Related information:

An Integrated Wearable Microneedle Array for Continuous Monitoring of Multiple Biomarkers in Interstitial Fluid

Multitasking wearable continuously monitors glucose, alcohol and lactate

‘A lab on the skin’: UC San Diego lab strives to bring new wearable health sensors into our everyday look

Researchers are developing a ‘smart’ micro-needle adhesive bandage system to monitor sodium, glucose, pH and more.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis use a Microneedle patch with fluorescent nanomarkers to detect biomarkers in the skin’s interstitial fluid

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