Tiny Bluetooth Device Helps Fight Cancer, Diabetes

Dennis Faas's picture

The Bluetooth technology behind smartphones and other mobile devices has been adapted for medical purposes. Swiss scientists have developed a blood-testing gadget that is implanted under the patient's skin and can wirelessly communicate vital health information.

The matchstick-shaped gadget is just under half an inch long and can be injected into the skin through a needle. It then lies in the interstitial tissue, which is just below the skin.

Once in place, the implant can test for the presence and levels of five different substances in the blood, including proteins, organic acids, glucose, and cholesterol.

This allows doctors to monitor for numerous conditions, including diabetes. Such constant monitoring could also make it possible to spot conditions developing before symptoms start to show.

Bluetooth Collects Data From Below Skin

To use the device once it's implanted, doctors simply hold a special tool near the skin when they need to collect data. This provides a wireless battery charge that gives the device just enough power to take the readings and transmit them, via Bluetooth, to a nearby smartphone or computer. (Source: independent.co.uk)

According to Professor Giovanni de Micheli, who helped in the development of the Bluetooth gadget, the system makes diagnoses more accurate. It also saves time by eliminating the need to take repeated blood samples. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

The system also allows for more frequent data collection; in fact, patients in a hospital could be monitored continuously. That allows for more accurate results than simply taking a traditional blood test at longer intervals.

Wireless Monitoring Could Refine Cancer Drug Dose

The system could be particularly useful for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. At the moment, doses are usually based on a patient's age and weight, and only refined after a weekly blood test.

Constant monitoring of the effects of the chemotherapy could make it easier to tailor a dose that meets the patient's specific needs.

Once implanted, the device could potentially remain in place safely for several months before having to be removed.

Initial testing on animals shows the results are as reliable as traditional blood sample collections. The researchers believe the device could be available for human use in less than four years' time.

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