Breaking News
February 20, 2019 - Health Tip: Eat Less Saturated Fat
February 20, 2019 - Sleeping in contact lenses puts you at risk of dangerous infection
February 20, 2019 - “We should study that!”: How a nurse-scientist found her passion
February 20, 2019 - Cervical microbiome may influence HPV infection more than previously thought
February 20, 2019 - Sausage mislabeling in Canada is down, new study finds
February 20, 2019 - Study shows blood pressure benefits of morning exercise for older overweight/obese adults
February 20, 2019 - New screening method could catch organ rejection much earlier without a biopsy needle
February 20, 2019 - Study may have important implications for refining parenting during child’s adolescence
February 20, 2019 - Study sheds new light on how antibiotic resistance genes are transferred between bacteria
February 20, 2019 - Chronic Wasting Disease may soon spread to humans, warns CDC
February 20, 2019 - Scientists identify new genetic causes linked to abnormal pregnancies and miscarriages
February 20, 2019 - Using LyoSpeed technology to avoid residual solvent when drying HPLC fractions
February 20, 2019 - New screening tool more likely to identify sexual and labor exploitation of youth
February 20, 2019 - Newly licensed nurses work for long hours, also have a second paid job
February 20, 2019 - Physicists identify simple mechanism used by deadly bacteria to fend off antibiotics
February 20, 2019 - FDA Grants Priority Review to Genentech’s Personalized Medicine Entrectinib
February 20, 2019 - Exposure to chemicals before and after birth is associated with a decrease in lung function
February 20, 2019 - Neuroscientists reveal that simple brain region can guide complex feats of mental activity
February 20, 2019 - Study finds new link between food allergies and multiple sclerosis
February 20, 2019 - First gene therapy operation for macular degeneration is a success
February 20, 2019 - Physicians graduated outside the U.S. offer better care for Medicare patients with complex needs
February 20, 2019 - Study shows therapeutic potential of VEGF-A mRNA for regenerative angiogenesis in humans
February 20, 2019 - FDA Approves Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for the Adjuvant Treatment of Patients with Melanoma with Involvement of Lymph Node(s) Following Complete Resection
February 20, 2019 - Study identifies brain cells that modulate behavioral response to threats
February 20, 2019 - Researchers take closer look at how viruses bind cells and cause infection
February 20, 2019 - Newly developed gene therapy helps decelerate aging process
February 20, 2019 - Study suggests new treatment strategy for deadly brain cancer
February 20, 2019 - Scientists develop unique hybrid implant that imitates bone structure
February 20, 2019 - Push-ups can be tailored to meet specific needs of individuals
February 20, 2019 - Early-career job loss has long term health implications
February 20, 2019 - CVD Does Not Modify Depression-Mortality Link in Elderly
February 20, 2019 - Electrical activity early in fruit flies’ brain development could shed light on how neurons wire the brain
February 20, 2019 - Machine learning technique helps predict which asthma patients respond to corticosteroid therapy
February 20, 2019 - Self-reported sleep duration is a useful tool to measure sleep in children, study suggests
February 20, 2019 - T-cells play key role in how the body fights follicular lymphoma
February 20, 2019 - Study shows how 3D organization of genetic material helps perpetuate the species
February 20, 2019 - Researchers engineer stem cell with ‘suicide genes’ to induce cell death in all but beta cells
February 20, 2019 - Study reveals major sex differences in management of cardiovascular risk factors among U.S. adults
February 20, 2019 - Health Tip: Get Your Child to School on Time
February 20, 2019 - Shortcut strategy for screening compounds with clinical potentials for drug development
February 20, 2019 - Common acid reflux drugs tied to elevated risk for kidney disease
February 20, 2019 - Microbiome could be culprit when good drugs do harm
February 20, 2019 - Prenatal exposure to forest fires causes stunted growth in children
February 20, 2019 - Gene therapy restores hearing in mice with congenital genetic deafness
February 20, 2019 - First molecular test predicts treatment response for kidney cancer
February 20, 2019 - New method for improved visualization of single-cell RNA- sequencing data
February 20, 2019 - Researchers capture altered brain activity patterns of Parkinson’s in mice
February 20, 2019 - A possible blood test for detecting Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms show
February 20, 2019 - Primary care physicians associated with longevity, new research finds
February 19, 2019 - New study identifies many key lessons to establish sanctioned safe consumption sites
February 19, 2019 - Single CRISPR treatment can safely and stably correct genetic disease
February 19, 2019 - Multinational initiative to study familial primary distal renal tubular acidosis
February 19, 2019 - Breakthrough study highlights the promise of cell therapies for muscular dystrophy
February 19, 2019 - Subsymptom Threshold Exercise Speeds Concussion Recovery
February 19, 2019 - Midline venous catheters – infants: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
February 19, 2019 - Searching for side effects
February 19, 2019 - Humanity is all right, probably, although human extinction remains quite possible, researcher says
February 19, 2019 - Having Anesthesia Once as a Baby Does Not Cause Learning Disabilities, New Research Shows
February 19, 2019 - Anti-cancer immunotherapy could be used to fight HIV
February 19, 2019 - Customized Micropatterning for Improved Physiological Relevance
February 19, 2019 - Unique gene therapy approach paves new way to tackle rare, inherited diseases
February 19, 2019 - Activating gene that helps excite neurons reverses depression in male mice
February 19, 2019 - Science Puzzling Out Differences in Gut Bacteria Around the World
February 19, 2019 - Cells that destroy the intestine
February 19, 2019 - On recovery, vulnerability and ritual: An exhibit in white
February 19, 2019 - Scientific Duo Gets Back To Basics To Make Childbirth Safer
February 19, 2019 - COPD patients need more support when understanding new chest symptoms
February 19, 2019 - Using light-based method for production of pharmaceutical molecules
February 19, 2019 - Scientists find link between inflammation and cancer
February 19, 2019 - The High Cost Of Sex: Insurers Often Don’t Pay For Drugs To Treat Problems
February 19, 2019 - Hearing impairment associated with accelerated cognitive decline with age
February 19, 2019 - Researchers identify multiple genetic variants associated with body fat distribution
February 19, 2019 - Influenza and common cold are completely different diseases, study shows
February 19, 2019 - Scientists untangle how microbes manufacture key antibiotic compound
February 19, 2019 - Greater primary care physician supply associated with longer life spans
February 19, 2019 - HIV-1 protein suppresses immune response more broadly than thought
February 19, 2019 - Brain imaging indicates potential success of drug therapy in depressive patients
February 19, 2019 - For 2020 Dem Hopefuls, ‘Medicare-For-All’ Is A Defining Issue, However They Define It
February 19, 2019 - Specialized lung cells appear in the developing fetus much earlier than previously thought
February 19, 2019 - KU professor discusses promise of brain-computer interface to aid, restore communication
New biodegradable pressure sensor could help monitor serious health conditions

New biodegradable pressure sensor could help monitor serious health conditions

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

UConn engineers have created a biodegradable pressure sensor that could help doctors monitor chronic lung disease, swelling of the brain, and other medical conditions before dissolving harmlessly in a patient’s body.

The UConn research is featured in the current online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The small, flexible sensor is made of medically safe materials already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in surgical sutures, bone grafts, and medical implants. It is designed to replace existing implantable pressure sensors that have potentially toxic components.

Those sensors must be removed after use, subjecting patients to an additional invasive procedure, extending their recovery time, and increasing the risk of infection.

Because the UConn sensor emits a small electrical charge when pressure is applied against it, the device also could be used to provide electrical stimulation for tissue regeneration, researchers say. Other potential applications include monitoring patients with glaucoma, heart disease, and bladder cancer.

“We are very excited because this is the first time these biocompatible materials have been used in this way,” says Thanh Duc Nguyen, the paper’s senior author and an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering in the Institute of Regenerative Engineering at UConn Health and the Institute of Materials Science at the Storrs campus.

“Medical sensors are often implanted directly into soft tissues and organs,” Nguyen notes. “Taking them out can cause additional damage. We knew that if we could develop a sensor that didn’t require surgery to take it out, that would be really significant.”

A prototype sensor made by the lab consisted of a thin polymer film five millimeters long, five millimeters wide, and 200 micrometers thick. The sensor was implanted in the abdomen of a mouse in order to monitor the mouse’s respiratory rate. It emitted reliable readings of contractions in the mouse’s diaphragm for four days before breaking down into its individual organic components.

To make sure the sensor was also medically safe, the researchers implanted it in the back of a mouse and then watched for a response from the mouse’s immune system. The results showed only minor inflammation after the sensor was inserted, and the surrounding tissue returned to normal after four weeks.

One of the project’s biggest challenges was getting the biodegradable material to produce an electrical charge when it was subjected to pressure or squeezed, a process known as the piezoelectric effect. In its usual state, the medically safe polymer used for the sensor – a product known as Poly(L-lactide) or PLLA – is neutral and doesn’t emit an electrical charge under pressure.

Eli Curry, a graduate student in Nguyen’s lab and the paper’s lead author, provided the project’s key breakthrough when he successfully transformed the PLLA into a piezoelectric material by carefully heating it, stretching it, and cutting it at just the right angle so that its internal molecular structure was altered and it adopted piezoelectric properties. Curry then connected the sensor to electronic circuits so the material’s force-sensing capabilities could be tested.

When put together, the UConn sensor is made of two layers of piezoelectric PLLA film sandwiched between tiny molybdenum electrodes and then encapsulated with layers of polylactic acid or PLA, a biodegradable product commonly used for bone screws and tissue scaffolds. Molybdenum is used for cardiovascular stents and hip implants.

The piezoelectric PLLA film emits a small electrical charge when even the most minute pressure is applied against it. Those small electrical signals can be captured and transmitted to another device for review by a doctor.

As part of their proof of concept test for the new sensor, the research team hardwired an implanted sensor to a signal amplifier placed outside of a mouse’s body. The amplifier then transmitted the enhanced electrical signals to an oscilloscope where the sensor’s readings could be easily viewed.

The sensor’s readings during testing were equal to those of existing commercial devices and just as reliable, the researchers say. The new sensor is capable of capturing a wide range of physiological pressures, such as those found in the brain, behind the eye, and in the abdomen. The sensor’s sensitivity can be adjusted by changing the number of layers of PLLA used and other factors.

Nguyen’s group is investigating ways to extend the sensor’s functional lifetime. The lab’s ultimate goal is to develop a sensor system that is completely biodegradable within the human body.

But until then, the new sensor can be used in its current form to help patients avoid invasive removal surgery, the researchers say.

“There are many applications for this sensor,” says Nguyen. “Let’s say the sensor is implanted in the brain. We can use biodegradable wires and put the accompanying non-degradable electronics far away from the delicate brain tissue, such as under the skin behind the ear, similar to a cochlear implant. Then it would just require a minor treatment to remove the electronics without worrying about the sensor being in direct contact with soft brain tissue.”

Nguyen’s research group has filed for a patent for the new sensor. The patent application is pending.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles