A team of engineers at the University of California San Diego has developed an electronic patch that can track biomolecules in deep tissues, including hemoglobin. This gives medical professionals unprecedented access to vital information that can help detect life-threatening conditions such as malignancies, organ dysfunction, brain hemorrhage or intestines, etc.
“The amount and location of hemoglobin in the body provides important information about perfusion or blood accumulation at specific sites. Our device shows great potential at close range. monitor Sheng Xu, professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and corresponding author of the study.
The article, “A photoacoustic patch for three-dimensional imaging of hemoglobin and core temperature,” is published in the December 15, 2022 issue of the journal natural communication.
Low blood flow inside the body can cause serious organ dysfunction and is associated with a range of diseases, including heart attack and vascular diseases of the extremities. At the same time, an abnormal accumulation of blood in areas such as in the brain, abdomen, or cysts may indicate brain or visceral hemorrhage or malignancy. Continuous monitoring can aid in the diagnosis of these conditions and help facilitate timely and potentially life-saving interventions.
The new sensor overcomes some significant limitations in existing biomolecular monitoring methods. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-ray computed tomography rely on bulky devices, which are difficult to purchase, and often only provide information about the instantaneous state of the molecule, making them unsuitable for monitoring. long-term biomolecular monitoring.
“Continuous monitoring is crucial for timely interventions to prevent life-threatening conditions from rapidly worsening,” said Xiangjun Chen, PhD in nanoengineering. student in Xu’s group and study co-author. “Electrochemistry-based wearable devices for the detection of biomolecules, not limited to hemoglobin, are good candidates for long-term wearable monitoring applications. However, the Current technology is only able to detect the surface of the skin.”
The new, flexible, low-form-factor patch attaches easily to the skin, allowing long-term non-invasive monitoring. It can do three-dimensional mapping of hemoglobin by one millimeter spatial resolution in deep tissues, down to centimeters below the skin, compared with other wearable electrochemical devices that sense biomolecules only on the surface of the skin. It can achieve high contrast with other tissues. Due to its optical selectivity, it can expand the range of detectable molecules, integrating laser diodes with different wavelengths, along with its potential clinical applications.
The patch is equipped with arrays of laser diodes and piezoelectric transducers in its soft silicon polymer matrix. Laser diodes emit laser pulses into tissues. Biomolecules in tissues absorb optical energy and emit sound waves into the surrounding environment.
“Piezoelectric transducer receives sound waves, processed in a power system to reconstruct the spatial map of biomolecules that emit waves,” said Xiaoxiang Gao, a postdoctoral researcher in Xu’s lab and co-author of the study.
“With low-energy laser pulses, it is also much safer than X-ray techniques with ionizing radiation,” said Hongjie Hu, a postdoctoral researcher in Xu’s group and study co-author. “.
Building on its success to date, the team plans to further develop the device, including miniaturizing the auxiliary control system into a portable sized device for controlling laser diodes and collecting data, greatly expanding the device’s potential clinical utility and versatility.
They also plan to explore the potential of wearable core temperature monitoring. “Since the amplitude of the photoacoustic signal is proportional to temperature, we have demonstrated the ability to monitor core temperature in ex vivo experiments,” said Xu. “However, validating core temperature monitoring on the human body requires interventional calibration.”
They are continuing to work with physicians to pursue more potential clinical applications.
Xiaoxiang Gao et al, A photoacoustic patch for three-dimensional imaging of hemoglobin and core temperature, natural communication (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-35455-3
University of California – San Diego
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