Researchers at Northeastern University are using nanosensors implanted into the skin — similar to a tattoo — and a modified iPhone to measure sodium and glucose levels in patients. The implications for this could be tremendous, but first, here’s how it works:

“The team begins by injecting a solution containing carefully chosen nanoparticles into the skin. This leaves no visible mark, but the nanoparticles will fluoresce when exposed to a target molecule, such as sodium or glucose. A modified iPhone then tracks changes in the level of fluorescence, which indicates the amount of sodium or glucose present.”

For patients who are diabetics, being able to track glucose levels using this method is less invasive than multiple finger sticks throughout the day. Also, think about inpatient care as well. If you’re able to track a patient’s basic metabolic panel, especially their sodium, potassium, and creatinine — you would be able to avoid multiple blood draws that happen throughout the day during a hospital stay. True, this modality does require nanosensors to be “tattooed” to the skin, but that’s still less invasive then introducing a catheter or needle into a patient’s vein. Using noninvasive modalities to assess metabolic profiles truly has immeasurable potential, and it will be fascinating to see this type of technology grow in the coming years.

Source: Technology Review