At this point, we think it’s safe to say that tiny implantable biosensors / transmitters are going to be popular medgadgets in the future. A number of big players are already investigating this technology, and now, according to this press release, the Fins are getting involved. Professor Jukka Lekkala explains what’s involved in a quality biosensor:
In addition to the small size, the packaging is also challenged by the environment into which it is placed. The Wireless research project is developing sensors and technologies which pose no risk to the patient’s health. “The work is extremely challenging, because the electronics have to work reliably for long periods of time under the skin, in a moist, corrosive environment, and they must not pose any health hazards, even if the protective coating were to be damaged for some reason,” explains Lekkala.
Advances in biomaterial technologies allow the biocompatible coatings of sensors to be customised for each application. It is even possible to incorporate functional elements, such as by enhancing the implant coating with a layer that releases antibiotics. Sensors should also be flexible, so that they can follow the patient’s movements. This requires that the sensor circuit boards are flexible and its components are thin enough to bend with the circuit board. A silicon chip reduced to a thickness of less than 0.1 millimetre will be flexible. When this flexible package is coated with a thin, protective and biocompatible material, the entire unit will effectively flex with and withstand the patient’s movements while implanted.
It sounds like they’re in the early stages (all their testing thus far has been “supercutaneous”, for instance) but Lekkala’s group has some ambitious goals.
More from Prof. Lekkala‘s lab…