At the University of Albany’s nanoscience research center, scientists developed a small device that can monitor lactate and glucose levels of organ tissue when attached like a bandage. The researchers believe their work will be used one day to provide real time status of transplant organs during transport.
Castracane [Dr. Castracane is Professor at Nanobioscience Constellation at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering –ed.], and colleagues created a small, flat device about 2.5 centimetres square with 25 micro-heaters embedded. When placed on the outside of an organ like a small Band aid, these heaters burn small holes – one fifth the width of a human hair – into the outermost layer of the organ.
"We’re doing this on a micro scale – if it was done on your skin you wouldn’t even feel [those holes]," says Anand Gadre also at Albany.
Roughly one micro-litre of tissue fluid then oozes out of each hole, onto an electrochemical sensor inside the patch. This sensor detects either glucose or lactate levels within the fluid, based on how well the fluid conducts electricity when mixed with different enzymes. The levels of those two products of different metabolic reactions can be used to judge the overall metabolic rate or health of the organ.
"We would know the baseline of these readings and then [compare] in real time to see if the organ is in a viable state or not," says Gadre. Each micro-burner can only penetrate the organ’s outer layer once. But a patch with a large number of these burners, say 100s, could monitor the organ as many times as it had heaters.
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