Finger pulse monitorEngineers used tissue paper—similar to toilet tissue—to make a new kind of wearable sensor that can detect a pulse or a blink of an eye.

The sensor, which is light, flexible, and inexpensive, could be used for health care, entertainment, and robotics, researchers say.

Tearing tissue paper that’s loaded with nanocomposites and breaking the paper’s fibers makes the paper acts like a sensor. It can detect a heartbeat, finger force, finger movement, eyeball movement, and more, says Jae-Hyun Chung, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Washington and senior author of the paper in Advanced Materials Technologies.

“The major innovation is a disposable wearable sensor made with cheap tissue paper. When we break the specimen, it will work as a sensor.”

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A team lead by Bradley Bundy, chemical engineering associate professor, is paving the way for new life-saving vaccine technology.Image: Mark A. Philbrick

A team lead by Brad Bundy, chemical engineering associate professor, is paving the way for new life-saving vaccine technology.
Image: Mark A. Philbrick

When viruses emerge—spreading in a rapid and extensive way—researchers must scramble to create life-saving vaccines. At Brigham Young University, researchers are working to speed up that process.

A team of chemical engineers has devised a way to create machinery for vaccine production en masse, freeze drying the produced vaccines and stockpiling them for future use. This development could aid in relief efforts when new viruses hit populations, allowing researchers to rapidly produce vaccines.

“You could just pull it off the shelf and make it,” says Brad Bundy, senior author of the study. “We could make the vaccine and be ready for distribution in a day.”

This from Brigham Young University:

Bundy’s idea is a new angle on the emerging method of ‘cell-free protein synthesis,’ a process that combines DNA to make proteins needed for drugs (instead of growing protein in a cell). His lab is creating a system where the majority of the work is done beforehand so vaccine kits can be ready to go and be activated at the drop of a dime.

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Ingestible Sensor to Improved Diagnostics

Researchers from MIT have unveiled new opportunities in diagnostics through the development of an ingestible sensor with the ability to continuously monitor vital signs. The device, which measures heart rate and breathing from within the gastrointestinal track, has the potential to offer beneficial assessment of trauma patients, soldiers in battle, and those with chronic illness.


“Through characterization of the acoustic wave, recorded from different parts of the GI tract, we found that we could measure both heart rate and respiratory rate with good accuracy,” says Giovanni Traverso, one of the lead authors of the study.

The development of pulse sensors such as this are beginning to outpace the traditional stethoscope. However, the pulse sensors that currently exist wrest on the patient’s skin, which is problematic for those with skin sensitivity such as burn victims.

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Simple, Inexpensive Electrochemical Diagnostics

A team of chemists from the University of Montreal have developed a DNA-based electrochemical diagnostic test that is inexpensive and can provide results in just a few minutes. This development has the potential to lead to point-of-care medical devices that can provide results for diagnoses ranging from cancer to autoimmune diseases in just minutes.

Not only is this development exciting for the advancement of the scientific community, it also has the potential to impact global health due to the low cost and ease of use of the test. The new development could help cut lag time and expenses between diagnosis and treatment for both communicable and non-communicable diseases on a global level.

Molecular Diagnostics at Home

“Despite the power of current diagnostic tests, a significant limitation is that they still require complex laboratory procedures. Patients typically must wait for days or even weeks to receive the results of their blood tests,” Alex Vallée-Bélisle said, head of the research team.

At the core of the DNA-based device is one of the simplest forces in chemistry: steric effects. Essentially, the new development focuses on the phenomenon of atoms getting too close to one another and using force to push off each other. This reaction allows researchers to detect a wide array of protein markers.

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When an electrical current is delivered to one of the chip's tiny reservoirs, a single does of therapeutics releases into the body.Image: MIT/Microchips Biotech

When an electrical current is delivered to one of the chip’s tiny reservoirs, a single does of therapeutics releases into the body.
Image: MIT/Microchips Biotech

After extensive research, MIT engineers are on their way to commercializing microchips that release therapeutics inside of the body.

The implantable microchip-based device has the potential to outpace injections and conventional pills, changing the landscape of health care and treatment as we know it.

A startup stemming from MIT, Microchips Biotech, developed this technology and has partnered with Teva Pharmaceutical to get these chips into the market. Teva Pharmaceutical is a giant in the industry and the world’s largest producer of generic drugs.

This from MIT:

The microchips consist of hundreds of pinhead-sized reservoirs, each capped with a metal membrane, that store tiny doses of therapeutics or chemicals. An electric current delivered by the device removes the membrane, releasing a single dose. The device can be programmed wirelessly to release individual doses for up to 16 years to treat, for example, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and osteoporosis.

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Nano-Transistor Assesses Health

The low

The ultra-low power sensor can scan the contents of liquids such as perspiration.
Image: EPFL/Jamani Caillet

Researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed an ultra-low power sensor to monitor health through the scanning of perspiration.

Director of Nanoelectronic Devices Laboratory (Nanolab) at EPFL, Adrian Ionescu—ECS published author in both the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and ECS Transactions—states that the new sensor can sync to your mobile device to alert you of your hydration, stress, and fatigue levels.

“The ionic equilibrium in a person’s sweat could provide significant information on the state of his health,” says Ionescu. “Our technology detects the presence of elementary charged particles in ultra-small concentrations such as ions and protons, which reflects not only the pH balance of sweat but also more complex hydration of fatigues states. By an adapted functionalization I can also track different kinds of proteins.”

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People in remote locations can now detect viruses and bacteria without leaving their homes.Image: Scientific Reports

People in remote locations can now detect viruses and bacteria without leaving their homes.
Image: Scientific Reports

A team of researchers has developed a device that aims to provide adequate and efficient health care to those who live in remote regions with limited access to medical professionals.

The device utilizes biosensing to detected such viruses and bacteria as HIV and Staph from remote locations. Patients simply take a small blood or saliva sample and apply it to a film made of cellulose paper—each of which is designed to detect a specific bacteria or virus.

This from Popular Science:

The patient would then use a smartphone app to take a picture of the sample and send it to a doctor for diagnosis. Medical professionals, no matter where they are, would receive the cell-fies and look at the bacterial biomarkers in the sample to diagnose the disease. The film is sensitive, disposable, and much cheaper to produce than similar biosensing films.

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jss-sensorWith U.S. healthcare costs of juvenile diabetes approaching $14.9 billion annually due to the upwards of 3 million Americans affected by this type of diabetes, researchers and scientist are looking for more affordable and effective ways to diagnose and treat. Now, researchers from Oregon State University believe they have found that answer.

A paper recently published in ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology (JSS) entitled, “Fabrication of a Flexible Amperometric Glucose Sensor Using Additive Processes”, details a novel development in sensor technology to create an improved type of glucose sensor for those with juvenile diabetes. The researchers state that this new technology cold provide a more cost effective and comfortable sensor with better efficiency.

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Polymers to Stop Deadly Blood Loss

Blood clots treated with PolySTAT (second from right) had denser fibrin networks, which helps reinforce and strengthen the clots.Image: University of Washington

Blood clots treated with PolySTAT (second from right) had denser fibrin networks, which helps reinforce and strengthen the clots.
Image: University of Washington

University of Washington researchers have developed a new injectable polymer that could keep soldiers and trauma patients from bleeding to death, called the PolySTAT.

The new polymer works to strengthen blood clots once administered into the patient’s bloodstream in a simple shot. The polymer then finds unseen internal injuries and starts working to stop the bleeding.

Researchers believe this could become the first line of defense for anything from battlefield injuries to car accidents. With testing already underway, the polymer has the potential to reach humans in as few as five years.

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Graphene Fights Cancer

Graphene oxide is stable in water and has shown potential in biomedical applications.Image: Oncotarget

Graphene oxide is stable in water and has shown potential in biomedical applications.
Image: Oncotarget

They don’t call it the wonder material for nothing. Since its inception, graphene has shown an amazing array of possibilities – from its potential in renewable resources to its ability to revolutionize electronics. Now, it may even be able to aid in the fight against cancer.

Scientists at the University of Manchester have used graphene to target and neutralize cancer stem cells without harming non-cancerous cells. By taking a modified form of graphene called graphene oxide, the researchers have discovered a quality in the material that acts as an anti-cancer agent that selectively targets cancer stem cells.

The graphene oxide formulations show the potential to treat a broad range of cancers with non-toxic material, including: breast, pancreatic, lung, brain, ovarian, and prostate cancer. The scientist state that if the new treatment were to be combined with existing treatment, it could eventually lead to tumor shrinkage as well as stop the spread of cancer and its reassurance after treatment.

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