Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have created a wearable sensor patch that can continuously monitor the levels of an important antibiotic called vancomycin. Vancomycin is considered a “last line of defense” antibiotic used to treat severe bacterial infections. Continuous monitoring is crucial for vancomycin because there is a narrow range in which it effectively kills bacteria without harming the patient.
The sensor patch consists of microneedles and nanoscale sensors. The microneedles, commonly used in insulin pens, are modified with gold wires, reference electrodes, and counter electrodes. The researchers chemically attach nanoscale sensors, known as aptamers, to the exposed surface of the gold wires. These aptamers are strands of DNA that change shape when they bind to vancomycin, resulting in an increase in electric current detected by the sensor system.
To test the effectiveness of the sensor patch, the researchers conducted experiments with saline solution and undiluted cow blood. The system successfully detected vancomycin in these solutions. Additionally, the researchers tested the functionality of the patch by inserting it into pig skin and monitoring the electronic signal. The patch maintained its signal and successfully detected vancomycin in this test as well.
The next step for the researchers is to partner with another research group to test the sensor patch system in humans or other animals for an extended period of time. If proven successful, this technology could have significant implications in the field of healthcare. It could enable healthcare providers to monitor antibiotic levels in patients in real-time, allowing for more effective and personalized treatment. Furthermore, similar systems with different DNA aptamers could be developed to monitor other proteins or molecules in the body, aiding in rapid diagnosis of illnesses and improving emergency triage.
Source: Biosensors and Bioelectronics Journal
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