Sensor System Offers Real-Time Control of Drug Levels in Blood

Continuously tracking chemicals in the bloodstream can give doctors a critical insight into a person’s health. Take glucose. A recently–FDA-approved artificial pancreas measures blood glucose levels every few minutes and gives an appropriate insulin dose will likely save many a diabetic’s life.

A team led by Stanford University electrical engineer H. Tom Soh has taken that idea even further, developing a universal biosensor system that can not only track, but also control, in real-time, the concentration of drugs in the bloodstreams of live animals. The biosensor can measure a wide variety of molecules, including various drugs and potentially even proteins. “There could be some pretty cool applications,” Soh says.

What the artificial pancreas does for diabetes, the small electronic biosensor could do for several other life-threatening conditions, from thrombosis to cancer. It would be especially useful for administering drugs such as anticancer drugs and antibiotics. For those treatments, there is a narrow range of doses in which there is enough of the drug for it to be effective, but not so much that it causes unwanted side effects,…[Read more]