A Real-Time Inflammation Sensor That Fits In A Catheter

A team of researchers in Hong Kong has developed an ultra-thin and flexible sensor that makes inflammation testing 30 times faster.

AsianScientist (Jul. 20, 2018) – Scientists in Hong Kong have developed a sensor that measures inflammation and can be integrated into a medical catheter. They published their findings in Advanced Science.

Unlike their inorganic counterparts like silicon, organic semiconductors can operate under bending or stretching. Typically, a thinner film is more flexible, and smaller devices can offer faster response times, which is particularly important for applications such as medical diagnostics where immediate information is needed.

To continuously monitor some proteins or biomarkers in the human body, the common approach is to perform regular blood analysis at fixed time intervals. However, the analysis still takes hours or longer to complete, and no real-time information can be provided.

In the present study, a research team led by Dr. Paddy Chan Kwok-leung of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) developed a sensor that detects and measures the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood of human patients. The level of CRP in the blood is an important indicator reflecting the level of the inflammation of patients. It is currently tested by blood analysis, which cannot provide real-time information of the patients.

The mechanically-flexible organic electronic device developed by Chan’s team measures biological information in real-time and can detect the amount of CRP in the blood down to 1 µg/mL. The organic sensor is less than one micrometer thick and saves sample and data collection time, giving a readout more than 30 times faster than conventional methods. The real-time signal readout would allow doctors to take immediate action for their patients.

Other than the high sensitivity and fast response time, another feature of this ultra-thin and flexible sensor device is its compatibility with the standard sterilization processes in hospitals. The researchers developed an encapsulation layer that allows the device to withstand high pressure, temperature and moist environments. With this capsule, the sensor device can withstand boiling water or hot steam for more than 30 minutes without showing performance degradation.

Other than CRP in blood, the team also plans to measure other biomarkers, especially neurotransmitters or other molecules from the cerebrospinal fluid that can provide valuable real-time information in patients suffering from head injury or strokes. The teams at HKU Engineering and Medicine are also developing a big data system to continuously measure and monitor various valuable biomedical information from the brain or other parts of the body.

The article can be found at: Ji et al. (2018) Smart Surgical Catheter for C‐Reactive Protein Sensing Based on an Imperceptible Organic Transistor.


Source: University of Hong Kong.
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