Technology 3 min read

New Micro-Needle Skin Patch Can Measure Antibiotics in the Blood

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A team of British scientists has developed a micro-needle skin patch to measure a patient’s antibiotics level in real-time.

Antibiotics are one of the most prescribed medications in modern medicine. In 1928, the first antibiotic, penicillin, was accidentally discovered in a mold culture.

But today, hundreds of these medications exist to treat issues that range from minor infections to life-threatening ones.

When treating a severe infection with antibiotics, it’s essential to know the antibiotics level that’s present in the patient’s bloodstream. Health professionals can ascertain this by taking blood samples for testing, which is a slow process.

In a statement, researcher at Britain’s Imperial College, London, Dr. Timothy Rawson said:

“When patients in hospitals are treated for severe bacterial infections, the only way we have of seeing whether antibiotics we give them are working is to wait and see how they respond, and to take frequent blood samples to analyze levels of the drugs in their system – but this can take time,”

Dr. Rawson and his team developed a skin patch to address this problem. The prototype device features an array of enzyme-coated micro-needles on its underside to measure the antibiotics level in real-time.

How does it work?

Using a Micro-Needle Skin Patch to Measure Antibiotics in Real-time

When a patient uses the sensor patch, its tiny electrode needles painlessly penetrate the outer layer of the skin. That way, it can confirm the presence of a targeted antibiotic in the interstitial fluid between skin cells.

If present, the enzyme on the needles will react to the antibiotics, and this will cause an alteration in the fluid’s pH level, which is the needle detects. So, when the health professional connects the patch to an external monitor, it uses the extent of the pH change to display the concentration of the antibiotics in the patient’s bloodstream.

To test the micro-needle skin patch’s accuracy, the researchers administered penicillin to 10 healthy volunteers. Then, they placed the patch in the participants’ forearm to measure the fluctuating penicillin levels.

Expectedly, the skin patch sensor produced the same reading as those of blood samples taken at the same time.

Dr. Lawson noted:

By using a simple patch on the skin of the arm, or potentially at the site of infection, it could tell us how much of a drug is being used by the body and provide us with vital medical information, in real-time.”

Down the road, the researchers hope to integrate their sensing technology into wearable devices that could automatically detect a drop in antibiotics level and inject more as required.

Read More: Researchers Develop Psychosensory Electronic Skin Technology

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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