Advances could pave way for new generation of implantable and wearable diagnostics
For the first time, researchers led by Tufts University engineers have integrated nano-scale sensors, electronics and microfluidics into threads – ranging from simple cotton to sophisticated synthetics – that can be sutured through multiple layers of tissue to gather diagnostic data wirelessly in real time, according to a paper published online July 18 in Microsystems & Nanoengineering. The research suggests that the thread-based diagnostic platform could be an effective substrate for a new generation of implantable diagnostic devices and smart wearable systems.
The researchers used a variety of conductive threads that were dipped in physical and chemical sensing compounds and connected to wireless electronic circuitry to create a flexible platform that they sutured into tissue in rats as well as in vitro. The threads collected data on tissue health (e.g. pressure, stress, strain and temperature), pH and glucose levels that can be used to determine such things as how a wound is healing, whether infection is emerging, or whether the body’s chemistry is out of balance. The results were transmitted wirelessly to a cell phone and computer.
The three-dimensional platform is able to conform to complex structures such as organs, wounds or orthopedic implants.
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.
The university is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and the French Alps. The university emphasizes active citizenship and public service in all of its disciplines and is known for its internationalism and study abroad programs. Among its schools is the United States’ oldest graduate school of international relations, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Tufts College was founded in 1852 by Christian Universalists who worked for years to open a non-sectarian institution of higher learning. Charles Tufts donated the land for the campus on Walnut Hill, the highest point in Medford, saying that he wanted to set a “light on the hill.” The name was changed to Tufts University in 1954, although the corporate name remains “the Trustees of Tufts College.” For more than a century, Tufts was a small New England liberal arts college. The French-American nutritionist Jean Mayer became president of Tufts in the late 1970s and, through a series of rapid acquisitions, transformed the school into an internationally renowned research university. It is known as both a Little Ivy and a “New Ivy” and consistently ranks among the nation’s top schools.
The Latest Updated Research News:
Tufts University research articles from Innovation Toronto
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Researchers at Tufts University have stabilized blood samples for long periods of time without refrigeration and at high temperatures by encapsulating them in air-dried silk protein.
The technique, which is published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has broad applications for clinical care and research that rely on accurate analysis of blood and other biofluids.
Blood contains proteins, enzymes, lipids, metabolites, and peptides that serve as biomarkers for health screening, monitoring and diagnostics. Both research and clinical care often require blood to be collected outside a laboratory. However, unless stored at controlled temperatures, these biomarkers rapidly deteriorate, jeopardizing the accuracy of subsequent laboratory analysis. Existing alternative collection and storage solutions, such as drying blood on paper cards, still fail to effectively protect biomarkers from heat and humidity.
The Tufts scientists successfully mixed a solution or a powder of purified silk fibroin protein extracted from silkworm cocoons with blood or plasma and air-dried the mixture. The air-dried silk films were stored at temperatures between 22 and 45 degrees C (71.6 to 113 degrees F). At set intervals, encapsulated blood samples were recovered by dissolving the films in water and analyzed.
“This approach should facilitate outpatient blood collection for disease screening and monitoring, particularly for underserved populations, and also serve needs of researchers and clinicians without access to centralized testing facilities. For example, this could support large-scale epidemiologic studies or remote pharmacological trials,” said senior and corresponding author David L. Kaplan, Ph.D., Stern Family Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts School of Engineering.