A postage stamp-sized implant could greatly improve the tracking and treatment of cancer and other chronic illnesses – by performing blood tests under the skin, scientists say.
The 14 millimetre-long gadget, crammed with small electronics containing five sensors and a WiFi transmitter, could be in use in private hospitals and the NHS within four years.
Power is taken through the skin by a battery patch which also transmits test information via Bluetooth to a doctor’s mobile phone or laptop.
The sensors identify proteins, sugar and organic acids in the blood that provide important health data.
It could provide cancer patients with round-the-clock monitoring, sounding alerts before symptoms emerge.
Scientists think it will be especially useful as a chemotherapy aid.
Doctors rely on occasional blood tests to assess cancer patients’ tolerance of a particular treatment dosage, but this process is hard to tailor ideal levels for individuals.
The chip was designed at Lausanne’s EPFL polytechnic in Switzerland.
A prototype already tested for five different substances is said to be as reliable as traditional analysis methods.
The results were presented this week to the Design Automation & Test in Europe, the continent’s largest electronics meeting in Grenoble, France.