Rochester, N.Y. – Last week, the University of Rochester was given a patent for a one-of-a-kind implantable diagnostic “living chip."
Researchers at U of R say the technology has the potential to save lives and improve the quality of life for those who suffer from chronic illnesses.
The device contains sensors that can be implanted in the skin or in blood vessels and it reads the blood cells.
“For example in heart failure, the blood level of this hormone that says that you're probably starting to get sick in the next few days and sends a little warning out to the patient,” says Dr. Spencer Rosero, an associate professor of medicine.
He says patients benefit by having an advanced warning signal or system because cells detect the changes a few days before the patient actually gets sick. The sensor then transmits the information wirelessly to another device the patient can read, or even to a smart phone.
“The key part is to empower the patient, to see the data themselves,” says Rosero. “Then they can say, ‘Wow. Whenever I see these numbers and whenever I get these data numbers I know I feel worse in three days. But if I make this adjustment to the medicine that always helps.'”
Rosero says he knows some patients will be uncomfortable with the idea and he says he understands.
“It's really meant for caring for the patient,” he says. “The cells themselves won't have any type of personal data, up to a point, but they won't transfer that info. It’s a status check on the physiology and how the body it working itself.”
Rosero says it took seven years to get the patent. He says development of the chip will move forward more quickly now that he and his team have the patent.
“That removes some of the risk of long-term investing and funding which is always difficult,” he says.
URMC says they expect the technology to be available to researchers in two to three years and then to test in actual patients.