Co-leading the team with Efimov is John Rogers, PhD, the Swanlund Chair and professor of materials science and engineering and director of the F. Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rogers, who developed the transfer printing technique, developed the sensors using semiconductor materials including silicon, gallium arsenide and gallium nitride, along with metals, metal oxides and polymers.
Recently, Google announced its scientists had developed a type of contact lens embedded with sensors that could monitor glucose levels in patients with diabetes. Efimov says the membrane his team has developed is a similar idea, though much more sophisticated.
"Because this is implantable, it will allow physicians to monitor vital functions in different organs and intervene when necessary to provide therapy," he says. "In the case of heart rhythm disorders, it could be used to stimulate cardiac muscle or the brain, or in renal disorders, it would monitor ionic concentrations of calcium, potassium and sodium."
Efimov says the membrane could even hold a sensor to measure troponin, a protein expressed in heart cells and a hallmark of a heart attack. Analysis for troponin is standard of care for patients with suspected heart attacks due to a test developed by Jack Ladenson, PhD, the Oree M. Carroll and Lillian B. Ladenson Professor of Clinical Chemistry in Pathology and Immunology and professor of clinical chemistry in medicine at the School of Medicine.
Ultimately, such devices will be combined with ventricular assist devices, Efimov says.
"This is just the beginning," he says. "Previous
|Contact: Neil Schoenherr|
Washington University in St. Louis