People with diabetes, COPD, or peripheral artery disease must monitor their blood chemistry to maintain their health. The inconvenience, paraphernalia, and at times slight pain of periodic checks become a necessary nuisance. A San Francisco, California company, Profusa may have a better solution. They invented an injectable biosensor that can monitor blood chemistry continuously without the need for blood pricks or or other measures.
Profusa’s first product, Lumee, is an oxygen-sensing biosensor. Lumee does not yet have CE acceptance or FDA clearance. The injectable sensor is a 3-5 millimeter long, single fiber “smart” hydrogel (material similar to that used with contact lenses) that isn’t rejected by the body, as metal or electronics would be. Lumee has a porous surface and external scaffolding that encourages tissue growth around the sensor. Inside the sensor a fluorescent light-emitting molecule signals the presence of whatever it’s supposed to be sensing; in this case, it senses oxygen. The light from the sensor is in turn detected by a small device worn on the arm and that data is transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone. Depending on the application, the data may be sent to cloud storage or directly to an intended monitoring facility.
Profusa is funded in part by the Defense Research Project Agency (DARPA) as well as the U.S. National Institutes of Health. One future application could be monitoring military field personnel. Another applications in addition to medical conditions could be athletes in training who want to track their blood oxygen levels under various acclimation and training regimes. Once a Lumee sensor injectable is in place it is supposed to last for months.
Implants of various types have the potential to improve the data monitoring quality as well as significantly reduce the inconvenience of going to healthcare facilities for testing.