Wearable pharmaceutical research and development usually focus on appropriate drug release. Drug delivery devices can help with patient compliance, dosage timing, and automatic dosing in response to biometric sensing. We’ve written about magnetically-controlled drug implants, nanorobotic drug release, and even drug delivery via a “second skin.”  We also wrote about researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) who developed a 3D printed drug delivery mechanism. Additional drug technology research at POSTECH focuses on a different aspect: drug detection using wearable sensors.

As reported in the journal Chem, POSTECH researchers developed a point-of-use, portable, wireless drug sensor. The organic transistor-based sensor quickly and accurately detects the presence of amphetamine-type stimulants. According to the study, the sensor detects picomolar concentrations of amphetamines in water. In testing, the sensor proved highly accurate with zero false positives. The sensor can be built into a wristband and connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone app for less than $50, according to the POSTECH team.

Prior to commercial release, the amphetamine sensing system will need clinical testing. Applications for the portable amphetamine sensor include on-the-scene use by law enforcement, similar to the use of Breathalyzers to test alcohol consumption. With multiple additional sensors, it is possible to imagine a smart band that could be used for real-time detection of a range of drugs and other substances.