Administering a precise medication dose is challenging, especially with the highly potent drugs used to treat severe infections and cancers. Currently, doctors use a blood test to measure the amount of medicine in a patient’s body, but that only allows for a cross-sectional measure. The real-time data needed to adjust the dose is always missing. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a cost-effective and pain-free solution to this problem. 

A team of researchers at UCLA has developed a cost-effective patch that uses microneedles to analyze the interstitial fluid (found between cells) and measures the drug concentration in the body. Based on an estimate, the patch costs less than 2 dollars per unit. 

The newly developed patch has a quarter-inch diameter. A study published in Science Advances describes how the patch gave promising results in rats that were given a specific antibiotic. The team tested the patch with three different doses of the antibiotic tombramycin. It took 15 minutes to calculate the total drug concentration that would be delivered to the rat’s body in an hour or more. The drug concentration measured by the patch correlated with the one measured through conventional blood tests. 

More studies are required to analyze the safety and efficiency of the patch before rolling it out for clinical trials. If successful, this could be a revolutionary technology to help doctors choose a potent drug with precision and confidence.