While continuous monitoring of parameters of oxygen, glucose, and lactose have been available for some time, continuous monitoring of circulating drug levels has eluded scientists and clinicians to date. Consequently, using existing dosage strategies, it is extremely difficult to know if therapeutic levels of a given drug are maintained in the body .
Current dosing strategies use basic inputs such as patients’ body weight and can’t account for specific responses over time. Factors such as an individual’s metabolism, consumption of food, or the presence of other drugs can greatly affect the drug level within the blood. This ultimately results in a fine balancing act between hitting a therapeutic dosage target and a negligible or harmful dosage level. In order to tackle this problem a multidisciplinary team of scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed the Microfluidic Electrochemical Detector for In vivo Concentrations or “MEDIC” device.
The device, which is comprises a microfluidic chamber plated with conductive, gold electrodes that are themselves lined with DNA strands which can identify specific drugs flowing in the chamber. The interaction between these strands and a specific molecule results in detectable electric current flowing through the electrodes. The prototype also requires no external reagents, operates at room temperature, and is modular, enabling different target molecules to be detected simply by exchanging probes.
The researchers have published their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine and according to their paper the system has demonstrated high sensitivity and significant specificity for several hours in live rats and human whole blood. Though MEDIC is still undergoing early clinical testing, the opportunities for the technology are significant, ranging from closed loop delivery of therapeutic drugs to facilitating major advances in drug therapy. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Study in Science Translational Medicine