Researchers develop first wearable for continuous monitoring of body sounds

This soft, wireless device prototype can continuously monitor the body sounds inside and outside of a patient, including premature babies. [Photo courtesy of Northwestern University]

Northwestern University researchers have developed wearable devices for continuously monitoring the sounds made by a patient’s body, such as breathing, heartbeats and digestion.

The soft devices stick to a patient’s skin and use two high-performance, digital microphones to listen to sounds inside and outside the body. One of the microphones faces inside the patient, while the other faces outward and an algorithm separates external and internal sounds.

“Lungs don’t produce enough sound for a normal person to hear,” Northwestern Medicine thoracic surgeon Dr. Ankit Bharat said in a post at the university’s website. “They just aren’t loud enough, and hospitals can be noisy places. When there are people ta…

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Researchers use skull-implantable ultrasound to help deliver chemotherapy to the brain

[Screenshot from video provided by Northwestern Medicine]

Northwestern Medicine shared results from a first-in-human clinical trial for a skull-implantable ultrasound device that supports chemotherapy delivery.

The device opened the blood-brain barrier to repeatedly permeate large, critical regions of the human brain. This enabled the delivery of chemotherapy injected intravenously.

With the patient awake, a four-minute procedure opens the blood-brain barrier and patients go home after a few hours. Results from the Northwestern study demonstrated both a safe and well-tolerated treatment. Some patients even reached up to six cycles of chemotherapy treatment.

The paper published on May 2 in The Lancet Oncology.

More about the chemotherapy study

The researchers say this marks the first study to successfully quantify the effect of ultrasound-based blood-brain barrier opening on the concentratio…

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This implantable drug delivery system is self-powered

Researchers say they could trigger drug delivery with LED light. [Image courtesy of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab/Northwestern University]

Researchers at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northwestern University developed technology that uses external light sources to trigger the delivery of drugs.

Yamin Zhang and Dr. Colin Franz of Shirley Ryan and John Rogers of Northwestern led the research team. They say their technology represents the first implantable drug delivery system triggered by external light sources. These light sources of different wavelengths offer an alternative to electronic power.

They also say it’s the first such system capable of absorption by the body. It could avoid surgical extraction while still allowing active control and programming by the operator. The team published a study highlighting this device in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Engineers at Northwestern develop electronic bandage that accelerates healing

The electronic bandage fits easily into the palm of a hand. [Image courtesy of Northwestern University]

Northwestern University engineering researchers say they developed a first-of-its-kind small, flexible, stretchable electronic bandage.

This bandage accelerates healing by delivering electrotherapy directly to the wound site. It also actively monitors the healing process and harmlessly dissolves — with its electrodes — into the body once no longer needed.

The Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering researchers believe this could become a powerful tool for diabetes patients. Their ulcers can lead to various complications, including amputated limbs or even death. In a study with mice, the bandage healed diabetic ulcers 30% faster than without the bandage.

The researchers published their findings last week in Science Advances. They say it is the first bioresorbable bandage capable of deliverin…

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Researchers use microelectronics to develop remote control for ‘biobots’

Remotely controlled miniature biological robots — biobots — have many potential applications in medicine, sensing and environmental monitoring. [Image courtesy of Yongdeok Kim]

Researchers at collaborating universities in Illinois developed miniature biological robots with remote control capabilities.

The hybrid “eBiobots” combine soft materials, living muscle and microelectronics. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and collaborating institutions developed them.

In a post on the University of Illinois website, they described them as centimeter-scale biological machines. They published their research in the journal Science Robotics.

“Integrating microelectronics allows the merger of the biological world and the electronics world, both with many advantages of their own, to now produce these electronic biobots and machines that could be use…

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This smart, dissolving pacemaker communicates with sensors on the body for remote patient monitoring

Transient pacemaker before dissolving. The device is flexible, stretchy and wireless. [Image courtesy of Northwestern University]

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a smart, dissolving pacemaker with sensors to monitor physiological functions.

The team designed a transient pacemaker – one of the world’s first – last year that was a fully implantable, wireless device that dissolved in the body after it was no longer needed. The new, smart iteration features a coordinated network of soft, flexible, wireless, wearable sensors and control units outside of the body that can communicate with each other.

“This marks the first time we have paired soft, wearable electronics with transient electronic platforms,” Rogers said. “This approach could change the way patients receive care providing multimodal, closed-loop control over essential physiological processes — through a wireless network…

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Could winged microchips monitor for airborne disease?

The flying microchips are each the size of a grain of sand. [Image courtesy of the Rogers Research Group/Northwestern University]

Northwestern University engineers have created what they claim are the smallest-ever human-made flying structures — winged microchips that could monitor the air for disease and pollution.

Engineering professor John Rogers and his team at Northwestern drew on inspiration from nature to create the microchips, which are the size of a grain of sand. The chips do not have engine-driven propellers. Instead, their wings catch the wind like maple tree or dandelion seeds; the most direct inspiration came from the star-shaped seeds of the tristellateia plant, a flowering vine.

The research appeared on the cover of the September 23 issue of Nature.

“Our goal was to add winged flight to small-scale electronic systems, with the idea that these capabilities would allow us to distribu…

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Could people one day get pacemakers that dissolve into the body?

Wireless, battery-free, fully implantable pacemakers made of bioresorbable components could represent the future of temporary pacing technology.

The device, seen here mounted on the heart, could benefit post-cardiac surgery patients. [Image courtesy of Rogers Lab/Northwestern University]

Flexible, dissolvable electronics could soon pave the way for temporary pacemaker wearers to avert the risks associated with surgical procedures from initial implantation to the removal of the device once its job is done.

Northwestern and George Washington universities have developed what they say is the first-ever transient pacemaker that’s not only wireless, battery-free and fully implantable — but also disappears when it’s no longer needed. Its biocompatible components can naturally absorb into the body over five to seven weeks eliminating the need for surgical removal.

In a study published on June 28 in Nature…

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