2012-06-19

Co.Exist

No More Needles: A Crazy New Patch Will Constantly Monitor Your Blood

Imagine if you could always know if your glucose was low or if you were dehydrated. A new painless patch will soon send your vital signs wirelessly to your phone, giving you constant analytics on your health.

If you enjoy getting your blood drawn, you can stop reading now (and go get your head checked). But for everyone else, Sano Intelligence is working on a product that might be for you: a small patch, no bigger a nicotine patch, that continuously monitors your bloodstream, looking out for abnormalities and alerting you and your doctor when they arise. The company calls it "an API for the bloodstream."

Sano, a part of Rock Health's 2012 class of health startups, is the ultimate dream of quantified self-ers who track every detail of their lives. The needle-less, sensor-laden transdermal patch is painless (I handled a prototype, which felt like sandpaper on the skin) and will soon be able to monitor everything you might find on a basic metabolic panel--a blood panel that measures glucose levels, kidney function, and electrolyte balance.

Already, Sano’s prototype can measure glucose and potassium levels. There are enough probes on the wireless, battery-powered chip to continuously test up to a hundred different samples, and 30% to 40% of today’s blood diagnostics are compatible with the device. It’s cheap, too, with a materials cost of just $1 or $2 per sensor (each sensor has a seven day lifespan) thanks to an efficient manufacturing process that’s similar to what’s currently used to make semiconductor chips. The device isn’t waterproof yet, but Sano is working on it.

It’s not a stretch to imagine, then, the day when you might use Sano’s patch to watch your glucose levels spike after eating a sugary food, or receive a warning on your smartphone when your electrolytes are dipping too low.

Consider the implications for clinical trials, which only test participants periodically. Now imagine the kind of data--perhaps even leading to new drug treatments--that could be achieved by monitoring participants continuously. Doctors could also use the patch on patients with chronic disease. If they detect problems before they become a big deal, doctors could save patients from having to come into the office, or even taking a trip to the hospital.

Could the patch one day put clinical lab networks like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics out of business? "If you look at the legacy leaders, we’re thankful to them, but want to push to find out more," says Sano Co-Founder Raj Gokal.

Sano is currently gearing up for a pilot study with a major research-focused medical institution. The patch could be ready for release by the middle of next year.

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15 Comments

  • Sam

    I have a severe phobia of blood tests and avoided having one for over a decade. In the meantime, I got very ill with celiac desease, which then led to anemia, which then led to other much more severe complications. If there was a tiny patch that could monitor my iron, b12, etc without having any needles stuck in me then it would make life so much better! I'm more than happy to volunteer if you need people to test this on!

  • Sara

    As someone with Type  diabetes, I find this simply amazing. Almost mind blowing. This is life changing. Diabetes subtly shapes the way you live you life. This product is one step closer to being breaking the barriers that diabetes sometimes creates. Thank you for your research.

  • Bill Van Antwerp

    Keep dreaming. All of us who work in treating T1 diabetes are hopeful for such a device but the technology is not quite there yet.

  • Philippa

    This sort of idea would be fantastic for Type 1 Diabetics (I am one). There is currently Continuous Glucose Monitoring technology but it is expensive and unavailable in many parts of the world. A system with cheap consumables (the patches) plus connectivity to iPhone / Android device would be so convenient and makes sense to me.

    It would just have to be accurate. And hopefully the adhesive wouldn't cause skin irritation?

    Keep up the great work!

  • Bh-ross

    Will this patch work for those who have monthly blood tests for being on biologics for arthritis and severe psoriasis?

  • Rawda Ruth Sarrail

    Hope a little push to find more,otherwise going for a headcheck because of continues blood stream monitoring...means Biomed work is still awaits "turn-keys" patch results!

  • flashpoint

    So you're saying I am not allowed to donate blood now?

    "If you enjoy getting your blood drawn, you can stop reading now (and go get your head checked)."

    Dick.

  • Duelly2003

     he's talking about diabetics who have to draw blood to test their blood sugar levels. Good job calling him a "Dick" though.  You sound like a real level headed guy.  Maybe you shouldn't go commenting on websites immediately after donating blood.   ...or at least eat a cookie first.

  • Loiso

    As someone whose fiancee has severe form of diabetes, I have a deep personal gratitude to people who work on this. It might seem unimportant, but it sometimes is a difference between life and death. And this level of control greatly enhances expected lifespan. 

    So again,my deepest gratitude.

  • Raj Gokal

    Loiso, we're equally grateful to people like you, who are truly passionate about your health and that of your loved ones.  You are the driving force of our quest to make technology like this painless, inexpensive, and accessible.

    Please contact us at info@sanointelligence.com or tweet us at @sano_int:twitter and tell us more about how our technology would be helpful in your life!

    Raj Gokal
    Co-Founder, Sano Intelligence

  • Bill Van Antwerp

    I am not sure what Sano is projecting for the timeline to get this to the clinic, but there are no clinical trials listed using the device at clintrials.gov and this suggests they are quite far away from a USA launch.