Implantable Biosensor Can Tell Tales On Our Hidden Diseases
In 2009, Michael Cima, professor of materials science and engineering, and his MIT team created an implantable sensoring device capable of detecting and monitoring cancer. This week, another version of that device was presented that can detect whether a patient has had a heart attack and its severity. This will help diagnose the 30 percent of heart attack victims for whom there are no symptoms.
The MIT team working with Massachusetts General Hospital's Cardiovascular Research Center and Harvard Medical Schoo cardiology, Dr. Paul Huang, showed that, in mice, the implanted sensor was able to detect three proteins whose levels spike after a heart attack - myoglobin, cardiac troponin I and creatine kinase.
The sensors are not only accurate at identifying the levels of proteins after a heart attack, but can identify how much of each protein was in the bloodstream before the heart attack. This is important information, in case the sensor readings take place long after the heart attacks occurs when the concentrations of proteins are no longer in the bloodstream.
This study marks the first time anyone has used implantable sensors to detect three different biomarkers, said Lee Josephson, associate professor at MGH’s Center for Molecular Imaging Research. “This shows how generalizable this technique is,” says Josephson, who was not involved in this study. Potential applications include not only detecting heart disease and cancer, but also tracking glucose levels in diabetic patients, he says.
Eventually, the sensors will be modified to detect more diseases and even minute viruses or migrating tumor cells. The sensors will be able to tell us most things our doctors want to find out... as long as they are specific about what they are looking for.
The study will be published in the April edition of Biosensors and Bioelectronics. To read about other MIT achievements with the biosensor implant, see the 2006 MIT news release about its use for measuring tumor growth and a 2009 MIT news release about the biosensors continuous cancer monitoring.