There are two main problems with prescribed medicine – first, there’s always a chance that someone might forget to take their pill or refill their prescription; and second – there’s the risk of unmonitored side-effects that could lead to drug addiction and overdose. To tackle these problems, pharmaceutical companies came up with wearable drug-delivery systems that doesn’t have to rely on the patient to physically take the drug.
This approach too comes with a caveat. Sometimes a patient needs a stronger dose and sometimes, they receive the same dose even if they feel good.
Enter smart skin patch. This upcoming technology promises to tackle this problem by determining when it’s time to stop and when a stronger dose is needed. A group of South Korean researchers has published a study in Nature Nanotechnology, describing the idea.
The patch consists of a 2-inch-long rectangle made of stretchable nanomaterials, which contain heat-activated silica nanoparticles. This “magic combo” is able to monitor muscle activity to release therapeutic agents based on a patient’s body temperature.
The system is described as ideal for people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, because the tremors that accompany the movement disorder aren’t constant. So when a patient starts to tremble, the patch can pick up on the motion and drugs could kick-in.
Alas, the wireless component is still not there and that’s something the researchers are looking at developing. Adding some sort of connectivity to the mix would allow doctors to diagnose conditions and dispense drugs remotely.
The patch won’t be out for at least another five years, and in the meantime, we expect to hear about similar technologies being developed by researchers in other parts of the world…