2019 04 16
Blood Tests to Be Done by a Sensor in Your MobileBack to news
It’s not a secret that blood can provide some vital information on human body. Blood tests indicate many diseases or disorders and can disclose body wasting. We can only imagine the huge advantages that can be provided to personal healthcare by the new blood test technology, which allows permanent, quick and cheap monitoring of blood indices without taking usual samples of venous or capillary blood. Thanks to Lithuanian researchers and businesspeople such a possibility will be soon available to all of us.
Lithuanian capital company ‘Brolis Semiconductors’, specializing in production of semiconductor photonics and electrooptic systems, in cooperation with researchers from the Institute of Digestive Research of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LUHS), has created innovative blood test technology, which will allow to permanently and noninvasively monitor levels of glucose, lactate, urea, serum albumin and other substances in blood of healthy and unhealthy individuals. The test will not require usual blood samples and puncture of skin or mucous membrane, it will not cause any pain nor pose any risk of blood transmitted infections.
“The new technology of noninvasive blood testing, a result of research and business cooperation, can bring substantial benefits to society. Thanks to this innovation, people in Lithuania and the rest of the world will be able to have blood tests performed faster, simpler, cheaper and without any pain,” tells Kęstutis Šetkus, Director of Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA).
Smart Blood Test Sensor
The new technology consists of noninvasive sensor, measuring blood’s biochemical indices, which was created using the method of tunable-wavelength laser spectroscopy. It is believed that the sensor will be integrated in smartphones or watches of many people as soon as in a couple of years.
When presenting the innovation, Prof. Žilvinas Dambrauskas from LUHS explained its principle of operation: “Operation of the sensor is based on the fact that different substances behave differently when absorbing light of certain wavelength, and therefore the absorption spectrum is a kind of molecular fingerprint – specific and unique for particular molecule. When observing changes of light absorption directly and even in reflected light, it is possible to calculate the type and amount of substances in body fluids or living tissues. Tunable-wavelength laser allows creating a solid light flow of certain known wavelength, and this enables easier and more accurate recognition of traces of target substances in blood.”
What Information Can Be Obtained?
Augustinas Vizbaras, representative of the ‘Brolis Semiconductors’ company behind this innovation, states that the new technology already allows monitoring levels of glucose, lactates, urea and serum albumin in blood. “We believe that we should also be able to detect ammonia, creatinine and, most probably, alcohol. The technology that we create is not a single device, it is a platform of sensor technologies,” explains A. Vizbaras.
The new method of blood testing is of special relevance to people with diabetes. They need to measure blood glucose level several times a day, and the new sensor would be much more convenient and handier and would significantly improve their quality of life. Data of Lithuanian Institute of Hygiene from 2017 shows that diabetes mellitus afflicts over 107 thousand of Lithuanians. Morbidity rate is quickly growing. If healthy individuals can monitor their blood glucose level continuously, they can timely adjust their dietary and fitness habits to avoid this serious illness.
High level of lactates (lactic acid) in blood is one of the early indicators of sepsis. A simple measurement of blood lactate level would allow early diagnosis of this hazardous condition. Sepsis takes more than 5000 lives each year in Lithuania. Early diagnosis is especially important for efficient treatment and saving of human lives.
Increase of lactate level can also warn about muscle fatigue because of high physical loads, and therefore the possibility to monitor its variation is important for physically active people and professional athletes in order to avoid burn-outs, traumas, unwelcome muscle pains and weakness.
Monitoring of blood urea and serum albumin levels is important to diagnose and treat various conditions of kidney, liver etc.
“Changes in blood provide the first signal of health deterioration not yet felt by the individual. And therefore, tracking of blood indices helps not only diagnosing, but also preventing diseases”, note experts from the MITA.
Prof. A. Gulbinas from LUHS tells that needleless blood tests have two important advantages: they do not cause pain and reduce the risk of blood transmitted diseases. “Another advantage of the technology is possibility to measure certain changes of blood composition permanently, uninterruptedly and in any setting (at home, at work, in sports club or outdoors). With the help of professional medical devices, it will be possible to perform such tests when providing ambulance services, in clinics or in emergency aid centers of hospitals. The technology will also help people to link the changes of monitored blood indices with how they are feeling and to share this information with physicians and AI applications. In future, the noninvasive blood test technology will be used for production of more reliable insulin pumps and for development of monitoring systems capable of forecasting fitness levels and warning about increased risk of traumas or diseases. In case of acute illnesses, it will likely facilitate diagnosis of severe infectious complications and sepsis, also circulatory disturbances of various organs. Other specialized areas of application should also emerge in the long term,” believes Ž. Dambrauskas.
According to the researchers, accuracy on noninvasive test results in most cases should be equal to that of blood tests currently performed in laboratories, but, when serious diseases are suspected, some tests may need to be repeated using conventional methods. “Measurement of blood level of some substances may be inaccurate using noninvasive methods. Some genetic and other changes can also be evaluated by testing blood samples only, which means that in certain cases taking of usual blood samples by means of puncture will be needed as well,” says Ž. Dambrauskas.
How Ideas Are Born?
The project for development of noninvasive measurement sensor for blood biochemical indices was initiated by Kristijonas and Augustinas Vizbaras, the founders of ‘Brolis Semiconductors’. The company manufactured lasers for some time already and adapted them for military needs, but it was searching for new ideas and possibilities of application. The brothers and the coauthor of the project Prof. Žilvinas Dambrauskas from LUHS used to study in the same gymnasium No 5 in Panevėžys. Many alumni of the gymnasium have maintained close contacts and are interested in achievements of their former schoolfriends. In course of their meetings and conversations, the idea for this innovative product emerged, and the team of ‘Brolis Semiconductors’ has developed some completely new technological solutions.
Open research and development network ‘Open R&D Lithuania’, supervised by the MITA, has gathered together state universities, research institutes, science and technology parks and open access centres all over the country to help Lithuanian researchers developing state-of-the-art technologies to meet with domestic and foreign businesses and to promote their cooperation. The largest network of innovation infrastructure, services and competences in the Baltics provides over 2.5 thousand services in the areas of engineering and IT, biomedicine and biotechnologies, materials science, physical and chemical technology, natural resources and agriculture.
To facilitate successful cooperation between business and science, the MITA has founded Contact Centre of the ‘Open R&D Lithuania’ network. It helps business to find suitable competences in research institutions, to find out where necessary services can be ordered and to arrange individual meetings.