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Research Could Bring Low-Cost, Body-Implantable Sensors

COLUMBUS, Ohio (UPI) — Electronics implanted in living tissue inside the body could create a sensor to detect the early stages of organ transplant rejection, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists at Ohio State University say their research could pave the way for low-cost electronics that work in direct contact with living tissue.

A barrier to the development of implantable sensors is that most existing electronics are based on silicon, and electrolytes in the body interfere with the electrical signals in silicon circuits, electrical and computer engineering Professor Paul Berger said.

Sensors based on other materials might work in the body, he said, but are more expensive and harder to manufacture.

“Silicon is relatively cheap … it’s non-toxic,” Berger said. “The challenge is to bridge the gap between the affordable, silicon-based electronics we already know how to build, and the electrochemical systems of the human body.”

Writing in the journal Electronics Letters, Berger and his colleagues report a new coating they believe can close that gap.

In experiments, silicon circuits coated with the technology functioned even after 24 hours of immersion in a solution that mimicked typical body chemistry, the researchers said.

A device using this technology could detect certain proteins that the body produces when it’s just beginning to reject a transplanted organ, they said.

The research could eventually lead to devices that could be implanted in the body long-term, Berger said.

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