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Cardiologist's 'living chip' changes science of disease monitoring

For patients living with heart failure and other health conditions, blood draws and diagnostic tests are commonplace in order to evaluate their condition. Often, though, chemical or physiologic changes silently cause damage that is not detected until much later.

But what if in the future a tiny device, one the size of a nickel or significantly smaller, could be implanted in the patient to monitor and detect abnormalities, and could then relay data to physicians, or provide therapy on the spot, in real time?

It may sound like science fiction, but this concept is moving toward reality at Physiologic Communications LLC, a biotech company founded by University of Rochester Medical Center cardiologist Spencer Rosero, M.D., who specializes in heart rhythm disorders. The company is developing implantable biosensors integrating living cells with electronics to create a "biological chip." When implanted, this chip can detect physiologic and chemical changes with faster, improved accuracy. These more accurate results, retrieved without invasive testing, allow for better and timely response and, the hope is, a healthier patient.

How it works Ultimately, cells specific to the patient can be engineered to live on and function as part of the miniature electronic chip. The wireless biosensor is placed within and around blood vessels and nerves to provide detection and stimulation of the surrounding tissues or organ systems, with the ability to detect changes. A change triggers a message to a wireless device to alert the patient early on about a problem. The patient can then contact their physician.

For a patient with heart failure, for example, the biosensor could detect a change in blood protein levels at an early stage, prompting the physician to alter medications to correct the problem. Currently, without blood work being done, the patient or physician would not suspect an issue until the patient began having symptoms or underwent
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Contact: Karin Christensen
karin_christensen@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-1311
University of Rochester Medical Center
18-Sep-2006


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