A new device developed by University of California Santa Barbara researchers has been shown to provide real-time continuous monitoring of drugs in minute amounts of whole blood. Called MEDIC (Microfluidic Electrochemical Detector for In vivo Concentrations), this device could lead the way to personalized medicine from the device’s feedback regarding the patient’s drug metabolism.

Drug efficacy is based on maintaining therapeutic levels which can vary based on patient age, body weight, metabolism, and other factors. For medications with narrow therapeutic ranges, this can create many problems for both the doctor and patient to achieve efficacy without toxicity. Measuring just longer than a jumbo paperclip, the MEDIC device consists of gold electrodes in a microfluidic chamber with extended aptamers (artificial DNA strands that recognize drug biomolecules). When a drug molecule and aptamer meet, the electrodes send a signal alerting to the presence of the molecule.

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The device is the result of a multiyear, multidisciplinary collaboration between professors Tom Soh, Kevin Plaxco, Scott Ferguson, and Tod Kippin. Although the device is in the early clinical stages, the researchers hope that this can benefit patients with diseases where continuous dispersion of medication is necessary by providing a continuous feedback loop.

For more information, visit the University of California Santa Barbara website.