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Wireless Technology Could be the Future for Treating Diabetes and More

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Implanted body sensors could help treat diabetes, heart failure and more.

Scientists are developing a way to treat diseases like diabetes and heart failure in real time with wireless body sensors. The technology is based on ultrasound that the Navy has been using for years for underwater communication.

University at Buffalo (UB) researchers are now developing a way to treat heart failure, diabetes and more with sensors implanted in the body that monitor medical conditions.

The technology that started 10 years ago is called “body area network" that consists of a series of wireless sensors.

Tommaso Melodia, PhD, UB associate professor of electrical engineering explained in a press release it is the same sonar technology used by the Navy to detect submarines and enemy ships.

The difference is that the ultrasonic sensors are small; allowing them to work inside the body to treat diseases.

As an example for treating diabetes, glucose sensors can be implanted and connected to insulin pumps to regulate blood sugar levels in 'real time'.

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“We are really just scratching the surface of what’s possible. There are countless potential applications," Melodia says.

There are still several challenges that the UB researchers are working on including finding ways to ensure body sensors don't overheat and accurately relay information.

Image credit: UB

Melodia explains the body is 65 percent water, making medical devices that use ultrasound sensors an effective way to communicate information throughout the body, compared to radio waves.

The sensors could be used in pacemakers and to monitor oxygen levels in the body to advance treatment of heart failure.

“This is a biomedical advancement that could revolutionize the way we care for people suffering from the major diseases of our time," says Melodia.

The hope is that wireless technology inside the body would accurately and safely share information between medical devices implanted in the body, such as pacemakers and insulin pumps. You can read more about Dr. Melodia's work here.