People in hospital are 10 times more likely to be harmful drinkers than the general population
People in hospital are 10 times more likely to be harmful drinkers than the general population

Injectable microchip able to track levels of alcohol and drugs in body invented by scientists

Experts hope it could change the way substance abuse disorders are treated

Sarah Young
Friday 13 April 2018 12:55
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US scientists have invented an injectable microchip which is able to monitor the levels of alcohol and drugs in your body.

Developed by engineers from Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of San Diego, it is hoped that the tiny chip will one day be used to help patients with addictions.

Currently, breathalysers and blood tests are the most common ways to monitor blood alcohol levels but both require patient cooperation and the expertise of a trained professional.

As such, this invention could prove invaluable to those in recovery by allowing them to easily measure and reduce the level of substances like alcohol in their body.

“This is a proof-of-concept and an enabling tool that would slot into a larger ecosystem for treatment," Drew Hall, project lead and an electrical engineering professor at Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of San Diego told Forbes.

“We’ve shown that this chip can work for alcohol, but we envision creating others that can detect different substances of abuse and inject a customised cocktail of them into a patient to provide long-term, personalised medical monitoring.”

So, how does it work?

The microchip measures at just once cubic millimetre and is designed to sit just under the skin in the fluid between the cells.

Once it is inserted, the biosensor - which is coated in an enzyme that reacts to substances like alcohol - can then wirelessly transmit information to a sensor outside of the body, such as a smart watch.

“The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a routine, unobtrusive alcohol and drug monitoring device for patients in substance abuse treatment programs,” explained Hall in a press release.

“A tiny injectable sensor - that can be administered in a clinic without surgery - could make it easier for patients to follow a prescribed course of monitoring for extended periods of time.”

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