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Researchers Design Biodegradable Sensor to Gauge Levels of Nitrogen Gases in Human Body

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

If this comes in use, it will replace the present-day sensors that monitor a patient's condition during and after medical procedures and are used outside of the body.

Pollution impacts the health of humans. It directly affects some organs of the body, including the lungs. Now, to find out the impact of pollution on humans, researchers at Penn State have designed an implantable sensor that can gauge the levels of NO and NO2 gases in the body.

The sensor is flexible and completely biodegradable as it consists of silicon and magnesium. Besides, there is no need to remove it from the body after implantation because of their biodegradable nature, reported Medgadget.

If this comes in use, it will replace the present-day sensors that monitor a patient's condition during and after medical procedures and are used outside of the body.The drawbacks of the currently used sensors are that they can be expensive, uncomfortable and even dangerous.

Clinicians will get useful information if they are able to measure levels of NO and NO2 gas in the body. Nitric oxide (NO) is produced naturally in the human body and it helps relax blood vessels to enhance blood flow. This allows the circulation of oxygen and nutrients through the body.

On the other hand, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a pollutant that aggravates conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. NO converts into NO2 when it is exposed to oxygen as nitric oxide is highly reactive.

The study was published in the current issue of journal NPG Asia Materials.

According to Huanyu "Larry" Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, the current devices are bulky and potentially not as accurate as an implantable device.

In an attempt to drive his point home, Cheng was quoted as saying by Medgadget that better results can be obtained if the gas levels are measured from the heart surface, or from those internal organs.

“If the patient fully recovers from a surgical operation, they don’t need the device any longer, which makes biodegradable devices useful,” he also said, highlighting that the sensor is implantable, and biodegradable.

The researchers have carried out the tests in vitro to measure the gas levels and show that it can break down slowly over time.


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