Profusa tissue-integrated optical biosensor monitors key body biochemicals in real time

Profusa introduced its injectable Lumee optical biosensor technology at the Pioneers Festival, held May 24-25, 2016.

Profusa (San Francisco, CA) has introduced its injectable Lumee optical biosensor technology at the Pioneers Festival, held May 24-25, 2016, in Vienna, Austria. Injectable biosensors that become one with the body's tissue may one day replace the clinical lab for making body chemistry continuously accessible for improved personal well-being in health and disease.

Related: The many approaches and applications of biosensing

Ben Hwang, Ph.D., Profusa's chairman and CEO, showcased the company's tissue-integrated biosensors for long-term, continuous tracking of body chemistry in a talk at the Pioneers Festival, explaining how the capability to provide a continuous stream of live data could have the power to revolutionize the relationship we have with our bodies and transform the entire healthcare ecosystem—from individuals to care providers and payers.

The biosensors will have applications for consumer health and wellness, as well as the management of chronic diseases such as peripheral artery disease (PAD), diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With grant support by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA; Arlington County, VA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH; Bethesda, MD), and other funding agencies, Profusa's technology and novel bioengineering approach overcomes the effects of the largest hurdle in long-term use of biosensors in the body: the foreign body response. Placed under the skin with a specially designed injector, each tiny biosensor is a flexible fiber, 3- to 5-mm-long and approximately 500 µm in diameter. Rather than being isolated from the body, the biosensors work fully integrated within the body's tissue—without any metal device or electronics—overcoming the effects of the foreign body response.

Each biosensor is comprised of a bioengineered "smart hydrogel" (similar to contact lens material) forming a porous, tissue-integrating scaffold that induces capillary and cellular in-growth from surrounding tissue. The smart gel is linked to a fluorescent light-emitting molecule that continuously signals the presence of a body chemical such as oxygen, glucose, or other biomarker.

Adhered to the skin's surface or held by hand, a separate optical reader is used to read the fluorescent signal from the embedded biosensor. The reader sends excitation signals through the skin to the biosensor, which then emits light proportional to the concentration of molecules of interest. The data can be relayed to a smartphone for an encrypted personal record and historical tracking. Data can be shared securely via HIPAA-compliant digital networks with healthcare providers.

Profusa's first medical product, the Lumee Oxygen Sensing System, is a single-biomarker sensor designed to measure dissolved oxygen in the tissue. The system is being commercialized as long-term monitoring technology that guides therapeutic action and measures tissue oxygen levels during the treatment and healing process for PAD. Pending CE Mark, the system is slated to be available in Europe in 2016 for use by vascular surgeons and wound-healing specialists.

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