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  1. staples
    A lot can go wrong when doctors prescribe drugs to patients. For one thing, there's always a chance that someone might forget to take their pill or refill their prescription. And then there's also the risk of unmonitored side-effects, drug addiction, and overdose. So pharmaceutical companies have been trying for some time now to come up with wearable drug-delivery systems that can dispense a continuous flow of therapeutics, without having to rely on the patient to physically take the drug.

    There's a problem with that approach, however, because these systems don't monitor a patient's vitals. This means they can't be responsive. So when a patient needs to take a stronger dose or when they actually feel pretty good, they still receive the same continuous flow of whatever drug they're on. Fortunately, a group of South Korean researchers may have finally found a way to fix that. According to a study published today in Nature Nanotechnology, the scientists have come up with dermal patch that not only dispenses drugs continuously, but also has the ability to determine when it's time to stop.

    The patch consists of a 2-inch-long rectangle made of stretchable nanomaterials. The materials contain heat-activated silica nanoparticles that monitor muscle activity and release therapeutic agents based on a patient's body temperature.

    This sort of system is ideal for people who suffer from Parkinson's disease, for instance, because the tremors that accompany the movement disorder aren't constant. When a patient starts to tremble, the patch can pick up on the motion and release a small amount of the drug it contains.

    "People are very interested in continuous and controlled drug delivery," said Dae-Hyeong Kim, a biomedical engineer at Seoul National University and co-author of the study, in an email to The Verge. Kim explained that because the silica nanoparticles are heat-activated, his team also embedded "stretchable heaters" into the patch that allow them to control the rate of drug delivery if needed.

    But the patch isn't perfect, because it can't be activated wirelessly just yet. "In the future, wireless components should be integrated," Kim said, "and then this system will be connected to wireless networks," which will allow doctors to diagnose conditions and dispense drugs remotely.

    The patch won't be ready to hit the market for at least another five years, Kim estimated. But the idea that medical technologies such as this one might actually come to fruition is still pretty exciting. It might not look like the Nike+ FuelBand or work the way Android Wear undoubtedly will, but it could still end up being the most useful piece of wearable technology to date. Plus, Kim said he thinks the patch is pretty "good-looking," so maybe it'll catch on aesthetically, too.

    Column 1 Column 2
    Source Nature Nanotechnology
    Author Arielle Duhaime-Ross
    Date March 30, 2014
    Link http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/30/5558990/smart-skin-patch-knows-when-you-need-your-meds


  1. Mick Mouse
    But they are still heat activated or heat driven, which can always lead to unwanted drug dumps into the system. I just cannot see many patients who would be willing to give up total control over dosing. And wireless? Man, I see a whole host of issues there! Got a problem with someone? Hack into their fentanyl patch and dump it all at once! Or cut their dose and watch them in agony.
  2. staples
    From what I understand, the heat-activated particles are integrated circuitry. The circuitry is apparently capable of monitoring vitals and other information and integrates it all into deciding what dose, if any, should be released. Indeed a firmware layer will be at least necessary to incorporate any sort of radios, and since the researcher suggests it as an obvious direction for the technology, it seems easy to assume that there is already a programmable controller implemented by the nanoparticles as opposed to some direct mechanism of releasing a drug. So I don't think this technology is susceptible to unwanted drug dumps caused by unexpected excess heat.

    Don't patients already do this at least while on an i.v. drip? While I do agree that I at least wouldn't be very comfortable switching from e.g., dexedrine tablets and capsules to a "smart patch" that would administer an equivalent amount daily (I don't always want my full prescribed dose), and of course the concept completely fails in the case of hypnotics (unless the patch is only applied at bedtime, maybe?), I think I would be willing to at least try wearing a patch that is programmed to detect signs of acute anxiety/panic and administer lorazepam accordingly rather than keeping some pills close by. But if the drug isn't psychiatric, I see much less of an issue... I wouldn't really think twice if such a patch were offered as a substitute for a course of antibiotics or if I would otherwise need to take medication for things like high blood pressure...

    I don't think the researcher is necessarily referring to any particular commonplace wireless standard, in fact, I don't see how it would even be possible without much more power. I suspect the current design is limited to a set configuration during the manufacturing process of the silicon and the wireless suggestion is really a hint that the silicon is reprogrammable. But with body heat as the energy source, transmit power would be extremely low, so it would likely require a new short-distance, low-bandwidth protocol and you can obviously expect scrutiny over error checking/correction as well as security.
  3. Mick Mouse
    Si if they can make a programmable patch using nanoparticles, why not just tailor the nano itself and use it directly? The underlying principle would be the same. Say for instance, cancer. Tag the cancer cells with a chemical marker and then program the nano to destroy only that chemical.....along with the defective cells. Or chronic pain. Program the nano to reduce electrical activity in the vagus nerve complex and the pain disappears.

    Or just program it to fix whatever is wrong. Osteoporosis, authritus, parkinsons, MS, they could all be repaired with nano.

    We have the technology, it is just a matter of ethics now. But basically, would this not be essentially the same as an implanted drug pump, only smaller and worn outside instead of inside? And I also wonder how magnetic fields or electrical fields would react with the wearable electronic part?
  4. staples
    I think there's a misunderstanding... the silica nanoparticals don't actually enter the body, they are able to monitor vitals and more, and then dynamically dispense a drug based on such information...

    Presumably all components would be properly shielded from electromagnetic radiation. It's similar to an implanted drug pump, I suppose, except it sounds like it would be less invasive and have a wider application due to its sophisticated sensing capabilities.
  5. Mick Mouse
    No, I understand that the particles would not enter the body. But if a nanoparticle can be programmed to monitor a condition and then take an action based that monitoring, they can be programmed to correct that condition, rather than just monitor it. At least that is the way my thoughts are running. If you can create a nano, then you can program it for whatever you want, it is just a really really small machine.

    And after looking at the picture, where would you place the shielding? its a wafer-thin piece of plastic! The shielding would be larger than the patch itself.

    So many questions! But this was an interesting find and quite informative.....outstanding job!
  6. Crystal_Queen
    Haha this was my idea for a Sci-Fi movie.
    Except I wanted to have the patch be under a digital flex screen hospital bracelet,
    That could monitor your pulse and release accordingly.
    Sync info back to doctor.

    Then all these super tweakers would hack into the devices operating system and dual boot some funky Linux system with apps that release your meds in different ways.
  7. sotiredofpain
    Nothing against Korean people, but as per their running history of controlling their people, I would never trust it on the basis of just plain being "controlled." After my upcoming surgery I'm going to want to get away from opiates, hopefully completely. I'll be just fine working things out with my doctor on my own without help from anything that monitors my behavior. I do not over indulge or misuse my pain medication, and this would actually be bad, because sometimes I'm in much more pain but choose to sit and rest rather than keep pushing it and risk hurting myself more. I do believe it would act as the first person said, dump too much pain medication in my body, or FORCE me to not push on when I want and need to. If anyone would research S. Korea, you'd see they are politically uninformed to the ways of the world. How many Korean friends have you met online? I don't have any. The closest you'll come is to a former communist country, not a current, although they claim to be Democratic, they still don't know what that fully means. Therefore, why would you trust them with the dispensing of your medication! I certainly wouldn't.

    However I would love to see Crystal Queen's thoughts in her Sci-Fi movie! :) Brilliant concept - send it to an agent lol! :)
  8. ianzombie

    I actually have a few South korean friends on Facebook.
    It is North korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, lead by Supreme leader Kim Il-sung) that is the insulated and quite backward Korea.

    South Korea is quite a nice, modern country.
    It's people are pretty free to do as they like, especially when it comes to things like going online or travel.
    Seoul, the capital city, is a pretty sweet place to visit.
    Very forward thinking, modern and technologically advanced.
  9. Stickemupz
    I have know a fair few people from sth Korea, what "ways of the world" do you speak of? I hardly think someone from the US has the right to criticise the South Korean Government without taking a good hard look at their own.
    South Korea have borderline psychotic, nuclear armed neighbours (North Korea) supported atleast in part by China.

    None of the South Koreans I personally know (I live in a suburb full of Korean and Chinese immigrants) are politically uninformed; none more so than anyone else, infact many are politically involved.

    What do you mean by "ways of the world"? I do hope your not using your own country as the example.
    Not that I have a problem with Americans (just it's governments)

    I think if you researched South Korea yourself, you'd find a very different picture than your putting forth.
  10. staples
    I don't follow the logic here... You're saying you'd never trust any medical technology which was developed or researched in South Korea? I think you must be mixing up North and South Korea as others have suggested, but even so, the invention itself isn't intrinsically tied to any country or government and it would need to gain the FDA's approval before it could be used medically in the US... I bet at least one (but probably many) of the components of the device you used to post that reply were designed, developed, and/or manufactured in South Korea (heard of Samsung?), are there no trust issues when it comes to consumer electronics?
  11. sotiredofpain
    What makes you think I don't *criticize* the US Government, it wasn't IN the story that I recall?

    I have only met one person I believe she said South Korea, and that was on a train. We only spoke briefly and she told me she was here to go to college. She was nice. It was a good conversation but when I asked her political questions she would only say "we are Democratic" and change the subject. Since it was a 24hr ride, she had left while I was asleep and came back after I woke. I asked her if I snored, and we laughed. She said no, just soundly and didn't want to bother me so she left so her "presence" wouldn't bother." She sat entirely still as if she might be in the way. I don't know if she felt that way I just got that vibe. We did talk until we parted ways, she made a point to say "nice to have met me, enjoyed talking etc." So as I said, NOTHING AGAINST THE KOREAN PEOPLE.. I do not trust ANY Government, including my own back yard. "ways of the world."

    But you say "South Korea have borderline psychotic" so why would I trust that in the dispensing of my medications through an electronic device. Um, I MIGHT have said, my smart phone is sometimes a dumb phone. I was not ousting a person. The documentaries and actual film footage I seen showed N. Korean's trying to escape Kim Jung's reign into S. Korea, to get out and hopefully make it to China where they believed to be free. I realize that they are not, but the people there didn't know that. When it showed the average home, they could only view TV certain hours, and none had computers. It left one to believe the general public didn't live in a Democracy as the girl on the train said.

    I have friends in many countries around the world, but after my post telling my friend about this patch he said he has a few people in S. Korea in his network. I told him I don't know one Korean person, ever on the internet in the 20+ years I've been online. Possibly then because we speak different languages. My other friends speak English, thus, we'd made actual friendships. So there shouldn't be an argument over the general public when the subject is the patch. Need more on the subject or do you need another small book posting. (the period in both questions would indicate that the question is rhetorical.)

    I don't have problems with people as long as they are nice and realize not everyone is out to jab them. You seem to miss that point. But if I were held down and forced this patch on me for ALL my medications I would most likely overdose if it did things... i. e. as my dumb phone. I don't use Samsung either because I do not support their Government because I don't believe they are a 100% Democratic and I don't like that the girl on the train seemed like she was forced to be nice. Even though I do believe she was, on her own a very nice person. As I said.
  12. sotiredofpain
    Hi ianzombie,
    Thank you for your informational response. I don't know if you read my reply to the other person (name escapes me sorry) about the girl I met on the train. She said she did come to the US to go to college. But she refrained to say what her major was, perhaps she wasn't sure yet. I don't know. As I did say she would not speak too much about politics, but I was very glad to have been seated next to her. Having someone nice to talk to made my trip much more pleasurable since it had to be by train!

    I didn't mean to get political but it seems that politics always gets in the worlds ways of how we as general public want to live our lives, I guess I get annoyed by that because I think everyone should be in charge of if we want or not medications, and as I'm sure you know at some point if we keep accepting the things a Government wants they could get forced upon us!

    Sometimes (like yesterday) I got a muscle relaxer my Dr. said to take along with my pain medication plus another to control my heart rate/bp. (My normal heart rate runs "quite high" -100- he said. Him and his nurse always squint when they see it - I wasn't aware they'd drug tested me at the hospital and I heard them say I tested positive for opiates, directly AFTER they'd given me 2 percocet lol) It's almost 4am and I'm on enough medication to put a small town to sleep - except me! It's extremely annoying!)
    But thank you for your reply. I have played games with a lot of people, some I can't read their FB pages but they say from Japan or Malaysia. Only the lady from Malaysia speaks English and we trade recipes. :)
  13. sotiredofpain
    Not when my medications are involved no. Consumer electronics - my computer and all of it's components were manufactured in various places around the world, none were neither N. or S. Korea, but put together in Texas. I have a magnetic black tape over the cam.

    But the topic is about this patch. Can you trust me that my body is going to tell me when it's time for my pain med, muscle relaxer, benzo, beta-blocker, and amitriptyline which is one I would never want dispensed via patch when I only take it prn because the dose varies to how I FEEL and sometimes I'd rather stay awake and be out of pain. So if the patch did act like my "dumb smart phone" and give it to me when I don't want it I wouldn't like that.

    I don't know what to tell you if you don't see logic in someone not trusting electronics, when I had to replace my other dumb smart phone because it wouldn't update and went to a dark screen and nobody at the store could fix it. Oh, and I followed directions precisely as directed! You'd trust it? You've never, EVER lost one iota of anything with any electronic?
  14. staples
    Well certainly not North Korea, but assembled in Texas (Dell, I presume?) or not, yes, it definitely contains components manufactured by a South Korean company, probably several, and most likely one of them is Samsung, especially considering that one of Samsung's largest manufacturing plants is located in Texas (however the majority of its production is for the processors of Apple's portable products). Your monitor, while it may be branded by another company, unless it's Sony, the actual display panel could very well have been produced by Samsung or LG. Your RAM chips, hard disk controllers, interconnecting cables, antennas, various other supporting integrated chips on the motherboard and any peripherals, especially those that serve as buffers or any sort of storage (EEPROM, CMOS, and so many more) as well as even basic circuit components (resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, transistors, op amps), even possibly the CMOS battery and if you have a laptop as the integrated webcam suggests, the main battery has excellent chances of having been originally manufactured thanks to S Korea's enormous tech industry (Bexel? Energizer Korea?). If not Samsung, the DDRAM chips are most likely from HCT or Hynix (as these are the world's largest chipmakers and they are contacted for components by practically every major computer or computer component manufacturer, including in the US: Apple, Dell, HP...)

    Well, first of all, you seem to have relaxed your issue with it being researched in S Korea to it being an electronic device. Second of all, I have experienced data loss, but it was my fault for allowing excessive operating temperature (talking about a set of hard drives). But I also design and create hardware (hobby) as well as develop for it (job), so I understand that there's an enormous difference between electronic devices pushed to the consumer market due to competition, and high-end electronic devices with redundancy and security as the application may require (servers, home security systems/automation, automatic parallel parking now found in many Ford vehicles, self-driving cars that Google is working on, and so on). I understand, farther, that medical devices are held to the highest standards for obvious reasons. The worry that this patch will suffer the same faults as a smart phone or even dumb phone (or your apparent hybrid) is unwarranted.
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