Wearable device monitors the size of a tumor and shows it in an app

A new innovative sticker, which is stretchable and adheres to the skin, has the capability to monitor tumor growth and send this data to a smartphone app. This invention could revolutionize the way we track cancer treatment effectiveness by providing continuous, real-time updates on tumor size.

Under typical circumstances, the progress of a tumor's response to treatment is only accessible through periodic medical appointments. Recognizing the need for more immediate and accessible monitoring, Hsing-Wen Sung and his team at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan have introduced a solution that allows for at-home monitoring.

Their invention centers on a wearable technology specifically designed for tumors located just beneath the skin's surface. Sung refers to this innovation as a "smart, flexible sticker," crafted from a pliable, stretchable plastic. This material not only securely adheres to the skin but also molds to the tumor's shape, ensuring precise monitoring.

Embedded within the sticker are tiny, spindle-shaped particles, each measuring around 100 nanometers — composed of oxygen and a metallic element known as hafnium. As the tumor expands, the sticker adjusts, altering the arrangement of these nanoparticles. This shift results in a change in the sticker's electrical properties, a phenomenon that the research team has successfully harnessed to monitor tumor growth.

The effectiveness of this device was demonstrated through experiments on mice, tracking the progression of tumors comparable in size to a rice grain over a seven-day period. These tests confirmed the device's ability to accurately measure tumor growth through electrical changes.

Parag Mallick from Stanford University in California highlighted the potential impact of such devices, emphasizing their role in enabling quicker determination of treatment effectiveness and immediate responses to significant changes in a tumor's condition. However, Mallick also noted a limitation - the device's effectiveness is restricted to tumors that are superficial, as its placement on the skin's surface doesn't allow for the monitoring of deeper tumors. To overcome this, a more comprehensive redesign would be necessary for the device to have universal applicability.


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