FDA, DARPA partner on sensors to continuously monitor biomarkers

In many ways, biomarkers are only as effective as the biosensors available to detect and monitor them. And while the science of biomarker discovery is still in its infancy, there needs to be parallel development of sensors capable of detecting the biomarkers for various diseases before symptoms occur. Chemical & Engineering News tells us that the FDA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which funds high-risk technology, are getting together to accelerate development and approval of devices that can continuously monitor biomarkers in people.

But, as the C&E News article points out, biomarker detection is tricky because most sensor materials come have biocompatibility and integration problems. Plus, many important biomarkers have yet to even be discovered. Still, DARPA and the FDA are pushing forward with the ultimate goal of continuous monitoring.

"As an aspirational goal, we would like the possibility to measure biomarkers on person, in real time," said DARPA Program Manager Daniel J. Wattendorf at a recent workshop. As an illustration of how far the technology needs to improve, the only similar device on the market right now are those that can continuously monitor glucose. And they still have a problem with accuracy, even though "they are only measuring one molecule" in those who are already known to have a blood-sugar problem.

For its part, the FDA is interested in working with DARPA on a program like this in order to speed up truly transformative technologies through the approval process.

- read more in Chemical & Engineering News