New 'microworms' could monitor, treat patients

Real-time, 24/7 monitoring of health indicators might be possible with a new system developed by MIT and Northeastern University researchers. Building on current monitoring and drug-delivery approaches based on microparticles, the research team engineered "microworms" that stick around the original implant site, rather than migrating away over time.

The new particles are shaped like long tubes, in contrast with the previously studied spherical particles. They're narrow enough to keep close contact with blood or tissue, so that they can sense chemical changes--or gauge whatever their contents are designed to monitor.

Eventually the microworms could be used to keep constant tabs on a diabetes patients' blood sugar or monitor sodium levels in the blood of patients with a medical condition that causes those levels to fluctuate wildly, among many other things. "One can imagine using these kinds of tubes to shrink-wrap just about anything," said MIT co-author Karen Gleason, including drugs that could be delivered slowly through holes in the tubes.

- read the MIT article