Silk and gold, usually a pairing for the runways of Milan, are now the main ingredients for a new kind of implantable biosensor. Researchers at Tufts University have crafted a small antenna from liquid silk and micropatterned gold. The antenna is designed to spot specific proteins and chemicals in the body, and alert doctors wirelessly to signs of disease. Scientists say the implant could someday help patients with diabetes track their glucose levels without having to test themselves daily.
According to Fiorenzo Omenetto, professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts University, silk is a natural platform for medical implants; it's biocompatible, and while it's delicate and pliable, it's also tougher than Kevlar. Implanted in the body, silk can conform to any tissue surface, and, unlike conventional polymer-based implants, it could stay in place over a long period of time without adverse effects. Omenetto has previously taken advantage of these properties to mold silk into tiny chips and flexible meshes, pairing the material with transistors to track molecules, and with electrodes to monitor brain activity.
From Technology Review
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