An Implantable Antenna: silk biosensor could someday alert doctors to signs of disease.

I am always impressed by research that finds new ways to use materials that have been part of our culture for thousands of years–silk and gold.   Researchers have combined the two to create a wireless biosensors metamaterial that is able to detect frequencies within the terahertz range.  surprisingly, proteins, enzymes, and chemicals in the body are naturally resonant at terahertz frequencies, and each biological agent has its own terahertz “signature.”

In this case researchers 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.  The device has actually been implanted  in several layers of muscle tissue from a pig, and still detected a terahertz signal.

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. 

 The full article can be found at http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/26078/

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