Science Scope

This sensor knows when you have a heart attack

Posting in Cancer

An implantable sensor can tell if a heart attack occurred. Soon, it can detect cancer and glucose levels in other patients.

It's possible to have a heart attack without realizing it. It happens more than you think: about 30 percent of all heart attacks go unnoticed. But the attack still takes a toll on a person's body.

MIT researchers have designed an implantable sensor that can look for the signs of a heart attack, and could potentially prevent the onset of severe heart disease.

After a person has a heart attack, there are certain biomarkers - myoglobin, cardiac troponin I and creatine kinase - that are present. So doctors can look for these proteins in the blood.

In mice models, the implanted sensors could identify the three biomarkers and even tell how bad the heart attack was.

According to the MIT News Office:

[MIT's professor Michael Cima] is now developing an implant that measures pH (acidity level), which could be useful for detecting heart disease or cancer. (Tumors are more acidic than healthy tissue, and dramatic increase in acidity is a near-instantaneous indicator of heart attack.)

In the future, he hopes to modify these sensors to detect low levels of hard-to-detect bacteria or viruses, or migrating tumor cells.

If it works for detecting heart attacks, there's no reason why it can't be designed to detect cancer and measure the glucose levels for diabetics.

Photo: Chima Lab

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure