Humans have always watched and used animals and plants to detect danger and warning signs for climate changes and natural disasters. One of typical and popular of these had been the use of Canaries in coal mining even up until 1980’s as an early warning system of toxic gases such carbon monoxide, as the gas would kill the bird before affecting the miners. (1) This is the basis of “biosensors” that uses a biological element in an organism such as humans to detect and sense abnormality and diseases, or measuring certain functions. A common old such example is the “artificial cardiac pacemaker” that is implanted in the individual when the natural heart pacemaker for control of the heart beat is not working properly. Cardiac defibrillator also separately or at the same time could be implanted for the individuals with arrhythmia and at risk of cardiac failure. In the case of the pacemaker, when it does not detect normal heartbeat through its sensor, it will stimulate the ventricle of the heart with a short low voltage pulse that will normalize the heart beat. (2-3) Another popular type of biosensor in common use is the blood glucometer in diabetes. This biosensor uses the enzyme glucose oxidase that breaks down the glucose as a measure of blood glucose level. In brief, the biosensors through their transducer or detecting element, detects a measurable change in chemical, physiological or electrical system of the organism such as humans. (4) The blood glucose biosensor monitors blood sugar chemically, and the pacemaker detect abnormal heart beats physiologically and electrically.
The application of biosensors since the early use of cardiac pacemaker has evolved over the past half a century, and with more advancement in digitalism, the idea and research is extending to make the biosensors personalized and available to everyone into their digital gadgets such as their cell phones. While the personal gadgets such as cell phones already carry health monitor applications, including vital signs monitoring, the biosensors research’s goal is to bring to the hands of the individuals diagnostic and treatment tools. In this article, I will explore this area of research and advancement in medicine and will show the path towards the future of medicine that will be personalized. Since this area of medicine research is aggressively progressing and a detailed review of the subject is beyond the scope and space of this site, a concise review of a few areas of the biosensor development in a few fields of medicine will be conducted and presented.(5)
Beyond pacemaker for our Hearts:
Since the heart is one of the most vital organs of the body and mortality due to the cardiac diseases such as heart attacks are still the leading cause, and since the invention of pacemaker saved so many lives in the past, the area of biosensors in cardiology is worth of advancement and consideration. Heart other than being the most vital organ of the body, is also the most active, working 24/7 even in sleep, so is a unique organ functioning physiologically, dynamically, electrically and magnetically. The artificial pacemaker that was adapted in invention from the natural heart pacemaker itself, was based on the electrical currency within the heart. To go beyond and use the biosensors for further diagnostic and treatment tools of the heart diseases, the research needed to invent more sophisticated devices to detect and control other functional parameters of the heart, e.g. physiological, dynamic and magnetics field of the heart beyond electrical conduction. Therefore these parameters such as oxygen saturation, blood flow pressure, its pH, cardiac output, temperature, and the sound of the heart beat all needed to be counted and put into the invention of these devices. (5)
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