A wearable ‘smart patch’ being developed in Australia is touted as massive help for people experiencing chronic lifestyle-related disease like Type 2 diabetes by gathering data on how their bodies react to different diets.
Melbourne-based company Nutromics is developing the alternative to painful finger pricks and blood tests to measure key dietary biomarkers in real time.
Data from the wearable is then sent to an app, allowing users to precisely track how their bodies respond to different foods.
A collaborative team led by Nutromics, Griffith University, RMIT and manufacturer Romar Engineering, with support from the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), is now researching and developing the required manufacturing capabilities to pilot manufacture the device.
Professor Sharath Sriram, research co-director of RMIT’s Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group, said the smart patch combined a complex sensing platform and stretchable electronics for improved conformity to skin.
Electronics will be integrated into the platform using the same technique used to print newspapers, known as roll-to-roll printing.
The same roll-to-roll process is also being used in other electronics research at RMIT, including the development of flexible touchscreens, due to the lower cost of production and greater flexibility of the end product.
Fabrication of sample collection will be led by Griffith University and Romar Engineering, with sensor integration and stretchable electronics fabrication undertaken at RMIT’s Micro Nano Research Facility.
Nutromics co-CEO Peter Vranes said the smart patch could help users and their healthcare advisors cut through the confusing, and at times conflicting, information regarding health and nutrition.
“Research has shown that what we eat affects us all differently; two people might have the same meal but their post-meal response can vary wildly,” Vranes said.
“People want to make healthy food choices but with so much conflicting nutrition advice, many of us are confused about what that looks like.
“Being able to easily monitor key dietary biomarkers will give you the knowledge to personalise your diet to suit your own body, to get healthy and stay healthy.”
It could also give users diagnosed with prediabetes more information about the progression of their health in real time, potentially helping them avoid developing Type 2 diabetes.
Without intervention, up to 70 percent of people with prediabetes can go on to develop Type 2 diabetes within four years. However, early actions such as lifestyle modification can largely prevent the disease.