HOME ABOUT CONTACT AVAILABLE ISSUES SUBSCRIBE MEDIA & ADS
LATEST UPDATES » Vol 25, No. 07, July 2021 – Ageing Better – Breakthroughs and Innovations for a Greying World       » A Plant-Based Remedy for Big, Broken Hearts       » Fuelling the Future with Multi-Element Alloys and Green Hydrogen       » RADICA: A Radical, Rapid Method for Accurate Detection of Viruses       » Untangling the Twists of Alzheimer’s Plaques       » Turning Aquaculture Trash to Treasure for Tissue Repair      
Vol 25, No. 07, July 2021   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
BIOBOARD
Solving Skin Disorders with More Than Skin-Deep Sensors
Researchers have invented a miniature, soft sensing device to swiftly and precisely diagnose and monitor skin disorders and cancers by evaluating tissue stiffness.

The skin is not only the body’s largest organ but also the primary barrier against foreign aggressors like bacteria, viruses, and UV rays. The skin also helps to regulate many internal functions to sustain our overall wellbeing. Naturally, they are most susceptible to impairment and deterioration, at risk of a wide array of disorders and diseases.

Presently, medical instruments used to diagnose and evaluate the skin, like magnetic resonance elastography, are large and technically demanding, used only by trained practitioners. To overcome those limitations, the latest tissue stiffness-measuring technologies have been adapted for portability and technical ease of use. But these improvements do not come without cost. In exchange, most are limited in its measuring ability, capable of only measuring to a superficial depth of the upper dermal layer – up to micrometre scale. However, a recently developed soft sensing device has come to offer the best of both worlds.

A team of researchers, co-led by Dr Yu Xinge from the University of Hong Kong (CityU), has designed an electromechanical device that can be utilised for the diagnosis of deep tissue pathology. The miniature device not only offers automated and non-invasive detection of skin disorders, but also swift measurements and precise, real-time evaluations of tissue stiffness. The team’s findings are expected to lay the groundwork for innovative diagnostics of skin cancers and dermatological disorders.

The instrument is comprised of a soft, strain-sensing sheet with a vibratory actuator that can be applied on the skin. With a thickness measuring only 2.5mm, the device was proven to be effective for monitoring tensile stiffness of hair-bearing and hairless patches of the skin, up to a depth of 8 mm. The technology was adapted from the principle of a skin-integrated haptic interface for virtual reality, and can quantitatively analyse sensory data of tissue stiffness within 1 minute.

To evaluate the effectiveness of their instrument, its performance was examined using an array of synthetic and biological materials such as hydrogels, pigskin, and human skin. They measured and noted that lesions exhibited higher stiffness in comparison to that of nearby skin, suggesting that these differences are due to variation in skin elasticity and hydration. These measurements are valuable to monitor, diagnose and treat various ailments, specifically skin disorders.

"These simple measurements have potential clinical significance in rapidly identifying and targeting skin lesions, with capabilities that complement those of recently reported methods for sensing mechanical properties at tissue surface (typically micrometre-scale)," Dr Yu elaborated.

Dr Yu also drew attention to the fact that cancer tissues markedly display unusual stiffness or softness as compared to normal tissues. As such, this property can be used as a potential diagnostic biomarker for skin cancers, tumours, or other dermal disorders.

To further investigate its efficacy, the newly invented device was put to the test in clinical studies involving patients with skin disorders. The device demonstrated remarkable accuracy to target lesions linked to psoriasis and evaluate other physical properties of the skin like ageing and loss of hydration, successfully establishing its practicality for medical use.

"The data produced can assist in diagnosis, treatment tracking and disease monitoring particularly for skin associated disorders such as skin cancer, as well as in aspects of aesthetic dermatology and of the recovery from surface wounds," Dr Yu stated. "In the near future, we believe this technology will allow people to monitor their skin health status anytime with a simple wearable device."


Source: Song et al. (2021). Miniaturized electromechanical devices for the characterization of the biomechanics of deep tissue. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 1-13.

NEWS CRUNCH  
news Singapore Health & Biomedical Congress 2021 is Set to Brave the New Frontiers as We Revolutionise and Transform Healthcare
news Anti-Pandemic Forum to be Hosted by Top-Notch American and Chinese Scientists
news Commemorating World Health Day with Viatris
news Entire industrial chain resources of advanced medical equipment are lining up at Medtec China 2021
SPOTLIGHT  

MAGAZINE TAGS
About Us
Events
Available issues
Editorial Board
Letters to Editor
Contribute to APBN
Advertise with Us
CONTACT
World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.
5 Toh Tuck Link, Singapore 596224
Tel: 65-6466-5775
Fax: 65-6467-7667
» For Editorial Enquiries:
   biotech_edit@wspc.com or Ms Carmen Chan
» For Subscriptions, Advertisements &
   Media Partnerships Enquiries:
   biotech_ad@wspc.com
Copyright© 2021 World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd  •  Privacy Policy