Counting molecules, dodging blood cells: real-time molecular measurements directly in the living body
Prof. Kevin Plaxco
University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Imagine a world in which drugs are dosed not by your watch (“take two pills twice a day”) but instead by a small device worn on your upper arm that actively measures the plasma drug levels, wirelessly communicating this information to your cell phone so that you can tune your dosing regime in response to day-to-day changes in your metabolism. To achieve this vision requires the development of technologies capable of continuously tracking the levels of drugs, metabolites, and biomarkers in real time in the living body, an advance that would revolutionize our understanding of health and our ability to detect and treat disease. It would, for example, provide clinicians with a real-time window into organ function and would enable therapies guided by patient-specific, real-time pharmacokinetics, opening a new dimension in personalized medicine. To this end, my group has pioneered the development of a “biology-inspired” electrochemical approach to monitoring specific molecules that supports real-time measurements of arbitrary molecular targets in situ in the bodies of awake, freely moving subjects.