Doctors usually monitor the treatment used by patients with tumors through regular check-ups, so a team of researchers, led by Hsing-Wen Sung from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, focuses on creating a device capable of providing part of that information at home.
Specifically, they focus on measuring the size of tumors that reside under the skin.
They developed a wearable device, which Sung described as a “smart, flexible sticker,” made of soft, stretchy plastic, that adheres to the skin and conforms to the shape of the underlying tumor.
The plastic is made of spindle-shaped particles, each about 100 nanometers long, made of oxygen and a silvery metal called hafnium.
As the tumor grew, the sticker moved to adapt to its new size, changing the arrangement of the nanoparticles and, therefore, the electrical properties of the material.
The researchers tested the device on mice and found that electrical changes could be used to accurately track the growth of tumors the size of a grain of rice over seven days.
According to Parag Mallick of Stanford University in California, tools like this will allow doctors and patients to more quickly determine if a treatment is effective and react to any major changes in the condition. of the tumor when it occurs.
But he cautioned that because this sticker sits on the skin, the device won’t work for tumors deeper inside the body, so a major redesign is needed to make it useful. at all, he said.