Researchers Develop a “Smart” Skin Patch to Detect Thrombosis in Mice

According to a study published in Advanced Materials, a thrombin-responsive, closed-loop skin patch can detect thrombosis and release the required amounts of anticoagulation to treat the clot.

Yuqi Zhang, BS, from the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, and authors designed the patch to monitor patients’ blood flow and release heparin in a “self-regulating” way. The patch contains microneedles made of a polymer that consists of hyaluronic acid (HA) and heparin.

“This ‘smart’ heparin patch can be inserted into the skin without drug leakage and can sustainably regulate blood coagulation in response to thrombin,” the authors wrote.

In the mouse model, the researchers injected heparin into one group of mice and gave the HA-heparin smart patch to another group, while a third group did not receive anything. Ten minutes after the procedure, mice from all three groups were injected with large doses of thrombin that, without treatment, would have resulted in fatal blood clots.

Fifteen minutes after the thrombin injection, only the mice that received the heparin injection or the smart patch were alive. In a second experiment, when thrombin was injected six hours after the procedure, 80 percent of mice that had the heparin injection died, while mice that received the smart patch were alive.

The researchers hope to conduct research in human models in the near future.

Source: Zhang Y, Yu J, Wang J, et al. Thrombin-responsive transcutaneous patch for auto-anticoagulant regulation. Adv Mater. 2016 November 25. [Epub ahead of print]